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Fri, 21 Sep ’12

Dredded: Five Reboots Better than the Original

Can newer versions be better? You be the judge.

Dredd 3D opens today, and the fan verdict is in – it’s a definite step up from Mega-City One’s last cinematic bow in the Sylvester Stallone/Rob Schneider buddy flick Judge Dredd. So yeah, you may think you’re allergic to reboots, but in fact, some of our favorite films have been new stabs at an existing franchise. Here are five prior faves.

COMICSThe Punisher: War Zone. We love Thomas Jane, who took the character extremely seriously, but unfortunately the movie surrounding him didn’t (the skull shirt came from a beach-side souvenir shop? Really?) and John Travolta’s incessant fiddling with his pipe was distracting. The followup, starring Ray Stevenson, played everything as a wonderfully sick joke, basically Jason Voorhees with guns. (We’re keeping this list to features – otherwise, #DIRTYLAUNDRY could have been #1 with a bullet.)

COMICSThe Mummy. Jack Pierce’s makeup on Boris Karloff is iconic – so much so that many people forget it’s barely in the movie, and Karloff spends most of it pretending to be just a regular, contemporary Egyptian. Universal’s 1999 update – which made Rachel Weisz a star and launched Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson into Hollywood in its sequel – occasionally veers into camp, but the many digitally altered faces of Arnold Vosloo – and his scarabs – were never less than threatening.

COMICSThe Texas Chainsaw Massacre. You probably started sharpening some blades of your very own upon seeing this on the list, but here goes: Tobe Hooper’s original is groundbreaking in the way it presents events in a matter-of-fact, believable style, but its pacing is a real killer. Leatherface’s reveal is amazing and the dinner party rules, but then all of a sudden the movie’s almost over after endless build-up. For sheer filmmaking, Marcus Nispel’s remake, with its grimy, steamy filters and perverse patriarch in R. Lee Ermey, gives a better-structured story and looks like the greatest house of horrors ever. You may yell at us now.

COMICSCasino Royale. While you could argue that James Bond gets rebooted every time a new actor steps in, Daniel Craig’s first time out finally gave us something of an origin story, with a more brutal Bond reflecting Ian Fleming’s portrayal of him in print. And as for the “original” Casino Royale movie – yeah, we kinda dig the incessantly catchy theme tune, but the half-baked parody – which simultaneously presents David Niven, Peter Sellers and Woody Allen as wildly differing James Bonds, then kills off everyone at the end – works better in theory than practice.

COMICSEvil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn. Probably the only major sequel that’s also an insta-reboot, due in part to the fact that Sam Raimi couldn’t legally obtain the rights to reuse footage from the first film, so he had to re-shoot key scenes to set up the story. More significantly, though, what had been straightforward horror before was newly played as comedy, with this movie’s Deadites channeling The Three Stooges‘ Moe more than Romero. It was a savvy choice that remained the tone in Army of Darkness and the spin-off video games, making Bruce Campbell a cult star and proving surprisingly forward-looking: those claymation zombies in part one don’t scare us much any more, but the Chin and his boomstick always make us cheer.

Do you agree with our picks, or does this list need a reboot of its own? Let us know on our Facebook, Twitter and Google+ pages!