7 of the worst sci-fi/fantasy blockbusters that deserve a remake
Hollywood has an infuriating habit of remaking treasured properties that no one requested and doing them little to no justice, à la Ben Hur, The Karate Kid, and Arthur to name a few. When will they learn that these remakes and the like are akin to reheating yesterday’s coffee – the first time was always better, and now we’ve got a bad taste in our mouths. Consider for a moment if the powers that be were to remake not your favourite films, but the movies that tanked. You know, the good concepts that were executed poorly. To that end, here are seven of the worst sci-fi blockbusters that deserve a remake in 2017.
It was effectively Mad Max on water only with the cheese factor turned up to nacho. Make no mistake, Kevin Costner did his best in this post-apocalyptic aqua-action fodder as lone mutant drifter The Mariner, receding mullet and all. But the idea back in 1995 that the polar ice caps could ever melt, raise sea levels and leave people living on floating cities was laughable to most. Sadly, to some it still is. It was the most expensive film ever made at the time, but despite a promising premise – rival gangs in pursuit of a mutant fishman and the women he’s promised to deliver to the last remaining dry land he isn’t sure exists – it came off too comical, and not in a good way. Time to get George Miller involved and give it the Fury Road treatment.
In retrospect, if the legendary Dennis Hopper said yes to a movie in the 1990s it was a sign the film would likely flop. Think Waterworld, Chasers, Space Truckers and of course, Super Mario Bros. But by all accounts, and given last week’s release of the Nintendo Switch, the Super Mario Bros are as popular as ever, meaning a remake of this 1990s error would likely rake in the dollars if done properly like, say, The Lego Movie. Other than set design and general plot, the biggest issue here was the premise – that Mario and Luigi were regular, bum-cracked Brooklyn plumbers who found themselves in a parallel Nintendo universe through one contrivance after another. Were it to be set in the Nintendo universe to begin with, there’s no telling where a remake could go.
The epitome of 1980s obscurity where anything from outer space reigned – think Alf, E.T, Spaceballs, and Gremlins – this live-action adaptation of the Marvel character was doomed from the beginning. Firstly, because it was supposed to be animated. A live-action, kung-fu-fighting duck being seduced by an actual human woman? Please. But 30 years on, Howard himself did make an appearance in the credits of Guardians Of The Galaxy. With Marvel’s seemingly endless heat at the moment and modern CGI, there’s no reason the wise-cracking Howie shouldn’t find his way back into the spotlight.
It’s one of the best video-game franchises ever, but the Mortal Kombat film and its subsequent sequel left plenty to be desired. Off the back of franchises like Rocky, all things Van Damme and The Karate Kid, fighting tournament movies and video games were all the rage in the early 1990s. Only having three fighters invited to a tournament that will define the fate of the world and save it from an outer-space invasion is a little lazy given the depth of the MK universe. Done today and with some realism, humour and a strong cast, there’s no reason it couldn’t be a hit.
In the year of 2017 after world financial collapse and the US is a totalitarian state that’s censored all cultural activity – fiction at the time, which may yet prove prophecy –convicted criminals are hunted by professional killers for entertainment. When Arnold Schwarzenegger escapes a California internment camp looking for his captured brother, stuff gets real. Part Hunger Games, part Purge and with a strong premise and plot, the movie’s downfall is its camp-at-times tone, which takes away from the themes of the original Stephen King story. Throw Tom Hardy in the lead role and put Alejandro Iñárritu in the director’s chair and there’s a crowd-puller waiting to happen.
It might have come off as cheap, tacky and devoid of credibility in the end, but the premise of Event Horizon remains a winner to this day. When a lost spaceship designed to create black holes and pass through them in seconds sends an emergency signal seven years after its disappearance in 2047, a rescue crew is sent out to investigate, only to find the crew savagely killed and an evil presence onboard from one of the many galaxies it’s travelled to. Polish up this package with some higher-end production values and we might see a much better final product.
Taking in just US$1.6m from a $25m budget, it’s safe to say the creatively named Spaced Truckers comic sci-fi wasn’t a success. Set far in the future and following one of Earth’s last struggling independent space transport veterans, John Canyon, things go bad when the down-and-out loaner takes a suspicious cargo to Earth without asking any questions. He soon rues his mistake when his load is revealed to be an army of killer robots intent on taking over Earth. It was intended as a comedy but we ended up laughing more at it than with it. After the success of trucking shows on reality TV in the decades since, this one could be ripe for a revisit.