5. Pete’s Dragon (2016)
Original: Pete’s Dragon (1977)
As the director of such thoughtful, layered films as Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and A Ghost Story, David Lowery was never going to make cuddly Disney, and his re-telling of this simple tale ends up being unexpectedly hard-hitting and powerful. Lowery tends to focus on loneliness and imprisonment as his main themes, so this story of a feral boy and his dragon hiding from the prying eyes of civilisation is right up his alley. The performances, particularly from young Oakes Fegley and Robert Redford are full-hearted and the whole film is sincere and uncynical without being naive.
4. The Thing (1982)
Original: The Thing from Another World (1951)
Whereas the 1950s film was eerie and fueled by Cold War Paranoia, John Carpenter’s take is an almost unbearably tense horror-thriller. Much like with Ripley in Alien a few years before, it’s not made clear from the outset that MacReady (Kurt Russell) is our best hope and will end up the most resilient survivor. The combination of the old-fashioned and the new (for 1982) special effects, and the colourful crop of characters going up against a truly nightmarish monster in the most isolated and inhospitable locations, makes this a real crowd-pleaser.
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3. A Fistful of Dollars (1964)
Original: Yojimbo (1961)
A lot of people forget Clint Eastwood’s first appearance as the Man With No Name was a remake, and not one approved by Akira Kurosawa. Lengthy court proceedings delayed the release of A Fistful of Dollars, but it helped launch the lucrative Spaghetti Western cycle in Italy and when it did come out in the USA it left a mark on pretty much every Western since. Taking the chief story beats of Yojimbo and very much equaling Kurosawa’s level of style, Sergio Leone delivers simple thrills and iconic imagery throughout.