Flora Watkins

Why is cinema obsessed with remakes?

  • From Spectator Life
Emma Stone, Cruella (Disney Enterprises Inc, 2021)

The game is afoot! Yes, yet again! Hot on the hob-nailed heels of Enola Holmes, the Netflix film about the great detective’s younger sister, comes yet another spin on Sherlock.

This time the streaming service brings us The Irregulars, a gaggle of Victorian urchins hired by Dr Watson to investigate crimes with a supernatural element.

Elementary, you might say. Though I won’t, because it’s so tired and clichéd. And this convoluted Conan Doyle cash-in isn’t just jumping the shark — the producers of The Irregulars are so far gone, they’ve cleared the wall of the orcas’ tank and have beached themselves in the carpark.

‘Whatever is it like in your funny little brains?’, as Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock said. Or was it Robert Downey Junior? Or Jeremy Brett or Basil Rathbone or any of the good detective’s 250-plus screen appearances?

For Hollywood, familiarity breeds anything but contempt. Emma Stone is about to hit our screens as Cruella de Vil in a prequel to 101 Dalmatians. The Handmaid’s Tale season four drops at the end of April. Paddington 3 is currently in the early stages of development, though the director of the first two instalments, Paul King, won’t be at the helm this time. He’s busy directing Wonka, about the origins of the eccentric confectioner (last seen in Tim Burton’s remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).

For Hollywood, familiarity breeds anything but contempt


Depressingly, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, known for the startlingly original Fleabag and Killing Eve, is re-making Mr and Mrs Smith, the 2005 movie best-known for the propagation of Brangelina. This rather tired trope, of married assassins hired to kill each other, has already been mined for three separate outings. (It first appeared in a 1996 series and was revived in a 2007 pilot movie that didn’t get green-lighted.) The question many fans want to ask Waller-Bridge, the woman who gave us #sexypriest is #why?

The remake and the reboot has become a trope of filmmaking in itself.

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