10 Sci-Fi Movie Remakes That Actually Surpassed The Original
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10 Sci-Fi Movie Remakes That Actually Surpassed The Original


  • Some sci-fi remakes can elevate original concepts, like the emotionally impactful Invisible Man (2020).
  • Other examples, like Dredd (2012), improve upon their predecessors by sticking to the popular source material.
  • In all instances, great sci-fi movie remakes bring something new to the table rather than retelling the same old story.



While some sci-fi movie remakes can detract from stellar source material, others can take a great idea to the next level. In the modern film industry, establishing a successful original IP is the holy grail, with both remakes and sequels providing a particularly lucrative market. Often, these follow-ups can feel like cheap cash grabs trying to capitalize on an audience’s existing goodwill. On rare occasions, however, a sci-fi movie remake can not just bring something new to the table, but also improve on what came before.

Many of the most popular series in sci-fi take preexisting ideas from other stories. Films like Avatar, Star Wars, and many others all owe their success to preexisting narratives – albeit with sometimes subtle changes. When it comes to straightforward remakes, however, success can be harder to come by. This makes any sci-fi movie that successfully improves on an earlier version a rare and impressive achievement. As these 10 examples prove, managing to pull it off can sometimes help secure a movie’s status as a classic.


10 Forgotten Sci-Fi Classics That Need A Remake

Just because a sci-fi film fell into obscurity doesn’t mean it wasn’t great—a remake may be just what the classic film needs to get its due credit.

10 The Invisible Man (2020)

Remake of The Invisible Man (1933)

Elisabeth Moss looking off-camera in fear in The Invisible Man.

While some remakes succeed because the original interpretation wasted a good idea, The Invisible Man faced the uphill task of improving on an already great movie. James Whale’s 1933 version is a landmark achievement in cinema – selected for preservation by the Library of Congress in 2008. Nevertheless, Leigh Wannell’s 2020 version manages to do the apparently impossible. Brilliantly updating the central conceit of an invisible antagonist for the 21st century, The Invisible Man becomes a parable about abusive relationships and coercive control. While the original boasts a killer concept, the remake packs a greater emotional punch thanks to a starring turn from Elizabeth Moss.

9 War Of The Worlds (2005)

Remake of The War of the Worlds (1953)

Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning as Ray and Rachel Ferrier hugging but looking at something in War of the Worlds

While The War of the Worlds was a successful and acclaimed adaptation of H.G Wells’ revered source material in its time, there’s no escaping the reality that the film’s reliance on once-cutting-edge special effects has dated it. By contrast, despite being nearly two-decades-old itself, Steven Spielberg’s 2005 version of the alien invasion thriller holds up as an impressive sci-fi spectacle. Bolstered by Tom Cruise’s uncharacteristically vulnerable performance, War of the Worlds captures the dark terror of Wells’ novel, making it significantly scarier than the earlier movie. Although both have their merits, 2005’s War has the edge.


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8 I Am Legend (2007)

Remake of The Omega Man (1973)

Although Richard Matheson’s source novel has been remade on several occasions (originally in 1964 as The Last Man on Earth), Will Smith’s version borrows most extensively from Charlton Heston’s The Omega Man. While both films have their flaws (shonky CGI in the cast of I Am Legend, vs messy storytelling from The Omega Man), Smith’s version shines thanks to the star’s strong central performance and improvements in special effects allowing the movie to build a more convincing post-apocalyptic setting. While I Am Legend falters in the final act and misses Matheson’s message, it was a huge success on release and remains much-loved.

7 12 Monkeys (1995)

Remake of La Jetée (1962)

Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt in Hospital Robes in 12 Monkeys

In some ways, comparing 12 Monkeys and La Jetée is reductive, since the French original is a 28-minute short film rather than a full feature. However, Terry Gilliam’s movie borrows so extensively from La Jetée – and adds so much more depth to its narrative – that it’s impossible to ignore its status as a truly great remake. Both sci-fi movies explore a complex time travel conceit, yet 12 Monkeys‘ extended runtime allows for the addition of great characters and impressive performances from the likes of Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis. While La Jetée is a purer version of the story, 12 Monkeys does its scope greater justice.

6 Dredd (2012)

Remake of Judge Dredd (1995)

Pete Travis’ Dredd did not have to do much to improve upon Sylvester Stallone’s notorious 1995 adaptation – a movie best known for Armand Assante’s meme-worthy line about “law“. Nevertheless, even with such a low bar to clear, Dredd not only improves on the original movie but establishes itself as a dark and violent comic book movie for the ages. Karl Urban is electric as the permanently-frowning titular law avatar, correcting Stallone’s criminal mistake by never removing his iconic helmet. Supported by Domnhall Gleeson and Lena Headey, Dredd faithfully sticks to the source material’s complex political themes and shines as a result.

5 Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978)

Remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Donald Sutherland pointing and screaming in Invasion Of The Body Snatchers

Inexplicably, the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers received a relatively lukewarm critical reception upon release. As the years have passed, the consensus has rightly shifted, with the Donald Sutherland movie now regarded as one of the greatest remakes of all time and a 70s science fiction classic. A haunting and conspiratorial allegory for the dangers of consumerism and conformity, Invasion centers around the arrival of the pod people – aliens who subsume human hosts as perfect clones devoid of empathy. Far scarier than the already impressive 1956 version, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a benchmark for all remakes.

4 War For The Planet Of The Apes (2017)

Remake of Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)

Caesar and the other apes at the end of War for the Planet of the Apes

Every installment in the rebooted Planet of the Apes series shares DNA with the original movies, but none are as direct a remake (nor improve the original movie as dramatically) as War for the Planet of the Apes. Like War, the original Battle tells Caesar’s story as he negotiates the conflict between apes and humans while ensuring the survival of his own community. In narrative, emotional depth, and social commentary, however, War is streets ahead of Battle. Where the original movie was criticized for poor production quality and substandard characterization, War holds an impressive 94% on Rotten Tomatoes and is a fitting conclusion to Andy Serkis’ Caesar trilogy.

3 Dune: Part One & Dune: Part Two (2021 & 2024)

Remake of Dune (1984)

Less a remake and more a complete reimagining of Frank Herbert’s seminal sci-fi tome, Dune: Part One and Dune: Part Two are simultaneously an astonishing cinematic achievement and a damning indictment of David Lynch’s earlier attempt. Both adaptations tell the same story of intergalactic politics, religious fervor, and the power of prophecy. Yet Denis Villeneuve’s version gives its characters and themes a portentous depth completely absent from Lynch’s rushed original. Comparing the two projects is not entirely fair, given the litany of obstacles in front of Lynch. Nevertheless, Denis Villeneuve’s movies are a vast improvement worthy of the novel.

2 The Thing (1982)

Remake of The Thing From Another World (1951)

The Thing head creature on the floor (1982)

Although The Thing From Another World is widely regarded as a great sci-fi movie in its own right, John Carpenter’s 1982 horror classic is not just better, but a much more accurate version of the original novella on which both films are based. Unlike the 1950s movie, The Thing sticks to the core, terrifying premise of a creature that can instantly impersonate any life form. This allows the film to craft a terrifyingly oppressive atmosphere, where anyone and everyone is a suspect. Coupled with special effects that remain jaw-dropping to this day, The Thing is an essential sci-fi horror classic.

1 The Fly (1986)

Remake of The Fly (1958)

Jeff Goldblum as a deformed Seth Brundle grinning in The Fly

Boasting some of the most gruesome and influential special effects in sci-fi movie history, David Cronenberg’s The Fly expertly toes the line between terrifying horror and heartbreaking romance. Unlike the source novella and earlier movie, The Fly doesn’t revolve around a murder mystery – instead centering on Seth Brundle’s grisly transformation from human being to monster. This change not only makes the protagonist more empathetic but gives his story a tragic inevitability, heightening the horror. While other sci-fi movie remakes stay close to the original material, The Fly distinguishes itself with this intelligent change.

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