80s vs. 00s: Which Decade Made Better Movies?

June 10th, 2010 by Barak

It seems that the only thing directors and producers do these days is remake movies/TV series from the 80s or continue movie series that started in the 80s. Just to name a few examples: This week The A-Team and The Karate Kid are released, and in the near future we will also see Wall Street 2, Predators, Red Dawn and Tron: Legacy hit our screens. Is it a good thing? How are the titles from the 2000s in comparison to their ancestors from the 80s? We’ll try to answer these burning questions and more below…

10. MacGyver 1985 vs. MacGruber 2010

MacGyver: This clever hit TV series couldn’t be ignored by anyone was alive and reasonably consciousness in the mid 80s. Special secret agent MacGyver (Richard Dean Anderson) used his brain in place of a gun, and relied on his knowledge of science to save himself and others. MacGyver could literally design lifesaving tools from a gum and paper clips…  no wonder it gained a beloved cult favorite status.

MacGruber: Counting on the popularity of the series, this is a spoof comedy, led by Will Forte’s bumbling secret agent whose lack of skill and abundance of personal problems serve as a detriment to him – and those around him.

Winner: MacGyver, easily.
This is an example of a really ridiculous effort to build on the 80s magic. MacGruber’s big failure is, among others, the-far fetched expectation that 35- to 40-year-olds will enjoy a spoof of a series they watched when they were 10! Next time, don’t wait 20 years to make the spoof…

9. Miami Vice 1984 vs. Miami Vice 2006

1984: One of the most popular TV shows of the 80s, it helped define the fashion and music of the period while maintaining high-quality police drama standards. Miami Vice is a fascinating cultural document of the 1980s as well as a stylized and exciting cop show.

2006: This rough movie follows the violent, dangerous adventures of Crockett and Tubbs, with Miami at the center of a global drug trade. Both men continually struggle with personal demons to stay on the right side of the law.

Winner: The TV series (and actually, anyone who simply didn’t go to see the movie).
In line with the introspective, gloomy wave of 2000s remakes/sequels, this remake simply eliminated all that was exciting, fun – even campy – in the original series.

8. Fame 1980 vs. Fame 2009

1980: The film won an Oscar for Best Original Score and Song. The 80s TV series that followed was a huge hit. Both had loveable casts and inspired music-and-dance numbers that seem to burst forth spontaneously out of sheer irrepressible emotion. In those days, everybody hummed the main theme song, tried to dance like Leroy, loved Mr. Shorofsky and recited Debbi Allen’s memorable line: “You want fame? Well, fame costs. And right here is where you start paying … in sweat.”

2009: This modernization of the classic musical from 1980 more or less does the same, and allows students at the New York School of Performing Arts to take center stage.

Winner: The 80s movie obviously.
The 2009 movie was bad and redundant. As with MacGruber, producers failed to notice reality (in more than one sense): with so many reality shows, like American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance, the charm of an art school that takes common, even hard-case youngsters and make them stars, is a bit outdated. High School Musical movies and Glee knew how to adapt.

7. Hairspray 1988 vs. Hairspray 2007

1988: This offbeat, cult music comedy from John Waters actually takes place in the 60s.  Energetic, overweight teen Tracy Turnblad wants to get on a hip local TV dance program. Her lively dance moves and bubbly personality are met with unexpected popularity, and she finds herself fighting against discrimination by black dancers, and also against angry, scheming, fellow dancer Amber and her pushy mother.

2007: While less out-there than Waters’ original, the film is still quirky, largely thanks to another John, this time Travolta, playing Tracy’s overweight mother. The creators also smartly updated the original, by making the remake a musical. The result was a great success.

Winner: A draw.
Each title had its uniqueness and style. This is how you make a 80s remake. One reservation though: maybe the fact that both movies are period titles, dealing with the 60s, helped fight the 80s remake spell.

6. A Nightmare on Elm Street 1984 vs. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010

1984: “Don’t fall asleep” was the mantra of a small town group of teenagers, terrorized by a mysterious, hellish character who entered their dreams and systematically slaughtered them in their sleep. This excellent, surprisingly surrealistic genre entry became a successful franchise. Everybody remembers (and maybe even dreams about) the slashing razor-fingered hand of the tormented Freddy Krueger.

2010: In the revival of the franchise, we once again meet slasher film legend Freddy Krueger, once again haunting the dreams of the teenagers of Springwood.

Winner: The original.
The remake was just insulting. Why didn’t the producers learn from the failed attempts to revive Halloween and Friday the 13th?

5. First Blood 1982 vs. Rambo 2008

First Blood: After being arrested for a crime he did not commit, a Green Beret survivor of the Vietnam War begins having terrible nightmares. This gripping, classic one-man-army movie was the beginning of the popular Rambo Franchise, and raised the question: Why didn’t Rambo win in Vietnam on his own to begin with?

Rambo: Rambo is drawn back into the action when a group of idealists gets captured by the Burmese army. What follows is Rambo fighting genocide with genocide, turning men into hamburger meat with machine guns, bombs, machetes, and, the most deadly weapon of all, his bare hands.

Winner: First Blood.
Because it is the one that started it all, an explosive movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat until the last, powerful frame. And we also need to thank the original, as it was the inspiration for the sweet tribute – Son of Rambow. That said, Rambo wasn’t a bad action movie on its own. Luckily, it didn’t deal with Vietnam or the Gulf war.

4. Transformers 1984 vs. Transformers 2007

1984: The Autobots and Decepticons, during the great Cybertronian War, crash landed on earth. Millions of years later, geological activity revives the warring factions. And so…
Oh well, who really cares about this mumbo jumbo, it was all about the shape-shifting robots fighting each other, and everybody wanted these toys back in the 80s.

2007: The movie is simply a massive giant-robot showdown. Thankfully, it had Megan Fox in it. Unfortunately, this time around there weren’t any shape shifting Megan Fox toys…

Winner: The 1984 series.
Shia LeBeouf, we do not accept your apology for the quality of the 2007 movie. If Wall Street 2 is really good, we might consider forgiving.

3. The Terminator 1984 vs. Terminator Salvation 2009

The Terminator: One of the tightest, tensest sci-fi films ever made, this is a landmark in its genre. The low-budget masterpiece was the breakthrough film for super director James Cameron, who created one of the finest action films of the 80s, and one of the finest cinematic time paradoxes ever. Arnold Schwarzenegger will forever be known as the heartless killing machine, and of course for “I’ll be back.”

Terminator Salvation: We really wanted it to be back, but not like that!! I intended to write few words about this 4th insultment, er, installment, but since it was so bad, I repressed all memory to the extent that I could write the synopsis of The Sound of Music here, and I wouldn’t know if it was right …

Winner: Terminator Salvation (is the loser). The winner is The Terminator.
James – we are in serious need of salvation! So before making another Avatar, pleeeease make a 5th and final worthy ending. You just have to.

2. Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981 vs. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 2008

Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Allies discover the Nazis are planning to use the Lost Ark of the Covenant as a weapon, and enlist the help of Doctor Indiana Jones, a seemingly mumbling archeologist, to locate the biblical treasure. Jones must escape evil Nazis, a nest of venomous snakes – not to mention the wrath of God. Steven Spielberg delivered groundbreaking special effects and a fabulous sense of humor, and the movie was the beginning of an extremely successful franchise, enjoyable for the whole family.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: Indy tries to return to his life as a professor of archaeology, but soon finds himself fighting scheming Russians back in the 50s. As with Terminator Salvation, it doesn’t really matter what the plot of this movie is.

Winner: The winner by a knockout is the 1981 movie.
Even Spielberg makes mistakes. Unfortunately, he doesn’t apologize for them. Shia LeBeouf, on the other hand, is making a career from apologizing for films that shouldn’t have been made. Once again, we’re not forgiving.

1. Die Hard 1988 vs. Live Free or Die Hard 2007

Die Hard: Hans Gruber, a sophisticated robber posing as a terrorist, storms the Takagi Corporation’s Christmas party at the Nakatomi skyscraper, intending to pull off a multi-million dollar from the company’s vault. John McClane, a cop from NY visiting his estranged, career-driven wife, is the one who’s going to stop him. Die Hard is a groundbreaking action flick, fresh and captivating to this very day.

Live Free or Die Hard: Thomas Gabriel is an evil mastermind determined to bring anarchy and chaos to the United States on Independence Day. He should have known that kidnapping McClane’s daughter, Lucy, was the wrong move….

Winner: Die Hard
The 4th installment was a very effective action flick, but you just can’t compete with the quality of the original movie. It’s like the Michael Jordan of movies. Yippie ki-yay, m***f*** – that was one hell of a one-man-army thrill ride.

Conclusion: The winning decade is, of course, the 80s.
The original is almost always better than its successors. But that doesn’t mean 80s remakes and sequels won’t continue. If Hollywood decided to redo the 80s, it’s either because audiences want them to, or because there are too many Hollywood execs in their 30s and 40s with hyper-nostalgia.

I don’t know what about you, but despite the conclusive results, I’m looking forward to seeing The A-Team, The Karate Kid and even Wall Street – the 2000s versions. I’m pretty sure they won’t be as good as their ancestors, but growing up in the 80s is like an incurable disease, I guess: You can’t get enough of it…

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