Hollywood, notorious as a place that eschews the new and the original for the safe (so called) and familiar is in love with remaking old material. This is no more prevalent than in science fiction.
The original Battlestar Galactica makes the list, albeit a little bit campy as befits a product of the 1970s. The adventures of the “rag tag fugitive fleet” were great to watch, but the series suffered from spotty scheduling and huge budgets.
Fast forward to the 21st Century, and Battlestar Galactica returned, this time far darker, with the characters on the ragged edge of madness and death. It really is a dire thing to have ones entire civilization obliterated in an afternoon and to know that you and a few thousand refugees in rickety star ships are all that is left. The new version far exceeded the old in many respects, including in the clever and sometimes controversial social commentary/
Star Trek was one of the iconic TV series of all time, spawning a subculture of fandom and a massive franchise that created several companion TV series, movies, a myriad of books, and so on. The adventures of the crew of the Star Ship Enterprise was given a kind of reboot with the J.J. Abrams movie in 2009. The movie was great in many respects. Even the nitpicky continuality and logic problems in the film were fun to argue about afterwards over beer and chicken wings.
Planet of the Apes
The remake of the iconic 1960s movie that starred Charlton Heston had its problems, to be sure. But the new version of Planet of the Apes was able to depict the ape characters in a far more realistic manner, running like mad on their knuckles and leaping great distances to rend and tear at humans. And who can forget Charlton’s cameo as an ape leader and, “Get your filthy hands off me, you damned, dirty human!”
The 1990s version of Godzilla had its irritating moments, including the brave French commandos doing what the entire US military couldn’t do to defeat the monster. And Matthew Broderick was far too nebbish as a scientist/action hero. But the monster, which sprinted through the streets of New York wrecking death and mayhem, was very impressive, more so than the guy in the rubber suit who destroyed Tokyo a whole lot of times in the original series of films.
War of the Worlds
A film by Steven Spielberg is always worthy of attention, even one that has problems, like the remake of the 1950s film about alien invasion, which was based on an H.G. Welles novel and a 1930s radio broadcast by Orson Wells. Spielberg’s version had its problems, including the premise of aliens burying fighting machines in the Earth a million years ago and waiting to dig themselves up to conquer the planet instead of doing it back then. But one has to understand that Spielberg’s War of the World’s was really about Tom Cruise’s character learning how to be an adult and not a forty year old teenager. In that, the story was very worthy indeed.