Why does Hollywood persist in re-making movies that were perfectly good the first time around? Especially when there were so many bad movies that could be vastly improved upon.
In any case, The Manchurian Candidate is the latest attempt to update an old classic. On its own, it's a good movie.
Compared to the original, however, I can't help but feel that it's a lesser light. The holes in the storyline have been fixed, but the mood of the first, the creepy, paranoid atmosphere of political conspiracy gone mad, isn't captured quite as well. The original, in black and white, had a stark, harsh style that was creepy in a way the more conventionally styled update isn't able to replicate in the same way.
Worse, however, is the difference between the key character as played by Meryl Streep. Granted, she had tough shoes to fill: Angela Lansbury's best performance in my opinion was playing the ruthless political kingmaker of the original. While Streep does well, she veers perilously close to being campy, rather than creepy. The steely resolve, underneath the manicured surface of a political wife, that made Lansbury so memorable isn't as sharply drawn in Streep's performace.
Still, the remake is a fine and entertaining film - suspenseful, dramatic, thought-provoking. Do yourself a favor, however, and rent the original: you'll find it is more compelling.