In the aftermath of this weeks disastrous Fantastic Four release, David Opie argues that reboots are still essential to modern day filmmaking…
Remake. Reimagining. Reboot. The Three dreaded R’s of Hollywood.
Every day, it seems that studios announce plans to launch yet another a new franchise reboot and every day, the internet responds with a collective groan louder than the sound of Fantastic Four crashing and burning at the box office.
“How dare they mess with a classic!?”
“Is there no originality left in Hollywood!”
In the harshest backhanded compliment ever given, critics are describing the new Fantastic Four movie as the best so far, yet the reviews are overwhelmingly negative, seemingly confirming the fears that fans held about the project ever since it was first announced. Fantastic Four isn’t the only reboot suffering from a backlash though. Terminator Genisys performed poorly at the box office too and news of an upcoming Jumanji reboot hasn’t exactly been received with open arms. Robin Williams only died a year ago after all. Too soon indeed…
Reboots may receive more bad press than the Tidal music service, but we’ll let you in on a dirty little secret that movie buffs hate to admit. Some of those sacred classics ‘ruined’ by Hollywood reboots weren’t actually that great in the first place. Ahem…
If you’re still reading, we imagine that you’re probably compiling a list of all those horrendous reboots in your head right now to prove us wrong, so let’s save some time here. Fantastic Four, Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes, Superman Returns (which is actually quite enjoyable), The Amazing Spider-Man (arguably) and… Hmmm… Once you disregard poor remakes such as Fame, Total Recall and Footloose… actual franchise reboots tend to be more successful than they’re given credit for.
The silver screen reboot of 21 Jump Street quickly became the most popular high school comedy of all time and even Joel Schumacher himself would agree that Batman Begins was far better than his own Batman & Robin. So why do reboots have such a bad reputation?
Part of the problem is that both reboots and remakes are often lumped together unfairly, despite actually being remarkably different from one another. Reboots are classed as ongoing franchises that attempt to wipe the slate clean, ignoring everything that came before, while remakes closely follow the original story line of a movie with only minor changes. Remakes are often terrible for a number of reasons too long to go into detail here. Except for Nicolas Cage’s The Wicker Man. Best. Comedy. Ever.
Another issue that movie fans have with reboots is the curiously modern approach of rebooting a franchise while memories of how awful the previous movies were still linger. It’s only been five years since the second version of The Nightmare on Elm Street hit cinemas and already another attempt has been announced. The modern Mummy franchise starring Brendan Fraser worked better because decades had passed between instalments, but The Amazing Spider-Man was released just five years after the emo dance from Spider-Man 3 was burnt into the retinas of miserable fans everywhere.
A fast reboot shouldn’t directly impact the quality of a movie if handled right though. The gap between the campy Batman of old and Christopher Nolan’s grittier interpretation was only three years more than Spider-Man, yet Batman Begins succeeded far beyond expectations. The issue is that Batman needed a reboot and needed it badly, while Sony unfortunately failed to convince audiences that Spider-Man required the same treatment.
Andrew Garfield embodied the role of Peter Parker better than anyone could have hoped for and the fast-paced dialogue captured the spirit of the web crawler at his best, but ultimately, The Amazing Spider-Man just became a tired retread of Peter Parker’s origin story, putting many fans off the franchise for good.
Is this fair though? Should Sony’s recent Spidey movies affect the way you perceive the upcoming reboot? And are the first few Spider-Man movies even as good as you remember?
It’s hard to admit, but some of those ‘untouchable’ classics weren’t perfect in the first place. Many balked at the idea of rebooting James Bond, but if you compare the Daniel Craig era to Die Another Day, the two feel like they were made in completely different decades, despite being released only four years apart. Four years. That’s all it took to update a repetitive formula into one of the most critically acclaimed and financially successful franchises of the last ten years.
But what if you hated the changes made in Skyfall and long for the days of Sean Connery in the tux? That’s ok. Even if the new rebooted films completely rewrite what came before, those original movies still technically exist. Short of studios hunting through charity shops for those last few tapes in a Nazi style VHS-burning, reboots don’t directly damage the original source material, no matter what the detractors may have you believe.
Admittedly, the Star Trek franchise came close, uniquely rewriting their entire continuity with the use of parallel worlds, but Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan will always be there still, waiting to welcome the weary fan tired of attempts to ‘ruin’ their beloved classics. That’s what people often choose to forget when a reboot is announced. The new Ghostbusters movies may make a mockery of the franchise or could end up being even better than the originals, but either way, a whole new generation will now seek out those classic movies, investing them with more appreciation than ever before.
And isn’t that a good thing?
Don’t get me wrong. Originality should still take precedence over Hollywood’s current desire to remake/reimagine/re-trash everything in sight, but reboots certainly have their place, fixing broken franchises and revitalising interest in iconic movies that have begun to gather dust. For every TMNT and Fantastic Four, there’s also a Batman Begins or a Mad Max: Fury Road, films which could be counted among the best Hollywood movies of the past decade.
At the end of the day, we need reboots. Would you rather live in a world where the most memorable part of a Batman film is George Clooney’s plastic nipples? A world where Judge Dredd is only played by Rocky? A world where the Hulk’s strongest adversary is a gamma powered poodle? Shudder…
Before the reboot train loses steam, our fingers are firmly crossed for a new take on Resident Evil or Scanners at some point in the near future. Hell, give it another ten years and we might finally see a decent reboot of the Fantastic Four, assuming that Fox’s sequel falls flatter than Reed Richards jokes at a Latverian standup comedy night. Zing.