I’m all for fresh takes on old ideas. As a comic book reader, I am totally used to seeing an idea reinterpreted over and over and over again. If it wasn’t for reinterpretation, we’d only have Steve Ditko imitators and we never would have had Todd MacFarlane’s Spider-Man. It can be refreshing. Sometimes you get Tim Burton’s Batman when most people only knew of the sixties Adam West series. But then again, sometimes you get Brittney Spears covering Bobby Brown’s “My Prerogative.”
With improvements in special effects in movies and movie-making techniques as a whole, remakes and reboots can be great ways for movie makers to express their interpretations of older ideas. Hell, James Cameron was FINALLY able to make the Aliens movie he wanted all along when modern technology allowed him to exploit 3D technology and make gajillions off of Avatar. Sometimes these reinterpretations (I’m actually kind of sick of “reboot”) are simply visits to already-existing universes. The upcoming Jurassic World looks like it’s going to be a great trip back to the world Spielberg created in 1993’s Jurassic Park. The first trailer featured an arrangement of John Williams’ original theme! Anyone at least ages 30 through 50 with a soul had a big smile on their face when that happened. George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road is a revisit to the world of the original Mad Max without being a total remake. Next year, because YOU demanded it (but probably just don’t remember demanding it) we will once again celebrate… OUR INDEPENDENCE when Independence Day 2 is released 20 years after the original.
Then there are those movie franchises that find themselves in such a disjointed mess they either have to be given prequels (X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Transformers: et al), or a relatively new tactic can be applied: the Audible. This is when a new franchise is canceled and turned into another franchise altogether. This is what I’m convinced Warner Bros. did with Man of Steel. I’m also convinced Marvel used this same tactic when they turned Iron-Man into a stepping stone for The Avengers. And hey, I’m not complaining. I’m psyched about Batman V. Superman: Dawn of (not ‘just us’) Justice, and everyone I know knows how much I love every single thing Marvel Studios has shoved in my face (except for Incredible Hulk— sorry, “big guy”).
80’s cartoons are now ripe for the picking by Hollywood studios. Transformers proved that you can make billions with some witty teen banter and humanoid alien cars shooting each other. Bill Murray, who was allegedly the one big hold-out for a proper third Ghostbusters for years decided that not one but TWO Garfield movies was a better use of his time. The newest Ninja Turtles films are basically live-action versions of the 1987 animated series. Even The Smurfs have been given the live action/ CGI treatment. I recently watched the trailer for Jem. If it wasn’t called Jem, I’d have no idea on what it was based. Now, out of PURE curiosity (ahem..ahem…) I watched a few episodes of that show when I was a kid. Based purely on my memory, it was about some woman who was in a glam rock band who could turn into some kind of super-powered Lady Gaga with the help of some kind of artificial intelligence and she fought some other band called The Misfits (sans Glenn Danzig, of course). It was like a female superhero version of Purple Rain, but nowhere near as cool as the real Purple Rain. If the trailer is any indication, this movie will have nothing in common with the show at all, other than the title’s misspelling of “gem.”
There are also those remakes/reboots/reinterpretations/writers’ blocks that I just shake my head at. I’m not sure what the criteria is for a BAD idea for a remake. It’s more of a gut feeling I can’t exactly put my finger on. Ghostbusters is sacred to me and this upcoming Paul Feig remake had better knock my socks off for me to even be able to tolerate its existence. And I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong if I actually end up enjoying it. The Crow is another remake I can’t understand. The imagery and gothic ambiance of the original graphic novel and film, I fear, will be lost on younger audiences today. Just today I read of plans for a Big Trouble in Little China remake starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Or, I should say, Dwayne Johnson, when there is still too much time left between now and the next Wrestlemania appearance. This is another one that for some reason I just can’t wrap my head around. It’s one of those movies that’s quoted at every party. It’s a movie that was a product of its time AND influenced the very time in which it existed! Like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or Back to the Future (the trilogy as a whole)… or friggin’ Ghostbusters! Sometimes a movie, or series of movies, is so perfect nothing more can be said about it. The story can go no further without watering down what made it great to begin with.
All in all, I actually kind of enjoy seeing news of re-movies. For all of the crap the Star Wars prequels get, at least it gave us some insight as to how the story all began leading up to Episode 4, and it made me hungry for more, which I’m getting in December when Episode 7 is finally released. Dare I say, I’m filled with … A New Hope? Eh? Eh? Besides, new ideas aren’t always better. Voltron would have been much cooler than Pacific Rim (probably) and I believe a series based on William Gibson’s Sprawl Trilogy would be ten times better than The Matrix Trilogy. But that’s just me.