Welcome to Rebourne, a Bad Movie Marathon celebration of the remakes, reboots and late-in-the-day sequels which have so valiantly bolstered Hollywood’s output in these days of cautious studios and skeptical distributors.
What’s it all about?*
We live in an era where the film industry demands increasingly vast returns of its creative forces, and where consequently only projects confident of such a return get greenlit. And how can you be sure of a big return in such an uncertain marketplace as the cinema? Why, by redoing something that worked before of course! It’s bound to work! You can do this with a regular sequel, of course, spinning one successful movie into a franchise, but sometimes you want to go back to a well that’s been overlooked for a while, and that gives you some options. You could do a sequel, even years after the last installment, or you could reboot, or remake an all time classic.
So first up; what’s the difference between a reboot and a remake?
Reboot is a term which has filtered into cinema from television, where its use was originated, or at least codified, by the 2004 series Battlestar Galactica. Perhaps reboot is applied when there is an intention that the new version of a film form the basis of an ongoing franchise, and especially when the original was part of a franchise itself. Alternatively, it may be that reboot is preferred where the new version is a radical interpretation of the original text, rather than a simple updating with better graphics and higher definition film. In addition, reboots almost invariably use the same title as the original, where remakes may or may not, especially if they make radical alterations to the source text. Disney’s live action do-overs of their animated classics keep the same titles, but as brazen as it was in so many ways , Barb Wire didn’t have the gall to call itself Casablanca.
Speaking of Disney’s live action do-overs, they also fall into an odd subcategory of reboot, the ‘reimagining’, in which an original source – usually fairy tales or classic literature – is reworked with a greater or lesser nod to an earlier adaptation. While Disney is the number one culprit, other examples exist, such as Oz the Great and Powerful and just about anything with Frankenstein, Dracula or Tarzan in. Much the same applies to comic book movies, but honestly there are so many of them that I’m not going to include them in the project, since they are kind of a life’s work in and of themselves.
Remakes and reboots are always contentious, and another terminological difference is that ‘remake’ tends to be applied to a movie that is considered conservative, overly-reverential and thus essentially redundant, while ‘reboot’ is used if they changed it and now it sucks. The shot-for-shot remake of Psycho is a classic example of the former, while the new Ghostbusters with its girl cooties is the latter. The ‘too similar’ argument holds more intrinsic water, a straight remake often arguing of a higher level of creative bankruptcy, whereas the problems of a reboot are typically more subjective.
Late sequels are a fairly recent phenomenon, where a seemingly paid out franchise suddenly gets a new chapter, a decade or more after the last installment. Prominent examples include the Mad Max: Fury Road, so let us not begin with the perception that Rebourne is about slamming the practices of the modern Hollywood studio system; at least not in a knee-jerk fashion. While it does seem a shame that original material is being pushed out of the limelight by the tired retreading of old ideas with a reliable bank, that doesn’t mean that the product is automatically worse than the earlier model; in some cases it is better.
- Star Trek Beyond (2016) – Technically standing in until/unless I get a review of 2009’s Star Trek up.
- X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) – Both a stand in for First Class and here as a late sequel/reset of the original X-Men trilogy.
- Hitman: Agent 47 (2015) – An attempt to reboot a franchise that died in the traps a mere eight years previously.
- The Mechanic (2011) – A remake of a Michael Winner/Charles Bronson thriller about the moral and spiritual vacuity of murder which dispensed with the moral and spiritual vacuity of murder aspect, but was ironically a better Hitman movie than any actual Hitman movie.
- Last Knights (2015) – A westernised overhaul of the legend of the forty-seven ronin.
- Jason Bourne (2016) – A soft reboot of the Bourne franchise after the less than stellar performance of prior soft reboot, The Bourne Legacy.
- The Producers (2005) – The film of the musical of the film.
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) – The totally unexpected prequel to the completely done with massive financial success.
- Pete’s Dragon (2016) – One of Disney’s most bizarre remake ideas comes a good un.
- Dad’s Army (2016) – Neither nostalgic, nor of its own era.
- Kong: Skull Island (2017) – King Kong goes kaiju.
- Power Rangers (2017) – An oddly gloomy take on the super sentai phenomenon.
- The Mummy (2017) – An oddly gloomy take on the Universal monster franchise tries to kickstart interest in a cinematic universe.
- Blade Runner 2049 (2017) – A bold attempt to start over on one of science fictions most seminal cult properties.
- Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) – A surprisingly fun rebootquel of the clingy board-game saga.
- The Predator (2018) – After the jungle, the urban jungle, and another planet, the alien hunters come to small town America to… not actually hunt anything.
- Mary Poppins Returns (2018) – After a break of 54 years, the practically perfect nanny returns to steer the Banks household through another time of trouble.
- Men in Black International (2019) – After a string of sequels to the original Men in Black that no-one was really asking for, comes the soft reboot that no one was really asking for.
The following reviews already on the BMM also fit the brief of the project to a greater or lesser degree:
- Ghostbusters (2016)
- The Legend of Tarzan (2016)
- The Jungle Book (2016)
- Victor Frankenstein (2015)
- The Man From UNCLE (2015) – After a lacklustre reception for this gritty reboot of the lighthearted seventies spy thriller, Guy Ritchie has of course turned his attention to another established property: King Arthur.)
- Terminator: Genisys (2015) – As the timeline of the Terminator franchise became increasingly complicated, this entry served as a soft reboot, in a similar way to X-Men: Days of Future Past and Star Trek, only without the widespread acclaim and acceptance.
- Dracula Untold (2014) – Author David Gemmell once wrote that he ultimately chose fantasy over the western genre because he got tired of cowboy heroes like Wyatt Earp being exposed as bullies and pimps. At least no-one would ever come along as tell you that Aragorn owned a whorehouse in his Ranger days or that Sauron was only like he was because he was regularly beaten as a child. Dracula Untold and its ilk basically exist to prove that, in time, even the most egregious of dark lords will have people queuing up to tell you that they were just misunderstood.
- I, Frankenstein (2014) – Frankenstein’s creature basically was the way he was because he was thrown out by his creator in a fit of horror, and that because of the physical affects of the hubris of the act of creating him, so this film instead argues that he was a badass demon-slayer.
- The Lone Ranger (2014)
- Robocop (2014) – Because every seminal satire is crying out to be done straight.
- Maleficent (2014) – “You poor, simple fools; thinking you could defeat me! ME! The mistress of all evil!” And when I say ‘Mistress of all evil’ I mean vengeful but generally good-hearted big damn hero.
- Prometheus (2012)
- Total Recall (2012)
- Conan the Barbarian (2011)
- The Time Machine (2002)
- 20,000 Leagues Beneath the Sea (1996)
- Late sequel
- Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
- Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) – Terminator is a franchise built on surprise sequels. Terminator 2 popped up 7 years after the entirely self-contained Terminator, and left everyone feeling the series was done until this forgettable effort kickstarted the series 12 years on. Ever since they’ve been limping something out every six years or so, probably in an effort to recapture the magic of the first two and not have to have the most recent head-scratcher be the last word.
- Jurassic World (2015)
- Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
- Riddick (2013)
* Yeah, they remade Alfie and all.