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Remake or Reboot? A Retrospective

Remakes and Reboots, we hear the terms being thrown around all the time. Mostly in a negative context as well, so what are the differences between them, and why isn’t it necessarily a bad thing?

First of all: they aren’t the same thing.
So before diving into all the pros and cons let’s define the two.

A remake is a piece of work (in this case a movie) that is primarily based on an earlier work.
We’ll find the same storyline, characters and most often the only real difference is that they place the movie in it’s current day and setting.

A reboot is a piece of work (in this case a movie) that is inspired by previous works.
In a reboot you’ll find elements of a story or a batch of movies which is used to create something new.

The reason I want to point this out is because a lot of people are throwing the term around without knowing what they are saying, so now that this is all clear: let’s move on with my thoughts on it.
Ofcourse, a remake is the easiest of the two to criticise.
A lack of originality and the fact that we all know (if you’ve seen the original) what’s coming, are the most often heard comments against it.
On top of that (and a reboot suffers from this as well) the movie is most likely in a position where it has a lot of fans who don’t want their beloved movie to be touched and reformed into something new.

A remake that did work for most people, like ‘Scarface’, is mostly because people don’t even know that a 1932 ‘Scarface’ movie already existed. Ofcourse I could make a list with movies that did work but the fact is that remakes tend to fail. Personally, I am not bothered by them. My guilty pleasure is sequels and I tend to regard a remake as such. But there is no denying that most remakes are suffering from poorly written scripts combined with a lack of love for the source material.

Which brings me to the other behemoth in modern day movies: reboots.
Now this is definitely the one that sturs up the most discussion amongst movie buffs.
Hollywood has started to produce reboots sooner then ever before.
For instance, the 2002 ‘Spider-Man’ movie has been rebooted this year with ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ and the director behind the original: Sam Raimi, is now remaking his own horrorhit ‘The Evil Dead’.
To understand why this happens we have to step away for a bit from the movie itself and look at the economy. We are still facing the consequences from one of the largest recessions this world has ever seen, and Hollywood (amongst others) were the ones that felt it the hardest.

Making a movie relies more than ever on it’s bankability (how many dollars will it bring in) and using established franchises such as Spider-Man, Batman or even ‘The Evil Dead’ guarantees them of a certain degree of interest. The downside to this development is the lack of originality in movies these days, as well as a growing population of people who are growing sick of so many reimaginings from their favorite characters and movies.

Let’s focus on Batman for example, you had the comic, then the sixties (wonderfully camp) tv-show with Adam West, then we had Tim Burton adapting it in 1989 for the big screen. Which resulted in 3 sequels before Christopher Nolan rebooted the whole thing into the highly succesfull ‘Batman Begins’ trilogy which just finished up this summer.
This brings me to my final argument regarding reboots, I think it’s a good thing that they exist.
Even though a movie buff is probably the worst and most skeptical crowd to have around when presenting a new product, we all crave for more of what we love.

Which is why I’m becoming more and more irritated with the way people can react to them.
It’s basically always the same 5 step program.

1. The news comes out that there is going to be a reboot, which is always followed with skepticism.

2. Tidbits of news regarding the production start dripping in, this either leads to more skepticism or a switch towards the infamous ‘let’s see what they do with it’.

3. A teaser pops up, almost everytime met with ‘this is too short to judge, let’s wait it out’.

4. The trailer is released, amongst the poster as well as synopsis, this is the point where people tend to switch to either loving or hating it.

5. The movie is released, either becoming mutually loved or hated after its theatrical run.

Now if you agree with my 5 steps, you can easily spot my frustration.
People are always starting of skeptical, becoming more and more lenient (exceptions aside) towards the final release of the movie. Most often, what I tend to hear are comments like ‘why is this or this element not in it’, mind you: these are the people who were flaming the entire thing BECAUSE it was rebooting or remade.
Most people can’t seem to make up their mind about the phenomenon and either want a perfect reboot or remake that features all the stuff they loved or no movie at all.

I think we should just start getting a bit more positive. Being a huge horrorfan, I face reboots and remakes all the time and some work, some don’t. Just be happy that all our favourite movies are iconic and important enough to still be used as an inspiration. Jurassic Park was never met with a great sequel, but we still relish the fact that a fourth one is coming. Whether that’s a reboot or a remake or an entirely new sequel: let’s step away from all the skepticism and take it as it comes.

Who knows, we might like what we see, right Mr. Nolan?



5 thoughts on “Remake or Reboot? A Retrospective

  1. Thanks for clearing that! In the great words of Peter Griffin – “I’ma too stupid to make up my own mind” lol. Great post bro and you make some great points. Totally agree.

    Posted by Victor De Leon | October 18, 2012, 13:44
  2. I used to have a negative knee-jerk reaction to remakes/reboots until it occurred to me that the remakes and reboots have been going on since the dawn of cinema and since the dawn of theater before that. Hell, the greatest director of all-time, Alfred Hitchcock remade his own his movies! The point is that it’s nothing new and I actually appreciate different perspectives on fan-favorite films and television, regardless of how much i may have loved the original.

    This is why I appreciate Star Trek novels written by famous writers and furthermore why, unlike some fans of the franchise, I actually appreciate the J.J. Abrams reboot film of 2009 even though it’s very fundamentally divergent from the original material. Shit, we got to see Star Trek through the eyes of one of the biggest names in the field of SciFi film making. Just imagine if we were to have been so lucky as to have Chris Carter do a Trek film in the 1990’s or an arc of Deep Space Nine episodes?

    By the same token, I love love LOVE the original Battlestar Galactica but without a doubt the Ron Moore reboot of the classic series is and will forever be the greatest television show ever made. So, yeah, I’m kind of in favor of reboots/remakes of classic franchises in general.

    Posted by Shawn P. O'Halloran | October 24, 2012, 08:15

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