Well, I’m back.
An eventful few months after my first post (the highs and lows of my absence include a bike ride through Florence, a rat infested house, an awesome work placement and a break-up) I’m returning to blogging. My first attempt, call it testing the waters or cutting my teeth, in the end got me a bit lost, and no matter how many times I tried I simply couldn’t get my follow up post to click. So I sort of took a step back for awhile. But now I’ve returned, with a fresh look and a new approach. Yep, I’m rebooting my site. It is the age of reboots after all.
Ah, the reboot. The word leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, the grumbling, self-entitled, ‘leave my stories alone’ type that I am. But it’s a taste I’m getting more and more accustom to. Reboots and remakes are becoming relentlessly popular among film studios, who are increasingly focused on chasing the skyrocketing returns of today’s franchise blockbusters, such as The Avengers, Fast and Furious, and James Bond, and less interested in backing original, and therefore non-established and riskier, ideas. It seems they are here to stay, so a look at some positives couldn’t hurt, right? I mean, if I wrote a blog on all the negatives of reboots we’d be here all day. And hey, I might even convince myself that they’re not entirely the abhorrent sin I think they are…
It’s easy to assume that every reboot or remake is a heart-less, corporate-minded ploy to use beloved characters and stories in order to gain our money. And lets not kid ourselves, most are. However, there are exceptions. Take the 2010 remake of True Grit. Sure, it’s really based on the same book rather than an out and out remake of the 1969 film but with that film being the cinema classic it is, it would have been easy for the studio (Paramount Pictures) to simply commission a half-arsed, slightly up-dated version of it and expect to make money off the name and love for the original alone. Yet instead, with the Coen brothers in the director’s chair(s ?), a unique and equally awesome version of the same story was made, with performances from Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the award winning ones by John Wayne and Kim Darby.
Most reboots are done under the guise of ‘Bringing classic stories to new audiences’ or ‘Re-imagining narratives with the use of modern technology’, yet these are almost always the bad ones, the corporate money-grabs. For example, a remake of the hit 90s action film Cliffhanger is currently in the works. I mean, I don’t know it’s going to be bad but come on, if there’s one think ‘modern technology’ most certainly does not make better it’s stuff like this:
Oh yeah I was being positive, wasn’t I? Well, there are some stories that really do lend themselves to being re-interpreted and re-imagined. Popular narratives like Doctor Who and James Bond are made to be rebooted. When Daniel Craig took on 007 for the first time in Casino Royale it was labeled a ‘bond reboot’, but isn’t ever time the Bond has changed actors been a reboot of some kind? Yet it works great, different actors and directors get to do their own takes of the character without stepping on the toes of those that have gone before. Its a similar story with Doctor Who, where, while the changes in actor and their portrayal is actually part of an ongoing narrative, each transition hits the re-set button, giving the series new visuals and tones as well as the new people behind the camera a chance to express their own fresh ideas and stories. And as for the ‘old stories, new audiences’ bs pointed out above… Well in the case of Doctor Who, which had been off air for a few decades before the ‘reboot’ in 2005, it really did work, bringing the show to a generation that had never experienced it before. And let’s not forget this year’s stellar Mad Max: Fury Road:
Tom Hardy replaces Mel Gibson in this reboot of the 80s cult classics and truly awesome film. Not a straight remake, this is simple another story that fits into the character of Max. And it excels as a reboot because it is doesn’t just re-hash or step all over what came before.
And that’s the key to reboot, really. They need to be done with passion and respect for the original idea. They also need to be done for the right reasons, like a genuine desire to create fresh and unique takes on established stories and characters. If they’re not done for these reasons, if they’re just effortless copies of the originals, then they’ll pale in comparison. Reboots also only really succeed if the original concept has a story and characters big enough to allow for multiple interpretations. Look at the superhero genre, its stories and characters are rebooted and remade constantly, and across so many different media (Comics, films, TV, games, graphic novels, etc). Like Bond, the Doctor, and Mad Max, superheroes and their worlds are big enough to go beyond any one single representation. But that doesn’t mean every reiteration is good… I’m looking at you The Amazing Spiderman 2.
Not all reboots are bad, then. Some narratives are even very welcoming of them. But, while there is certainly many more examples of good reboots than I’ve touched on here, there is a whole lot of bad ones. I mean, I could write all day about why they are bad, but no one really wants to read me complaining for 3000 words. And hey, I have just about managed to scrap together a post about why they aren’t all bad, so there must be some hope for them right?… Right?
On that note I’ll leave you with one final thought…
Just how long is it ’til someone reboots the Lord of the Rings?
Thanks for reading! If you found it even slightly interesting then why not follow me? And if you didn’t, well the next post will be better, I promise! And it won’t take 4 months to appear again… Hopefully.
Until then if you fancy seeing some funny the Simpsons quotes hit me up at @GregRogers95
G. T. Rogers.