What’s wrong with reboots?


So, it would seem that remakes, reboots and re imaginings are very popular at the moment in the Box Office. Surely, Hollywood hasn’t ran out of ideas yet? And why do many remakes fail so badly, or miss key elements of what the original was trying to accomplish. This is what I intend to discuss.

So what do I mean by those words. Here’s what I am referring to:

To reboot means to discard all continuity in an established series in order to recreate its characters, timeline and backstory from the beginning. A remake; or re-imagining, is a motion picture based on a film produced earlier. The term remake can refer to everything on the spectrum of reused material: both an allusion or a line-by-line change retake of a movie. However, the term generally pertains to a new version of an old film.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Some reboots, remakes, and re imaginings can work fairly well, the prime example being the new Star Trek movies. It captures the spirit of the old Trek, and also frees up the producers to make their own stories (I won’t spoil the plot points, but essentially, it’s a parallel universe Star Trek, so the events in their universe are different to the ones in the original series’ universe). This works because the creators obviously got Star Trek, and what it tried to achieve, that being a realistic image of the future (with aliens, and space ships).

Some reboots, however, seem to fail in those goals. Now, not all reboots are necessarily bad, in fact many critics love these films, but the audience don’t want to see it. Now, I can understand why people would not want to see a particular reboot, the common argument is that it isn’t the same one we grew up with, it’s americanised, Hollywood doesn’t get this product. In the case of some films, that is very true. Hollywood does mess up, some of the examples of remakes, reboots or re-imaginings which have failed are:

  • The Magic Roundabout
  • Thunderbirds
  • Judge Dredd
  • Planet of the Apes

These are only a few of the many examples. So, why did these films fail? Well, it’s largely due to factors such as poorly executed stories, if the story is stupid, then it’s not going to work. If the Characters and their motivations are out of character, like in the Film version of the last airbender, the characters are very different to what they were in the original source material. But I feel that the key factor is that the films try to do too many things. They are there to capture the interest of new fans, they are there to reignite a love for that particular franchise or show, or film or whatever it’s based on. It is essentially a catch all film, in the way that Political parties have to catch as many voters. If it fails to do this, then it fails.

Not all reboots are bad, some I actually like, Dark Shadows was good, The A-Team was pretty faithful, Star Trek is a really good reboot, and also films like The James Bond series can take a character right to the start of his spying career and keep him fresh after over 50 years of films. In the case of Dark Shadows, this wasn’t very popular with old fans of the show (Yes, it was a remake), I guess that it was quite different to the show, but I think it achieved what the show tried to achieve.

Now, to my last point, there are so many remakes and reboots at the moment, that it makes you think that Hollywood has ran out of ideas, now I have to agree to a certain extent. There are so many stories you could come up with so many new stories, but you choose to remake an old 80’s cult classic? However, playing Devil’s advocate, if the person in charge is adding their own touch to the film, while trying to capture the spirit of the original, then there is a point to making the film. The way I see it, film makers shouldn’t be cashing in on the popularity of a beloved show such as Scooby Doo or Thunderbirds, they should be creating new stories for timeless classics. We will always have remakes, reboots and re-imaginings, and you know what? We should.

About the author


Since 2012, Benjamin Attwood has written for the If you Ask Ben blog.

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