So, the summer season for Hollywood movies has pretty much drawn to a close and has come this year with a surprisingly large number of sequels, remakes and reboots. Two of the most noticeable examples were Jurassic World and Terminator: Genysis, which ultimately showcase that there is indeed a time when a sequel is FAR too late to make (although I’d have thought Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull would have been proof of that. -ed.), and yet we still have Hollywood sequels coming up this year, with probably the most noticeably being Star Wars: The Force Awakens, due at the end of the year (although, after the prequels and considering the reception most sequels tend to get, I surprised the Star Wars fandom hasn’t been up in arms about THIS continuation of the Star Wars story…and I’m saying this as someone who didn’t hate the prequels! -ed.). It’s very easy to wonder whether Hollywood has an original idea left in it by this point, and I wouldn’t entirely blame people for being cynical and saying that Hollywood isn’t interested in actually making movies by this point, instead more wanting to continually rehash the classics in an attempt to keep making money.
But that’s where I have to stop and ask this: is remaking something necessarily bad?
Well, there would certainly be more than enough movies that I could bring up that I loathe with a burning passion which happen to be sequels, remakes and reboots for me to understand people who say that they are. The two Star Trek films directed by J. J. Abrams REALLY anger me (he isn’t kidding: I’ve sat through the rant so many times by now that I could play bingo to it if I wanted to! -ed.) and I know Nemo is not particularly fond of the reboot films of Spider-Man directed by the surprisingly appropriately named Marc Webb (I don’t give a fuck if those films are apparently more in line with the comics than the original Sam Raim-directed trilogy is, they still are among the most boring films I’ve ever sat through and have logic issues you could drive a jumbo jet through! I actually prefer Spider-Man 3 over the two films directed by Marc Webb, if you can believe that! Rant over, where are my chill pills… -ed.), so I can understand why a lot of people would say that sequels, remakes and reboots are inherently bad, because there is certainly a lot of poorly done films that fall into that category.
But there are also a bunch of films which fall into that category which are actually really good. I personally found 2014’s Godzilla to be a surprisingly good film and the last two Planet of the Apes movies (2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes and 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) to be genuinely enjoyable films that don’t suffer at all from having to live up to the legacy of the original series and, while it would be a stretch to call it a reboot due to it having been planned independently from the 1995 Judge Dredd films, 2012’s Dredd 3D was a truly excellent film that is, frankly, crying out for a sequel (…Yeah, not gonna lie, I think I would take a Dredd sequel over the Fantastic Four reboot any day of the week, and I’m saying this as someone who is disappointed the Fantastic Four basically got left languishing around doing nothing for the last eight years or so and who basically got introduced to superhero films through them and the original Spider-Man trilogy! -ed.). Those successes, at least to me, do indicate that there are very valid reasons to say that sequels, remakes and reboots are not inherently bad as well.
Speaking as a general observation, I think part of the problem with remaking something is that you have to find the right director for it: someone who is passionate enough about the original material that they know what is central to it and should not be changed, but not so passionate that they forget that their audience isn’t necessarily going to be fans of the original material and leaving them locked out of the film as a result (and, obviously, able to actually make a good film!). This is part of what made Dredd 3D work for so many people, despite not being a financial success at the box office: it was made by fans for fans, but you didn’t necessarily need to be a fan of the original material to enjoy the film, as it gave enough information to prevent newcomers from being locked out of the film.
This same logic has also worked brilliantly for Marvel Studios, if you think about it: there has been only two films in the MCU so far which have got less than 70% on Rotten Tomatoes (2008’s The Incredible Hulk and 2013’s Thor: The Dark World, the latter of which surprised me: I liked it more than the two Captain America films, which got a lot of praise from most critics! -ed.) and they’re mostly been well liked by comic book fans as well as the general public. That doesn’t make the films high art by any measure, but there’s certainly a working formula that Marvel Studios have for their superhero films which only the X-Men film franchise can claim to rival in terms of success. Although I will admit that Batman VS Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad are looking a lot better now than I was expecting them to, so maybe DC might be able to surprise us all with their Cinematic Universe (I certainly have higher hopes for THAT than the Fantastic Four reboot…-ed.).
So, ultimately, is a remake of something necessarily bad? I don’t think so. Even considering my stance on the J. J. Abrams directed Star Trek films, I do recognise why some people might enjoy them and appreciate the source material as well and, ultimately, a remake of something isn’t necessarily a sign of a lack of quality on a part of the remake. There’s so many factors that go into filmmaking that it’s hard to say remaking something is automatically bad: a remake could feasibly be superior to the original in every aspect or even fix flaws in the original that genuinely were signs of bad filmmaking, like actors corpsing in the background of a take or hitting their heads off of props. While the onslaught of remakes, reboots and sequels is frustrating on some levels, there is nothing necessarily wrong with it.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that movies (and entertainment in general) tend to go through phases, where the public gets given something until they eventually get tired of it and something new comes along, so this trend might actually be on its way out sometime in the future. I’m hoping it is, because it would be great to see Hollywood taking chances on original films again!