There is an epidemic currently going on in Hollywood that looks virtually incurable, working its way up to massive casualties, I am talking of course about Sequels, Reboots and Remakes. It is definitely not unfamiliar or uncharted waters, many have voiced their opinions and much has fallen on deaf ears or simply those who live in blissful ignorance not willing to open their eyes to the raping of their minds. I chose to simply voice my thoughts, in the hopes that maybe there are those of you out there willing to step up the fight against the lack of creativity that is running amuck in Hollywood.
I will be the first to admit that every possible story has been played out in some fashion in film, which can make up a chunk of this lack of creativity, but that should not warrant taking these older ideas and updating them or rehashing the same thing that was done 30 years prior. Now I am not saying that sequels, reboots and remakes should not be done, what I am saying is if you are going to do them, do it for the right reasons and do it the right way, which is where Hollywood has gone wrong. It is all about the Benjamin’s, how much money can we suck for Joe Blow Viewer and quality has gone the way of the dodo.
Now Hollywood, if you are still reading this, allow me to share with you along with everyone else reading some options on what can be done to cure the world of this rampant plague.
Let me get the most obvious option out of the way, one word, BOYCOTT! Imagine how much money studios would lose if every person refused to watch any sequels, reboots or remakes. Only then would the studios actually start to care and listen to what viewers want to see, because currently, like it or not, the studios tell us what we want to watch and we let them. I think this is option, however effective it may be, will never work, simply because people love their movies and there are some of you out there (myself included) that will pay to watch anything, if for nothing elses other then some morbid sense of curiosity.
So this leaves us with another option. When someone has the bright idea to make a sequel, reboot or remake, there should be a set of standard criteria (outside money) that each idea should meet before its rushed into production.
A. In the case of sequels, does the original merit a sequel?
There have been so many series out there that, when you view the original or first flick, you receive closure, all answers are given during or at the end. I’ll be the first to admit that in some cases, that seeing some of those memorable characters on screen would be a welcome treat, but not entirely necessary. Films, such as The Matrix, The Nutty Professor or Pirates of the Caribbean were great as stand alone pieces, no further explanation or character exploits were needed. Sure some of the characters were great or showcased an actors acting capabilities, but attempts to make theses sorts of films into long lasting series is a blatant attempt at cashing in on pop culture or showing off advances in film making technology. This is wrong, a sequel should only be made if the original has left an opening or unresolved issues or if the audience is clamoring for more and the film’s premise allows it to. Bringing a character back from the dead, so that you can cash in on an actors current popularity is a big no no in my books (Yes, producers of Crank and Crank 2 I am looking at you) regardless of how good either film ends up being. There are notable exceptions which I well get into in a minute.
- Will the story from the orginal film allow further development?
- What does the average viewer think about a future the potential film being turned into a series?
- Are we making a sequel because of an actors current popularity status?
There are some notable exceptions to this first criteria:
- If your name is James Bond
- The horror/slasher genre has a long history of bringing characters back from the dead to run a bloody rampage, and it would not feel right to see a different killer in Friday the Thirteenth that is not Jason or Freddy being replaced in Nightmare on Elm Street.
- Comic book films, regardless of how bad some may be, you can always make up for it in a sequel, not too mention the long history that most popular comic superheroes have behind them.
Some sequels I recommend:
- Oceans 11 series
- Indiana Jones series (yes even #4)
- Back To The Future series
- Orginal Star Wars Series
- Lord of the Rings (I recommend the Extended cuts)
- Terminator series
Some Sequels to avoid:
- Nutty Professor II
- Dr. Doolittle series
- Pretty much any direct to DVD Disney release.
- Spider Man III
B. In the case of Remakes, how do you determine what films are remade?
This is an area that is a little more tricky then sequels, since you are not just tampering with characters and plots, but someone else’s hard work and doing something that has already been done before. Some advice before even contemplating a remake, DO NOT TOUCH THE CLASSICS! No matter how dated the film may be, remaking a classic like Citizen Kane, Casablanca, or even The Wizard of Oz is a form of blaspheme in the world of filmmaking and should not even be considered. Spoofing or borrowing ideas from classic films is alright because that’s what they are there for, to inspire and entertain.
It seems that due to the inability to come up with new ideas, Hollywood has gone beyond borrowing ideas from films past, and deciding that the originals are not good enough and in need of an update or redone. This has worked out for some, but can confuse fans of the orginal or even worse alienate them. And when a films is remade just for the heck of it, even if the film has only been available for a short period, is a bit overkill. It will damage the studios credibility, why remake The Wicker Man or The Manchurian Candidate, the originals were good in their own right and the remakes did nothing or improve upon them. All this achieved was exposing the studios for the greedy monster they really are.
When a studio decides to remake a film, my hypothesis is that they are playing the demographics game, meaning, they are trying to make something that will cover the as many demographics as possible. In theory, the remake should attract the older audience, while the updated asspects will be more in tune with the younger, money spending generation, their primary target. This in and of itself is not a terrible idea, what makes it a bad idea is when studios delve into the absurd or make it an attempt to outdo the original. I already touched on remaking the classics, but another exclusions should be Horror/Slasher films. These films simply don’t need to be redone, because exploring the origins of Freddy or Jason a second time around is unnecessary, redundant and a waste of the viewers time.
One mistake that the studios learned the hard way about remakes, was the remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. The films director, Gus Van Sant, stated that is was an experiment that failed. Maybe, had it been a lesser known film, the experiment may have been more of a success, considering the daunting task of emulating a legandary director. The Psycho experiment was an attempt to see if a shot for shot and word for word remake would be profitable and attractive to the younger demographic. Not to say that the film was bad, because I actually enjoyed it, but the original was vastly superior. There were a number of issues that contributed to the films downfall. Casting being the main flaw. Though Vince Vaughn perfromance as Norman Bates was ok, he looked entirely uncomfortable in the role and did not match Anthony Perkins portrayal, he fell quite short. And I won’t even go into Anne Heche as Marion Crane, but when you screw up casting on the two central characters, you are all but doomed.
- Is the film considered a classic? Definition of a classic film: Films that are critically acclaimed, stood the test of time and everyone and their dog knows about it.
- How long ago was the original released? I think a minimum of 15 years should qualify, films that were made 15 years and prior should only be considered, I don’t think the world is quite ready for a remake of Armageddon or Mr. Hollands Opus just yet.
- How successful was the original? If the original was a blockbuster success, why marginalize it? Leave well enough alone.
Remakes I recommend:
- I Am Legend
- Poseidon (Lots of critcs disliked this one, I for one enjoyed it, though not nearly as good as the orginal)
Remakes to avoid:
- The Stepford Wives ( enojoyable, but not nearly as thrilling or suspenseful as the Orginal)
- The Wicker Man
- The Omen
C. In the case of Reboots, what determining factors can establish what series need rebooting?
Reboots are a little bit harder to assess, since it really applies to a dead series or a series which never really took off and attempt to drawn in a newer crowd. I actually find it hard to criticize the Reboot, since they more else make up in the follies from the previous entries (Sequel and Remake). I think the reboot is a last stitch effort for the studios to apologize to the viewers for putting a crappy product out there. The problem though, is that studios have trouble explaing to the viewers the differences between Reboot and Remake. The most recent example, The Incredible Hulk, was never really specified as a direct sequel to Hulk or simply a reboot to reenergize a series. This, I believe was what contributed to the average numbers at the box office, had there been clearer clarification on the issue, numbers would have been right up there with Iron Man’s. For the most part, studios have got the reboot figured out, find a series that was one time popular and lost its way, re tool it and sell it to the crowd. Plain and simple.
- Find a dead series, that once was a dominant force, re invent it and convince the audience to invest their time and money.
- Batman Begins and The Dark Knight
- Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace (though I did not care for Quantum of Solace as a bond feature)
- Alien and Predator (though, AVP and AVP 2 are not classified as reboots for either franchise, they did attempt to bring a renewed interest in both series)
These or only a few of the criteria and steps that need to be taken to ensure that we, the viewing public, are not bombarded with shameless attempts to exploit old ideas, the creation of shitty sequels or effortless second attempts, all in the brazen push to obtain our hard earned money. But in the same regard, we the audience should be wary of what we are willing to pay to watch, because we are just as guilty, throwing our money at travesties such as A Very Brady Sequel or Indiana Jones IV, will lead to continual spawning of crap after crap.
What are some criteria that you the audience/viewer wish to add or disagree with, by all means feel free to share, this is an open debate. Let us know, share your frustration.