Go into any corner on the Internet today and you’re likely to hear wannabe cinephiles and critics (whether amateur or professional) bemoaning the lack of originality in studio films.
You’ll hear the dreaded “remake” or the eye-roll inducing “reboot” or the savage “re-imagining” weaponized into a kind of molotov cocktail which is then thrown at any movie reminiscent of any other movie.
Even the Oscars are not immune to this criticism in today’s day and age. Just look at “Marriage Story,” which could easily be seen as a play on 1979’s “Kramer Vs. Kramer;” or “JoJo Rabbit” being based on Christine Leunens’ book “Caging Skies” and a cinematic mashup of Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator”, “The Producers” and “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore;” “1917” seems to recall 1998’s “Saving Private Ryan” and “Little Women” is… well, “Little Women” for the sixth time.
When (if) Joaquin Phoenix wins Best Actor for “Joker,” we’ll be fondly remembering Heath Ledger in his award-winning take on the psychopathic villain from 2008’s “The Dark Knight.”
Last year, even “A Star is Born” got armchair Oscar experts in a frenzy for its fourth iteration.
But we say to those naysayers… get off it.
This ain’t no new trend, or new obsession.
“Star Wars” was an American version of Kurosawa’s “The Hidden Fortress” set in space. “Raiders of the Lost Ark” paid homage to the classic adventure serials of the 1930s and 1940s. There was “The Parent Trap” in 1998 and 1961. “Scarface” in 1983 began life as a 1932 black and white flick based on a 1929 novel.
“The Scorpion King” was a “2002 spinoff of the 2001 prequel to the 1999 remake of a 1932 film,” as pointed out by writer/producer Stephen Follows.
Heck, classic Hollywood is chock full of reboots, such as 1931’s “Frankenstein” and 1939’s “The Wizard of Oz”, both of which were made as silent movies decades earlier.
It’s all been done before and for good reason. It’s simply the nature of storytelling.
If we believe, like many do, that there are only 7 basic story archetypes, with each version told over and over again, then every movie is a reboot.
Christopher Booker outlines this theory in his book, “The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories.”
Here are the plot lines and examples of each:
Overcoming the Monster (“Jurassic World”)
Rags to Riches (“Cinderella”)
The Quest (“The Lord of the Rings”)
Voyage and Return. (“Back to the Future”)
Tragedy (“Avengers: Infinity War”)
Rebirth (“Beauty and the Beast”)
Maybe the reboot indignation is anxiety about getting older, as it is a sure sign of one’s age when we say, “ugh, they’re remaking THAT one already.” Maybe we want to hold onto our youth and its matinee-soaked nostalgia for all its worth.
Either way, let’s stop bemoaning these second and third and fourth acts of some of our favorite stories!
Yes, the amount of time, rather the short amount of time, between some current reboots could be a case for reboot nausea. In a span of almost 30 years we will have had 9 movies (refer to Heath Ledger above) with five different Batman actors. Next year will be Robert Pattinson’s turn to don the cape in “The Batman.”
But still, we’ll take it. We’ll gladly take it. Just look what’s ahead for us!
After the all-female reboot in 2016, we have a new “Ghostbusters” coming this year which will pick up the continuity of the original 1984 and 1989 films. Count us in for “Halloween Kills,” a sequel to a reboot, and the new “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” movie in the works too.
And since we’re talking scares, fun fact, the first horror film — a 1896 French film called “Le Manoir du Diable” — was remade just a year later in England, where it was known as “The Haunted Castle.”
And, yep, we’re here for the news that “Anaconda” from 1997 starring Jennifer Lopez recently got the greenlight. Please let J.Lo have a cameo. Or Ice Cube.
We say pop the popcorn and bring it on!
Ooooh. How about “Bring It On: 2021”? Cast Beanie Feldstein, Lana Condor and Storm Reid. Done.
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