Remakes and Reboots – Are They All Bad?

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It seems now more than ever that we are living in an age of reboots and remakes – from every Disney animation to even a Gossip Girl TV reboot, there is a sense that original screenplays and content are becoming more of a rarity. But does this mean we scrap all remakes, or is there actually something to enjoy that their originals missed out?

The cynical (and realist) in me pictures a boardroom of executives carelessly churning out each remake, personifying essentially a studio pocketing more money and congratulating their earlier work while they’re at it. As long as there is a gimmick, they are good to go. Aladdin has a new song! Mulan is more gritty now, I guess? Either way, people still go through those cinema doors to experience that nostalgia, and whether the film is passable or terrible, it seems to work every time.

This is not to say that all remakes should be looked at with the same cynical eye. On the other hand, some remakes become so iconic for their own style and performances that they take on a new life of their own. Most people who think of Freaky Friday will imagine Lindsay Lohan from 2003 and not the 1976 original starring Jodie Foster. Likewise the first iteration of Scarface (based on Armitage Trail’s novel) was released way back in 1932, but Al Pacino and his iconic lines has secured the 1983 version as a movie classic. It seems, therefore, that a remake can be equally as successful as its original counterpart. But ultimately the director’s stylistic choices, the actors’ performance and reasons behind the film like relevancy and personal connection determine how much of a shameless cash grab it feels to the audience.

In light of this, the biggest and most common criticism a remake can receive is that it is unnecessary. Let Me In (2010) is by no means a bad film, yet it still is an American remake of the Swedish original Let the Right One In, which was only released two years before. Particularly common in the horror genre is the repurposing of films for English-language audiences, often being largely the same in every aspect other than the need for subtitles. It is frustrating that people miss out on so many films due to them being in another language and because of that barrier, remakes often seem like a sad solution to this non-issue.

Overall, remakes and reboots in themselves are not always bad and there are so many reasons why they are made beyond the negatives many complain about. Ultimately it is up to you, the cinema-goer, to determine how worthwhile a remake really is – if you feel like it is sadly yet another corporate attempt of recapturing the magic of the original, talk with your feet!

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2nd year English and Film minor student and Film Sub-Editor 2020/21. Loves the cinema, hates the people.

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    Laura Carpenter on

    The newest Sonic films are a successful reboot of the franchise because they show a clear love for the original source material as the production company listened to the fans (e.g. the Sonic re-design), and also is a respectful yet fun film to watch. It also introduced new fun characters such as Tom/The Doughnut Lord and Stone, whilst working hard to keep the original characters lovable and very true to the original material (Sonic himself and Dr. Robotnik) with a few modern upgrades. Other successful reboots are the Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Batman Begins because they all respect the original source material whilst being both an update that is either unique to the original, a loving homage, or both.

    The 2020 Mulan fails as a remake/reboot because the film abused human rights, regurgitates current nationalistic myths, and grossly appropriated one of China’s most beloved characters.

    Other films such as Men in Black: International fail because they are forgettable as MIB: International was been heavily criticized for its poorly developed characters and nonsensical, uninteresting plot. MIB: International could have been its own sci-fi film but by slapping the beloved franchise title of Men in Black on the movie, it placed certain expectations that the movie was unable to fulfil.

    The art of the remake is in both honouring the original material as you adapt it (the same as any adaptation) and making sure the update on the original material is fresh and interesting without being absolutely ludicrous. It is also partially in the eye of the beholder; some fans will always see reboots/remakes as easy cash-grabs as they want purely original cinema and some fans are simply happy to be able to relive their nostalgia.

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