Reboots: much maligned and much deplored by many a movie-goer. Here at Film Phage, we’re continuing to act as both the prosecution and defence on behalf of D.A. Reboot, who is accused of besmirching Hollywood’s good name. We now follow on from our first entry in The Reboot Zone saga: The Reboot Rebuke, and re-join proceedings, where I believe the council for the defence is about to make its gambit. Will we see more surprise guest appearances, or any more mention of Rob Schneider? Read on to find out.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I am here today to show you why I respectfully disagree with myself with regards to the innocence of my client, D.A. Reboot. I am here to show you that retelling and re-adapting a concept is not a new premise; indeed without such practice one would not have stories passed from generation to generation. To borrow from the London 2012 Olympics, these new interpretations are needed to “inspire a generation” – maybe not your generation, but those after you. I will present evidence that is our own selfish desires to oppose change that makes us so vehemently opposed to the mere concept of a reboot and that reboots are not necessarily bad. If you agree with me, I urge you to vote to acquit D.A. Reboot of all charges.
We all have our favourite memories, and some of those will undoubtedly tie themselves to films. My honourable friend likened a reboot to a first date: one where you don’t get that first kiss and end up being brandished a pervert, somehow. To use the same analogy: do you remember those dates that didn’t work so well? Ones filled with regrets? Perhaps you moved too soon, or didn’t move at all. An opportunity wasted. An opportunity squandered. An opportunity to never be had again. What if you could go back and alter things; tinkering with the very basis of the experience. Would you? I’m willing to bet you would. A bit like 50 First Dates, but with less Rob Schneider.
This is a lot like the entire concept of a reboot. It goes back and undoes and alters what went before. Let’s take an example: Batman. The Batman movies have been commonplace since the 1980’s, but have been picked up and played with by numerous directors. The character’s origin story was explored in 1989’s Batman. Several questionable sequels followed. As I’m sure you’re all well aware, the character was reborn, or rebooted, in 2005 courtesy of Chris Nolan. I think you’ll agree that this reboot was regarded as something of a success. It takes nothing away from the 1989 original; that too is still a great movie in its own right. Some would argue the original isn’t even dated, and I would agree, yet I’m sure some decried some upstart director (Nolan) retelling the origin story of Batman again. If you preferred the original, then great. If you preferred Nolan’s take, then also: great.
Another example of such “rebooting” with beloved franchise involves a group almost as vocal as comic book fans: Star Trek fans. Everyone’s aware of Captain Kirk’s Star Trek from 1966. This was rebooted in 2009, with new Kirk’s, Spock’s and Scotty’s. People were at first a little hesitant, but the film was a hit; with a sequel currently in the works that may itself be a remake of Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan. Reboots clearly can work.
To summarise my first point: reboots aren’t always a failure, and if you don’t like the remake, so what? You still have the original. It’s not like the reboot has erased the originals from existence is it? Some will like the new, some will like the old.
This leads me to my final point on the matter: who these reboots are aimed at. You’d be naive if you thought that a remake of something like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was for the same audience that saw it back in 1974. Of course it isn’t. It’s for a new generation: new youngsters to the genre. By anyone’s admission, the horror movies of the 1960’s-1980’s are tame by today’s standards. The Exorcist was once banned and deemed too terrifying for public consumption. Nowadays? Well… we have The Human Centipede. Whether you like it or not, a film’s appearance holds a lot of sway in whether a newcomer will watch the movie.
Let’s put it in the context of technology. I grew up playing video game consoles: the Sega Mega Drive and original brick-like Game Boy. These were cutting edge in the early 1990’s. Can you imagine giving Tetris to your average 12 year old nowadays? They’d be disgusted at how “retro”, “boring” and dated it is. Technology isn’t like the fashion industry: it’s not cyclical. It will not come back. Movies are the same. If something was filmed in analogue and just looks dated, then regardless of plot, it will be rejected by many. Stick a teenager in front of Teen Wolf, and they’ll just scoff. Hell – look at adult entertainment. Do you still like the chica-chica-wow-wow wah-pedal driven, moustachioed, all around “dodgy” take of the 1970’s, where all the male “actors” look like Super Mario? Well, some of you might – but you’re unique. In general, people aren’t always interested in “classics”. You want something relatable and immersive? You need to re-do it. Shallow? Maybe. But does it make business sense? Totally.
To outline my case, reboots can falter, but it’s not always pre-determined. Some are fantastic re-inventions, and if it is bad then you still have the original. What have you lost? If you’re that desperate to not sully a film’s memory, then don’t see the new version, as it’s probably not even for you. Do you think the new Total Recall is for you if you saw the original? How about the in-the-works new The Running Man? Both Arnie juggernauts back in the day, but many teens and 20-somethings will find it hard to relate to these movies. That’s just the culture we live in.
Although my tone is more solemn than that of me, I hope I have convinced you that reboots are not the Antichrist reincarnate. Nor are they Rob Schneider. I urge you to forgive and exonerate the outcast of the movie industry, the leper of films, the blight of Hollywood. We are here to redeem the reboot.