I was having this discussion with a friend last night about the topic of reboots and remakes and decided it deserved a full-blown write up.
So, I recently got Netflix (yes, yes, “welcome to the ’90s son”) and have been watching it non-stop. First was a bunch of movies I hadn’t yet seen and didn’t want to put off any longer, and then came the TV shows… all of Heroes, The Event, Alphas, first season of the British Shameless…and then I went hunting for movies again, and ended up watching Taps.
First off, Taps is a great movie, fantastic acting and a great cast (even if for some of them it was their first movie), and as I’m watching it, I’m thinking “now THIS…..THIS is a movie worthy of being updated to modern times with a remake”. As the movie was nearing it’s conclusion and I’m watching the scene with Timmothy Hutton and Tom Cruise, an odd thing happened. The part of me that felt this was a movie worthy of a remake stood up and shouted “They can NEVER remake this movie. Ever”.
Now, there were a few reasons I came to that conclusion. One, In this day and age, you just couldn’t. Without giving too much away for those that haven’t seen it…kids at a military academy find out their school is closing to make way for condos, and decide to ‘defend their home’ the only way they’ve been taught. Now, current social and political climate being what it is, I don’t think that kind of a movie could ever be remade. Not because it doesn’t resonate, but because I think you’d be hard pressed to find a studio to touch it with a 10-foot pole. Second, as much as the medium might resonate, I think it resonates for a different reason. Back when I was growing up, I think “dads” everyewhere were kind of nearing the end of the “If you don’t shape up it’s off to military school with you!” phase… so I don’t think the setting fits anymore, and if you get rid of the setting, you lose the movie in my opinion. Third? Besides the tone, the setting and current climate, I just don’t think you can remake it because I don’t see a remake being better…and if you’re not going to make it better…why make it? Yeah, I know “It’s all about the Benjamins” but, at some point, it’s not. I stand up and cheer when I hear things like “They didn’t reboot The Thing because the director said there’s no way in hell to make it better than the John Carpenter version”…which is why they made it a prequel…but at some point, I’d think pride enters in. to me, very few ‘reboots/remakes’ stand up to the original. Ocean’s 11 comes to mind (though, there were various differences to the films), The Nolan Batman series, (even including The Dark Knight Rises which I was not crazy about) also was a worth reboot (yet a soft spot for the Keaton Batman movies still lives on), I even thought Dawn of the Dead reboot was worth it. But…there have been others… Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Red Dawn, Superman Returns just to name a few….that were best put to a merciful end well before the storyboard phase.
Then there are other remakes/reboots on the horizon that I’m already dreading. The Crow for starters. First off, let me say this. The first movie was “Good”. It was not “great”, but it was damn good. Did it follow James O’Barr’s book faithfully? Not exactly, but the tone of it surely did. Putting that aside, the movie gained cult status, and the untimely demise of Brandon Lee should, right there, make the movie untouchable. But (and there’s always a ‘but’) Hollywood buried the franchise under increasingly worse sequels, and now someone feels the only way the franchise would be financially viable is if it were started over. Rumor is James McAvoy might be pegged for the lead. I love McAvoy, I think he’s a great actor. The movie still should not be remade. Same holds true for Highlander. Ryan Reynolds is supposed to be playing the titular MacLeod and, while I like watching Ryan, I think it’s laughable that now since he was good as Deadpool in his small snippet of X-Men Origins : Wolverine he seems to be the “it” guy when it comes to ‘movies about guys who use swords’. Highlander should not be remade because once again, cult status, and…not even talking about Lambert…who would play Ramirez? The Kurgan? No matter WHAT anyone does, those rolls will ALWAYS be held up to the litmus that was Connery and Clancey Brown….and you can’t ever change that.
All this being said, I’m not completely against remakes or reboots…sometimes they just “work”, but I feel they have to be topical and still resonate, somehow offer something better than the original (not just ‘a different take’), and be able to be a good remake without shitting all over the original.