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The Mass Media

Reboots Aren’t All That Bad

You see it more and more now. You’re sitting at home watching TV and a trailer for a movie comes on and you can’t help but think that you’ve heard that name before. You do a little research and find out that it’s a remake of a film that came out in the 60’s and 70’s.
The question is: where did Hollywood’s originality go? Did it die in the 80’s? Are they just lazy? The answer is pretty simple actually. It’s just easier to reboot a movie than come up with an original script.
Think about it. Would you rather write your own paper on nuclear fission, or just update someone else’s paper on it? I’m not saying that writing a script is like nuclear fission, but with the amount of remakes coming out these days it feels like that’s how Hollywood views it. But not all remakes are bad. There are a lot of bad ones, more than there are good, but every once in a while there will be a jewel among the dirt. A remake will come out that absolutely blows the original out of the water.
What makes a reboot good? Well, it depends what you’re looking for. Do you want the movie to be a replica of the original, or do you want it to take its own path? Are you looking for better acting, or an updated set design? There are usually two types of people when it comes to reboots. You have the people that squeal with excitement and you have the people that groan in agony at the thought of another movie being remade.
With that being said, lets get into the 5 reboots that out shined the original.
Total Recall (2012)
Total Recall, directed by Len Wiseman, was a remake of the 1990 film with the same name. Now most people will argue that the first one was the original and therefore its better, but that argument is lacking logic.
To begin, Collin Farrell’s acting trumps Arnold Schwarzenegger’s any day. Besides having to put on subtitles to understand what he’s saying, Arnold is just not good in this movie. You can never take away his golden performance in Terminator, but this movie was just a hit and miss for him. Also, Kate Beckinsale play’s Collin Farrell’s (alleged) “wife” in the newest adaption and damn do I love seeing her on screen. Jessica Biel also stars in this movie, but that’s not something that needs to be discussed (her acting in The A-Team is a perfect example why). Not to mention the great job Bryan Cranston did as the antagonist. I can never get tired of seeing him act.
OK, lets talk plot. While the original Recall had Arnold thinking he was a secret agent on Mars (because everyone pre 2000 believed we’d be living there by this point), the new one keeps it believable, for the most part, by setting it in a post apocalyptic Earth where Australia and Europe are the only surviving continents. The new version replaces the mining colony on Mars with a massive transportation system connecting Australia and Europe. Given the 1990 version did come out at the beginning of the 90’s where the technology was severely lacking, the special effects have aged horribly. I can’t help but feel not attracted to the movie because the special effects are not up to standards. The new version has amazing special effects creating an entire dystopian world.
The action also got a much-needed update. Everyone knows the Arnold was the king of action movies in his prime. Seeing him blow things up and kick ass is a hobby of mine I hold dearly to my heart. Seeing him blow things up and kick ass in a sci-fi environment, well, not so much. Collin Farrell can act in just about any movie. From cheesy romances to dark action movies, he can just about do it all, and in this movie he does. He runs through the futuristic Australia as if he was really in the danger he was in the movie. He provides a very believable experience, while Arnold sounds like he has peanut butter on the roof of his mouth.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (2011)
Usually when a horror movie gets remade the main thing that changes is the amount of nudity in the film. Well, not in this one. Troy Nixey’s Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is a remake of a television movie of the same name. Starring Katie Holmes and Guy Pierce, you would expect this movie to be a drag and it would be, too if it wasn’t for the surprisingly show-carrying acting of Bailee Madison who plays Guy’s daughter.
While the original aired in 1973 and later became a cult classic, the new one was produced and co-written by Guillermo del Toro who was heavily influenced by the original as a child.
The original plot is about a husband and wife that move into an old house after a family member dies. The wife, Sally, finds a fireplace with an unsettling presence living in it. She begins to feel frightened in the house as voices keep calling her name and start to harass her. The creatures reveal themselves to her as small goblin-like things. In the end, the creatures successfully capture her and turn her into one of them.
The remade plot is a little different. Before the family moved in, the house belonged to a man who’s son had been taken by the creatures living in the fireplace because they like to eat children’s teeth (a very interesting allusion to tooth fairies). He isn’t able to get him back. Years later a family moves in to renovate the house. The daughter, named Sally, finds the fire place and begins to experience similar things to the Sally in the original. Towards the end of the movie her stepmother begins to see what is going on and as a final showdown between the tooth fairies happens, she sacrifices herself to save Sally and her husband. The movie ends pretty similar with the stepmother enduring the same fate as Sally does in the original.
The reason I enjoyed the remake of this a lot better was because of the interesting twist they put on the creatures. Rather than them just being mini-goblins, they were transformed into tooth fairy creatures who had a motive for trying to take Sally. I also really like the way the portrayed Sally as a child, giving the parents more reason to doubt what she was saying, instead of merely writing it off as “her overactive imagination.”
The settings were fairly similar, but I do like the newer house a tad more. The gardens around it really add a certain dark beauty to the house, and the basement mural is eerily wonderful. If this movie doesn’t give you the chills when you enter an old mansion, than I don’t know what will.
3:10 to Yuma (2007)
Who doesn’t love a good western? I know I do, but you rarely see them these days. Even when you do, they’re almost always a remake and not a good one either (remember the remake of True Grit).
The best current western I can think of is 3:10 to Yuma starring the brilliant Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. While the 1957 original film of the same name was fantastic, the remade version of it was phenomenal. Russell Crowe plays the notorious outlaw Ben Wade, while Christian Bale plays his captor Dan Evans.
The single best part about this movie is the evolving relationship between Wade and Evans. You could not have had better actors for these characters. Crowe brings a certain humanity to his character. Most movie villains are worthy of your hate from the very beginning. Every bone in their body is evil and you want nothing more than to see the protagonist take care of them, but not in this remake. While the original Ben Wade, played by Glenn Ford, was a villain with certain humanity as well, Crowe brings it to another level. By the end of the movie you are basically rooting for him.
Bale’s character, Dan Evans, is a Civil War veteran who is trying to make a living to support his family who he feels rejected from. He helps capture Wade and attempts to transport him to the Yuma train station so that his family can keep their farm. In the original, he is not a Civil War veteran. Although that is a minor part, I do believe it adds a lot to the character. It gives him a reason for putting his life on the line and taking that risk for his family.
Needless to say, both movies are absolutely fantastic. I highly recommend watching both of them to see for your self. I like the remake more because I think Crowe and Bale’s chemistry is perfect and it is a thrill ride from start to finish. It is without a doubt my favorite western (as of now –– I need to catch up on my westerns).
The Evil Dead (2013)
The 1981 cult classic The Evil Dead, know for its disturbing content, got a well-deserved reboot last year. With even more disturbing content, its no wonder the remake was better. While the original Evil Dead is known for being the most influential horror movie of the 1980s, the new one tried to do what most current horror films are afraid of doing; it tried to give horror movies their edge back.
Recently, American horror movies have gone down the drain. They use nudity rather than gore, crappy shaky cams rather than suspenseful camera work, and crappy jump scares rather than deep-rooted fear. Horror was a dying genre until the release of this remake. It showed no fear and was not afraid to go the extra mile.
Both plots revolve around a group of teens that venture into a cabin the woods and come across a book of incantations that release evil demons. These demons spread from person to person (originally starting through a tree raping one of the girls) and killing as many people as it can. The only difference between the two movies is the ending. In the original, “the evil” at the very end kills the last surviving character. In the remake, the last surviving character fights off “the abomination” in the middle of bloody rainstorm and survives. The original ending seems a lot more morbid, but if you have seen both than you know the remake is just as grim.
I absolutely love gore in horror movies. I think there’s something a lot more terrifying about seeing guts spewed out all over the place than a demon possessing someone. It’s the realness of it that gets to me. Especially in a movie like the Evil Dead where limbs are being sawed off left and right, peoples faces are being cut up, and nothing is left to the imagination. What makes the remake better is the ability to construe the gore with no limits. It is almost exactly like the original, just with better gore and that’s what I love about it.
Another thing that makes the remake fantastic is the end where it is raining blood. After almost everyone is dead, the final survivor has to take on “the abomination” (a bloody human creature) in the middle of rainstorm of blood. There’s something about that scene that just enthralls me. There is just so much intensity in it and I believe the director captured it perfectly.
Along with 3:10 to Yuma, the original of this movie was nearly just as good as the remake, but didn’t quite make the cut as equal.
Batman Begins (2005)
Last, but not least, Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins is arguably one of the best movie reboots of all time. Not only did it recreate the Batman universe, it jump-started DC’s presence in cinema, and put them on the path to an eventual Justice League movie, and reshaped Batman into a respectable superhero rather than the butt of so many jokes.
Up until The Dark Knight Rises (TDKR), Batman Begins (BB) wasn’t that well known of a film. I can remember my friends not understanding any of the Ra’s Al Ghul references and me asking them if they saw the first one. Their responses were usually all the same stating that they did see the “first one,” The Dark Knight (TDK). Having to explain to them that TDK was the sequel to BB was painful. I don’t even know how most people understood TDKR without seeing the first one. Anyway, BB didn’t get the proper respect it deserved.
The Batman films before BB were almost painful to watch. Michael Keaton may have been the only actor other than Christian Bale to play Batman successfully. Notorious for nearly ruining the name of Batman, Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997) were considered some of the worst superhero movies of all time (along the ranks of Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Vengeance). If you don’t believe me just watch the trailer! Luckily for Michael Keaton, he left before they got bad.
With Batman left as a joke, Christopher Nolan decided to take the reins and reboot Batman for what seemed like the 10th time. Well apparently the 10th time’s the charm, because it was a smash success. Although BB wasn’t as successful as TDK or TDKR, it did successfully start the trilogy that would change superhero movies forever. No longer did they have to be cartoony and joke filled. Now they could be dark and gritty, appealing to an older audience.
A genre of reboots
While researching reboots and remakes, I came across an interesting occurrence. I noticed that most movies that got rebooted were horror movies. What does that say about the genre? I like to think that it’s because fear is such an easily transferable thing to be remade and reshaped. Back in the 1800 an action film would be about a man riding a horse, but that’s different. Everything evolves except fear really. That’s just something to think about.