Kill them. Seriously. Right now. One thing that is wearing thin in our 21st century culture is the constant Hollywood plethora of reboots, overdue sequels, and prequels designed to modernize and upgrade old franchises for a brand new audience. Well, guess what: some things are fine the way they are. And while new reboots may be entertaining, they ultimately rob the movie industry of something that it is desperately lacking today: originality.
The first and most prominent example is Star Wars. Of course, as a fan, I enjoyed it. I will most definitely watch it again, purchase the Blu-ray, and devour the special features. But, at the same, I know that I’m programmed to like it. Why? Because it looks and feels exactly like the movie I grew up watching almost a hundred times. While this makes for a good movie experience, it caters more to nostalgia than to challenge. The best movies challenge us. They don’t aim to please with all the right ingredients. But lately we have been seeing this lately in the movie industry. Everything that makes money nowadays is basically a throwback to something already set in stone.
Marvel, for example, is milking itself to death. Same old plots are being rehashed with new special effects, essentially cheapening and tiring the authenticity of the superhero genre. It really has almost run its course, if not fully now. Other movies and franchises that ran their course back in the day are being resurrected. And while this may seem like a good idea on the surface, it is ultimately hurting the movie industry.
This reboot franchise era is taking old movies and turning them into an epic cash grab, rather than an honest attempt at new storytelling. A few movies have risen beyond this, two of which were released in the past year: Creed and Mad Max. While these are sequels to older franchises, they are movies that can stand on their own and have, without the element of nostalgia alone. They introduced new characters and new elements, without trying too hard to be like their predecessors. They didn’t rely or depend, in other words.
Unfortunately the Creeds and Fury Roads are few and far between. Many other movies are suffering from the worn out formula of fan service and nostalgia. We have sub par sequels coming out to comedy films that were made 10+ years ago (Anchorman, Zoolander, New Ghostbusters film) with old actors reprising the same role just to elicit a laugh that resounded sometime in the year 2004, or 2001. We have new Independence Days with bigger ships than the one we saw in 1996, we have new Avengers movies with even bigger fight scenes than before, and a Star Wars trilogy that promises to deliver a plot that was fleshed out in the late 70s and 1980s.
Some franchises may just need to be let go. They’ve lived through their heyday and are now operating for the purpose of ticket sales and fan approval alone. That’s not a story; that’s a sales pitch. And the sales pitch is taking the story and milking it on the basis of nostalgia and erstwhile popularity. They’re seeking to resurrect things that have already lived to their fullest potential. My question is: why can’t we have new ideas and new franchises? The answer is safety. Why give money to a young filmmaker with a penchant for self expression when you can spend twice as much on a movie that is guaranteed to pull in copious amounts of revenue, both domestic and abroad.
My friend is a young, aspiring filmmaker, and this is one of his frustrations. Like a lot of people, including myself, he wants to see something new. Studios seem averse to taking risks because the Medici formula isn’t too profitable. Why commission a dome when you can build an archway with less financial risk involved?
Ultimately, some things just run their course. And once they’ve run it, it becomes tiring to try, time and time again, to revive them. I used to be excited about all the reboots and prequels and sequels that came out. Now I just sigh when I see commercials. These movies are programmed to make you like them and now the software is getting old. I don’t want to look at my movie shelf full of classics and have to find another row, in five years, filled with modernized replications. I want to see ballsy stuff and ballsy people who are willing to build a new mantle. Since I’m a Star Wars fan I will obviously go to see the next two episodes and more than likely enjoy them, but I’m not energetic about an unnecessary Han Solo spinoff backstory, I’m not interested in seeing new Harry Potter films (Harry Potter is OVER), and I’m not interested in a sequel to Paranormal Activity 959.5 or anything else they’re trying to put out for an extra buck. Or 100 million.
These movies and franchises have had their time. Enjoy them for what they were, not what they might look nice as in the year 2016. Reboots, to at least give them some credit, were fun while they lasted. But now I want to enjoy something new.