Reuse, Reboot, Recycle


I was listening to terrestrial radio this morning on the way in to work, as Howard Stern and Co. have gone on another one of their rather numerous weeks off again this week, thus negating my use of satellite radio for the week.
Frank Calliendo (that guy who does Madden) was sitting in for the duration of the radio station’s morning show (Jim and Randy on DVE, if you’re wondering).
Somehow, they wound up talking about 80s movies that they loved and grew up watching and which of those movies they let their kids watch today.
It started with The Goonies, which everyone knows is one of the all-time greatest movies of the 80s ever, ever. They mentioned that, in parts, the language was a bit too strong and the plot a bit too scary for their still very young children.
They move on to begin discussing Ghostbusters and the awesomeness that is the Ghostbusters franchise, with Calliendo citing his favorite line of the movie (also one of mine) as the ballroom scene in the hotel when Venkman tries to do the old tablecloth trick and fails miserably, proudly exclaiming “And the flowers are still standing!”
They go on to discuss the possibility of Ghostbusters III. Of course, most of us geeks know that the new(ish) Ghostbusters video game for all of the next-gen systems is, in fact, a vicarious extension of the movie and to be counted in continuity with the films. So sayeth Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis and so it is done.
However, Calliendo mentioned that a new Ghostbusters movie was, from what he heard, in the works and was signed on to by all of the original cast (minus Rick Moranis and Sigorney Weaver). Checking Wiki (for what its worth), it seems that this is true.
What is also true is that the plot would involve the “old” Ghostbusters training new Ghostbusters and, thereby, handing off further possible franchise sequels to younger actors so that the Ghostbusters legacy can continue to grow.
As an aside, one of the names Calliendo mentioned as a possible “New Ghostbuster” was (don’t hurt me for repeating it) Seth Rogen. God help us all.

Anyway, this and a discussion on another station (the X) regarding the Rob Zombie sellout, er, sequel to his masterfully ruined Halloween, brought me to thinking very heavily about one of the latest movie industry buzzwords: Franchise Reboot.

A Franchise Reboot is, of course, something that the film industry believes is necessary to continue to make money. Rather than people coming up with original ideas, studios are paying people to “re-imagine” and “put a new spin on” old movies that, even though they are dated, are still awesome for what they are.
There is a difference, however, between rebooting and remaking. A remake is a movie which stood alone and whose “modernized” version also stands alone. Take Last House on the Left for a horrific example; a movie whose original was actually more graphic and gruesome and hard-hitting and controversial than it’s current-day counterpart. I’m digressing. Stay on target.

This rebooting typically happens with horror franchises. Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, and Friday the 13th are all prime examples of reboots taking some of the most suspenseful and fantastic horror movies of all time and turning them into gore porn a la Eli Roth. I don’t care if Rob Zombie wrote and directed it, I’m not going to see the new Halloween or any of its subsequent movies.
With all the Saw and Hostel movies that have been released (and are, unfortunately, yet to be released), I think they’re going to run out of creative and stupefyingly gruesome ways to kill people.
Did these reboots need to happen? From my perspective, no. Granted, the plot lines of the Jason and Michael Myers movies got a bit… well… stupid as time progressed, but they were encapsulated. They were what they were. The first ones were outstanding, the sequels continued to plummet; the grosses were down and the franchises should have passed into the creepy night quietly.
The execs didn’t see it that way, however. They saw dollar signs fading away. How, then, to remedy this problem? Another sequel would just build on the fact that the plot is in shambles and could not be salvaged by anything or anyone.

Enter the reboot.

I guess my only big problem with rebooting and remaking is the fashion in which it is done. Horror movies, with the ultra-realistic ultra-violent trend of modern “horror” flicks are usually destroyed. What was once in the dark or off-screen and, when panned to, obviously Karo syrup and red food coloring (maybe a bit of ground chuck) is now front and center CGI bleeding to fucking death all over the place. Does this make the movie better? Honestly, no. No writers in Hollywood, especially horror writers, know how to write the older-style suspense flicks that were scarier because of what you didn’t see than what you actually did see. Now, if I see someone get flayed alive on the screen, I laugh my fool ass off due to the over-the-top and graphic nature with which it happens. The same scene would have been much scarier if we had just seen vague movement, heard the sound effects, and then seen the results. That, to me, is more frightening than actually watching it happen. Watching it happen just makes you squirm. It doesn’t give you that dark foreboding, it’s just designed for shock-and-awe, nothing more. These movies should make you shiver with antici… … … Nah, I’m not going there.

Hitting the reset button on something isn’t always a morally wrong thing to do, though. It can work to clean up a mess made by poor direction and lack of vision. I mean, it worked incredibly for Batman, clearing up all the camp left in the wake of the 90s movies and bringing the Dark Knight back to the forefront, even grabbing one of the big-ticket Oscars. Posthumous or not, you have to agree that Ledger’s Joker was awesome.
Batman did it right. Casino Royale technically rebooted the Bond Franchise and it was pretty damn awesome. Star Trek kicked ass, though, rather than truly wiping the slate clean, it revolved around current continuity to create that change and hand off the torch to the new cast via Leonard Nimoy’s interactions with Zach Quinto.

Some reboots don’t quite make sense right away, like the 2008 reboot of The Incredible Hulk after the 2003 release of Ang Lee’s travesty. Seems too soon, right? Well, the cameo by Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark at the end of the flick allowed the reboot to make sense. There had to be realignment so that it could all tie in to the big Avengers movie in 2012. It’s the same reason they’re releasing a new Captain America movie in 2011 (to counteract the crappy mojo from the 1990 travesty). I guess this is a different kind of reboot in that it’s lining everything up in an awesome fashion for what will probably be an incredible movie franchise going forward, that being the Avengers. Time will tell there, I suppose, but I will say that the Hulk reboot was better by leaps and bounds than the original Ang Lee flick.

The skinny on the in-the-works Ghostbusters flick is going to be a warm reboot (retain continuity, have old actors pass the torch). It might not be entirely cataclysmic if it actually ends up happening. As long as Aykroyd and Ramis are behind any future generated sequels, it’ll continue to be a great franchise. The minute they hand off the writing chores to some “up and comer”, it’s going to flop completely.

The reboot concept, while wonderful in some instances, must be handled properly. I’m not against reboots unless the new version is shite. At that point, shut ‘er down and call the garbage men. Don’t make a crappy sequel to an already crappy movie. Better yet, don’t make a crappy movie. There’s too much of that floating around.
I know we live in a green era, but really, there should be no recycling of shit movies. Shit begets shit.
Give a new coat of polish to something that already shines without buffing out too much of the original finish, but don’t feel the need to try something new with that turd just because it’s been 20 years since it first floated by. Dressing it up and throwing a new coat of paint on it and calling it New Turd or Turd: The Next Generation or Shit Like You’ve Never Seen It Before does not make it any less of a turd than it was when it originally floated by. I’m for selective recycling.

Oh, and PS, writers, if your first screenplay is a reboot of something old or a film-version of an existent property, then you, sir, are nothing better than a fan-fic writer. Go write Harry Potter slash and Boba Fett/Han Solo team-up stories with the rest of the creeps and clear some salary cap space for a good rookie. Leave those for the experienced writers so that your fanboy ass doesn’t fuck it up too badly. Or make it your second screenplay. Then it’s almost excusable.

One thought on “Reuse, Reboot, Recycle

  1. I agree with this wholeheartedly. Ghostbusters is an especially important franchise to me and if someone new comes in and fucks it up…I may have to go do some killing. The killing I do will be of the new ultra violent style and not of the old school unseen suspenseful type however.

    I also hope Rogen has nothing to do with this soft reset of the franchise. I’m just sick of seeing the dude. He’s mildly funny and he was good in Zack and Miri but enough is enough. He’s not talented or charismatic enough for me to look past him being shoved down my throat.

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