Reboots were made for... what exactly?

With the announcement that the time-twisting Memento is being remade, Salman Ali assesses whether remakes are good, cheap, cheerful, or just plain horrible?

7th December 2015

It seems these days ‘remake’ is a Hollywood executive’s favourite word. There have been directors, producers and writers demanding to reboot the hell out of everything that’s hit cinemas in previously.

Now the question that arises here is, why? Because occasionally it really works. Without the original Scarface (1932) there would not have been the 1983 cult classic starring Al Pacino. Same goes for other Hollywood gems as well like King Kong, 21 Jump Street, True Grit,  The Departed, etc. Looking back at history of movie industry, you will find that most of the popular films are polished versions of absolute classics.

Furthermore, fans have been fed with a constant regurgitation of cult classic in form of prequel, sequel and reboots: The Thing (2011), Curse of Chucky (2013) and Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) are prime examples. If none of those mean nothing to you, then clearly you haven’t being paying attention for what’s going on in cinema for past 10 years or so.

The lack of imagination on the part of the studio is more easily explained through the career of John Carpenter. After breathing new life into horror genre with Halloween, Carpenter was cast aside when studio got dried up. As his success grew swiftly, so did the budgets and concepts of his movies meaning by late 80s Carpenter entered the ruthless world of mainstream Hollywood. In 1986, he released Big Trouble In Little China with Kurt Russell’s Jack Burton in lead role. But with a budget of $25-million his biggest movie that time was smashed by James Cameron’s Aliens. That proved to be the beginning of the end for Carpenter. He later claimed that he was not in control that studio is business of making non-challenging movies.

Why reboot the hell out of everything? Because it occasionally works

This statement is perfect portrayal of why the landscape of cinema has changed so much. The stakes are higher, with budgets rising year after year, which is proving to be difficult for auteurs to operate within the system.

The latest Carpenter remake in pipeline is Escape From New York, which Deadline have reported the film will get a Rise of The Planet of Apes treatment, starting with an origin storyline. The reboots of Carpenter films like Halloween, The Fog and The Thing may lack the bite that made the originals classic but they remind us just how good the old days were.

However Joel Kinnaman, who played the lead role in remake of classic Robocop has something to say in this regard:

“If we weren’t doing remakes, nobody would know who Shakespeare was. I’m not saying that RoboCop is Shakespeare, but that’s what we do as human beings. We retell our favorite stories. That’s what we’ve done since we were sitting around campfires. It’s a part of the human spirit. It doesn’t have to be negative to creativity. It can be completely opposite.  That’s how you can break new ground by rethinking something that’s already been done.”

Remakes of John Carpenter classics lack the originals’ bite

This is quite understandable, the fact is big budget cinema is not always like this. But the truth is most directors do not possess the genius minds of Spielberg or James Cameron. For the reason that they cannot be trusted with heavy budgets. As a result mainstream cinema has been taken away from filmmakers and landed into the hands of money hungry, toy business studios.

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