Enough is enough: Can we just cancel reboot culture?
Just this year, Disney has released “live-action” remakes of its 1990s animated classics Aladdin and Lion King, following up on 2016’s Jungle Book. These are almost frame-for-frame remakes of the original animations, rendered with live actors and computer technology. Next up? Lady and the Tramp with actual dogs. Not kidding. There’s even a term for it: “reboot culture.”
Who needs them? The obvious answer is that Disney does, for $2.5 billion combined reasons – the worldwide gross take of Lion King and Aladdin remakes. It’s a sad truth that this strip-mining of nostalgia using digital effects is profitable.Also on rt.com It’s a (Russian) trap! Negative tweets about The Last Jedi movie were Russian bots - report
Except when it isn’t, as exemplified by Disney’s attempt at Star Wars sequels – the second of which alienated so many fans that the filmmakers blamed ‘Russian bots’ for the outpouring of frustration online. To which I would say only, “These are not the droids you are looking for, move along.”
Social networks were roiling again on Tuesday, when it was announced that Spider-Man may get rebooted yet again, after Sony and Disney failed to reach a deal on integrating the character into the Marvel cinematic universe. This despite the fact that Tom Holland’s portrayal was the third version of the friendly neighborhood superhero since 2002, and by far the most popular.
Raise your hand if you want to see Uncle Ben die again? Yeah, thought so. Me neither.
I'm not sitting through another spidey reboot pic.twitter.com/eLOS3HpMOi— MajinMage (@MajinMage) August 20, 2019
Cast your eyes on the top 10 US movies of 2019, and it’s a sea of sequels, reboots, franchises and spinoffs. Upcoming releases are the same way. Are 1980s action stars so desperate that they need to come out of retirement? At least Rambo: Last Blood sounds like it could go back to the character’s roots and skip the frankly sad second and third installments, weaponized as Cold War propaganda. A “woke” reboot that is Terminator: Dark Fate just looks embarrassing.
Speaking of 1980s action flicks, mere rumors that Die Hard could be rebooted have caused an outpouring of outrage, with fans making it perfectly clear that messing with the 1988 version of John McClane and Hans Gruber will not be tolerated.Also on rt.com Yippie-Ki-NO WAY: Fans aghast Disney’s rumored reboot of Die Hard might feature ‘woke’ McClane
This is not even going into the trouble with “woke” reboots, such as the 2016 all-female Ghostbusters, or last year’s Ocean’s 8, which were at best treated politely by critics but turned out to be box office bombs. Politics adds a whole other dimension to movies and TV, beyond profit – as seen by ABC’s rush to cancel the revival of Roseanne despite its ratings success, due to the star’s political leanings.
Whether or not you believe there are only “seven basic stories” in the world and everything ever written, filmed or drawn is a variation thereof, there is no escaping the stale stench of warmed-over dead horse that is emanating from Hollywood today.
The latest case in point is the as-yet-untitled fourth installment of The Matrix, also announced this week by Warner Brothers. Perhaps the executives are hoping that the cult status of the 1999 original will make people forget how utterly terrible the sequels turned out.
This Matrix reboot sucks so far. https://t.co/tKh4XHSTHr— John Iadarola (@johniadarola) August 21, 2019
The Wachowski siblings, who wrote the original trilogy, at least aren’t afraid of trying new things. They later made a smash-hit with a movie adaptation of V for Vendetta (2005), before the epic car wreck that was Speed Racer (2008). While their Jupiter Ascending (2015) was mocked, it was at least watchable and made money – unlike Cloud Atlas (2012), whose author is reportedly one of the screenwriters for the new Matrix installment. Make of that what you will.
In all fairness, there are examples of reboots that actually improve on the original – most notably the 2003 Battlestar Galactica, a grittier and more captivating take on space adventure than the 1978 original. Yet BSG is more of an exception that proves the rule: just because one can remake something because the technology allows it, does not mean it should be done.
We keep hearing about how “diversity” is supposed to be a strength. Let’s get some diversity of ideas, then. It might help Hollywood tell some new stories, for a change.
By Nebojsa Malic
Nebojsa Malic is a Serbian-American journalist and political commentator for RT America, based in Washington, DC.