Beware the Movie Reboot!
Everyone loves to see a beloved character of old make a triumphant return to the public eye. Maybe this character was only ever viewed on a huge TV that sat on the floor and did double duty displaying family photos and the odd knick-knack. Or perhaps he was in a comic that now costs more than your house, or in a book with only well-written words and your imagination to set the scene. I will admit that when The A-Team hit theaters last June I couldn’t wait to see these heroes of the small screen redone and larger than life. But despite our affection for these characters and their stories, maybe they ought to stay how we remember them instead of being rebooted, remade, and too often, reviled.
Superheroes seem to be the most frequent victims of movie reboots. Probably because so many of them have never been in a movie. If you’ve only seen your favorite spandex-clad hero on a TV screen during Saturday morning cartoons or in a comic, then the idea of seeing him in IMAX 3D on a screen the size of a house with THX Surround Sound and special effects by ILM is thrilling. But what we end up with often doesn’t meet our expectations. The actors don’t work, the writing isn’t sharp enough, or maybe it’s just that grabbing a superhero by his cape and plopping him down in today’s world simply doesn’t translate. Regardless, we leave the theater a little sad and maybe even angry with our now permanently tarnished memories.
Looking ahead to 2011, there are a slew of movie reboots that will be hitting theaters. Thor, Green Lantern, Captain America, Conan the Barbarian, The Green Hornet and (gulp) The Smurfs. Yes, those little blue mischief makers are getting a movie and I feel I can safely say no one will call it the Best Movie Ever. I’m not saying that all these movies will be that awful, but I am saying that some of them will be, and possibly they’ll be even worse. As much as I’m looking forward to seeing Thor and Cap on the big screen, but I am desperately worried that they’re going to disappoint despite such promising characters.
I personally think Green Lantern and The Green Hornet look to be the worst of the bunch I listed. Yes, possibly worse than The Smurfs. Why? No one is walking in to The Smurfs expecting a high-quality, emotionally riveting, special affects laden hit. More likely anyone going into that one is in the company of someone under the age of 12 who saw a preview while watching a better movie and could not be swayed from their course. Damn advertising! But those of us going to see grown-up movies about superheroes have high expectations. There is no way any of those movies could be universal hits because they come with such long and beloved histories. Any one detail, any one omission from what a viewer holds dear in her heart, and the movie is an automatic fail for that viewer, and likely many others.
It appears that for the immediate future, Hollywood is embracing tried and true stories. They are relying on characters we love to get us into expensive movie seats. I know I’ll shell out my $8 to see these movies and don the appropriate uncomfortable 3D eye wear as needed. So will a lot of you reading this right now. The best we can hope for is a few hits among the sure misses. Oh, and possibly the chance that someone, somewhere, will come up with a new idea and write up a new character for us all to love.