Calista’s Cinema Conversations: Remakes and reboots

Actor Dwayne Johnson poses for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film 'Rampage' in London, Wednesday, April 11, 2018. (Photo by Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP)

Last night I saw “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” again and it got me thinking back to the original “Jumanji” with the late Robin Williams. Which, in turn, brought me to this week’s topic of the worst and best reboots or remakes of popular films.

I’ll start with the reboots and remakes of DC Comic films. The “Superman” remake “Man of Steel” received rather indifferent reviews, but was overall enjoyable. There have also been multiple remakes of the “Batman” franchise, starting with the Tim Burton films starring Michael Keaton, which were great fun though not terribly faithful to their comic book material. Then the Joel Schumacher films with George Clooney, which many would agree were terrible and did not do the Dark Knight justice. The series was then handed off to Christopher Nolan with the leading role going to Christian Bale. The series flourished and sparked a new interest in the city of Gotham and its inhabitants. This inspired DC Comics to start building up the Justice League, putting Ben Affleck in the role of Batman in the films “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Justice League.”

Some iconic 1980s classics have been subject to the horror of both remakes and reboots. James Cameron’s sci-fi “Terminator” series has gotten three fairly bad reboots: “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” “Terminator Salvation” and “Terminator Genisys,” all of which continue to milk the story of the Terminator and how its existence affects the lives of the Connor family. There are also some 1980s remake nightmares, such as the recent “Ghostbusters” and “Fright Night” films. These remakes failed to capture the timeless humor and fear that their original counterparts had, and instead made their stories feel stale and boring. There were a few remakes that did not ruin the plot of the original, such as “Footloose,” as the remake captured the atmosphere of the first and made the film a more modern take on the classic teen movie. An example of a good 1980s reboot is “Blade Runner 2049.” This new film also captured the sci-fi world of the first and continued the plot in an intriguing and mysterious way.

Remakes or reboots of classic films, such as “Dracula,” “Godzilla,” “King Kong” and “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” varied in audience reception. “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” and one of my personal favorites “Kong: Skull Island” are the most recent remakes of “Dracula” and “King Kong.” Both of these were critically well-received and did fairly well in the box office, as the movies derived their plots from the originals without trying to create a copy. “Godzilla” and “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” are the newest remakes of the originals of the same name and these, in my opinion, were an interesting take on their source material. All four of these movies were able to put a unique spin on a story that most of society is probably aware of.

Horror film remakes like “The Ring,” “Carrie” and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” failed to capture the fear and unsettling plot of their originals, and instead focused on jump scares and gory images to terrify audiences. Sometimes these moments of cliché horror were effective. For example, a very unexpected scene in “The Ring” shows a gore-covered victim jumping out at the protagonist. But the anxiety soon disappeared and the films became boring and predictable yet again.

Remakes and reboots can be hit-or-miss. They are a director’s dream or nightmare. These films are Hollywood’s go-to films when they have no other unique and audience-worthy stories, and the directors of these films are given a large budget to help enhance the intrigue. This either helps or hurts the film, but that is up for audiences to decide.


Calista Giroux is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at calista.giroux@gmail.com.