It has been [ ] years since [ ] was released. [ ] years! I know, it’s shocking. How old we’ve gotten, and how quickly. But suck it up, it’s time for a reboot!
Reboot, not remake.
To merely remake [ ] would be to admit defeat before our hero had even met their first 21st century pixel. Because remake carries with it the stigma that you are, as the word implies, simply remaking something. Like an imitation Greek urn, or a Giclée print of your favorite art piece. By definition you will end up with something inferior to the original.
But reboot? That’s got a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? A subtle suggestion of PC troubles eradicated by pressing a simple button. As if the original versions of rebooted films were basically good ideas burdened by the limitations of their technological past.
So now we’ve got the freshly “rebooted” version of [ ].
Younger audiences may delight in the cacophony of sound, the spectacle of camera movement (personally I felt sea sick), and most certainly in watching [ ] parade about in a skimpy outfit. It’s what we’ve come to expect of mega-budget, high-octane flicks. In itself there is nothing wrong with that. But those of us who were around when [ ] first hit the theatres will no doubt be struck by the sad stab at former glory that this revamped version aspires to be.
Cowtowing to a merchandising strategy that guarantees maximum sales of kid’s meals at your neighborhood fast food slop-house, director [ ] has none of the flair that [ ] brought to the earlier film. As if the marketing department’s push to get “bums in seats” has left director [ ] without the license to do what they do best (case in point their critically lauded [ ].)
To the film’s credit, it’s fun to see [ ] tackling a role that [ ] portrayed so splendidly the first time around. But only insofar as [ ] doesn’t hold a candle to the original rendering. Poor fumbling [ ]. Oh schadenfreude, how I love thee.
In many ways, watching [ ]’s version is merely a chance to replay some happy memories, supplanting original scenes and dialogue over this clumsy simulacrum. And an opportunity to revisit my younger self delighting at the discovery of a fresh new film that, for all its flaws, would become a cornerstone of my childhood.
But wait. Wasn’t the “original” itself a remake of a 19[ ] film? And wasn’t that film actually an adaptation of a book by [ ]? Horrors. But of course the version from my childhood was the seminal one. Everyone can agree on that, right? Right?!
Then again, maybe not.
I think I’m just fulfilling the go-to role of someone who watched an earlier version of something and found it delightful, not because it was new, but because it was new to me. And having discovered that new thing, I don’t want it to be modified. Ever!
Young children are always asking for a favorite story to be repeated over and over, turning back pages for this or that section. In so doing they learn that there can be stability in life. That one can know what to expect. That there is safety to be found in an otherwise topsy-turvy world.
It’s the repetition of a thing that engenders this sense of security, the knowledge that when I turn to page 17, I will see exactly what I saw last time. The remake/reboot, however, is an existential threat! It challenges what I know to be true, which is that the hero will always and forever behave a certain way, always reaching the same outcome. And no matter how bad a story is there is the much-needed comfort of knowing that outcome.
The stability and safety we learn as children are anchored in that which is genuinely new, moments of purity (no matter how puerile) to which we later aspire and hark back. As if to grow up is to somehow embark on a sad trek towards disappointment, wherein we are forever looking for the emotional high that all things “new” provided, a throwback to yesteryear when we were young, innocent, and life held actual promise.
Perhaps songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller said it best with the song made famous by Peggy Lee. “Is that all there is?” Ms Lee sang, full of sangfroid (click play above for a 1970 TV recording, hiss and all). Perhaps she’s right, yet we clamor for something newer and newer, forever chasing the dragon of a long lost high. Although I don’t think we so much want something “new” as we want to revisit that moment when all things were new and wonderful, and therefore safe.
We’re in for a let down.
So please, please don’t mess with my perception of the world. Don’t dress up my favorite hero from years past in a new skintight suit and ask me to applaud. All you’ll succeed in doing is in sending me scurrying back to the “original”, replaying it over and over as I rock back and forth, thumb firmly in mouth, and repeating to myself, “I am safe. I am safe. I am safe.”
But when there is so much money to be made, who’s listening?