Batman did it. James Bond did it. The ‘Star Trek’ crew did it. Even Spider-Man is in the process of doing it right now, and his last movie just came out a few years ago. Hollywood loves reboots. When a franchise gets old or stale, hit the reset switch and start over fresh. In this week’s Roundtable, we’d like to offer up some suggestions for movie series that are ready, perhaps even desperate, to be rebooted.
Even though this summer’s new entry, ‘Dark of the Moon’, hasn’t even hit theaters yet at the time of this writing, it’s absolutely not too soon to reboot the ‘Transformers‘ franchise. Honestly, this series needed a reboot before the opening credits of the first movie had even finished rolling. I’m not going to be one of those annoying fanboys who dogmatically insists that the movie version of a 1980s toy line must be scene-for-scene faithful to the goofy after-school cartoon from 25 years ago (love it though I may), but wouldn’t it be nice if the movies bore even some vague resemblance to the original characters? Instead, Michael Bay insists on giving us a bunch of indistinguishable hunks of metal smashing into one another in a string of incoherent action scenes.
For that matter, wouldn’t you expect a movie called ‘Transformers’ to actually be about… you know, Transformers, rather than the moronic antics of dopey humans who only occasionally come in contact with robots? Bay has relegated the title characters to supporting roles in their own movies.
Plenty has been written (including by me) about how stupid and racist Bay’s ‘Transformers’ movies are, and I doubt the one opening in a few weeks will be any different. Bay has promised that he’s done with the series after completing his “trilogy.” Let’s take this opportunity to scrap everything he’s done and start over from scratch. For the amount of money expended on this franchise, there’s enough potential in the basic concept to make a decent movie. We just need to find someone who’ll actually try.
I think we need a brand new ‘Spawn‘ movie. The original ‘Spawn’ was made way too early when it was filmed in 1997. It came across as a glorified B-movie with borderline atrocious performances from everyone involved – Michael Jai White, John Leguizamo, and Martin Sheen. The dark material from the ‘Spawn’ universe definitely deserves a true-to-the-source R-rated adaption, none of this phony PG-13 fantasy violence. The problem with the ‘Spawn’ franchise is that it’s so easy to venture into silly territory like the ‘Punisher’ movies. I have a dream that a new ‘Spawn’ movie directed by Guillermo Del Toro could have a ‘Sin City’-like feel to it. Now that would be a movie I’d be excited to see get remade.
As a kid, I was a huge fan of Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt adventure novels. Over the last fifteen years, the quality of the series has nose-dived (so much so that I’ve been afraid to go back and re-read my childhood favorites), and Cussler seems to have jumped onto the same blatant ghostwriter/co-author bandwagon as Tom Clancy and James Patterson. But I swear, his books used to be great. What’s more, they practically begged to be turned into movies.
Though I had never seen 1980’s much-reviled ‘Raise The Titanic’, with their combination of a dashing leading man, exotic locales, lithe women, fast cars, plenty of explosions, and a healthy dose of gratuitous sex, Dirk Pitt’s adventures just seemed made for the big screen. MacGyver meets James Bond! We’re talking a seemingly idiot-proof formula for a kick-ass franchise. Then the producers tested that theory by hiring an idiot to play Dirk Pitt, handing the directing duties over to the idiot son of an idiot, casting another idiot as Dirk’s rough and tumble sidekick, and letting a bunch of idiots hammer out an absolutely pathetic script. The result was ‘Sahara‘, a movie that is anything but a Dirk Pitt adventure. If ever there was a reason to start over and try again, this movie is it! Of course, after the legal tussles that resulted from this film, I doubt that will ever again be a possibility.
My vote goes to ‘Oh, God!‘. Granted, it’s been about 20 years since I last saw one of the movies in this series, so I may have on the rose-colored glasses, but I do have a soft spot for John Denver and George Burns. Clearly, we need some replacements for those two. Perhaps Bill Cosby, Robert De Niro, or Bill Murray for George Burns? I think the John Denver role is tougher to cast. I can come up with a few potential auditioners (Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, Seth Rogen), but I’m not really sold on any of them. Suggestions are welcome. For the director, we could keep it in the family with Rob Reiner.
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
I’m probably not giving away any closely guarded secrets when I reveal that I’m a lifelong comic book nerd. The comic that made me fall in love with comics was ‘Fantastic Four‘. The movies, though…? Bordering on “yikes”. On the one hand, I kind of appreciate what Tim Story was aiming for… more of a breezy sitcom feel in contrast to the glut of dark, dour superhero movies bobbing around out there. It’s just not a particularly good sitcom, dragged down by stilted acting, cringingly bad dialogue, a sense of humor drenched in gallons of flopsweat, wildly uneven pacing, anticlimactic slugfests, paper-thin characterization, and almost aggressively bland direction.
I’m not so attached to comic book continuity for the heavily revised movies to grate on me, but there’s never any tension or urgency to anything that’s going on, even when Galactus has strapped on his interstellar bib to chow down on the entire planet. You can sum up pretty much every character in a couple of words… not even that many if you try to describe their personalities without touching on their powers. Belching jokes, Mr. Fantastic writhing around in a club to some faceless hip-hop number, concentrating on the bickering that’s been a mainstay in the FF comics but losing out on a convincing family dynamic… blah. It’s featherweight, harmless entertainment, and there’s something to be said for that, I guess, but the Fantastic Four deserve a wide-eyed adventure. It should be awe-inspiring. It should be… well, fantastic. Hopefully, that’s what we’ll get next time.
It’s been rumored for several years that ‘Fletch‘ was going to receive a reboot or prequel. When the rumors circled that Zach Braff was going to play a young Fletch, I could not have been more excited. His character J.D. from ‘Scrubs’ perfectly shows how well he could have tackled comedy of the ‘Fletch’ vein. My dream writer/director for this project would be Wes Anderson. Combining a great comedic actor that perfectly fits the ‘Fletch’ mold with one of the best comedic writer/directors, my dream version of ‘Fletch’ would be awesome!
The book versions of ‘The Chronicles of Narnia‘ always felt like a second fiddle to ‘The Lord of the Rings’. The movies fail to compare favorably, and they’re struggling against ‘Harry Potter’ as well. This leaves them feeling like a mish-mash of two successful titles. I thought ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe‘ was a decent start, but things went way downhill from there. It might be a touch too early for a reboot on this one, but in a few years I would absolutely love to see a director with a different approach take a crack at the series, and do something unexpected and risky. New actors would be essential, of course, though I feel like Liam Neeson would still have to be included in some way. Because he’s Liam Neeson, that’s why.
Which movie franchises do you want to see get the reboot treatment?