Reboots are the rage these days. Whether it is movies, such as Ghostbusters or Star Trek, or fashion, like acid wash jeans, recycling pop culture has become part of everyday life. Yet there is something which seems to be missing from the reboot equation.
Just like the 1950s music craze of the 80s, the latter is seeing a renaissance of popularity today. Of course, this being merely a trend, it is highly unlikely to continue. There are, of course, other reasons entertainment reboots don’t last or work:
- Poor planning. This is the most fundamental reason many reboots don’t work. A badly planned repackaging or reimagining of something can backfire badly. In the case of The A-Team, marketing was abysmal, despite a star-studded cast. Movie goers simply found other options and the overall premise, despite some great jokes, didn’t resonate with millenials. The box office money just wasn’t there.
- Betraying the original premise. In the case of 21 Jump Street which actually managed a sequel, the movie was a comedy but didn’t betray the original premise – it was gritty in some ways but funny in others. On the flip side, Taxi never truly came close to the original premise, being a hybrid action-comedy. Though it was high quality, it suffered the mistake of betraying the premise.
- Political correctness. One of the huge gripes about the Ghostbusters reboot was it being a near all-female core cast. The screams of PC saturation from mostly 1980s males, in a hyperpartisan election season, doomed what was actually a rather entertaining movie.
- Not acknowledging the original. This is where many reboots in recent years failed in huge fashion. The universal barometer is one you wouldn’t expect: Transformers. When Michael Bay was approached about the live action reimagining of the series, he had one major condition – Peter Cullen was Optimus Prime, period. Bay understood that a reboot required an icon to live legitimacy. J.J. Abrams did the same with the “classic Spock” cameo in Star Trek.
- Dumb gimmicks. One of the biggest bombs in reboot history was Inspector Gadget. The reason was simple; one bad gimmick atop another. Reboots succeed when the original premise is honored but modernized and gimmicks are minimized and advance the story. In Gadget, the Gadgetmobile was a gimmick-laden annoying scene stealer.
- Dumb reboot ideas. It’s one thing to reboot a movie or TV show and take a risk, but rebooting toys and appliances are high risk. Most classic toys are classic for a reason – they are modernized but stay true to their core idea, such as the Easybake Over or Transformers. Other ideas, such as the Ford Bronco, need some fine tuning but can work. Still some ideas, such as punk rock ripped jeans and snakeskin mini skirts, are best left to the midlife crisis spitpile.
- Great franchise, wrong source. This one is a bit nitpicking but the it revolves around the human need for habits. Star Wars by Disney is an example; despite a great job, the franchise was kept under the Lucasfilm label. A recent concept of “Pixar” style animated classic Star Trek, despite incredible character modeling, wouldn’t work because, for one, Paramount wouldn’t back and likely sue for copyright infringement (see also Axanar), also most of the voices are now deceased. Zack Quinto’s Spock deserves Chris Pine’s Kirk. It’s just that simple.
- They just suck. Music tends to fall into this category. When Sixpence rebooted Crowded House’s Don’t Dream It’s Over, that was rough. A few more bad reboots like that will make 80s kids revolt. However once a great while a good cover of an 80s song will take place, like the country version of Huey Lewis’ Workin for a Livin, but those are rare.
Can you think of a “crash and burn reboot?” I’m curious to see what my readers come up with.
As we celebrate the day Americans everywhere feast to their hearts content (my auto-correct somehow managed to insert the word “ringworm” into this post before I removed it razor sharp carving tools), we are reminded that we are just weeks away from the most amazing moment of the year, full of lights, festivities and magical times.
Yes, folks, Star Wars time is upon us.
In my household, there is an epic battle between nonbelievers and myself. I am doing my best find a way to see the movie but, unfortunately, Darth Spousius is using the ways of the Sith to prevent this. My force attacks are just not strong enough. So, I shall do what the fabled Grey Jedi does…laugh my ass off by poking fun at science fiction planet killers.
The planet killer is just what the name implies; a device which inhales gobs of campaign money and uses Supreme Court precedent to bypass all rules, or is that the Koch Brothers? Either way, there are several well known planet killers, and now I shall take a semi serious look at them all.
Starkiller Base: You gotta hand it to the First Order – they succeeded when The Galactic Empire failed. This wasn’t just a laser, it was a solar energy powered hyper lights—-ah Screw it!! It’s a BFG (Doom fans will get that acronym) that blew up a bunch of planets at once. As usual it has an Achilles heel which spelled its doom but it did do a HELL of a lot more damage than the Death Star.
The Doomsday Machine: this killer debuted in Star Trek: TOS (Kirk overacting moments per episode: 35.6). It basically looked like a hunk of space wood (“and I see your Schwarz is as big as mine.”) with a really bad case of acid reflux. Of course, this thing could only be killed by sending a (surprise!) starship in with a warp core set on overload. Actually, it’s rather reminiscent of how my bowels process a seven layer burrito, but that’s besides the point.
The Death Star: this classic killer, the Death Star, affectionately glossed as “Vader’s Crib,” is essentially a space station with one really badass laser. It doesn’t matter how it was built, who built it, or the myriad plot holes pointed out by the Family Guy parodies, the fact remains the Death Star is the quintessential planet killer, even though it actually only successfully killed one planet.
Unicron: check it out! The 1986 Transformers classic featured a robot which ate planets, moons, asteroids for snacks. In a memorable moment, Unicron, in robot form, even ripped into Cybertron the way a ravenous horde of teenagers tear into a bowl of Chex party mix. But don’t let his party animal demeanor fool you. This dude had some serious planet killing ability, devouring scores of spheres before finally being done in by what later became a fancy Christmas ornament (seriously).
Vorlon Planetkiller: When is the Death Star no longer totally badass? When it takes the combined firepower of 30 super-powered starships to blow up another planet killer, rather than having designed a station with a fatal flaw not once, but twice. Credit Babylon 5 with one thing…it consistently made big booms, and the explosion of the Vorlon planet killer in “Into the fire” was a seriously big ass boom. Oh, and it succeeded in blowing up several planets, and looks like a cross between a squid and a clam. Sushi. anyone?
Narada, the Romulan mining ship: okay, not really a planet killer, but when you can use the space equivalent of an oil drill to create a black hole inside a planet, that’s serious sci-fi street cred!
Drej mothership from Titan AE. This sucker was badass because it actually blew up Earth!!!! Forget the rest…when you blow up our own home planet, your sci-fi Kung Fu is awesome. Don Bluth wins the badass crown once again.
Okay folks, return to your scheduled tryptofan induced coma. This week, a slightly silly review of Georgia college football seasons, and the necessary Tums packets.