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Remaking History

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Darren Blair

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Long-time readers of my movie reviews have likely noted that when it comes to remakes, I reserve the right to compare said remake to the original if I am sufficiently versed in the original to make comparisons.

A lot of films, yes, are pale comparisons when put next to the original. For example, consider the flop that was the “Jem and the Holograms” movie. The original cartoon, once you get past the obvious efforts to ride on MTV’s coat tails and Hasbro thumbing its nose at Mattel, was actually one of the most progressive children’s shows of its day. For example, if memory serves it was one of the first such shows to depict an interracial relationship, that of Rio Pacheco and Jerrica Benton. The live-action movie succeeded in completely paving over that point. And it was Jerrica who was fighting for control of Starlight, not Rio. Jerrica and the others were adults, and the orphans were the teen girls the band was taking care of through a charitable outreach program the label was operating. Et cetra. When you consider that the original cartoon was astoundingly progressive for the 1980s while the live-action movie was “Teen Musical 4, This Time With Mild Sci-Fi Elements”, I think you can understand why folks like me who actually watched the original back in the day were prone to ripping the remake apart.

In fact, one of the big issues I see with remakes is, indeed, that they’re so far removed from the original that they’re essentially the original in name only. At that point, why not just make a new movie? Likely because the creators are banking on the existing fandom to buy tickets and DVDs simply because of the nostalgia factor.

Now, in some instances, the remakes and reboots make it clear that… that’s exactly what they’re doing. It’s the same basic premise, and a few of the characters may even share the same names and character types, but beyond that they’re basically doing a hard reboot. In these instances, I generally don’t compare… at least, not anymore. Yes, anymore.

I grew up with the “Transformers” franchise. As such, I was around when the original 1980s cartoons and their “Generation 2” rebroadcasts gave way to the series known as “Transformers: Beast Wars”. Like perhaps a lot of fans back then, I had no idea what was going on… just that things had changed significantly, and I didn’t like it. It was different, and I couldn’t get over how it was different.

But I stuck with it anyway, albeit more because it was the current series than anything else. And in sticking with it, I came to realize that yes, it wasn’t just some cheap “in name only” remake. Instead, it was – thanks to a time-travel story – both a sequel and a prequel to the original series. Once I realized this, that it was essentially a hard reboot, I was able to enjoy it in its own right. “G. I. Joe Extreme” was also floating about at this time, and I was able to accept that as a hard reboot as well despite being able to draw similarities between that and the original characters.

And there it is. If I understand going in that a work is going to be a hard reboot, sequel, or something else of that sort, I take it as it is. It’s a mostly clean slate, and I usually regard it as such. It’s the remakes I generally view in light of the original, especially since they so often disappoint.


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