It’s been quite a year at the cinemas. Not least of all, Hollywood gave us the climactic Avengers: Endgame. And then it piqued our curiosity with the recent release of Joker. More than just entertainment for some 120 to 180 minutes, movies are a huge payout for actors, producers, directors, etc. It comes as no surprise that successful franchises get milked for money. Hence we’re seeing movie reboots almost successively. Let’s take a look at some of these and see what worked and what didn’t.
spider-man Trilogies (2002 vs 2017)
Spider-Man is one of the most popular superheroes of all time. To date, three actors have portrayed the beloved web-slinger on the big screen: Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield and most recently, Tom Holland.
Arguably, Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man was the first movie franchise to bring comic book-like fight scenes to the big screen. The three films covered the origins and development of Peter Parker, from that fateful spider bite to the birth of his infamous “black suit”.
For all the melodramatic writing and somewhat naive portrayal of Peter Parker, nothing should be taken away from the astounding action sequences. Who could forget that famous train scene in Spider-Man 2 or the astonishing two-on-one duel between Spidey, Venom and the Sandman in Spider-Man 3? In a time before Superhero movies were the go-to genre for Hollywood, the first Spider-Man films stood out as something exciting and different.
By comparison, Tom Holland’s didn’t fair too well in the Spider-Man movie reboot. Sure, the character is goofy and lovable but Tom Holland’s Spider-Man initially came across as an incompetent superhero-wannabe. While he did show he can stand his ground against powerhouses like Captain America in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, he also proved to be a danger to his own team. The redeeming factor for Tom Holland’s Spider-Man was offered in Spider-Man: Far From Home. This instalment saw Peter dealing with Tony Stark’s death in Endgame, and in the process grew as a person and a hero. It still isn’t great, but then again, it’s not the worst thing either.
batman (1989 vs 2008)
Since first hitting the silver screens in 1943, the Batman franchise has spawned various live-action adaptations. But let’s look at two of the most famous films about Gotham City’s defender: 1989’s Batman and 2008’s The Dark Night.
At a glance, both deserve merit. Directors Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan each incorporated their own styles into the films. While the villains and the general plots of the films are similar, each offered its unique tone.
Tim Burton made the movie in the genre he is best known for. He created an intriguing fantasy with over-the-top characters and comedic elements.
In comparison, Christopher Nolan’s Batman paid more attention to design and adopted a dark tone that feels truer to its original concept. There were no over-the-top characters and Nolan’s villains actually inspired terror.
Unlike Michael Keaton who hardly spoke while donning the cape, Christian Bale’s portrayal came across as more realistic, even though his adopted voice was awful and distracting.
At the end of the day, both Batman films did remarkably well in their own right. To put one over the other would be ignoring the real world contexts and movie-making capabilities of their respective times.
a star is born (1937 vs 2018)
Last year’s A Star is Born (ASIB) starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga was the fourth remake of the original movie which was released over eight decades ago. Barring minor changes in the settings, every version of the movie maintained the general plot of the how relationships are affected by success. Ironically, the only version that didn’t feature any songs was the original 1937 film.
The first ASIB was a rags-to-riches story about an aspiring actress, Esther Blodgett, who finds fame and love in her marriage to a famous movie star, Norman Maine. But things took a downturn when tragedy struck, and Esther had to learn to fend for herself.
A common remark by critics of the original is the lack of empathy for Norman. The movie comes across as shallow, with little attention paid to the struggles of this character.
In the 2018 version, the main characters equally elicited sympathy from the audience. Cooper’s Jack Maine is a country music star who becomes enamoured by Gaga’s Ally, who is struggling to make ends meet as a waitress while pursuing her dream to be a singer. Mirroring the original, Ally finds success through Jack. The equilibrium then shifts as Ally’s star rises and Jack’s popularity wanes, ultimately leading Jack to spiral into depression and take his own life.
The remake certainly told a better story for today’s audiences by delving deeper into the characters. It also gave viewers a glimpse into the fragility of superstars.
Superman (2006 vs 2013)
2016’s Superman Returns was intended to be a sequel cum reboot of sorts, picking up where Superman II left off, while 2013’s Man of Steel was a complete reboot.
In the earlier film, Superman returns to earth after five years of absence to find that his love interest has moved on and an old nemesis is plotting revenge. Throughout the film, the Last Son of Krypton attempts to reconnect with Lois Lane, and save the world from the evil genius Lex Luthor who has hatched plans to destroy the United States.
The tone and plot are reminiscent of a classic superhero movie. However, there’s a little too much dialogue in the build-up which leads to a predictable and deflating climax. On the bright side, the score, visual effects and general story were pretty commendable.
By comparison, 2013’s Man of Steel served as an origin story for the titular hero. The movie follows Superman on his journey to come to terms with who he is and embrace his powers to be the protector of earth as he attempts to integrate into society. Superman’s relationship with Lois Lane is touched on as well. The climax of the movie comes when earth’s safety is threatened by an old enemy named General Zod and Superman is forced to take the fight to the invading Kryptonian.
While Superman Returns was too draggy, Man of Steel came across as rushed. There wasn’t sufficient time for Clark Kent/Superman’s character to develop and the pacing was inconsistent. The action scenes were sufficient but the general structure and tone of the movie felt really disjointed.
the mummy (1999 vs 2017)
Reboots aren’t always a good idea, especially if the rebooted movie isn’t even related to its predecessor. The Mummy movies are a very good example of this.
The original follows Jonathan, Evelyn and Rick in a swashbuckling adventure as they embark on an expedition to the fictional Hamunaptra, the City of The Dead. Along the way, Evelyn uncovers the remains of the ancient evil high priest, Imhotep, along with the book of the dead. After Evelyn accidentally brings the ancient priest back to life, the trio must find a way to send him back to the afterworld.
Besides being great fun to watch, there was nothing really significant about the movie. The original was the epitome of an action movie, replete with cheesy special effects, a decent story, and lots of action. It might have been shallow, but at least it was entertaining.
On the other hand, 2017’s reboot was an absolute disaster, both critically and financially. Even Tom Cruise’s star power couldn’t save this trainwreck of a movie from itself.
In this reboot, protagonists Nick and Jenny accidentally awaken the evil ancient princess, Ahmanet – the instalment’s titular “mummy”. Nick dies, gets resurrected and finds out Jenny is part of Prodigium, a secret sect dedicated to hunting down supernatural threats. The rest of the movie is a convoluted mess. The protagonists must stop Ahmanet from using Nick as a vessel for an ancient deity, through the use of a dagger, whose origins are shrouded in complication. The reboot ends with Nick going back to the place of his death earlier in the movie to revive his dead pal so they can go on an adventure together.
The Tom Cruise reboot was but a fuzzy shadow of its predecessors. It lacked any coherent action that made the previous instalments fun to watch. The plot didn’t make sense at times and the inclusion of certain characters were just plain weird. For the sake of your sanity, steer clear of this time-waster.