Back to the Drawing Board

These days, original ideas seem sort of hard to come by.  Don’t believe me? Go see a movie, but be sure you make it in time for the previews. Now, notice how nearly every movie you see is cashing in on an existing franchise? Sequels, prequels, adaptations and reboots account for so many of the blockbusters these days, and I don’t blame the studios for cashing in on properties they can depend on for a payday.

Adaptations are a necessary risk. Sure, there’s a chance you’ll end up making a Super Mario Bros or a Daredevil, but the other side of that coin is a Jaws or a Jurassic Park. I suppose a good rule of thumb would be to try and stick to novels while avoiding video games.

Thankfully, the only thing more forgettable than the movie was the video game franchise.

Thankfully, the only thing more forgettable than the movie was the video game franchise.

Sequels are a gimme.  Your studio makes a hugely successful movie and there’s even a single question left remotely unanswered, you can be sure they’re going a slap a “2” at the end of it. Now, if you’re lucky you’ll get a Roman numeral.  If you’re less lucky, you’ll get the word “too” and a very loosely connected story line.


“… a ‘relative’ masterpiece of complex eroticism.” – Tim Goodman, San Francisco Chronicle

Now, let’s say you made a hugely successful movie, but you made the mistake of killing everyone at the end. Don’t panic! You can always make a prequel.  And the best part of the prequel is that you can very easily move ahead without the consent of the principal actors! Play your cards right and you could end up with a Rise of the Planet of the Apes or X-Men: First Class. But if you’re not careful, you could very well end up with Dumb and Dumberer or… you know… Star Wars Episode 1.


Pro Tip: Make sure the movie to which you’re making a prequel didn’t suck.

But on to the matter at hand!  I brought you here today to discuss reboots and remakes. Now, in theory these are a second chance for concepts and franchises that have been mishandled in the past.  However, one does not need to meet any type of criteria to be allowed to make a movie.  A man or woman can make a few popular commercials, and then by just being in the right place at the right time, a studio will give them the keys to  a franchise.  But be careful! As we’ve learned time and time again, it’s not at all difficult to drive that franchise right into a brick wall.

Naturally, not all relaunches can live up to the glory of the original incarnations, some of them are outright failures that laugh in the faces of the source material.  Have you ever been fresh out of the shower and felt that rumble in your stomach, knowing full well you’ll have to find yourself a porcelain chair?  That’s what it’s like when a studio makes an anticipated reboot that falls flat.  Sometimes they try and make the best of a bad situation and run with this interpretation, but they have so little left to lose at that point that they should really just start from scratch once again.

The Legion of Super-Heroes

It's War and Peace with Superboy...

It’s like War and Peace, only with Superboy…

When DC relaunched their whole line under the New 52 banner, they made some pretty bold revisions to existing characters in attempt to make them more accessible to new readers.  They made almost of all of their characters younger, they ditched  years and years of convoluted back-story, and they retold origins.  Some long time readers found the retelling and retconning of old favorites to be unnecessary, even sacrilegious. Strangely, though, DC decided to hang on to the impenetrable mythos surrounding the Legion of Super-Heroes.  These characters have been through several reboots throughout their history, but the last two decades haven’t brought in many new readers. With the recent news of the series cancellation, the Legion is without a title for the first time in a long time. Hopefully DC won’t sit on this property too long and they’ll assign some fresh talent to it instead of putting on writers who have already said their piece on the subject.

Conan the Barbarian

Above: Conan wondering how the recent remake actually got theatrical distribution.

Above: Classic Conan watching the recent relaunch..

The 1982 film Conan the Barbarian was a pretty damn perfect adaption of the Robert E. Howard stories. It taught a generation what it truly meant to be a man.  This movie is like a how-to manual for penis ownership. Say what you will about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s acting ability, the lines he was reading were so perfect that a Speak and Spell could have been cast in that role and still become a major movie star. Sure, the second movie sucked but that was easy enough to ignore; The end of the first movie told us things were going to end up, and if Hollywood were patient enough to wait for Arnold to leave office in shame, we may have been able to see Conan the King instead of the totally unnecessary remake.

The Lone Ranger


You know what would make this better? If it were Pirates of the Caribbean 5.

Yes, I know that by complaining about a movie before it’s even released, I’m just a part of the problem.  But I don’t care…  I’ve always wanted to like the Lone Ranger, but it’s never really been made available. I’ve seen some of the old TV show, and it has its charm, but I’d like to see a version of the mythos that embraces the developments made in Western stories since the late 50s… the genre has come a long way since the days of Roy Rogers. Th 1981 Legend of the Lone Ranger is universally deplored, and the trailers for the Gore Verbinski version serve as a chilling reminder of Wild Wild West. I’ll give it a chance, I really will… but it seems like it’s going to be extremely goofy.  A movie can be fun without being zany, and it can have adventure without slapstick. I just hope we don’t have to wait another 32 years for someone else to take a shot at telling this story.

Prove Us Wrong, Disney… Prove Us Wrong.

Martian Luthor Kang is a bitter, jaded man. His cantankerous behavior belies his youth.  He currently resides in an apartment with a remarkably tolerant woman and upwards of a thousand DVDs, most of which are owned ironically.

All images and characters depicted are copyright of their respective owners.

Posted on May 25, 2013, in Movies, Rambles and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I really want the new Lone Ranger movie to be good, but those previews have made me sufficiently nervous. I’ll still drag my ass to the theatre though with my fingers crossed.

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