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In Hollywood, a reboot is a movie in a franchise which basically eliminates the stories prior to it and starts the series fresh. This is often done by replacing the cast and most of the crew from the initial series to create new backstories, characters, and timelines. This however, isn’t always the case, as a cast and crew can be mostly replaced without the movie being a complete reboot and a series can be rebooted without replacing the entire cast and crew. This is best explained by using the difference between the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy and the Roger Moore led James Bond films.

The Phantom Menace, the first of the prequel trilogy, used an almost entirely new cast and mostly new crew, but is not a reboot because the timelines and backstories from the original series were preserved (or at least were intended to be preserved). On the other hand, Roger Moore’s first James Bond film, Live and Let Die used some of the same cast and many of the same crew members (same directors and producers as previous Bond films) but was a complete reboot as Moore’s Bond had no connection to Connery’s Bond in terms of story.  The James Bond franchise is actually one of the best examples of a series that was rebooted. Often times reboots use their clean slate to either modernize the series for the current generation of viewers or eliminate previous installments which were widely regarded as failures. A great example of this is Daniel Craig’s first James Bond film, Casino Royale. Moving away from its roots, Casino Royale was a much darker and more serious take on the Bond character (after the much too over the top Die Another Day), eliminating nearly all the comedy and actually having a compelling love story which (SPOILER!) ended in the tragic death of a “bond girl.” (SPOILER OVER!) It was a major turn for the franchise and has since been regarded as one of the best of the series. 

Series reboots have been common practice throughout Hollywood history. However, in recent years, there have been an increased number of reboots of prior film franchises. Hollywood has begun to realize that reboots tend to be safe bets as people love to see their favorite old franchises adapted with modern filmmaking techniques. Some might say this practice has become even too common. Just this (extended) summer, there will be four different movies which are either reboots or sequels to reboots which happened not too long ago. Despite this, it’s admittedly fun to reimagine some of our old favorite characters in new worlds and it’s always intriguing to see what a new director or studio can do with a character. That’s why this summer, everyone (even the critics) will be buying tickets (or have already bought tickets) to the new King Kong, Mummy, Planet of the Apes, and Spider-Man films.

Kong: Skull Island started the summer of reboots by introducing the latest incarnation of Kong. Bringing the King of Skull Island to the MonsterVerse, it was always Warner Bros’ plan to eventually fight the previously rebooted monster, Godzilla. A complete reboot of the series, Kong: Skull Island didn’t just rehash the original King Kong story (like Peter Jackson’s 2006 film), but actually completely changed the origin story, bringing Kong out of the 1930s and into the Vietnam War. A hit with critics and audiences alike, Kong: Skull Island represents that new direction for the MonsterVerse and is a fitting successor of the classic series created during the Great Depression.

The Mummy series can find its roots back to the 1932 film of the same name directed by Karl Freund and starring Boris Karloff in the eponymous role. This franchise has been rebooted twice before the upcoming Tom Cruise film, most recently with the series starring Brendan Fraser and spin-offs about the Scorpion King. As these horror films have incorporated more and more adventure elements over the years, The Mummy franchise has generally found lots of financial success, although sometimes, failing to obtain critical praise. Tom Cruise’s The Mummy will mark a return to its darker roots and serve as the beginning of Universal’s Dark Universe (which is actually a reboot in itself of the Universal Monster movies from the 1930s-1950s).

War for The Planet of the Apes is the third installment of the rebooted Planet of the Apes franchise. Starring Andy Serkis as the ape Caesar, this reboot is worth mentioning because of how much it has departed from the initial series. Instead of following a human in a world controlled by Apes, where humans are slaves, we actually follow and sympathize with an ape who just wants freedom for all of the apes in a world which humans have dominated for too long. Andy Serkis’s portrayal has been Oscar-worthy, in my opinion, and I have nothing but the highest hopes for the upcoming sequel to one of my personal favorite movie franchises out there.

The final reboot of the summer is Spiderman: Homecoming. Spiderman (now played by actor Tom Holland) was brought to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Captain America: Civil War. Owned by Sony, but managed by Marvel Studios, Spiderman: Homecoming will be Spiderman’s first solo adventure in the MCU. Homecoming will also mark the second reboot, and third actor in the past 10 years to play the titular role in a solo film. However, unlike the previous two series (Sam Ramie’s Spider-Man trilogy starring Tobey Maguire and Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man series starring Andrew Garfield), this series will not start with an origin story (specifically the death of Uncle Ben Parker). Produced by the never-failing Marvel Studios, Spider-Man: Homecoming is sure to be a major hit packed with Avengers references and easter eggs (especially considering Iron Man’s, role in the film). I, like most people, am excited to see if Tom Holland can command a movie just as well as he can steal a scene, like he did in Civil War. This is a reboot almost everyone has been waiting for. 

Though usually unrequested, but with their almost inevitable success, reboots are here to stay. Honestly, if they keep rebooting so many great series with new and interesting twists to the classic storylines, there isn’t really too much to be mad about.

3 thoughts on “A Summer of Reboots Leave a comment

  1. The latest Planet of the Apes remakes/reboots follow more closely to the original franchise’s sequels, primarily Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (part 4) & Battle for the Planet of the Apes (part 5). While they share similar themes (as you mentioned following the Apes perspective, which is what these did back in the late 70’s & early 80’s).

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention Tim burton’s first attempt to revive the franchise with Mark Whalberg back in 2001, which did well financially but was so universally hated that it had to be started again after years of reworking. It is the best example of why audiences shouldn’t trust reboots and why sometimes appreciating the timelessness of the originals is important. It does require a little appreciate for original intent and original creative struggle, but it is equally fulfilling.

    I’m extremely weary of reboots and often avoid giving them money unless I read exceptionally good reviews and know that original filmmakers are behind it (Jurassic World was better because it was heavily influenced by producer Spielberg, for example, who even considered directing it for a time).

    I can’t say all remakes are bad, but most are lacking in originality and too dependent on the original nostalgia (I recall cringing when a character in a recent planet of the apes film says in a pivotal moment “get your hands off me you damn dirty human”). My rule of thumb is if what I see in the trailer uses the same basic campaign as the original, same plot, same color palate, same music (like say beauty and the beast just did) there is no need to bother seeing it… you already know what’s going to happen and love what was already made. Why try to warp yourself into believing it will be the same magic? On the other hand, if the film feels so new and different that it stands on its own, without help from the nostalgia of the original (and it looks good) I’ll give it a shot. It’s rare that it lives up, though. Most of the time I wish they just redid the entire idea so it would be its own thing, barely recognizable from the original. Otherwise, we end up seeing regurgitated concepts that are far too predictable and lacking original motivation.

    • CORRECTION TO MY COMMENT:
      *while the newest planet of the apes films follow the apes perspective as the 4th and 5th films did in the original franchise, they are not exact copies… many notable differences occur.

      • Hey Curtis! You’re right: it’s always intriguing to see an old concept reimagined as its own entity. Don’t get us wrong, we love nostalgia (who doesn’t?), but something’s gotta be said about adding onto a solid original idea. Besides “Jurassic World,” are there any other reboots you’d recommend?

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