By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Sequels and remakes and reboots, oh my theyre all the same these days
In "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," Han Solo (Harrison Ford, right) and his Wookiee pal Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) star in this latest franchise entry just as they did in the first "Star Wars" film way back in 1977. - photo by Chris Hicks
As a child in the 1950s, it was not unusual for me to be running around the neighborhood wearing an official Davy Crockett coonskin cap while carrying a toy rifle, which was vital for keeping the bears or, as Davy would say, the bars at bay in my suburban Southern California neighborhood.

And I did that, of course, because I was a huge fan of the five Davy Crockett episodes that aired as part of the black-and-white Disneyland TV series, which I watched with my family on our little 13-inch console television.

Oh, and also the two Davy Crockett movies that Disney released into local theaters in color! (Actually just edited-together versions of the Disneyland episodes.)

But I never had any notion of wanting to remake the show. Nor did I think about what a modern-day, CGI-enhanced version might be like. Would the story of Davy and the bear (bar) be more like The Revenant if it were made today? And if so, would parents even allow their kids to see it?

I cherish the memories of those old films, and I still enjoy them, if in a nostalgic kind of way.

So its been interesting over the years to see so many filmmakers remake movies they claim as favorites when they were younger, and what they changed.

Steven Spielberg often cited A Guy Named Joe (1943) as one of his favorite films before remaking it in 1989 as Always. Ditto Martin Scorsese with Cape Fear (1962), which he remade in 1991; Tim Burton with his 2001 reinvention of Planet of the Apes (1968); and Gus Van Sant with his 1998 version of Psycho (1960).

Other famous examples include John Carpenter and Village of the Damned (1960/1995), Paul Schrader and Cat People (1942/1982), David Cronenberg and The Fly (1958/1986) and Adam Sandler and Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936/2002).

Then theres also The In-Laws (1979/2003), Invaders From Mars (1953/1986), A Kiss Before Dying (1956/1991), The Manchurian Candidate (1962/2004), Narrow Margin (1952/1990) and many others.

All of these remakes were made by fans who went on to become filmmakers. Some of these titles arent bad, and many have earned their own fan base, of course.

But I would argue that none are improvements, and many are outright failures. So why bother? Why not just do original material instead of reworking someone elses ideas?

It was interesting to see so many continuing franchises reboot themselves last year in ways that were almost remakes.

I wrote last November about Spectre and how it seemed in many ways to be James Bonds greatest hits, with scenes and plot elements cribbed from Goldfinger, From Russia With Love, For Your Eyes Only, The Spy Who Loved Me, and yes, even the first Bond film, Dr. No.

Of course, Spectre is the third film of the James Bond reboot the 21st-century nickname for movies that are updated remakes.

But after watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Creed and The Peanuts Movie, I realize that Spectre isnt the only 2015 movie to revisit past glories.

Now, dont misunderstand. I enjoyed all four of these movies.

The Force Awakens offers an enormously good time at the movies. Its a nostalgic point-by-point remake of the original 1977 Star Wars movie that offers a nostalgic trip down memory lane for longtime fans but also features a female heroine and a slew of new characters that a modern generation can embrace.

Similarly, Creed restarts the Rocky series in a way that younger moviegoers can easily get into, even as it remakes the 1976 original, this time turning Rocky with Sylvester Stallone returning to his most famous role into Mickey, the trainer played by Burgess Meredith in the first three Rocky films.

And finally, The Peanuts Movie, in an attempt to stay true to its roots even as it utilizes 21st-century computer animation, manages to maintain its original look and includes just about every iconic moment of the comic strip and early cartoons right down to a sort of cameo by A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Obviously, the next entries in the James Bond, Star Wars, Rocky/Creed and Peanuts franchises will have to take things in new directions, at least to some degree.

I mean, its one thing to offer up rehashes of the first movie in a series, but no one wants to see a sequel that turns out to be the remake of a sequel.

Oh, wait. Thats exactly what the second Star Trek reboot movie did.

So maybe it is just remakes from now on.
Sign up for our e-newsletters