Thursday, October 14, 2010

To Reboot or Not to Reboot?

THIS JUST IN: Some Welsh Dude Has Been Cast as the Villain in the Upcoming Spider-Man Reboot

This news probably caused at least one of two questions to immediately pop into your head: 1) “Since when are they rebooting Spider-Man?” and 2) “Who, pray tell, is this ‘Welsh Dude?’” Evidently, back in January Sony simultaneously cancelled Spider-Man 4 and announced a plan to reboot the franchise with a bunch of relatively unproven actors and filmmakers.

To be honest, I’m quite skeptical of the whole “reboot” thing, because clearly movie studios just want to bank on moviegoers’ familiarity with the title. But blatant greed does not necessarily lead to bad movies. In fact, the recent history of reboots has brought out both the best and worst of filmmaking. Batman Begins is a fantastic movie that made killing at the box office and with critics, Casino Royale successfully modernized the James Bond formula while going back to the roots of the original novels, and Star Trek pretty much kicked ass. Then again, Superman Returns kind of sucked, as did The Hulk (which was so bad that they had to reboot the reboot), and all of those horror movies that have so many sequels that they just go back to the original title (you know who you are).

I tried to come up with some of the criteria for what makes a movie reboot successful, and I came up with two I think make sense:

1) The original franchise must have started out really well but eventually left a bitter taste in our mouths because of endless/bad sequels and the like.

2) The reboot must add a significantly different element to the story to make sure its
not just a the same movie with better special effects.

Going back to Spider-Man, the franchise clearly passes the test of ending on a bad note. Spider-Man 3 was a convoluted mess of a movie with more pointless villains and crappy dialogue than Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (alright, maybe that’s a stretch), and I for one am pretty pissed off that they followed the amazing Spider-Man 2 with such a poor effort. Whether it passes the second test, however, remains to be seen. Andrew Garfield (Eduardo in The Social Network) will be playing the nerdy yet heroic Peter Parker, and Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) is slated to direct. That second fact startles me a bit: the only feature-length movie Webb has directed is 500 Days of Summer, as he usually directs music videos. I’m sorry, but I don’t think directing the video for “Ocean Avenue” or “London Bridge” makes you qualified to direct a special effects-heavy action movie. Yes, I’m looking at you too, McG.

Because I’m not sold on the director, I’m finding it hard to get excited for this movie, which is set for release in 2012. The news of the casting of the “Welsh Dude” (whose name is actually Rhys Ifans) is actually the best thing the new Spider-Man has going for it. Ifans played both the pissed-off British kicker from The Replacements and one of Satan’s mean-spirited sons in Little Nicky. Although both mediocre movies at best, each holds a special place in my heart, and Ifans is absolutely brilliant in both of them.

And now for your reading pleasure, here are a few reboots I think should be made as soon as possible (the theme, of course, being cartoons from my childhood).

1. Hey! Arnold. First of all, who didn’t love this show? Second of all, how great would it be to see Arnold and company go through high school? You’re already excited, I know.

2. Dragon Ball Z. Granted, it’s been a while since I’ve watched the anime series, but I’m pretty sure the whole human vs. alien identity crisis along with some sweet action could lead to an awesome movie. Plus, that recent Dragon Ball movie sucked because everyone knows Z is way cooler. Just saying.

3. Rocket Power. A few days ago I stumbled upon this awesome website full of Uncle Tito’s hilariously ridiculous Hawaiian wisdom. Needless to say, I have a fever, and the only prescription… is more Tito.

4. Ed, Edd, and Eddy. I really want them to make a live-action version with the Eds as adults, and I have the perfect cast in mind. Will Farrell as Ed, Steve Carrell as Double D, and Vince Vaughn as Eddy. Think about it.

5. Pokémon. If you’ve seen this fan-made trailer, you know exactly how a live-action reboot should play out. Pokémon battling has gone underground because animal rights activists have made it illegal. Ash must choose between letting Pikachu or his (human) friends die. Gotta catch’em all.

-Ben Neumann ‘14

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