Reboots: The Good, The Bad and Stephen King’s The Shining
So, it looks like this Spiderman reboot is definitely happening – seeing as they’ve, y’know, cast it, filmed it, released a trailer – but we still haven’t finished listing all the things wrong with Spidey 3. There’s a heady whiff of ‘What’s the point?’; sure, there’s a chance that Marc Webb could marginally improve upon the first episode of the ‘original trilogy’, as it must now be known, but he hasn’t a fart’s chance in a hurricane of besting the majestic middle act, surely one of the greatest superhero films ever made.
Nowadays, reboots are becoming commonplace. There are a multitude of reasons as to why they come about. In some cases, a successful series, or one with a wealth of potential, has been halted by a duff instalment. In others, a new creative team have felt that they could do a better job. And then there are the ones that exist purely to cash in on a household name. But which reboots actually achieve the unthinkable by besting their predecessors? And which ones warrant a severe ticking off for everyone involved? *Adopts a weary, monotonic voice loaded with the weight of crushing tedium and inevitability* There’s only one way to find out: fiiiiiiiiiiight…
Pre-Nolan Batman vs. ACTUAL NOLAN BATMAN
To call the first run of blockbuster Batman flicks ‘a mixed bag’ would be putting it lightly. Burton’s two films are both iconic, important works, though Serial Killer Batman is more than a little at odds with the rest of the canon. Batman Forever stole the aesthetics but went all cartoony and shit, and crowbarred Robin into a Batman universe into which he would not go (for Robin done well, it’s the animated series all the way). And then Batman and Robin destroyed not only the franchise but the entire superhero genre. Nice one.
Fast forward to 2011 and not only are superhero movies back on screens, Nolan has helped them on the way to becoming one of the most profitable genres in cinema. The Dark Knight stands up as the high water mark of blockbuster cinema, and The Dark Knight Rises is one of the most highly anticipated movies in recent memory.
RESULT: After a promising start, pre-Nolan Batman coughs, then vomits out all its internal organs. Technical knockout.
The Shining (1980) vs. Stephen King’s The Shining (1997)
Though met with a tepid response upon its release, Kubrick’s masterpiece is now recognised as, along with The Exorcist, probably the best horror movie ever made. Its only real remaining outspoken critic? Stephen King, who was so unhappy with it that he executive produced an alternate TV movie version. An almost literal screen dump from the novel, it’s also one of the very worst King adaptations. It’s not scary, it’s dripping with fromage and Courtland Mead’s Danny is ghastly enough to have you rooting for Jack.
RESULT: The Shining has pummelled the challenger into anti-matter within seconds.
Hulk (2003) vs. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Oh Icarus.. Ang Lee’s Hulk, to date his only real misfire, was ambitious and high of concept, and his expedition into Bruce Banner’s inner turmoil would have worked marvellously if the rest of the film wasn’t such a giant mess. The CGI was iffy, the random comic book panels were distracting and the fight scene between Hulk and some ‘gamma dogs’ was just inexcusable.
Louis Leterrier’s reboot, which, in fairness, only exists thanks to The Avengers, was far more cohesive but a lot less interesting, content to do little more than tick boxes and occasionally appease fanboys (‘Hulk smash!’? FUCK OFF). However, despite containing History’s Worst Waterfall Sequence™, Safe Hulk just about emerges the victor.
RESULT: Fight is fairly evenly matched, but Hulk eventually collapses due to only having one lung.
Triple Threat: The Punisher (1989) vs. The Punisher (2004) vs. Punisher: War Zone (2008)
Why Sequel It when you can Reboot It? Over and over? Fair enough, the original Punisher flick starring Dolph Lundgren is a dud, a by-the-numbers cheese’n’muscles snorefest made to cash in on our Burton/Governator-induced lust for superheroes and European golems. And the first reboot is perfectly decent (if slightly po-faced) with Thomas Jane on solid form, some nice set-pieces and John Travolta playing that one role he’s allowed to do now. It’s the kind of reboot that makes sense; a passion project that attempts to right the wrongs of the first effort. So, why reboot again, when the dust had barely settled? Punisher: War Zone’s existence makes so little sense, most people are unaware that it isn’t a sequel.
Now, I love Punisher: War Zone. But.. in the same way that I love, say, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, or The Wicker Man: Not The Bees. It’s gore-drenched schlock of the most generous kind; name another movie that features both a chair AND a fist getting stuck through someone’s head. Not to mention a freerunner getting hit by a rocket launcher, mid jump. It’s an abomination, but I’m glad it exists.
RESULT: The Punisher (1989) doesn’t even show up. Punisher: War Zone does a double back flip off a turnbuckle before blowing itself up with one of its own farts. Punisher (2004) somehow fails to find this funny.
James Bond Tag Team Exhibition Match: License To Kill (1989) and Die Another Day (2002) vs. Goldeneye (1996) and Casino Royale (2006)
Though Bond had faltered in the past (OHMSS, The Man With the Golden Gun, A View to a Kill) it wasn’t until the box office failure of License to Kill that people began to question the old boy’s health. This is somewhat unfair, as critics and audiences put off by the amplified violence and distinctly un-Bondlike storyline overlooked the series’ most visceral, urgent outing to date. Die Another Day, however, is a giant slab of arse that assumes you’re an idiot. Case in point; an invisible car that works by projecting the image from cameras on the other side WHICH MEANS YOU CAN’T HIDE BEHIND IT WHAT THE HELL DO YOU TAKE US FOR.
It’s been said that two clunkers in a row would kill the Bond franchise for good, so it was going to take something majestic after the triple-header of Die Another Day, The World is Not Enough and Tomorrow Never Dies (which features the series’ worst scene to date, trust). Casino Royale – a reboot in the truest sense of the word – changed the time-frame, reset the narrative clock to zero and invited us to frown upon Bond’s sexism rather than leerily cheering him on. It’s arguably the finest instalment of the entire series.
RESULT: Die Another Day bites the dust in minutes. License to Kill bravely holds its own before the bigger boys overwhelm it, then stove its face in with a stool.
Which reboots would you like to see step into the ring? Let us know below!