Driven by data; ridden with liberty.
Remakes, reboots and reiterations of the same stories are filling our screens. As an example, works based off the Arthur Conan Doyle stories of the detective Sherlock Holmes have had three different treatments in recent years: Guy Ritchie’s films starring Robert Downey Jr.; the CBS procedural crime drama Elementary; and the BBC’s Sherlock television films, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. The culture website Den of Geek! lists 105 films set for remakes in the near future, such as Ace Ventura and Akira .
Remakes occur either to provide the retelling of a story in a new setting. Whilst it has been typically been restricted to game programmes, film and television series that have made journeys across the Atlantic, with That 70’s Show being turned into Days Like These in Britain, and a new House of Cards based around an American congressman.
Whilst the intellectual lineage of a remake is crystalline, famous works have been created, when inspired by existing films, programmes and plays. Shakespeare has been the boundless source of inspiration for writers. The play West Side Story is based upon Romeo & Juliet, and Disney’s The Lion King is a retelling of Hamlet.
Despite the iterations of the same stories, the latest remakes may gather a groan, or an annoyance at Hollywood seeking more money, or that casting or direction reflects negative aspects of our society.
It is certainly true that remakes and reboots can go poorly.
Personally, the two prominent examples of terrible film adaptations and remakes are Dragonball Evolution, directed by James Wong, and Thunderbirds, the 2004 film directed by Jonathan Frakes. Dragonball Evolution takes the famous manga and anime series by Akira Toriyama, and manages to turn it into a high school drama. The film believes the ki blasts, even the powerful Kamehameha, are “air-bending techniques”. This film is mercifully short, and pains me to watch.
(Video: Screen Junkies)
(Video: Chris Stuckmann)
Thunderbirds uses its source material, and forces into a story about a trio of teenagers saving their brethren, as was made popular by the Harry Potter and Spy Kids series. Whilst some of its casting was admirable, the screenplay deviates heavily away from the original series.
Near the beginning of the film, there is a scene where, in an act of stupidity, Scott flies Thunderbird 1 underneath Thunderbird 2, to show off to the rest of the family. In that moment, the suspense of belief is shattered.
In the original series, Thunderbird 2 is shot down by the U.S.S. Sentinel, and is nosediving towards the ocean. Even though it was made using miniatures and models, that scene felt heavier, more important, and more real than the CGI toys thrown about in the Frakes film.
New directors, screenwriters and actors can bring new ideas to old stories, so even if it is just for nostalgia or the secure monetary return, remakes and reboots usually prove worthwhile.
The question arises as to why the same stories appear again and again. We do not just pass on our genetic material as we depart. Ideas, stories and fables inform our cultures, which are also propagated across the ages.
 Brew, S., and Leane, R., 2016. 105 movie remakes and reboots currently in the works. Den of Geek! Available from: http://www.denofgeek.com/movies/remakes/36637/105-movie-remakes-and-reboots-currently-in-the-works [Accessed: 26th January 2016]