Earlier this week, I discovered that “Backyard FX” – one of the shows that convinced me to start Sleepless Knight in the first place – was putting down the corn-syrup after 4 years. Viewer response to this announcement is what prompted this week’s post. I thought Indy Mogul had simply stopped making BFX, so that they could make new, more exciting things, but apparently what they had actually done was tear open the fabric of space, in a dastardly attempt to destroy all life in the universe… starting with online filmmakers.
I can relate to this a little, I guess. When Futurama ended, I remember thinking that my life would never be the same again, but guess what? The sun came up the next morning and everyone got on with their lives as if nothing had happened. How can they be so heartless? I thought. Some of them
aren’t even crying. Everyone came into work, nobody overdosed or started gunning down pensioners at the bus-stop. It was as though I was the only one who cared. Worse than that; the sun came up the next day, and the day after that. The smug orange bastard just kept crossing the sky… day after day; fusing together hydrogen atoms as though there was still some point to it.
Therapy and close friends helped me overcome the loss of Futurama, but it was around about the same time, that everything started getting “Re-booted”: Batman began, Superman returned, King Kong practiced extreme dinosaur dentistry, and Bond went back to spy school. Some of these reboots worked wonderfully. Batman Begins was the perfect antidote to Batman & Robin; a film so diabolical that I believe there may still be an obscure faction of comic-book uber-geeks, polishing their rifles, ready for the day when Joel Schumacher steps into their crosshairs.
Star Trek was another good one. Not quite up there with the genre refining, Batman Begins, but Bruce Greenwood was a much better Captain Pike than Jeffrey Hunter or Sean Kenney, although, to be fair to Sean Kenney, all he had to do was keep really still and go “Beep” every now and again.
Casino Royale was excellent. I’ve been a Bond fan-boy all my life, but if any character was in need of booting again (and again), it was the smug little tosser our beloved 007 had become. Martin Campbell and Daniel Craig took the character back to a time when remodelling a public toilet with a henchman’s face was cool enough; without the need for a shoelace that alters the gravitational constant of the universe if you cough in a specified sequence. You can see the moment that the Bond franchise flew too close to the sun. Someone said “I know… Invisible Aston Martin!” and it was Game Over. Unless you want to start arming his enemies with Kryptonite, it’s really hard to know where to go from there.
Battlestar Galactica was another superb reboot, and one of the stand-out series of the century so far. It showed what’s possible when writers and producers aren’t afraid to take chances; to kill-off a beloved character if the story calls for it, or worse still; turn them into a Xeroxed killing machine. Any moments of self-doubt in a Star Trek episode are remedied with a quick pep-talk from counsellor Troi. In BSG rebooted, an identity crisis requires nothing less than filling your beloved commander’s chest with bullets, as he congratulates you on a successful mission, simply because you just found out you’re a baddie, and it seems like the thing to do. Excellent stuff.
But, then… there are the also-rans. I mean, I see what Bryan Singer was trying to do with Superman Returns, and hats off to Brandon Routh on the Chris Reeve impersonation but… baby Supes? Really, Bryan? The film was OK, until the asthmatic little ginger kid killed Lex Luthor’s henchman with a Steinway! At which point it was all I could do not to stand up in the middle of the cinema and scream “NOOOOO!!! I’ll kill you, Singer!!!”
Spiderman was getting along well, until Sam Raimi said “This is a great ride! Everyone’s happy; it handles great; there are enough packets of in-flight peanuts to go around… but… you know what would make this ride really cool…? If I flew us all into that mountain!” Now it’s 2011 and Spidey
is getting his second re-boot this century!
V was another series I loved as a child, but which recently received an ABC enema. It was just shit! That’s as eloquent as I can be about that. I mean, between Battlestar Galactica, V, and The Event, who really needs another series where “Any one of us, could be one of them!” A plot device so over-used these days, it almost makes Vampires look fresh and exciting… almost.
Other remakes/reboots in the works include: Dune, Fright Night (vampires, anyone?), Total Recall, Fletch, The Black Hole, Flash Gordon, Flight of the Navigator, Ghostbusters, Gremlins, Highlander, The Jack Ryan series, Jurassic Park, The Neverending Story, Police Academy, Robocop, Short Circuit, Superman (again), Westworld, Barabarella, and Judge Dredd. Some of these might be a good idea; I can’t wait to see what modern special effects do to movies like Westworld and Dune for example; The Black Hole would almost certainly benefit from updated effects (not to mention better acting), and unless the new version of Judge Dredd turns out to be a Gaddafi propaganda film, it’s hard to see how any director could fail to improve on the character’s 1995 outing. But, if Peter Jackson’s King Kong taught me anything, it was that some things are just best left alone. I wanted someone to remake that movie my whole life. I loved the 1933 version, and… (*prepares to be struck by lightning) …I even kind of enjoyed the cheesy 1976 version with JEFF-BRIDGES!! (sorry… I was channelling Toby Turner for a moment there), but I think we can all be thankful that PJ has turned his attention back to hobbits and dwarves now.
After King Kong I started rethinking a few things. I’ve always wanted someone to remake Forbidden Planet – possibly one of the greatest Science Fiction movies ever made – but after seeing what Jackson did to the Ape, I just don’t know if it’s a good idea. I mean… what if someone casts Leslie Neilsen in it for goodness sake?
The thing is, I’m as disappointed as anyone when my favourite series or film franchise comes to an end, but if their creators are anything like me, the whole reason they created them in the first place was because they have ideas they want to share with the world. When you have a dozen story ideas every week, the last thing you want to do is to spend 5 years on each one. Isn’t The Simpsons proof enough that sometimes you should just quit while you’re ahead? I missed Friends when it ended, but I think 10 years was long enough. And my generation waited so long for more Star Wars movies, we now live in a world of teenagers who honestly believe that Star Wars belongs to their generation… Idiots! I mean, you’re welcome to The Phantom Menace but Hands Off my EMPIRE, as someone with a moustache might once have said… possibly Queen Victoria.
All things end, but they end so that new things can begin. If you have poor binocular vision, just don’t pay for the 3D screening.