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For the Word is Hello, and I Have Touched This Guy 05.05.2009

Posted by Yeoman Nacelle Envy in Uncategorized.
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Guess which one is me.

Guess which one is me.

Dear Doctor Korby’s Skin Flap,

Okay, I agree with a lot of what you said, but I think we are actually talking apples and, um, Saurian apples here. 

We need to define our terms.  When I say reboots I do NOT mean remakes.  Almost all the examples you gave (aside from Godzilla and Planet of the Apes) were remakes, which admittedly have a notoriously abysmal record.  No argument there.  I’m with you when you claim remakes are often “Why did they bother?” failures. 

 And I would certainly agree with you that, for example, a remake of “The Wrath of Khan” (starring, perhaps, Shia LaBeouf as Kirk and Mario Lopez as Khan?), or some new, feature-length version of “The City of the Edge of Forever” rewritten by Jerry Bruckheimer’s drycleaner (and featuring the Jonas Brothers as Kirk, Spock & McCoy, and Miley Cyrus as Edith Keeler, perhaps?) would be a please-kill-me-now nightmare of epic proportions, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.    Not at all.

We’re talking about a reboot.  A reboot is not a prequel or a sequel or a remake.  For example, from what I understand the Wolverine film in theaters right now (I haven’t seen it yet) is a prequel.  If they were reBOOTing the X-Men franchise, they’d be starting from square one with a brand new approach to the entire X-Men story, with completely new cast and a “reimagining” from page-one of all the X-Men basic concepts as if no one had ever tried to tackle this particular comic series in film form before.  A fresh start, if you will. 

(Okay.  In the interest of full disclosure, I was one of the three creepy dudes on the planet who really dug that Planet of the Apes, which indeed was a reboot attempt, as well as the third Mission Impossible film, which I thought FINALLY captured the full flavor of the original series while still updating it.  And, while I’m confessing my cinematic sins, I was the one guy alive who liked Ang Lee’s Hulk yet thought The Dark Night was a total mess, script-wise. ).

But I digress.

My point is a reboot is a different animal from almost every one of your admittedly (mostly) nightmarish examples. We’re talking about re-starting a once-successful, but now-failing (or dead) film FRANCHISE for a new generation.  Going back and jump-starting an established movie series from scratch.    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I can only think of a very few examples of genuine reboots.  Batman Begins (decent, if deeply flawed), Superman Returns (sucky indeed), Casino Royale (pretty freakin’ awesome) and that 1998 Godzilla (sue me, but though lame-ish it was also kinda fun).   I suppose you could even officially consider 1985s Young Sherlock Holmes a reboot as well (and also quite fun, if you ask me). 

But offhand those five (plus maybe that Planet of the Apes) are the only examples I can think of. 

There may be others in the zombie or Highlander-type genres or such but I’m not as familiar with that stuff.  Dunno.  But remember, I’m not talking about one-shot remakes like 1990s Night of the Living Dead.  I’m talking about attempts to revive an entire franchise and launch a new series of films.  A reboot is actually a pretty rare event in Hollywood.

The fact is there just haven’t been all that many successful, long-term film franchises to START with, let alone multiple-movie series that begin failing and then the mucketty-muck powers-that-be decide to restart them over with a clean slate.   It’s really unusual.

Reboot Me, Scotty!

Reboot Me, Scotty!

And hey, from the few examples I could think of above, reboots actually don’t have THAT bad a track record, quality-wise.  No?  Certainly better odds than remakes.

But, okay, I’ll play by your rules.  If you want to set aside my whole “reboot” concept and forget for a moment about all the Star Trek films that have been made in the last 30 years and pretend this is the very FIRST Star Trek movie ever – up on the big silver screen for the very first time with a brand new cast (kinda like, say, that first Flintstones film) – I do see your point.  An old TV show turned into a movie.  Not many have succeeded artistically.  Most, frankly, suck.  (Though there are the rare exceptions like The Addams Family, Pennies from Heaven, Twilight Zone, and – don’t kill me – Lost in Space.  Huge flop but trust me, give that one another gander.)

But the good news is, even if it WERE the case with this film (which it isn’t), horrible first-time TV-to-movie attempts don’t linger in the mind for long.  I remember with deep affection television programs like I Spy, The Wild Wild West, The Saint, The Mod Squad, My Favorite Martian, The Honeymooners, and, of course, the fabulous The Avengers.  (Yowza!)  But thankfully I don’t remember a damn thing about the confused, irritating, messy movies Hollywood made out of each of them.  And the fact they attempted to make said films and failed doesn’t diminish the original shows at all.  Not to me.  (When I think fondly of Mrs. Emma Peel I sure as HELL don’t think about Uma Thurman.  Uma, no offence, but it wasn’t YOU who helped me through puberty.  It was Diana Rigg, wearing skintight black leather.)

So, in a way, we’ve got absolutely nothing to lose.  If the movie sucks, it’ll die a quick (if painful) Hollywood death, we’ll soon forget it, and everyone will go back to fondly remembering TOS.  If it DOESN’T suck, then, um….well… COOL!  Then, hey: it DOESN’T SUCK!!!   It’s kinda a no-lose situation.  The opposite of Kobayashi Maru.

(This win/win issue is the same reason I didn’t panic when I heard there were plans to shoot a feature based on “The Prisoner” — another truly fantastic, classic, deeply-quirky cult show that was a big favorite of mine.   I didn’t freak at the news because: what’s the worst that could happen?  The film’s horrible?  So what?  No one’s gonna think the original Prisoner suddenly sucks just because they make a sucky movie based on it, you know?  And if by some fluke the film rocks, then awesome!  Yay!)

Lil' Kirk looks a lil' bummed about the reboot

Lil' Kirk looks a lil' bummed about the reboot

Commodore, I believe the truth is we’re not that far apart, you and I.  I think you love Star Trek TOS and are terrified they are REALLY gonna fuck it up (while you’re perhaps secretly hoping it will actually turn out fantastic).  I, on the other hand, love Star Trek TOS and am hoping it will actually turn out fantastic (while perhaps I’m secretly terrified they are REALLY gonna fuck it up.)   

Two sides of the same Quatloo, if you ask me.

In the meantime, stand on a long movie line and prosper, my friend.

Yours with twice the grain,       Ensign Octo-triticale

PS — The irony is, you’re probably more likely to enjoy the film because you’re so pessimistic about it, whereas I’ll undoubtedly hate the damn thing because I’ve got my hopes way up.  Hmmm.  Okay, you win.

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