Remakes: Yes Please? or Leave It Be?
With nearly all of the Disney movies getting a reboot and tv shows from my childhood popping up with new versions I decided to ask the question on everyone’s mind. Are remakes worth it? I believe the answer is yes, if care is taken.
I point to the new Beauty and the Beast movie that stayed just enough true to the original to keep the soul, but changed just enough to make it interesting. I also point to the tv show Shadowhunters as exhibit B. I absolutely love this book series but as I tried to watch the show I become more and more disappointed. Don’t get me wrong it’s a decent show on its own merit. But when taken as a Shadowhunter show I feel like it has gone off the rails. Another example is the Bitten tv show based off the book series that derailed, crashed, and went up in a ball of fire. Yet another book series I love that did not get the grand moving picture remake Harry Potter style.
I feel as though there is not enough care taken to keep the essence and story of the original. If you tell me something is based on of something else it should be recognizable within the remake. I like the way the new Powerrangers movie or the Beauty and the Beast movie keeps to the soul of the original. They are recognizable as what they are. But sadly this is not enough to make a reboot work. As with the GI Joe and Transformers remakes the story has to be interesting enough to keep viewers hooked, especially viewers new to the franchise. Transformers (for those of you who don’t know this franchise is based on an anime with the same name) took the soul of the original and turned it into a story new and interesting enough to keep viewers coming back for multiple sequels. Unfortunately GI Joe lacked this success and fizzled out after the first movie (the sequel did not do this series any favors). Another poor adaptation from television to movie is the Dragon Ball Z movie (this movie made me cry…and not in a good way).
Another fairly new remaking tool is to take a classic and cram a new genre into it. My favorite classic was no exception, becoming Pride and prejudice and Zombies. To me the book was nothing more than the original story with zombies and violence stuffed down the sharp-tongued, primly dressed throats of the characters. This was a new idea, that yes kept the soul of the original, that did not work. The new concept seemed out-of-place in the prim and proper classic. In this rare occasion I felt the movie adaptation of this remade classic did it better. They kept the soul behind the classic that makes it a beloved book but changed enough to make the zombie apocalypse believable. They wove a new story out of the essence of the old to create a new idea with an old and beloved soul.
All this being said I am excited to see the new Disney remakes but I hope they take care to follow the example set by Beauty and the Beast. Small changes are welcome but the story should feel familiar to old audiences. I have heard a rumor that Simba in the new Lion King will no longer marry Nala but a male lion named Neko. While I am all for weaving political issues into movies subliminally and tremendously support there being a same sex Disney couple I don’t think a remake is the way to do it. Let the Lion King lovers keep the iconic Simba and Nala. Give Neko and his boyfriend, or her girlfriend, their own movie. Make a princess/prince movie centered around them if you really want to show support for LGBT in a movie. This brings me to another issue I have with remakes, choose someone who fits that character. In the Mulan remake the characters should be Asian, Moana should be Islander, Tiana should be African-American, Jasmine should be middle eastern, and Pocahontas should be Native American. The characters are different races, so the actors/actresses that play them should be as well. We need to support diversity in Hollywood. Take Piccolo from Dragon Ball Z for example. If the part calls for a green dude with pointy ears and anntene then find a green dude with elf ears and anntenas (this of course being the extreme version of my point).
In short remakes can be enjoyable for both old and new audience’s. They can reignite the love of old fans. And help new fans discover these great franchises. But rebooter beware this is not always done successfully.