During this past week, I have been re-watching the prequels to the Star Wars movies (not my personal choice though). As I struggle to watch the bleak shell of the former series, I cannot avoid thinking about the problem with Hollywood remaking, rebooting, or continuing a movie franchise. The profits are alluring; it would be hard for any movie studio to resist bringing back a beloved franchise in order to make a hefty buck. However, the movie audience suffers from this because the nostalgic value of said franchises leads them to buying the tickets to go see these reboots or continuations only to be disappointed (most of the time) by what was produced. The first three episodes of Star Wars (the prequels) are a perfect example of this. Those three movies are a joke compared to the original three. The disappointment and dismay of the fans has stood strong from release to the present. There are few people who do enjoy the new movies, however, they are definitely not the majority.
The thing that motivated me to write about this “epidemic” is the new Mad Max. That movie is one of the few reboots/continuations to live up to the expectations of the previous films. I thoroughly loved Mad Max: Fury Road, from start to finish, which made me consider the reason why every reboot/continuation could not be a quality film (or at least comparable to the originals). This consideration honestly stems from the comparison of the prequels of Star Wars to the new Mad Max. Since Fury Road is the only new film out of the Max franchise, let’s only do the comparison between it and Phantom Menace. Both movies were directed by the original directors of the existing franchises, there was considerable amount of time between the last movie and the present one, and the diehard fans of the franchises were in full support of the franchise returning to theaters. With those similarities, why did one completely disappoint while the other is a critical success?
The areas that Phantom Menace suffers seem to be moments where the movie strays away from its original template for success. Meanwhile, Fury Road feels exactly like the original three did in tone, writing, and directing. I understand that there can be studio interference and sometimes the director has to make concessions during the process, however, why was that not the case with George Miller? There was similar pressure for Mad Max to do well (Tom Hardy is signed on for four movies) as there was for Phantom Menace. There is a bit of a time gap between these two movies, so that could explain why there was less interference with Miller than Lucas. Warner Brothers perhaps learned from the mistakes that Phantom Menace (and other reboots/continuations) made during the filming of the movie. But the argument against that point is that one would believe that a studio would leave a director to make his own decisions after successfully creating a timeless classic trilogy. Unfortunately that is not the case at times, but there is still a certain leash that is given in any director-studio relationship. If the director has proven himself/herself in previous films (especially in that specific franchise), then that leash will be loosened for the creative process. The mistakes that happened in Phantom Menace were not from the studio. It was simply bad decisions made by a great director in his best created universe. Miller, unlike Lucas, was able to avoid any crucial mistakes and bring back the feeling of the older films in his new movie.
There are certain reboots and long-delayed sequels (or prequels) that either revive a dead franchise or build on the lasting success of the previous movies. However, the problem is that Hollywood is remaking too many movies instead of presenting original concepts to audiences. To perfectly help my argument, the remake of Point Break recently released the trailer for the movie. The reaction from myself and others has been mostly negative. Why? My theory is a two part one: 1) the original movie should not have been remade at all to begin with because it belongs in the 1990s and 2) the trailer attempted to illustrate a serious, hardcore action movie from source material that is comical at best. Point Break was a surfer gang action movie that fit perfectly in the 90s because of the outlandish concept. Even with the Fast and Furious franchise growing and heading into the ridiculous side of action, audiences do not overly enjoy watching an action movie that defies physics too much (unless the action movie is supposed to be a sci-fi movie as well). Instead of giving a certain set of writers and directors the freedom to use their own ideas to produce a movie, these studios would rather attempt to gain old fans to return to the theaters to see a modernized version of a classic. That is a serious problem that is causing bad movies to lead the box office for the year (talking directly about Transformers 4).