Why We Need To Get Over Sequels, Remakes and Reboots

Perhaps the most common circle jerk in the movie fan community is the blind contempt towards the way Hollywood ‘works’—at least when it doesn’t favor the niche nerd wishes. Particularly, movie fans are generally bothered by Hollywood’s routine of remaking classic movies for name value alone, and cashing in on successful movies with arguably unnecessary sequels and prequels.

The contempt can be understood in the simplest ways, but only because there is absolutely no other way to understand a problem that is so fundamentally simple: nerds don’t like others touching their stuff.

“I love “The Fog” and there’s only one reason and one way in which “The Fog” should be liked: mine.”

Next time you see someone wearing an “Evil Dead” t-shirt, approach them saying “I love that movie, man. When Mia cuts her own tongue, I almost puked!” and see the reaction you get. I made a whole post about how specific tastes and close-mindedness helps us deal with a lack of identity, insecurity, etc., and the contempt towards classics being remade stems, I think, from that same source.

"Hi, I'm John New Line Cinema, and I will shit on everything you love."
It’s easy to explain, and most can understand, that the existence of these movies is an obvious and frankly intelligent choice by Hollywood (apparently we’ve humanized and then demonized the notion of “Hollywood” which isn’t in any way insane). Movies are a business just like banks are a business just like pubs are a business. If making a remake will mean good business (re: monies, rupees, Hamiltons, golden dragons), there’s no reason why that remake shouldn’t be made. Honestly, who gives a shit about pissing off a couple thousand purist nerds if it means money?

No one. Though nerds will never be in need of reasons to whine, it’s almost a charitable effort to give them another. Whining and group masturbation in a circular fashion is all we have.

The notion that doesn’t go around as much is that even the shittiest remakes and sequels are the product of the hard work of a shitload of people who need a job as much as anyone else does. These movies—as 99.9% of movies—are also a profoundly creative endeavor, even the most terrible ones. You think the guy directing the “Nightmare on Elm Street” remake (which I personally loathed) wasn’t trying to create a fantastic film? Of course he was. He was making an effort. In the end, it didn’t pan out as a solid movie, but who are we to condemn a failed effort?

Again: no one. We love to think “Well I’m a real “Nightmare On Elm Street” fan so if I had gotten the chance he got, I would’ve made a great movie.” Yeah, except you know what? You probably wouldn’t have, unless you’re some kind of freakish talent. Sure, you’re probably convinced that you are, but . . . yeah, probs not bro.

Oh and I’d love to see someone tell me that they would’ve turned down the opportunity because Movie X “doesn’t need” a remake. It would be adorable.

Pictured: a gratuitous attempt to make fun of Levitt's makeup in "Looper".
We don’t really get that Hollywood doesn’t purposefully hire terrible directors; that guy was exactly like you, only had more experience, and more connections that got him a cool gig. If you had been in their remarkably in-style shoes, chances are you would’ve made something as bad or even worse. Yes, even if you have “Dream Warriors” memorized line by line.

I believe there’s this really unfair trend to condemn entire movies because they fail in the aspects we consider the most important. I am totally guilty of this, too (as I am for most of my rants in this blog). For instance, I was really disappointed by “Looper”. I am a huge fan of “Brick” (Johnson’s previous effort) and was insanely excited about his time-traveling follow-up. Alas I thought the screenplay was a nonsensical disaster (and it fucking was). I can see that the movie is beautifully shot, very well acted, mostly well edited, the locations are perfectly picked and the sets expertly built. All of those things that are 100% solid are the culmination of hundreds of talented people’s hard work, and they certainly aren’t to blame for a shitty script.

Still I’m comfortable saying “Looper” is crap. I guess certain things are more important to me, as is the case with many others. If you’re thinking I’m being a douche here, you’re probably right, but I bet you’re no different (quick: Is “Transformers 2” total shit? If you said yes, I have bad news for you). Hell, I can’t honestly think of one single movie that’s widely considered to be shit, and legitimately failed in everything it tried.

I mean, even the legit worst movieI’ve ever seen was well photographed.

I think if we were to begin rating movies in a ‘fair’ scale where each element of filmmaking was given equal value, no movie would ever score below 5/10. Well, except shitty student films but their sole point is to suck in the name of education so they’re beyond any type of review. And I don't mean this because some jobs (production design) are easier than others (directing); that's not true. It's because the elements we find most important are the ones that can't be objectively appreciated. We will never agree on a good script, but we will always agree on a great set.

Where this colossal derail is going is that we as audiences—or critics, if you’re comfortable calling yourself that—never seem to appreciate the hard work and honest creativity that’s put into the movies we hate, and the immense value of those jobs.

Here’s a quick experiment: what’s your all time favorite movie? Whichever it is, I bet my hairy ass-cheeks that you can’t name who did the makeup, who was the storyboard artist, who was the on-set dresser, who is the sound editor. Does this seem like a stupid test? Fair enough; you can’t hope to memorize the names of hundreds of crewmembers, and though you probably haven’t there’s no reason to try, but here’s the thing—do you even recognize this people’s work when you watch it? I’m guessing no. Even in your all time favorite movie, have you ever noticed the work of the supervising art director? Sure, maybe if you’re a film student or an art director yourself.

You know who else was a carpenter? Think about it.
But even if you are, had you honestly ever given thought to those jobs before I asked you right now? Probably not. And we’re talking about your favorite movie—what hope is there in appreciating the hard work of Sandor Mate, the set carpenter for “Silent Hill: Revelation”? Fucking none, that’s what. Mate goes home unloved even though he literally poured more sweat on-set than Michael J. Basset (director) ever did, and sure as hell did an admirable job. That man is Batman; he does what he has to do, does it right, and doesn’t give a shit about recognition—he only wants a job on another movie after this so he can keep doing what he loves. Batman there probably also might have been aware that the movie he was working on wasn’t going to be any good, but who was he to say anything?

As audiences, detached to the unbelievably arduous and complex process of movie making, we’re assholes because it’s just so goddamn easy to condemn a bad movie as a waste of time and money and celluloid.

So now that I’ve guilt-tripped you into thinking that there is more to making a shitty movie, maybe you can begin to think that Leatherface removing his mask, or using CGI in “Nightmare on Elm Street” really isn’t that big a deal. The existence of these movies aren’t only putting money in the wallets of Hollywood fat cats, but also in the wallets of hard-working, creative individuals you don’t give a shit about, but you should, because those guys also worked on great movies you love—whose work, again, you didn’t give a shit about.

After this paragraph, I won’t even mention the very obvious and even more valid argument that there is absolutely no harm in a remake, no matter the title it’s supposedly desecrating. People flip out about how remakes “ruin” a movie if they remake it, as though every copy of “Friday the 13th” would magically morph into the remake once it’s released.

I can't believe Platinum Dunes wanted to ruin
the "Friday the 13th" legacy!
I can sorta get this idea (but I don’t share it) when it comes to direct sequel, because a direct sequel tarnishes the original’s legacy in a more literal way. But still, it’s nerd whine in the most classic sense (most horror legends being remade ruined their own legacies decades ago anyway). If the movie’s good, awesome! If the movie’s terrible, no one will give a shit two days after its release. Why give a shit today?

The whole “All movies, even bad ones, create jobs for creative individuals—something no one should be against ever” thesis up there applies to all movies, I know. So okay, now you might say: “Okay, fine. Even bad movies are a good thing. But if we have to make movies, why remakes and sequels? Why not original stuff?”

Fair question, and hard to argue without resorting to a cheat. A lot of nerds say Hollywood is shit because they’re out of ideas. They’d rather remake a popular 80’s movie than produce Jack Everyman’s brilliant sci fi screenplay "Stealthstar" that’s been sitting on some exec’s shelf for 7 years.

Hollywood isn't out of ideas, though. There are thousands of screenwriters with great ideas trying to get their original scripts produced (if you've spent time in a movie forum you've probably met a few hundred). If Hollywood wanted to produce original scripts they would; but they don't. To explain why I have to circle back to one of the first things I said in this epic: it’s about money.

I’m certain there’s not a single Hollywood studio that wouldn’t want to be known for exclusively producing brilliant, original films. It would be an awesome reputation to have, but a damn expensive and risky one to pursue. Yes, it’s just about money, but when “money” means “tens of millions of dollars”, “about money” can’t be preceded by a “just”. No one is comfortable risking 30,000,000 greenboys to produce “Jack Everyman’s Stealthstar” if history assures us original stuff doesn’t pay and familiar titles do.

Not to mention that a fantastic script doesn’t, in any capacity, assure a fantastic movie. Every screenplay, no matter who wrote it, runs the risk of making a horrible movie that won’t make a cent.

"I call this one "Texas Chainsaw Massacre"!"
So that’s the thing. Put yourself in the incredibly stylish loafers of Hollywood execs for a second, and tell me if you’d honestly want to risk 40 million lettuce leaves to make a brilliant (in your opinon) screenplay happen, considering that everything points that you’d end up losing those 40 million, which you could use to buy amazing seasonal Ferragamos. You’d be an idiot if you said yes. Or if not an idiot, just someone lying through their teeth to make a point.

The reason I think nerds should get over hating this stuff is because, well, there’s no good reason to waste your energy hating something like this on principle, and never consider the very real possibility that the movie might turn out to be good or even great. This whole thing isn’t of course an attempt by me to stop nerd rage because it would be as stupid as it’s futile. It’s just me being meta—nerd raging at nerd rage. Whining about whining.

I guess I just prefer whining about other nerds than whining about Hollywood. Hollywood is a cool cat and always makes brilliant decisions about everything always and loves and respects and repays the people that think they’re awesome.*

*if any Hollywood scout is reading this: wink. I’m
amazing and totally willing to do butt nudity*^2.

*^2 I have a phenomenal butt [citation needed].
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About The Damn Beast

Pre-op trans-minotaur, sci-fi/fantasy/horror author, metal singer, videogame journalist, pop culture blogger. I also lift heavy things and put them down again repeatedly to occupy more space.
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