The art of “rebooting” a classic is fraught with danger. Iconic films provide movie fans with a great amount of memories and nostalgia from the period of release. Toying with these characters that people know and love will have one of two reactions – complete hatred or a newfound appreciation.
The reboot model comes in different forms and disguises. Whether they are sequels, prequels, spin offs or reinterpreting the same synopsis from the original, a lot of studios will pressure moviemakers to squeeze more lemonade from the lemon that made the studio so much money in the first instance.
Walk into any cinema this Christmas and there will be a myriad of examples to hit you in the face. With Daniel Craig’s final role as James Bond in Spectre, a series running in cinemas since 1962, to George Miller’s reinvigoration of Mad Max in May, Hollywood loves to continue a classic character’s journey if it’s been commercially successful in the past.
Those critics who grow wearisome when production companies churn out the same material in a different format have cause to be frustrated, but the people vote with their feet. JJ Abrams’ The Force Awakens reboot of Star Wars will undoubtedly be one of the highest grossing pictures of all time because of its history and affinity with fans from an older generation. Likewise for Ghost Busters, Blade Runner and future reboots.
But have the studios squeezed all the lemon out there? What if the edgy cult classics from yesterday got a makeover, could there be films out there that would be great to see in 2016 and beyond?
10 The Matrix
While the 1999 action blockbuster The Matrix appeared as nothing more than a physiological dance with science fiction, philosophers have argued that the possibility of living in an alternate universe is not as fanciful as it would appear. As society grows ever reliant on technology for day-to-day living, the film well and truly stands the test of time 16 plus years later. The sequels The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions did not come close to the critical acclaim of the original, but the origins from the 1999 beginning leave so many plot points unanswered. How did Morpheus come to be? Were there other attempts to pierce through the simulated reality? The potential to tap into that universe once again might not come for a few years yet if at all, but there is certainly a plethora of material to work with.
The rumors have been circulating for some time about an updated adaptation to the George Orwell classic 1984, but at the time of writing nothing official has been put in place. The film released in the same year of the title told the horror tale of a dystopian English future governed by a tyrannous Big Brother machine. The dark, bleak picture starred John Hurt and the late Richard Burton. With director Paul Greengrass putting forward a public case to make the new film his own, anyone who earns the privilege to do so would have a huge amount of pressure to deliver something that adequately translates to modern moviegoers. Amongst the debates over the overreach of government and 24/7 surveillance, the film has never been more relevant than today.
It’s the classic feel-good, feel-bad Christmas movie. Bill Murray’s starring role in the 1988 box office hit Scrooged told the story of a jaded television executive who fell out of love not only with the spirit of Christmas but life in general. Based on the Charles Dickens book A Christmas Carol, the movie is a dark interpretation of the novel with The Ghost of Christmas past haunting Frank Cross (Bill Murray) until he realizes the error of his ways. It would be incredibly difficult to recapture the manic off-the-cuff comedic talents of Murray, but a new reboot starring anyone of Steve Carrell, Ben Stiller, Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen or Chris Rock could work.
7 The Fly
Few science fiction horror films ever worked on the concept of splicing species together quite like the 1986 smash hit The Fly. The level of grotesqueness was off the charts, so much so that the makeup department for the movie won an Oscar for transforming the normally serene Jeff Goldblum into a diabolical monstrosity. The 1989 follow up Fly II fell flat with critics and failed the recapture the sheer horror of the human/fly fusion, as talks to reboot the franchise ebbed away with the meek reception to the sequel. Kevin Smith’s 2014 horror comedy flick Tusk flirted with a similar concept, transforming a human into a walrus, yet the fascination of evolution and utilizing the characteristics of different species remains.
6 Office Space
Office Space is a short, sharp 89-minute comedy cult classic satirizing the mundane nature of repetitive cubical work at a typical American software company. When Ron Livingston’s character Peter Gibbons has an epiphany where he stops caring about getting fired before involving his friends Michael Bolton (David Herman) and Samir Nagheenanajar (Ajay Naidu) in a plot to embezzle money out of the company, the film cleverly pits the haves and have not’s of the corporate food chain. Whilst Mike Judge’s creation had a short animated spin off centered on the Milton Waddams character, a fresh reboot of the same characters 15-20 years into the future after the stock market and real estate crash of 2008 would be great material to work with.
5 Apocalypse Now
Given America’s disillusionment with war around the world, it seems appropriate to tap into that feeling with a fresh take on the 1979 epic Apocalypse Now. As much as the stellar all-star casting of Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall and Martin Sheen played their part, the real star of the film was the beautifully tropical Vietnamese and Cambodian landscapes, providing a picturesque backdrop to scenes of complete mayhem and chaos at almost every take. Although South East Asia is not the hotbed of American military action now, there are a lot of parallels with sleeper cells in the hills of Afghanistan with the possibility of special forces soldiers going rogue after being captured. 2005’s Jarhead might be the closest thing so far to the Iraqi experience, but rarely has a war drama captured the mental disintegration of soldiers in the field than Apocalypse Now did masterfully in 1979.
4 Back To The Future
Not just a classic time travel movie, but the time travel movie that put all others before and since to shame. Incredibly, the 1985 smash hit almost never got made due to scheduling conflicts with Robert Zemeckis. Disney also passed on the film because they believed it was a movie about relations between mother and son! 30 years on and with the cult status it enjoys today, there are few franchises more beloved than Back To The Future and any attempt to temper with its legacy would require a master’s finesse to get every detail right. One of those would be confronting the fact Marty and Doc did travel to 2015 in the 1989 sequel, an interpretation that doesn’t exactly match up to real life 2015. However, the film is widely credited for opening up people’s imaginations on time travel and a sequel set 30 years into the future would open up a wide range of plot points from Marty McFly’s original adventures.
This was a Kevin Smith film that did hit the mark, confronting the dogma of Catholicism head on with this controversial 1999 comedy. Although it loosely falls into Smith’s View Askewniverse, set around the Jay and Silent Bob and Clerks movies, Dogma packed in the heavy hitting acting talents of Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Alan Rickman, Chris Rock and Salma Hayek amongst the usual View Askew rat pack. Such was the outrage over the release of the film, Smith received two separate death threats as it explored the wrath of God when two fallen angels attempt to return to heaven. In 2005 the writer and director mentioned that a sequel has been something he’s been considering given the events of Islamic extremism, but said with a family to look after the dangers of satirizing Islam in a film could be something too risky to partake in.
2 Easy Rider
It’s the film that’s been referenced a thousand times in one form or another, but no screenplay or director has come forward to provide a reboot scenario for Easy Rider. The 1969 roadie classic explored issues of drug use and counterculture before concluding with a shockingly violent ending that took all viewers by surprise. It was spoofed most recently during Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson’s 2004 Starsky and Hutch reboot, but the adventures of Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper riding across the American landscape remains as iconic as it ever was. Four and a half decades on from the picture, no other movie has managed to capture the free abandon in which these characters operated on the open road, as a fresh interpretation seems overdue.
1 Enemy Of The State
Before Edward Snowden. Before Wikileaks and Julian Assange. Enemy of the State was a picture before it’s time detailing the dangers of mass surveillance falling into the hands of corrupt government officials back in 1998. With the film predating 9/11 it well and truly stands the test of time, proving to be so much of a success that the former NSA Director Gen. Michael Hayden was personally concerned how much the movie would negatively affect the agency’s public perception.
The film was a smash hit at the box office and a favorite with critics. Any reinterpretation could not only use Will Smith (Robert Clayton Dean) and Gene Hackman (Edward Lyle) to reprise their roles, but utilize the stellar spy entourage of Scott Caan, Jamie Kennedy and Jack Black. Since the events of counterterrorism and data leaks in 2015, a sequel or spin off for Enemy of the State would get a lot of attention.