Franchises Which Could Use a Reboot

While I am no proponent of the rebooting trend there comes a point where screaming protestations does become tiresome, when even the biggest purist has to sit back and say “You know what? If this is the trend it may as well serve some kind of a purpose.” To that end here is a list of 10 film series that should be rebooted for one reason or another.

Rex Harrison in Dr. Doolittle (20th Century Fox)

10. Dr. Doolittle – This is another example Eddie Murphy’s sad decline ruining an altogether fine film concept. The Doctor Doolittle books by Hugh Lofting are magical and if adapted at the very least faithfully if not slavishly could certainly still be a huge hit and there is no reason it can’t start up again. Considering that the original 1967 rendition with Rex Harrison is mostly an afterthought it’s about time the series as written was done properly – installment by installment if possible.

Asterix & Obelix (Clement)

9. Asterix et Obelix – One of two foreign entries on this list. While there are animated versions of this popular comic available ad nauseum there are only two live action films and one can clearly see why. The story came across as stale and lacking in whimsy. Gerard Depardieu who was one of the leading men in cinema once upon a time comes across as a charmless, fat oaf and not Obelix. The cast and director should be scrapped. It can be done in France or anywhere for that matter as long as it lives up to the magic these stories that travel through history are capable of and with that theme story possibilities are endless since the source material already provides many of them.

In light of the worldwide box-office success and aesthetic triumph of Tintin motion capture would be a wonderful place for this series to go.

Daniel Cerny in Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (Dimension)

8. Children of the Corn – This is a series that has had a remake of the original. Now as it stands the original is fantastic. It is a quintessential 80s horror film and overall one of the better ones ever made simply due to its overall impact. Having said that the series of sequels that followed soon thereafter have watered down and bastardized the brand and the drop in quality from the original to the sequels is one of the most precipitous of any horror franchise ever (with few exceptions). For that reason I have placed the franchise on the list and it will be with a bit of curiosity that I will attend the remake to see if the franchise can be revitalized.

Zombie (Anchor Bay Entertainment)

7. Zombie – These are perhaps the films that Lucio Fulci, Italian giallo director, is best known for and it’s a mystery why. Slow-moving, sunlit and un-suspenseful when compared to Fulci’s best works. The occasional grossly unsettling make-up job is not enough to save any of the set-ups. These are a prime candidate for a relaunch. The island can be shot at night, or it could simply not be set on an island. Zombie films are all the rage for the time being find some other way to turn the genre on its ear under the zombie brand and it is sure to be a hit.

Jaws (Universal)

6. Jaws – Yes, Jaws is an absolute classic and should not be touched. There are reasons why the series is on the list. The series as a whole is very bad. Nothing that happened after Spielberg is any good and Hollywood has proven time and time again that absolutely nothing is sacred, not even Spielberg. A Poltergeist remake is in the works. So, theoretically, yes the Jaws series does belong here.

Samuel Costa in O Menino Maluquinho (Inter Filmes)

5. O Menino Maluquinho – This is the second foreign selection on this list and it is the film adaptation of the best-selling children’s book by Brazilian illustrator/author Ziraldo. The first film was absolutely wonderful and while not a literal adaptation it was most definitely one in spirit, which is the most important thing. There was a sequel which was good but not as good as the original as the cast was a little too old at this point to be believable in the story. However, with the character still popular in a daily comic strip it is easily a candidate for reboot. Brazilian audiences, especially younger ones are used to long series like Os Trapalhoes, and it would work perfectly if the kids were recast every few installments similar to the James Bond franchise.

4. Home Alone – This is another example of a series where it was the sequels failing the concept more so than the original. This is also one of those series where it’s one of the least necessary reboots but it’s the kind that makes you wonder why it hasn’t happened already, especially considering that it’s a John Hughes project Anyway, the second was regurgitation, the third was decent but weird in as much as it was just a continuation of the situation not characters or plot and the fourth was just painful.

Gremlins (Warner Bros.)

3. Gremlins – Yes, the first only was classic but they kind of dropped the ball. The sequel, though enjoyable, seemed like an afterthought and the time between the original and the follow-up could’ve contributed to its lack of success. It’s an idea that’s endlessly appealing and one of the best combinations of horror and comedy around while the film is an 80s classic there is no performance that’s irreplaceable so it’s surprising that studio executives haven’t jumped at the opportunity to jump-start this one.

Anthony Michael Hall, Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo and Dana Barron in Vacation (Warner Bros.)

2. National Lampoon’s Vacation – The Vacation films weren’t ever really designed to end. They’re all so great each one more memorable than the last and just silly. I think it’s a series that could easily come back into play by just having Rusty or Audrey go on a trip with their kids and have Grandpa and Grandma (Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo) along for the ride (Seriously, what else are they doing? And they should be doing something). With the last film being in 1989 there is so much socially and about the world that can be mocked, parodied or lampooned that wasn’t even in the public consciousness back then that it’s about time. People still laugh at the old ones and they would laugh at new ones too.

Leslie Nielsen in The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear (Paramount)

1. The Naked Gun – Yes, the 3rd film was called The Final Insult but those kinds of titles have been contradicted before. I think along with a new James Bond we should have new Frank Drebin pictures. This can be done in one of two ways one the old pulling the investigator out of retirement against his will ploy can be implemented or he could be unwillingly training his replacement. Either way good parody is a necessity and his were second to none and he should be leading, not making appearances in second rate attempts so the parents in the audience can have a good laugh.

Ideally, I’d have loved the late great Leslie Nielsen to have been involved but the fact of the matter remains that the parody film is fast becoming a lost art of the comedy genre and perhaps a classic vehicle is needed to revive it with the right people in place.

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Tintin Finds Its Own Path

The Adventures of Tintin (Columbia/Paramount)

As the art of cinema develops alongside technology, so does the business of it. Methods of distribution and viewership are now more varied than ever, however, what some may not fully consider is that aside from method of viewing (streaming, MOD, DVD, etc.) theatrical releases also have found new paths. Now more than ever theatrical releases have tinkered with the formula. It used to be an unwritten rule that the rest of the world would have to wait for Hollywood films until America had seen it first. Now, for many reasons whether it be location or just the international viability of a given project, films are not only premiering overseas with increasing frequency but opening there well ahead of the US also.

Perhaps the best example of this is Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin. I for one had always had a vague awareness of Hergé’s well-known creation but didn’t know much about him or the stories in which he lived. However, similar to my affinity to The Little Prince, which crosses not only various media but also three languages, I knew that it was a property more renowned abroad than in the US. Therefore, it’s perfectly logical that not only did Tintin debut overseas first but also opened there well in advance.

Tintin is, in fact, a cinematic rarity in as much as of this writing it already ranks #360 all-time in worldwide box-office with $239.1 Million and opens in the US tomorrow. Considering the fact that it opened in late October overseas and the ubiquity of social media below you will find some of the reactions I’ve gotten from overseas as I anxiously await the US release. The conversation started rather spontaneously when discussing some of my favorites of 2011 after that Twitter discussion I asked around and got more feedback:

Alex Terentjev, Russia

“What bout Tintin? I think this is the best film to share the evening with family…btw (By the way) I didn’t know anything bout Tintin before I’ve watched a movie, but u know this film is amazing…comedy elements mixed with criminal and interesting adventures and motion capture, as well, makes this movie really awesome…I even started to read Tintin comic books cuz of this movie.”

Patrick Gibson, England

Tintin, one of the best animated films I’ve seen in a long time! Such well thought out characters and beautiful animation!

@lucylucesim, Ireland

Tintin was brilliant![…]The 3D was great but could’ve been better utilized.

@everyfilmin2011, England

So, after months of looking forward to a new Spielberg movie, one of my Twitter followers threw cold water on my mood by telling me it was boring. I must admit, I’m glad they did – because watching a movie with low expectation is always best. First off, I can happily report that there was far too much going on for it ever to be condemned as boring but it’s certainly not the standard of an animated Raiders Of The Lost Ark, which I’d originally hoped…

The action, of course, comes thick and fast and computer animation really lets Spielberg’s imagination out of any normal constraints. Jamie Bell is the perfect voice for Tintin but the real revelation is Daniel Craig as the baddie. He hams it up like never before – talk about shaken and stirred! Of course, it goes without saying that Britain’s greatest chameleon actor, Andy Serkis, is unrecognisable and in top form as the captain…

My biggest bugbear is the 3D. It really doesn’t bring anything to the party and, once again, is just a giant rip-off. The sooner this gimmick dies off, the better. So, a Spielberg classic it isn’t but is Tintin worth a family outing. Yes, I should say so. Rating? 7/10

Here’s an excerpt from Screenings a great resource for those of you in the US who want a chance to see movies early and free:

It mainly mixed three of the original comic books: The Crab with the Golden Claws (1941), Red Rackham’s Treasure (1944), and of course, The Secret of the Unicorn (1943). While the precise motion-capture couldn’t compare to Hergé’s original execution of his characters, it delivered a new fascination for the current generation to enjoy. So don’t expect as much nostalgia but do expect a great viewing experience…

The script does a wonderful job introducing the audience to Tintin and the whole premise quickly. Even if you have no idea what the source material is about, you will get it within the first 10 minutes where you see the new animated Tintin get a caricature of himself which shows the original inked boy journalist […] By mixing many different plots in one, the filmmakers were able to explore more of the Tintin universe and splice together various story lines to keep the momentum and the pace quick. However, you never forgot the main story at hand…

The cast was as impressive as the men behind the scenes. The motion capture and voices were provided by the likes of Daniel Craig, Jamie Bell, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and motion capture legend/guru Andy Serkis. With every mocap film, Weta Digital somehow tops itself and delivers a more seamless experience letting you forget your even watching an animated feature. It was a weird mix…even though it looked extremely lifelike, The Adventures of Tintin still had it’s [sic] cartoony feel…

The 3D was used well but again, not drastically enough. The best implementations were the particle effects that were unlike any other movie. They added a strong feeling of depth in their scenes that can’t be duplicated using 2D cameras. Even with the fast moving action scenes, the 3D didn’t get too crazy or give headaches so in the end it just made the visuals pop that much more. I would actually recommend watching this one in 3D because animated films do gain the most from the 3D technology…

The biggest win for this production, however, was a chaotic sequence which never seemed to end. It was very reminiscent of the Indiana Jones days where everything fell into place and the characters had to pull off stunts just at the nick of time. Of course, this is a lot easier to accomplish when every movement is animated by a computer rather than a stunt double. In the end though, the action scene came out so well that it makes you want to watch the entire film again just to watch that portion. If it was on DVD or DVR, you would instantly rewind it back to see again. The whole movie is ok up until that point but then Tintin blasts into full force and dazzles you with the unbelievable. It was really fun and that alone made the movie enjoyable for me. If you’re ready for a big dose of action adventure, The Adventures of Tintin is an amusement ride in the form of a movie and you should probably watch it because the sequel is already in the works.

Two other pre-certifications are first that it currently scores a 7.8 on 21,946 votes on the IMDb, it is “Certified Fresh” by Rotten Tomatoes with 82% based on 67 Reviews and is at 67% on 11 reviews at Metacritic.

However, my open inquiries for a reaction from abroad to Tintin also garnered this surprise response from Simon Doyle who runs titinologist.org:

In 1983, when I was much younger, I watched an “interview”, broadcast on Janet Street-Porter’s “yoof TV” show Network7. Boy-reporter Tintin (we, the viewing public, were assured) was orbiting the Earth in Professor Calculus’s rocket, to bring amazing news to the world. Duly excited, I watched a 2D, somehow-electronically-but-rather-simply-animated Tintin inform the interviewer (and us) that none other than Steven Spielberg was in the process of bringing his globetrotting adventures to the screen!

Wow! If he could do for Tintin what he’d done with Indiana Jones–! I sat back, and waited…

…and waited…

…will it ever happen?…

…and waited…

…Great snakes! – A chap could start to lose hope…!

…and then…!

It’s 28-years later, and I am sitting in the viewing-theatre at BAFTA (BAFTA! The glittering heart of British cinema!), courtesy of the good folks at MediCinema, watching Thompson and Thomson introduce Steven Spielberg’s glorious new movie –

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn!

– and it proved well worth the wait!

If you want the devil’s advocate take there is a discussion link at the bottom of the review, however, if someone who has been as devoted fan for ages and has waited that long for a film version can come away that impressed it is most definitely worth my time. Moreover, the distribution path decision while might’ve seemed obvious to some has reaped rewards for the film as it opens with a bit more buzz stateside than it might otherwise.