The Mother Brain Files: Worst Movie Reboots Ever
By Mother Brain
When a successful film or television franchise sees profits go down and negative critical reception, Hollywood is always ready to pull the trigger on a reboot as long as the title puts asses in seats. Since the successes of 2005’s Batman Begins and 2006’s Casino Royale, the industry has found a way to restart a once popular franchise without executing a direct remake. While some of these reboots have paid off big (i.e. Star Trek), others completely missed the mark. Among the many I’ve witnessed goes as follows in no particular order:
The Sum of All Fears (2002)
Tom Clancy’s wildly successful Jack Ryan books proved equally popular at the box office beginning with Alec Baldwin’s portrayal in The Hunt for Red October followed by Harrison Ford’s turn in Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger. When Ford declined to reprise the role for Fears, Paramount decided to restart the espionage series with the young flavor of the time, Ben Affleck, who portrayed Ryan as an inexperienced CIA analyst brought into an extraordinary circumstance. Despite the big names attached including Morgan Freeman and James Cromwell, Fears was just a problematic picture. Not only was the action downplayed in contrast to the previous entries but also the lack of drama following a nuclear explosion on U.S. soil was not taken seriously just months after the events of September 11, 2001. Ironically, the villains were changed from Arab to neo-facists because the filmmakers thought it was not believable for Arabs to pull off such a major attack. Although it made a healthy profit at the time, the studio was disappointed and now another reboot is set to hit screens later this year with Star Trek’s Chris Pine as Ryan.
Miami Vice (2006)
This one hits to close to the heart for me. As a major fan of the original series, Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas embodied cool as they fought drug lords in and around the Gold Coast with their Ferrari Spider, pastel outfits, and Phil Collins music. The show’s executive producer, Michael Mann, was talked into reviving Vice as a feature film by Jamie Foxx shortly after the release of Ali. The end result was a total mess. Mann stripped away a good majority of the popular elements of the show to create a more grittier take on undercover police work with Foxx and Colin Farrell in the key roles. Despite their talents in other films, the actors have no chemistry on-screen, the characters are not likable, and the script was less than solid. The film was reportedly a troubled production due to Foxx’s ego, Hurricane Katrina, gang shootouts near filming locations, and fights over the music. Audiences were not impressed.
The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
How can this be on my worst list if the film made money? Quite simply I felt there was no need for a reboot to Spider-Man in the first place. Although Spider-Man 3 was a critical dud, there was still plenty of room for improvement on a 4th film; however, the folks at Sony felt differently and took the reboot route to avoid reverting the rights back to Marvel. The film took the Batman Begins route of making the world more grounded in reality. Peter Parker, portrayed by Andrew Garfield, is more of an angsty teen than the traditional geek as originally portrayed by Tobey Maguire. While its CGI work was improved from the Raimi films, the reboot didn’t do much new in telling Peter’s story except for the mystery surrounding his parents. The sequel is set for release next summer and yet I’m still not sold on this direction.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012)
The harsh reaction to the first movie was a major turning point for superhero movies in general. This one didn’t do much better. Nicholas Cage’s performance was 10x worse, the script sucked, and the direction of Crank’s Neveldine/Taylor was piss poor. Just so bad I turned it off after the first half hour.
The Punisher: War Zone (2008)
Hollywood seems to have a problem getting the Punisher translated properly to the screen. The 1989 film with Dolph Lundgren was shot cheap in Australia and greatly deviated from the comics. The 2004 film with Thomas Jane did it’s best to stay true to the comics but suffered from it’s polished direction and Tampa, Florida setting. Lionsgate had one last chance to get it right when they hired Ray Stevenson to take on the role with Lexi Alexander as the director. Things appeared promising when New York was announced as the setting and Jigsaw was announced as the villain. That’s where the promises stopped. The end result was a live action Steven Seagal cartoon with bad NY accents and over the top violence. It’s miserable flop in theaters caused the rights to go back to Marvel. Unfortunately, they’re talking about turning it into a Dexter-like TV show.
Superman Returns (2006)
Bryan Singer attempted to stay true to Richard Donner’s vision of the Man of Steel by ignoring the terrible 3rd and 4th entries of the series as well as scrapping the infamous Flyby script by J.J. Abrams that Warner Bros. could not get off the ground. It appeared to be the right way to go initially. What Singer didn’t realize was that he was making a Superman movie for himself and not the general public. The lack of action, wooden performances, and silly deadbeat Super-dad subplot were major turnoffs for audiences and fans. It was a 2006 movie stuck in 1979 with nothing fresh to update the character. WB’s $200 million gamble was a serious bust and a major blow in their attempt to compete with Marvel. Now they’re taking another shot with the upcoming Man of Steel under Zack Snyder’s direction with Christopher Nolan as producer in what they hope will restore the good name of Kal-El.
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