Building A Better Reboot: Five Films That Taught Us How It’s Done


Dredd 3DHollywood’s latest franchise reboot, arrives in theatres today riding a wave of generally positive hype. It is the latest in a line of films that attempt to resurrect a failed or tired property from the industry’s past, correcting in this case the mistakes of 1995’s Sylvester Stallone bomb Judge Dredd. That film was so immensely flawed and inconsiderate towards the spirit of the original comics that there is little need to question the creative impetus behind a reboot. Someone got it wrong the first time, and someone has now attempted to do it right.

Reboots are rarely that simple, of course. As the practice becomes increasingly commonplace in Hollywood – best exemplified by Sony’s decision to hit the rest button on Spider-Man after one creatively underwhelming sequel – it is important to look to the past, towards the exemplary reboots that defined the methodology behind successfully restarting a dormant franchise. There are plenty of simple yet powerful lessons one can learn from the best reboots, lessons that, if taken to heart, can provide an effective roadmap to creative – and, in many cases, commercial – success.

Today, we examine five of Hollywood’s best recent reboots and the most important lessons they taught us. These titles are not ranked, as the goal here is to demonstrate how each film best exemplifies one component of the ‘ideal’ reboot. These are the films that taught us how it’s done, and we begin with what is undoubtedly the most significant reboot of the era…

Comments (14)

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  1. Call me crazy but I actually enjoyed Ang Lee’s Hulk as time goes on. It seems to hold its own as it ages. I also liked that Lee’s vision of the Hulk gave him much more of a heroic undertaking and a rise to heroism as opposed to the more sloppy but action-packed reboot.

    The science in Lee’s Hulk also gave the movie a bit more grounding and something for viewers to hold on to in relating to the character as opposed to simply rooting for the Hulk simply because he was the Hulk.

    1. Applerodsays:

      I agree and really don’t think Ang Lee’s version was the huge embarrassing disastrous failure that everyone else apparently does. I guess the “problem” is that it didn’t give the audience “Hulk SMASH!!” in the first 10 minutes, instead substituting more of a meditative, artful approach to the character. I quite enjoyed the film — particularly the editing style. It had its shortcomings (sap; Nick Nolte clearly on blow; etc..), but the so-called “reboot” needs a reboot because quality-wise I consider it marginally inferior to its predecessor.

    2. Joeleosays:

      I did like some aspects of the first Hulk movie, it had some good effects and I will give Lee credit for trying to give it a comic book feel with the split panels and whatnot, but I thought the casting was abysmal. In other movies I like Nolte, Bana (was great in Star Trek for example) and Connelly but thought they all failed in this movie. And I think Lee was probably never a comic book fan, and it showed. I do have the dvd and watch it occasionally but The Incredible Hulk got closer to the source material and did things right

      1. Well, getting close to source material doesn’t always equate to a better movie, maybe for fanboys (not meant in a derogatory way) but for average movie goers a more accessible film is usually a better film and Ang Lee’s Hulk was more accessible from a story and character development standpoint.

        Let’s take Punisher: Warzone for example, that was closer to the source material but man was that a horrible, horrible movie. The plot was silly, the characterization was awful, the action was goofy (swinging upside down on the chandelier? Really?) and the gore was over-excessive in a campy, B-movie way. While Thomas Jane’s Punisher wasn’t as close to the source material it was a better overall movie in terms of story, character development and continuity, which is why it ages better than Punisher: Warzone.

        I do agree about the casting for Ang Lee’s Hulk and that they could have done a better job (except for Connelly, but I’d pretty much watch anything she’s in).

  2. jsmith0552says:

    I agree with every film on in this article with the exception of the Abram’s Star Trek film. That film looked for all the world like a person who was given a character sheet and then pasted them onto a generic Hollywood action Sci-Fi film. I expect a little more from Star Trek than a summer pop corn action flick. People still reference Wrath of Khan because it was well written and multi-layered while Abram’s Star Trek is pretty much forgotten after four years.

  3. Fantastic write up. I especially enjoyed the Stark Trek and Apes pages, because those were the most surprising or ones that I thought for sure were going to suck or be lesser than previously established properties.

  4. jamessays:

    “Abrams captured much of what makes Star Trek special – the optimistic vision of the future, mankind’s symbiotic relationship with technology, strategy-based warfare, etc.”

    I’m sorry, but what Trek did you watch? There was nothing optimistic about it, no sense of exploration into the unknown, it was a Star Wars movie coated with Trek characters. The only thing it had in respect to the original was the cheesy mainstream lines that non-trek fans merely assumed was in it.

    1. I agree.

      “… the Star Trek universe we know and love changed into something
      fresh, original, and utterly unpredictable. … it felt profoundly disorientating to see recognizable versions of Kirk, Scott, McCoy, and the other classic characters thrust into a situation where we could not be sure, even for a second, of their fate. With continuity swept away in a massive black hole, these characters were dynamic again, their story relevant and engrossing once more.”

      How is it the Trek universe with the characters we know and love if everything is changed or original and you don’t know what to expect because everyone and everything is “utterly unpredictable?” Keeping a few recognizable elements but changing all of the rest isn’t enough familiarity for me to call it the Star Trek I know and love.

      “They chose to … blow the whole damn thing up.”


  5. Zachariah Dearingsays:

    Why isn’t Amazing Spiderman on the list?

    1. .....says:

      Because it was an unnecesary movie, that doesnt have any reason to exist.. other than Sony keeping the rigths, and the casting is off, all the things it did rigth were done better by the Original Spiderman

  6. lunasgatheringsays:

    I agree with the comment that motion capture should be counted as ‘real’ acting. Andy Serkis should easily have an Oscar for some of the amazing performances he’s turned in through motion capture. Gollum and the Ape are proof enough of that.

  7. ace13says:

    Casino Royale was Boring.

  8. Che Thornhillsays:

    Batman Begins and its sequels created possibly the best reboot ever! I love Christopher Nolan to death but why try to detract from Frank Miller? As I watched the Nolan version for the first time I immediately thought of Year One because simply put, Batman Begins would not have existed in its form without that Graphic Novel. A reboot should compare a film to a film because what makes a good book does not make a good movie. The elements of a great graphic novel will never be the same as the elements of a great movie so why compare them? There are different requirements for entertainment in different mediums but one fact remains: No Frank Miller Batman = No Chris Nolan Batman.

  9. waltersays:

    yey why is superman such a dude these days, think he need some Vit b’s

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