With Hollywood producing so many remakes and reboots lately, especially with the intent of starting massive shared universes or bankable franchises, it can be easy to become jaded to the very idea of a reboot. How can a new cast and crew ever match the original work that’s so beloved? Sometimes it can, and sometimes it can’t, but it’s also worth noting that not everything that gets rebooted was originally so beloved. Once in a while, we end up with a reboot that’s actually superior to the original film or show, and that’s always cause for celebration. So here are 4 reboots that, in my opinion, far exceeded their originals.
4. Godzilla (2014)
Let’s make one thing clear off the bat: we’re talking about the American movies only. The original Godzilla is a cinematic classic and really has nothing to do with what the franchise has become. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with Godzilla or Kaiju movies in general, but the original film is full of allegory and just does not fit the Kaiju mold.
With that out of the way, I’ve mentioned the 1998 Godzilla and how bad it is before. It would have been pretty hard to do worse, and yet, that’s happened many times with reboots. So needless to say, people were skeptical anyway, but the film that ended up being released this year was actually… not bad. It could’ve been better, but at least Godzilla had a real presence to him and wasn’t laying wimpy little eggs everywhere. We can actually see things happening since it’s not raining nonstop to cover up shitty CGI. Godzilla even gets to fight other monsters this time around, and Toho didn’t feel the need to immediately disown it. In fact, with 2 more movies on the way, we’re likely to see King Ghidorah, Mothra, and other classic Godzilla enemies on the big screen, too. There’s been a bit of buzz about crossing over with Pacific Rim, as well, but don’t hold your breath on that one.
3. Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined)
Once again BSG rears its head, but this time for a little positive. The original Battlestar Galactica was little more than a follow-the-leader attempt at capturing some of that money after Star Wars reinvigorated the public’s love of sci-fi, and creator Glen Larson seemed more interested in using it as a means of retelling the book of Mormon in space than actually crafting a well-developed spacefaring world. The show barely lasted a season, but it managed to garner up a fanbase that carried the torch all the way into the 21st century.
The new BSG took the basics of this world–twelve colonies and a lost thirteenth, robotic Cylon enemies, a strong religious element, a journey to a new home–and made something unique out of them. It was dark, it was gritty, and it aimed for a level of realism at depicting the circumstances the characters were in. Traveling to a world you aren’t even sure exists, knowing you’re the last of your kind, that has to have an effect on a man, doesn’t it? In the 2003 version, we get to see how all these heavy events weigh on the characters and what it does to them, how they rise to the occasion or fail. It wasn’t afraid to make big changes when needed, like turning Starbuck into a girl and taking the kind of silly character names from the original and turning them into fighter pilot-like callsigns. They even gave the Cylons development of their own, turning them into something more than just angry tin cans out to ruin the characters’ lives. What more could you ask for in a reboot than that?
2. Batman Begins
Tim Burton’s Batman is quite a good film on its own, but when you take it as part of a franchise with its subsequent sequels, well… sorry, Tim, I know it’s not your fault, but a lot of people have trouble separating them out. And even while being a good movie, Batman remains a bit campy in spite of the darkness that Burton brought to it.
With Christopher Nolan’s film Batman Begins, it’s clear that Nolan saw Batman as a very serious property and that it could be done without the campiness that had trailed the character everywhere since the Adam West days. He took a realistic approach to the character, looking at how the loss of one’s parents could affect a child, and what kind of person would be needed to channel that pain into becoming a masked vigilante. It also really stands out by showing the kind of trials that Bruce would have to undergo to become that physically perfect specimen that is the Batman, forcing him to seek out people like Ra’s Al Ghul in the farthest corners of the world. The sequels continued the trend, and weren’t afraid to show how potentially dangerous someone like Batman could be. The Dark Knight trilogy also benefits from not hitting the max prematurely, by saving the Joker for a second film where he could be the focus instead of Batman’s origin.
To say that fans of the comic were disappointed with Sylvester Stallone’s 1995 Judge Dredd would be an understatement. Defining characteristics of Dredd as a character (like never removing his helmet) were ignored, tons of different arcs were mixed together to little result, and the trademark satire that made the comic popular in the first place is largely missing. Even Stallone, who was reportedly a fan of the comic and agreed to the film on those grounds, wasn’t happy with how it turned out. So while many reboots generate an eyeroll and a sigh, the reboot of Dredd was one that many fans had their fingers crossed for.
And rightfully so. Dredd went on to become a cult favorite, with fan campaigns active over the last few years desperate to get another Dredd film with Karl Urban. Dredd took the approach of straining out everything that was good about the comics and using it wisely, rather than trying to stick to any one particular storyline or worse, try them all at once. It gives Judge Dredd the dark, gritty, Cyberpunk environment that he needs. The helmet never comes off this time, in contrast to the prior movie’s almost entirely unmasked sequences.
Are there any reboots you think are better than the original film series? Let me know in the comments!