Keep the Classics Classic

Nicole Hamberger, Staff Writer

Now more than ever, the film industry has been on a surge for remaking classic movies.  Despite the cinematic and commercial success of the original classic movies, both at the time of their releases and all the years since, Hollywood insists on replacing the movie’s iconic actors, directors, and achievements.  In an effort to evoke a sense of nostalgia and excitement in a reboot of a crowd-favorite movie, these movies, time and time again, drastically fall short of receiving even the simplest description of being called a “good” movie.  Part of the reason these classic movies were, and are, so loved and acclaimed is because of their originality, and remaking an old movie with new actors and technology is not original.  Luckily, these reboots consistently receive terrible reviews, and as the classic movies continue to stand the test of time, reboots become neglected, and hopefully soon, forgotten.  

One of the greatest directors throughout film history was Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock directed over 50 movies in a career spanning 60 years.  He was one of the most influential people in film, as he helped popularize psychological thrillers and suspense movies.  One of his most prominent movies was Psycho, released in 1960.  Instead of just admiring and appreciating Hitchcock’s classic movie, in 1998 Hollywood made a reboot, and to describe it as disastrous would be an understatement.  Just for perspective, take the website Rotten Tomatoes, which takes critical reviews and formulates a percentage score out of 100 as its own published review.  The original 1960 Psycho received a 96% from Rotten Tomatoes– and its 1998 reboot received a 37%.

Rather than learning from their drastic mistakes, the Hollywood powers-that-be continued these terrible reboots.  Just recently in 2015, a remake of the 1983 comedy classic National Lampoon’s Vacation was released.  Instead of the fun, goofy spirit of a family road trip gone wrong that the public saw in the ‘80s movie, the 2015 movie was unfunny, mean-spirited, and a tainting of the original franchise.  Again, the original movie has a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, and its reboot Vacation got a 27%.  The evidence is all there: these reboots need to take a vacation.  

With reboots, the film industry shows disregard for the great classic actors who became so well-known and notorious for their roles by replacing them with new actors.  One of the best examples is Han Solo in the original Star Wars trilogy.  For even people who have never seen the movies, they know Harrison Ford is Han Solo.  Even with over 50 movies to his name, Ford is known to the world as two main characters: Indiana Jones and Han Solo.  Han Solo’s subtle sarcasm and attitude made him a favorite character in Star Wars movies for decades.  Harrison Ford personified it perfectly, as he even made up one of Han Solo’s most famous lines: replying “I know” in Episode V when Princess Leia told Han she loves him.  Who else could bring the sense of coolness to the character, while bringing himself to world fame for decades by being attached to the character?  Clearly, no one. Still, there is a “young” Han Solo movie coming out next year, with the new actor being only seven years younger than Ford was when Star Wars: Episode IV was released.  The character of Han Solo became iconic because of Harrison Ford, and there should be no other actors even daring to redo the role.  There can only be one captain of the Millennium Falcon, and Han Solo and Harrison Ford are a package deal.    

Now not even attempting to wait until the movies have had a proper aftermath period, there are upcoming remakes for movies that came out less than 20 years ago, with its renowned actors still alive and having to witness a disastrous reboot right in front of their eyes.  The Matrix came out in 1999, and from then on, a majority of the public attached actor Keanu Reeves to his role of Neo and to the movie.  The movie is about an alternate reality called the Matrix, and the people who are trying to save the one true reality that everyone but themselves are blind to.  It is action-packed, unique, exciting, and monumental for action movies.  Remaking it takes away all that excitement.  A large reason, and defense, moviemakers use to remake these movies is to “improve it” by using their new technology and special effects.  However, the technology in The Matrix is not that far behind, or even different to that which we use now.  In fact, it was considered quite impressive for the ‘90s, with a minimal amount of computer-generated special effects used to create the explosives.  There is no driving reason to remake this movie or to create another Matrix frontman.  Only Reeves can rock that floor-length leather coat, and any new pompous actor trying to compete with him will only end up embarrassing himself.  After all, Neo is Keanu Reeves, and Neo is the one.  If the blue pill would give us a new Matrix movie and the red pill would leave the original movie intact as it is, everybody should take the red pill.   

It is egotistical thinking clouding over the movie industry, as they seem to believe they should remake these movies because they can do it better.  But when a movie holds the record for the most academy awards ever won, and features one of the greatest actors of the ‘50s, what improvement is there to be done? 1959’s Ben-Hur has eleven Oscars to its name, tied with Titanic and Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, and showcases the phenomenal Charlton Heston as its main character.  The Ben-Hur remake, released in 2015, was a complete bomb at the box office, and was not even nominated for a single Academy Award.  But there’s a hat tip to Hollywood, because if anyone saw their reboot (although highly unlikely) its horror would have just made them appreciate the original even more, and all its well-deserved oscars.  

It is a disgrace to remake any classic movie, as these movies have earned their title of “classic” by an interesting story line, superb actors and direction, and public appreciation.  They have been appreciated for what they are, what they achieved, and people like them.  A remake of these movies is, in the simplest word, pointless.  Who would choose to watch a reboot when they could watch the original?  People who would are in the minority, as shown by the miniscule amount of people that go see reboots and actually like them.  This glaring disgrace is especially present with remaking movies that came out quite recently, as in less than 20 years ago.  The Mummy, Jumanji, The Matrix, and Men in Black, all from the 90s,  have released information about their upcoming reboots.  Ridiculous is a poor word to describe these attempts, as moviemakers are now doing anything they can to avoid coming up with an original idea.  These are relatively new movies, proving moviemakers have no regard or care about damaging a great movie as long as they get their money.  

Even taking away the “classic” title, Hollywood shows its plans to reboot anything it can get its hands on.  Last month, Marvel released Logan, the eighth and final X-Men movie starring Hugh Jackman as hero mutant Wolverine.  Jackman has been playing the role of Wolverine for 17 years and in that time has become interchangeable with his character.  Stan Lee, one of the original writers for Marvel Comics and the Wolverine character, has stated on numerous occasions that Hugh Jackman was born to play Wolverine.  After gaping and crying at Jackman’s brilliantly poignant swan song performance as Wolverine, people began asking and wondering who would play Wolverine next.  The answer is so simple: no one!  Create a new character, cast a new actor, and create an original movie!  These characters and movies should not be remade and should not be replaced!  Icons and iconic movies have earned their definition of stardom and appreciation.  In the definition of iconic is a sense irreplaceable ability.  If a movie or a character has already been played successfully and built such a strong and loving fan base, why is there any reason to replace that actor?  Hugh Jackman is Wolverine, Harrison Ford is Han Solo, and Keanu Reeves is Neo.  Stardom should not come to any actor redoing another’s work, it should be created from an original movie, or even a sequel to an original movie with a new character.  Anything but a remake.  

2017 is a very different world than it was at the time of release for these classic movies.  Many moviemakers no longer care about the art and the story that a good movie can tell.  How powerful a movie can be, one that can resonate with you and leave you thinking about it even hours after you’ve seen it in the theater.  All they care about is making money, showing no regard for who they disrespect along the way.  We will never be able to return to 1985, when Back to the Future was at its height, and Michael J. Fox was every high school girl’s crush, but watching the movie brings us back to that time.  People love movies like Back to the Future because of what they are and all of what they are.  The story, the set, the time period, the characters, and the actors are a package deal.  Taking away or replacing any aspect of the movie ruins the movie and makes it unexciting.  Anyone thinking they could improve a movie and all of these aspects are just plain wrong.  There are no signs of these reboots stopping anytime soon, but they urgently need to.  Any proposition against this, is going to be an offer that I have to refuse.    


* photo via Google Images under the Creative Commons license