Remakes and reboots tend to come after about a generation after the original, typically about 30 years. Prior to the invention of affordable home entertainment, such as televisions, VCRs, and DVDs, the time allowed for a new generation to grow up and the previous generation to forget details about the original. With VCRs, DVDs, and streaming, the only limitation in getting an original work is availability. Studios may remove a work from being available, but while that may affect streaming services, physical media can still be played.
The remake is still a viable approach today, though. Breakthroughs in technology all for a new look at a work that is generally available in one for or another. Actors aging up or getting popular and thus more expensive does happen. No studio is going to get Tom Hanks for what he was paid when he starred in Bosom Buddies.
In 2002, Jason Statham starred in the French-produced film, The Transporter; his Frank Martin, the title character, was a breakout role for him. The movie was written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen and was directed by Corey Yeun and Louis Leterrier. Frank, in the movie, is a getaway driver for hire who calculates his role precisely. He has three rules; 1) once a deal is made, it is final; 2) no names; and 3) never open the package. The opening scene, where Frank is the getaway driver demonstrates the professionalism and preciseness he has. Three bank robbers need him after a robbery, but they break the deal by bringing a fourth. Frank refuses to leave until the fourth is dealt with. Once the fourth is gone, by being shot by his comrades, Frank begins his getaway.
Of course, a movie where nothing goes wrong will get dull. Frank breaks one of his rules during a job and opens the package. Turns out, he was transporting a young woman, Lai Kwai, played by Shu Qi. Frank still makes the delivery, but the guy who hired him, Darren Bettancourt (Matt Shulze), tries to eliminate loose ends. The explosion destroys Frank’s car, but not Frank, who was out of it at the time.
Since Bettancourt broke Frank’s first rule, never change a deal, by trying to kill him, Frank heads back to get vengeance. Bettancourt is out but his henchmen aren’t. When Frank is done Bettancourt’s villa, he has left behind broken and dead henchmen and taken Bettancourt’s car, where Shu Qi just happens to be. The action escalates as Bettancourt tries to kill Frank and Frank tries to get away. Car chases, martial arts sequences, including a fight on an oil-filled concrete floor where Frank is using bicycle pedals as skates, and gun fights lead to the breathless climax.
The plot of The Transporter is thin, but serves to deliver on the action. Audiences who saw the trailer came in with the expectation of an action flick, and that’s exactly what they got. An action flick with the stakes at the personal level. No threat to destroy the world, no corporation trying to upset democracy, just one man versus another and his henchmen. The movie would go on to have two sequels.
As mentioned above, remakes take about a generation. A remake of The Transporter would be expected anywhere between 2022 and 2042, but in 2015, Luc Besson, along with Adam Cooper and Bill Collage, penned The Transporter Refueled. Released by the same studio, the new film introduced a new Frank Martin, this time played by Ed Skrein. Joining Frank is his ex-spy father, Frank Sr, played by Ray Stevenson. The Refueled Frank has the same rules as the original. It’s when the rules are broken when things get interesting for Frank.
Frank’s latest job involves three women all dressed the same, all wearing the same wig. They need him to drive them away from a bank robbery, leading to a car chase that leaves several French police cars broken on the streets of Nice. The client, though, changes the deal by getting Frank’s father involved. Frank Sr is interested beyond just the need to get an antidote to a poison he was given. Frank Jr isn’t, sticking to his professional rules. Eventually, Frank Jr does involve himself, first for his father’s life and, when the poison turned out to be a hoax, to be able to live with himself.
Much like the original’s plot, the plot of Refueled is thin, an excuse for the action. The client is responsible for most of the motive behind the action, with Frank along for the ride, though once he decides to get involved, he has his own agency. Frank is given more background, from having a family member with him to hints of being a mercenary before becoming a getaway driver for hire. The antagonist has ties to Frank, having a shared past.
Skrein bring to the role of Frank the same energy Statham did in the original. Bioth portray Frank as professional in his dealings as a contract getaway driver. Skrein’s Frank also does not pick up a gun during the film, becoming a problem in a climactic fight. Frank, though, has no problems with picking up pipes, hoses, ropes, or axes when his opponents are armed. Frank is unique in the film in not using firearms; he’s the driver, not the muscle, though he can defend himself when needed.
Adding Frank Sr allowed the film to include a chemistry that was sparse in the original. While Statham’s Frank could sit down with Inspector Tarconi to talk, Skrein’s had a good relationship with his father, humanizing Frank and giving a contrast to his professional persona. The chemistry between Skrein and Stevenson works on screen to emphasize the relationship between the characters. Indeed, a film about Frank Sr would be interesting to see, either before his retirement as a spy or what he does after Refueled.
With Besson on board, Refueled has an anchor to the original. The plot would fit with Statham, even if some details would have to be changed. Skrein’s portrayal of Frank fits in with the previous films. Refueled isn’t deep, but it does deliver on the promise of action. As a reboot, The Transporter Refueled adds to the character without skimping on what audiences are expecting. Despite being an early reboot, the movie succeeds at being one.
Some interesting announcements came up the past few days that involve remakes/reboots/adaptations. Let’s take a look.
First up, Comedy Central is working with Mike Judge for a new Beavis and Butt-Head series, with two seasons confirmed. Judge will also return as the voice of the titular characters. The deal between Judge and Comedy Central includes possible spin-offs.
Next, Phil Lord, Chris Miller, and Bill Lawrence are working with MTV to make new episodes of Clone High. The original series ran one season, thirteen episodes, but became a cult hit.
Finally, a potential Groundhog Day TV series is in the works. The series will be based on the movie starring Bill Murray, who played a reporter who was stuck in the same Groundhog Day repeatedly. The movie is now shorthand for any similar plot where a character or group of characters have to relive the same day over and over.
The question, really, is why? Why bring these three works back? Beavis and Butt-Head ran from 1993 to 1997, with a 2011 revival. Clone High ran one season in 1993. Groundhog Day was also released in 1993. That’s roughly 20 years, or one generation. Memories will have faded somewhat, especially with the animated series. Beavis and Butt-Head did have a reputation in its time for being a little much for parents’ groups. Memories fade over time, and 20 years is a lot of time in human years. Two are reboots, bringing back series. Both being animated helps; voice actors may have aged but the characters haven’t. With Groundhog Day, it’s a change of format, though how that will work remains to be seen. Will it be a season of the same episode each week with minor changes? Or will it be more like 24, where audiences will go through the life of a reporter on one day, the same day, season after season? Time will tell.
Unrelated to the above, Derek Kolstad and David Leitch are teaming up to bring the video game My Friend Pedro to TV. Kolstad was the writer for John Wick; Leitch was a co-director of the film. The game itself follows a man’s battle through the underworld at the behest of a sentient banana named Pedro. The game’s launch trailer may give a better idea. Or not.
Two animated series being brought back, a classic movie turned into a TV series, and a live-action TV series of a video game. Sounds about right.
The latest buzz about Reboot comes from the trailer for the new Netflix series, Reboot: The Guardian Code. It’s the first major work in the franchise since the cliffhanger end of the fourth season. Let me paraphrase Luke Skywalker from Star Wars: The Last Jedi here.
“Everything in that trailer you just watched is wrong.”
Let’s back up a bit. Reboot was the first fully computer animated series, produced by Mainframe Entertainment in Vancouver, British Columbia. The series aired on ABC in the US for almost two full seasons beginning in 1994 and YTV in Canada for its full run, including the fourth season comprising of two TV movies. The opening credits set up the entire premise of the show – Bob, a Guardian, is in Mainframe to protect the city from viral threats, including Megabyte and Hexadecimal, and from incoming games. Helping him are Dot and Enzo Matrix, Phong, Frisket, and the entire population of Mainframe.
The first two seasons were episodic, thanks to ABC’s requirements. Each episode featured Bob dealing with plots by the series villains. Megabyte’s machinations were of a system conqueror, looking to expand his base using his neo-Viral armies. The would-be viral overlord maintained a veneer of civility over his brutality, much like a mob boss. Hex, though, was random, pure chaos. Of the two, she had the greater power, but because she is random, she doesn’t have the focus to be the threat Megabyte is.
Once ABC was out of the picture, Reboot went to an ongoing story arc*. Beginning with “AndrAIa”, which introduced the young game sprite of the same name, the threat of a Web invasion became the ongoing plot through to the end of the second season, ending with Bob being tossed into the Web and Megabyte trying to turn Mainframe into Megaframe. Season three broke down into four arcs, Enzo becoming a Guardian, Enzo and AndrAIa travelling through the Net by game hopping, Enzo searching for Bob, and Enzo returning to a badly damaged home. The first of the season four TV movies introduced a new villain, Daemon, who was first mentioned in season three’s “The Episode With No Name”. The second of the TV movies had a second Bob appear and ended with Megabyte in control of the Principle Office.
Through the four seasons, several characters outside the leads were introduced – the hacker Mouse, Megabyte’s heavies Hack and Slash, software pirate The Crimson Binome, and perpetual annoyance Mike the TV – all of whom had their own development. Reboot expanded beyond Mainframe and sister city Lost Angles to include the Net, the World Wide Web, and other systems with their own unique looks.
What’s wrong with Reboot: The Guardian Code? There is almost nothing of the original series in it. The Guardians aren’t programs; they’re users sent into the computer. The villain is a hacker, not a virus. Megabyte, the only character from the the original to appear in the trailer, is the hacker’s heavy, not the dangerous system conqueror who took over Mainframe twice. The computer characters don’t look like the sprites or binomes. This isn’t what fans of the original series were waiting for.
The other problem is that the show might be worth watching for its own merits. But being tied to Reboot, fans are already turning away. If The Guardian Code was its own thing, not attached to an existing series, it may have had a chance at a fan following. The potential is there; young adults defending cyberspace from within and without against a deranged hacker, may not be the most original concept but there is a foundation to build on. Characters could develop without expectation. As it stands now, Tamara will now be compared to Dot, Mouse, and AndrAIa, and that is tough competition. With three changes, though, The Guardian Code could be an original work.
Reboot: The Guardian Code as it appears in the trailer is what /Lost In Translation/ is trying to highlight as something to avoid. There is only superficial connections to the original series, and that will drive fans of the original away.
* It’s said that Reboot went darker once ABC was out of the picture, but the first season episode “The Medusa Bug”, where Hexadecimal introduces a bug that turns all of Mainframe to stone, would fit in with the post-ABC episodes.
Going back a bit, I mentioned that there are works where the audience remembers not the original but a later version, whether it is an adaptation or a sequel. Among the works analyzed here at Lost in Translation, Frankenstein, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Superman: The Movie are perfect examples of the phenomenon. Adding to this short list, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior is the best known despite being a sequel to 1979’s Mad Max. The first movie in the series, Mad Max, was a little-known film from Australia starring a then-unknown Mel Gibson. The Road Warrior, released in 1981, had a bigger impact on film audiences. While both movies featured the same actor as the same character in the same setting, The Road Warrior took the action into the post-apocalyptic wastes.
Mad Max, the original movie, showed Max, a Main Force Patrolman, similar to a highway patrol officer, takes on a gang. The apocalypse hasn’t yet happened, but the signs of it coming were there. The second movie was as pure an action movie as could be made, with just enough dialogue to establish the situation, told as a story by the young feral boy that rode with Max. A settlement that grew around a gasoline refinery is under threat from Lord Humungus and needs someone to help them transport their gas and the survivors away before the assault begins. Max finds the settlement and is pressured into helping. The plan is to send out a semi rig with a tank trailer to run past Humungus’ gauntlet. Once the rig leaves the settlement, the chase is on, not letting up until the end of the film.
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, released in 1985, uses the same narrative frame as The Road Warrior, a young survivor of the events telling the tale as an adult. Once again, Max is pulled into a situation beyond his control and his humanity has to reassert itself to help the child survivors of an airplane crash. Beyond Thunderdome featured Tina Turner as Aunty Entity, co-ruler of Bartertown with designs on becoming the sole ruler, and had hits for her with the movie’s theme song, “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)” and “One of the Living“.
The Road Warrior breaks past the cult classic barrier to be known, by reputation and mood if nothing else, by general audiences. The Reboot episode “Bad Bob” featured a Mad Max-style game, having the cartoon’s cast reboot into characters right out of the movie. The Road Warrior has become shorthand whenever anyone needs to refer to a blasted post-apocalyptic wasteland filled with war bands fighting over scraps while the average person is trapped between a rock and a hard place. Pop culture osmosis may have built up the movie into something bigger than it was originally, leading to a thirty-year gap before the next entry in the Mad Max franchise.
In 2015, Mad Max Fury Road was released. Once again, Max, now played by Tom Hardy, gets swept into events. He’s first taken captive by Immortan Joe’s War Boys to be used as a blood bag for a sick warrior named Nux. When Immortan Joe’s top Imperator, Furiosa, goes rogue on a trip to Gastown, he realizes the she has taken his five “brides” and sends his War Boys to stop her. Max is strapped on the front of Nux’s car, still connected to him to provide blood. The chase begins, letting up enough to give the audience a chance to catch its collective breath. Max slowly regains his humanity again and helps Furiosa and the “brides” escape from Immortan Joe to find Green Place. Immortan Joe calls in two other warbands, led by the Bullet Farmer and by the People Eater. There was more dialogue than in The Road Warrior, but the focus is on the action.
Fury Road keeps to several themes found in The Road Warrior, including survival, the fight against would-be tyrants, the need for family, and the dangers of ecological collapse. The new film also adds the empowerment of women, with Furiosa an equal to Max throughout the film and the catalyst for the action. Visually, Fury Road is lush, with the desert wastes beautiful and oppressive, as much a character as the cast. The stunts start with what shown in The Road Warrior and amp up from there. The Doof Warrior, played by iOTA, and the Doof Wagon bring in music for the action, being Immortan Joe’s flamethrowing guitarist and taiko drummers on a vehicle that’s essentially a high-speed mobile stage.
Helping to keep the feel is the core crew. George Miller has been involved with the franchise from /Mad Max/, meaning Fury Road is more of a sequel. Yet, because of the thirty-year gap and the change of actor as the eponymous character, the movie also works as a reboot. Elements from The Road Warrior, which did set the tone for the franchise, appear. At the same time, Fury Road is its own movie. Yet, it keeps the themes, tone, and general feel. Max is lost, physically and metaphorically, and needs to rediscover what it means to be human. Fury Road is a perfect entry to the series, demonstrating everything that made The Road Warrior popular while detailing the setting. The movie is a note-perfect reboot.
The Eighties were an odd decade. The usual follow-the-leader methods loved by studios went out the window as almost anything went. It was the first decade where popular original works outnumbered popular adaptations. Music videos were an art form and could turn a near miss into a hit. Such was the case in 1984 with the original Ghostbusters. The Ray Parker Jr. video for the movie’s main theme showed more of the movie than traditional trailers, getting people interested in seeing the film.
Ghostbusters went on to be one of the top grossing movies of the Eighties. The movie, an action-comedy, followed a team of scientists who branched out into a business after their funding was cut by the university. Peter Venkman, played by Bill Murray, saw the potential of the business. However, Venkman’s ethics were at best loose, allowing him to take advantage of any situation. The technical geniuses behind the team were Ray Stantz, played by Dan Aykroyd, and Igon Spengler, played by Harold Ramis. Ray was the wide-eyed enthusiast, eager to explore the possibilities. Igon was the rational scientist, armed with all literature written on the subject of ghosts, including Tobin’s Spirit Guide. As business picked up, the Ghostbusters added two more to the crew, Winston Zeddmore, played by Ernie Hudson, who joined the guys in the field, and Janine Melnitz, played by Annie Potts, the receptionist/secretary/general help.
The pick up in business wasn’t just people finally having someone to call to deal with hauntings. The increase in spectral activity signalled the return of Gozer the Destructor, a dangerous entity that had been banished once before by Tiamat. Gozer’s minions, the Keymaster and the Gatekeeper, are released to find mortal bodies to inhabit. Meanwhile, Dana Barrett is having some spectral problems. Dana is a musician, a cellist with a symphonic orchestra and one of Ghostbusters’ first customer. Venkman, of the loose professional ethics, starts chatting her up, eventually getting a date with her. One of the reasons she had called the team was that there was a complaint about her TV being too loud during a time when she hadn’t been home. Her neighbour, Louis Tully, played by Rick Moranis, vouches for her.
On the night of the date, Louis throws a big party for all his clients in his apartment. He hears Dana in the hall and heads out there to try to get her to pop in for a moment, but she’s non-commital. She ducks into her apartment. Louis tries to get back to his, but the door is locked. Then the Terror Dog appears. Louis runs, but is chased down and caught outside a fancy restaurant. Louis isn’t the only person to encounter a Terror Dog that night. Dana sits down on her chair to rest before getting ready for her date with Venkman, only for the chair to sprout demonic arms to hold her in place. The door to her kitchen opens, revealing a doorway to another plane guarded by a Terror Dog.
When Louis and Dana return, the are inhabited by the Keymaster and the Gatekeeper, respectively. The Keymaster must find the Gatekeeper to open the gate keeping Gozer from returning to Earth. Venkman discovers Dana sleeping above the covers* and gets teh rest of the team to do what they can to find out what happened to her. Igon researches and digs up the details of Gozer and what could become of the Earth if the Gozerian is freed.
Alas, the Keymaster and Gatekeeper meet, releasing Gozer. The power needed to open the gate was provided by the ghosts the team have busted and contained, thanks to human bureaucracy in the form of Walter Peck, played by William Atherton. The released ghosts terrorize Manhattan and the Ghostbusters are given all due authority required to end the emergency. Gozer, feeling benevolent to his would-be defeaters, allows the Ghostbusters to choose how their world dies. While Winston, Venkman, and Igon are able to blank their minds, Ray thought of the most harmless thing he could, the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.
Ghostbusters was followed up with a sequel in 1989, an animated series, The Real Ghostbusters, from 1985 to 1991, a tabletop RPG in 1986, and a video game in 2009 that featured voices of the four original Ghostbusters. An attempt at a third movie kept running into problems, to the point where co-creator Aykroyd considered the video game to be the third movie. In 2016, the drought ended.
The new Ghostbusters was a reboot of the franchise. Instead of Venkman, Stantz, Spengler, and Zeddmore, new Ghostbusters were created and introduced. The movie starts with a tour of the old Aldredge manor in New York City, where the family had locked up their daughter, Gertrude, who had dabbled in the black arts. Gertrude was said to be locked in the basement, which hadn;t been opened since. However, when Gertrude starts trying to break free, the curator locates Dr. Erin Golbert, played by Kristen Wiig, at the prestigious university she works at. He found her name on a book she co-wrote with Abby Yates about the paranormal, a book Erin thought had been remaindered and is now trying to disavow in order to get tenure.
Erin tracks down her old friend Abby at a much less prestigious university to try to get the book pulled from sale. Unlike Erin, Abby has continued her research into the paranormal and is now working with Jillian Holtzman, a nuclear engineer and mad scientist, played by Kate McKinnon. The three women go to the Aldredge manor to investigate and do find the ghost of Gertrude. Erin tries to communicate with Gertrude and is slimed for the effort. All three women run out of the manor, fear giving way to elation as they see their paranormal theories validated.
The next day, Erin is let go by her university as the YouTube video Holtzman put up makes the circuit. Erin goes to see Abby to try to get work there, but the dean of Abby’s university, after learning that the department still exists, cuts all funding. Abby and Holztman take the equipment and follow Erin out. They decide to try getting into business; Holtzman has created a few devices that need field testing anyway. Their first stop is a former firestation, the same one from the original movie. On hearing the monthly rent, the next stop is an office over the Chinese restaurant Abby regularly orders from.
Meanwhile, in the New York subway, MTA worker Patty Tolan spies someone disappearing off the platform and into the tunnel. Patty chases him, warning him that the train is coming. She stops when she sees a spectral entity floating above the tracks. She contacts the Ghostbusters and shows them where she saw the ghost. Holtzman gives Erin her new device, a proton pack that should be able to catch the ghost. There are some problems, including range and recoil, and the women have to get out of the tunnel before the next train arrives.
Patty joins the team, providing the Ghostbusters someone who knows the history of New York City and a vehicle on loan from her uncle. Their big break comes when a ghost is reported at a heavy metal concert. The Ghostbusters arrive in their new car, a hearse from Patty’s uncle that has been repainted by Holtzman. They split up inside the concert hall, searching for the ghost. Patty finds a room full of mannequins and, knowing horror movies and possibly Doctor Who, walks away from the room full of potential nightmares. The ghost, inhabiting one of the mannequins, follows her.
The four Ghostbusters make short work of the mannequin, but the ghsot flees upwards, through the ceiling and into the concert. While at first the audience and the act on stage think its all part of the performance, things change when the ghost tosses the lead singer into the stack of amps. The Ghostbusters arrive and spread out, with Patty moshing over the audience to get into position and Abby not having the same luck. The first shots miss, and the ghost lands on Patty. With careful aim, Holtzman hits the ghost and pulls it off Patty, allowing the others to trap it with their pack. Holtzman sends out her latest investion, the ghost trap, and seals the ghost away.
The success at the concert leads to more calls. Erin hires a new secretary, Kevin Beckman, played by Chris Hemsworth. Unlike Janine in the original movie, where she was the best receptionist the Ghostbusters could afford on the cheap, Kevin was hired by Erin solely to be eye candy. Kevin has trouble with answering phones. Business picks up, but the Ghostbusters realize there’s a pattern to where the ghosts are appearing and track it on a map. Each sighting occurred on a ley line, and the intersection of two ley lines is where the most powerful one will appear. They also recognize the one constant in each sighting, a bellhop named Rowan, played by Neil Casey.
Rowan sees himself as an underappreciated genius and will show the world otherwise. The Ghostbusters close in on him and find his lair in the basement of the hotel, the Mercado. Rowan tries to tell the Ghostbusters about how difficult it is for him to get anywhere in the world**, and apparently commits suicide over being brought in by the police. While searching his equipment, Erin finds a copy of the book she and Abby wrote and takes it along with her.
That night, Erin reads through the book she found and sees the annotations Rowan has made, which includes him killing himself then returning. She runs out to warn the mayor to evacuate the city. At the Ghostbusters’ office, Abby, working late, has her own encounter with a ghost. She manages to elude it, but it flies away. The ghost, Rowan, instead takes over Kevin’s body. Abby brings in Holtzman and Patty. Unable to reach Erin, the three women head down to the Mercado in Times Square.
Along the way, the three women in the new Ecto-1 stop to bust a ghost at a hotdog stand. Slimer, however, turns the tables and steals Ecto-1, going off on a joy ride. The three Ghostbusters run the rest of the way to Times Square to face off against the denizens of Times Square of yore, including a ghostly version of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade of the Twenties.** The Ghostbusters destroy most of the balloons but one, good old Stay-Puft himself, lands on them. Balloons being balloons, though, are not match to Swiss Army knives, as Erin demonstrates.
Reunited, the four women turn to get through the mass of ghosts under Rowan’s command. Holtzman’s inventions all come out, from the ghost shredder used by Patty to proton grenades thrown by Abby to twin pistol-sized proton packs that Holtzman kept for herself. They fight through the ghosts to face off against Rowan. Being magnanimous in apparent victory, Rowan gives the Ghostbusters the choice of his final form. Patty chooses the cute little harmless ghost in their logo. Rowan agrees, and turns into a cartoon version of the logo before growing into a far more sinister version.
As can be seen above, the plots of both movies are similar. Both have a being manipulating spectral energy to gain power and destroy the world. In the original, the being was the extraplanar Gozer the Gozerian. In the reboot, the being was more mundane but also more typical of the problems women in the real world face. The devices are the same, given updates and more flashing lights in the new movie but still recognizable as what they are. The reboot also pulls ideas from the existing franchise, including the cartoon. Rowan’s rampage at the end of the movie is similar to the opening credits of the cartoon. The cartoon also gave direction to Slimer’s appearance in the reboot and may have been the source for the idea of the strong recoil the proton accelerators have.
The gender flip of the main characters also means that what the guys could get away with in the first movie couldn’t be done so much in the reboot. At the same time, Kevin was eye candy, hired by Erin because of his looks, something Venkman didn’t do in the original. The characters don’t match up on a one-to-one basis. Elements of the original characters, however, do appear in the reboot; there is some Igon in Holtzman, but Holtzman is definitely not Igon in drag. Abby may be the one character that has the strongest resemblance to another, in Ray, but Abby is still her own character, with her own traits and flaws.
The use of CGI should get mentioned. The original Ghostbusters didn’t have the luxury of affordable CGI. The Last Starfighter, one of the first movies to use extensive CGI for special effects, came out in the same year as Ghostbusters. The original Ghostbusters used extensive practical effects with cel animation. The reboot could make use of CGI in place of the cel animation, but even then, practical effects were also used. Drones were used as stand-ins for the ghosts to give the actors something to look and aim at. Lighted extensions on the proton accelerators allowed the actors to react without having to keep the ends still to aid the animation process. Special effects caught up to the needs of the movie, allowing for trickier shots, such as Holtzman going to town with two proton accelerators.
Is the reboot the same movie as the original? No, and it couldn’t be. A shot-for-shot remake would be a waste of talent. Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon are far too talented and had such great chemistry working together that a mere gender-flip wasn’t enough. Director Paul Feig allowed his actors room to improv, much like Ivan Reitman did in the original movie, allowing the chemistry to appear on screen. The reboot, though, takes in the full franchise and presents it on screen. The new Ghostbusters has fun with the material, which is what is expected with an action-comedy.
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* “Three feet above the covers.”
** Special features on the DVD reveal that the balloons in the scene were based on actual balloons used in the parade of the era. There really isn’t much difference between the ghostly balloons and the real ones.
Sid and Marty Krofft were prolific creators of children’s programming in the 70s, though often adding a twist of the bizarre into the mix. Electra Woman and Dyna Girl was no different. The show was, essentially, a gender-flipped 70s-era version of the 1966 Adam West Batman series by the creators of H.R. Pufnstuf. Electra Woman and Dyna Girl was part of The Krofft Supershow, airing in 12 minute segments for a total of 16 episodes, each pair forming a full story. The end of the odd-numbered episodes was a cliffhanger with the main characters facing danger. The segment lasted for just one season, being dropped from The Krofft Supershow when it went to its second season.
Deidre Hall, best known for her work on the daytime soap Days of Our Lives, played intrepid reporter Lori, who became the superheroine Electra Woman. Judy Strangis played Judy, who became the teen sidekick Dyna Girl, even though Strangis was only two years younger than Hall. Their powers came from the ElectraComs, devices on their wrists that projected energy that could be used to thwart the machinations of their villainous opponents. The ElectraComs received their power from the ElectraBase, where scientist Frank Heflin, played by Norman Alden. Heflin operated the CrimeScope, a computer designed to track crimes and acts of villainy. To get around, the ElectraDuo used the ElectraCar, a three-wheeled vehicle.
While the heroines depended on gadgets for powers, the villains weren’t so limited. The Sorceror and Miss Dazzle relied on magic, including a magic mirror that allowed them to travel in time. Glitter Rock and his sidekick, Side Man, used sonic gadgets. The Empress of Evil and Lucretia used magic. The Pharoah and Cleopatra used magic and alchemy. Ali Baba and the Genie also used magic. The Spider-Lady and her sidekicks, Leggs and Spinner, kept to a spider-theme with nets and misdirection. The sources of the various powers were never expanded upon.
Indeed, given the time limitations, the episodes jumped right to the action. Lori and Judy were reporters more to give them a way into some of their mysteries more than anything else. Electra Woman was a superhero fighting evil while Dyna Girl was the spunky teen sidekick, a much more colourful and happier Batman and Robin. The focus of the episodes was split between the heroines and the villains, showing the nefarious plot to avoid the slower parts of investigation.
The 2016 reboot movie started as an idea from Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart. They wanted to do a superhero series to mock life in Hollywood. As they developed the idea, Sid & Marty Krofft Pictures approached them with the idea of using Electra Woman and Dyna Girl. The result was first released as a series of webisodes before being released on DVD. Electra Woman (Helbig) and Dyna Girl (Hart) returned.
The reboot begins in Ohio, with Electra Woman and Dyna Girl at home after a gruelling day of heroing, still in costumes that resembled those worn by Hall and Strangis. On TV is a commercial featuring Major Vaunt, a superhero who has landed a contract with a Hollywood agent and, as Judy put it, “sells out.” Their day continues on its low course when the Bernice, the bratty teen-aged neighbour, pops in to mock them and their uselessness. After all, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl don’t even have powers, just Dyna Girl’s Dyna Suction Gun. Lori and Judy shoo Bernice off, then head out to get a snack. At the convenience store, while the heroic duo are in the back hunting down slushies, two masked robbers enter. One is armed with a pistol, the other with a smartphone, recording the crime. To add to their general lack of smarts, neither robber notices or even looks for anyone in bright spandex. Despite their lack of powers, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl show the robbers the error of their ways, disarming the gunman with ease in a very literal fashion and uploading their failure to their own YouTube channel.
The video becomes an overnight sensation, leading to Electra Woman getting an invite out to Los Angeles by CMM, the Creative Masked Marketing agency, run by Dan Dixon, superagent to superheroes. After travelling from Ohio to LA in the ElectraCar, a sixteen year old hatchback with a fading psychedelic paint job, Lori and Judy are given the grand tour of CMM. Dixon isn’t one to take no for an answer, so the tour includes the lab of Frank Heflin, genius inventor with almost no social skills, the ElectraComs, which are a mix of smartphone and weapon, and the reveal of new costumes. Judy is hesitant, but Lori jumps at the chance to be a proper superhero and answers for both of them.
During an interview on a morning show, the ElectraDuo stop an armoured car robbery, using the ElectraComs and natural talent. The footage shoots them from stardom to superstardom, but cracks in the partnership start forming. The media and CMM treat Dyna Girl as a sidekick instead of a partner, driving a wedge between Lori and Judy. Meanwhile, a supervillain appears, the first since the end of the Shadow War, the final battle between superheroes and supervillains that ended with the heroes triumphant. The villain calls herself the Empress of Evil, wielding what looks like magical powers to stymie the LAPD. The collected heroes of LA can only watch as the Empress toys with the police until Major Vaunt teleports to the scene to fight her. However, he’s too busy playing to the cameras to be effective and is killed by the Empress.
The rift between Lori and Judy grows afterwards. Lori has fully embraced the Hollywood star lifestyle, focusing on media appearances, while Judy wants to use Frank’s CrimeScope to locate the Empress. The two split up, going their separate ways. Outside where a commercial is being filmed, fans recognize Judy as Dyna Girl and get selfies with her. One other person recognizes her, and Judy knows who it is just before she’s taken away.
Learning that Judy has been kidnapped by the Empress, Lori realizes what and who is important in her life, even if Judy can be a wet blanket at times. She talks to Frank, who locates Judy’s ElectraComs at CMM’s headquarters. Lori races, with some false starts, to the agency and finds Judy in the basement, tied by cables to support pillars. The Empress reveals herself and taunts the two before leaving to cause more mayhem. Lori apologizes for the way she behaved, and Judy accepts that Lori has come to her senses. They’re discovered by Frank who is on a soup run.
Lori and Judy try to figure out a way to stop the Empress. Frank reveals to them the new ElectraCar and the pair rush off. They confront the Empress of Evil with the new ElectraCar, a sleek sports car with a massive ElectraCannon extending out over it. The ElectraCar lasts not even five minutes before the Empress uses her powers to fling it away. Electra Woman takes matters in hand and pummels the villain, but the Empress’ powers have made her body impervious to damage. Lori, though, knowing the villain, knows her one weakness and uses it to defeat her.
The reboot has several advantages, the big one being that special effects cost far less, relatively speaking, now than in 1976. The lack of details in the original Electra Woman and Dyna Girl means that expanding on their backgrounds and personalities won’t contradict anything previously done and allows for greater depth of the characters. The reboot is a comedy at heart, and the webisode approach allows for humour that wouldn’t be allowed on Saturday morning television. Helbig and Hart make the characters their own while still acknowledging the original work. At the same time, they have commentary about life in LA for actors and the nature of superhero movies. While the rift between Lori and Judy was an obvious conflict, Judy herself makes fun of that storyline while foreshadowing it. The reveal of the Empress of Evil’s identity is also foreshadowed, with hints given along the way.
Helbig and Hart’s Electra Woman and Dyna Girl updates the TV series. The new costumes are practical, with spandex replaced by padded outfits that both protect and give further range of motion. The new ElectraComs have similar abilities as the originals with the extra communication capabilities as smartphones. The situations are also updated, with modern problems plaguing the ElectraDuo, from life in LA to trying to find the right Uber car.
The new Electra Woman and Dyna Girl is very much a product of now, much as the original was a product of the 70s. Dyna Girl is no longer a sidekick, despite the attempts by both CMM and the media to paint her as such. Instead, she’s Electra Woman’s partner, an equal. The focus is on the ElectraDuo; the only time the audience learns anything about the Empress of Evil and her plot is when Electra Woman and Dyna Girl are there, only because the villain takes the time to gloat. The Empress herself does change from the original; instead of being a construct created by Lucretia, the new villain has motivation and a tie to the ElectraDuo, one that is set up even before she appears as the supervillain.
With the original Electra Woman and Dyna Girl having almost no depth because of its format, the reboot has a free reign to create details as needed, playing around with the concept for the sake of the story. The new version is slightly more adult than the original and is far more genre savvy. The result is a movie that exceeds the original in scope while still remaining about the title duo.
Short round up this month. Just a few of note.
Absolutely Fabulous movie coming.
AbFab is returning. Jennifer Saunders, creator and star of the original show, has confirmed that a movie will be filmed this summer, once a budget has been set. Saunders has said that the movie will bring back the main characters, including Joanna Lumley’s Patsy.
Steven Spielberg and SyFy Channel to bring Brave New World to the small screen.
Aldous Huxley’s dystopia Brave New World is being adapted by Spielberg for SyFy as a miniseries. Huxley’s novel looked at a future Earth where consumerism won the day, leading to a sterile world except for areas that refused to conform.
The Rock to play Jack Burton.
John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China will be remade with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in the Kurt Russell role. Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz, who wrote X-Men: First Class, will write the script. Johnson wants to bring in John Carpenter, the director of the original, on the film.
Alphanumeric! ReBoot reboot confirmed.
Corus Entertainment is set to reboot the 90s CG-animated cartoon, ReBoot, with a full twenty-six episodes. The original series, the first one to use CG, lasted four seasons, with the last being comprised of two made-for-TV movies. The series ended on a cliffhanger, with the virus Megabyte having taken over Mainframe. The new series, ReBoot: The Guardian Core, is set to pick up with four sprites defending their system with the help of the VERA, the last of the original Guardians.
Speaking of the 90s, The Powerpuff Girls are returning, too.
Once again, the day will be saved! The Powerpuff Girls are returning to Cartoon Network, with new voices and new producers. The reboot will be prodiuced by Nick Jennings, of Adventure Time, and Bob Boyle, of Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! Tom Kenny will return as the Narrator and the Mayor.
Continuing from last week’s discussion on adaptations surpassing their originals. it’s time to look at a specific example, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
The original Buffy hit theatres in the summer of 1992. Kristy Swanson played the titular character, with Donald Sutherland playing her Watcher, Merrick. The film was marketed as an action/comedy/horror movie, taking the elements of the typical slasher flick and flipping them around. Thus, the blonde cheerleader who would normally be one of the first victims of the slasher becomes the heroine, with her love interest, Oliver Pike as played by Luke Perry, becoming the dude in distress.
Los Angeles is in danger from a cabal of vampires led by Lothos, played by Rutger Hauer. One girl can save the city. Too bad she doesn’t know she’s LA’s only hope. Buffy Summers is a high school senior and a cheerleader, looking forward to her hobbies of shopping and her boyfriend, Jeffrey. Naturally, at Buffy’s school, there’s a schism between the popular and the outcasts, where Oliver and Benny (David Arquette) fall. Fortunately for LA, Merrick is searching for the new Slayer. The Chosen One, Buffy, isn’t as impressed, but her new abilities start manifesting. In addition, Merrick describes a dream that Buffy keeps having. She begins training under Merrick’s tutelage.
Oliver and Benny are the first of the school to run into the vampires. Merrick arrives too late to prevent Benny being turned into a vampire, but does rescue Oliver. Another of Buffy’s classmates, a girl named Cassandra, played by an uncredited Ricki Lake, is kidnapped by Amilyn, played by Paul Reubans, and sacrificed to the vampire’s master, Lothos, played by Rutget Hauer. Lothos has killed a number of Slayers in the past and has set his sights on Buffy. An encounter in the woods has Amilyn and his gang of vampires fight Buffy, Merrick, and Oliver, leading to Amilyn losing an arm and Buffy and Oliver getting closer.
Later, at a school basketball game, Oliver recognizes a classmate who has become a vampire. Buffy chases the the vampire and runs into Lothos himself. Lothos hypnotizes Buffy, but Merrick arrives in time to prevent anything further. Merrick is staked himself by Lothos, and dies. The Watcher gives Buffy one last bit of advice, to do things her way, not the old ways.
Shaken, Buffy tries to return to her old life. At school, though, her friends have turned on her, making her an outcast. Buffy realizes that her priorities have changed while her old friends are still fixated on shopping and the upcoming senior dance. Even her boyfriend, Jeffrey, has found a new girlfriend. Oliver, though, stays by her, understanding what Buffy is going through.
The senior dance is for seniors only. As per tradition, vampires cannot enter a building unless invited. The vampire army built by Lothos and Amilyn, though, consist of high school seniors, and each of them received a formal invitation to the dance. Buffy arrives in time to fight the vampires inside and outside. Oliver takes on his old friend, Benny, while Buffy first stabs Amilyn then goes after Lothos. Once again, Lothos tries to hypnotize her, but Buffy is ready with a cross and a can of hairspray. By using her keen fashion sense, Buffy defeats Lothos.
As mentioned, one aspect of the film was comedy. The movie was light entertainment, a summer popcorn movie that was common before the Blockbuster Era we currently have. Buffy was moderately popular but not a major hit. Joss Whedon wrote the screenplay for the movie, though there may have been some meddling by executives to get popcorn fare.
Five years later, Joss Whedon returns to the character with the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series. The pilot for the series was once meant for a potential sequel to the original film, but as the show continued, the link between the movie and TV series became nebulous. Ideas from the film appeared, but reworked to fit the new show.
The TV Buffy, with Sarah Michelle Gellar taking over the lead role, kept the horror and the comedy, but became far more darker and tense. The show first aired on the WB, owned by Warner Bros, and was a breakout hit for the fledgling network. In 2001, Buffy moved over to UPN, a Paramount owned network. Despite being on smaller networks, the show gained a following.
In the pilot, Buffy Anne Summers and her mother move to Sunnydale after an incident that resulted in the burning down of the gym at Buffy’s previous school. Buffy is hoping to be a normal girl, despite being the Slayer. All those hopes are dashed when Rupert Giles, played by Anthony Stewart Head, appears as her new Watcher. Sunnydale High sits on top of a Hellmouth and Buffy’s abilities are needed to prevent Hell from boiling out. Being the newcomer, Buffy starts out as an outcast in the school. She meets Xander Harris, played by Nicholas Brendan, and Willow Rosenberg, played by Alison Hannigan, who befriend her through common experience of being outsiders. Cordelia Chase, one of the popular crowd and a cheerleader to boot, represents what Buffy could have been. Cordelia eventually joins in with Buffy and her friends in fighting the evil lurking in Sunnydale.
Through the series, the cast grows, emotionally and numerically. Seth Green, who had an uncredited role as a vampire in the original Buffy, joins the cast as Oz, Willow’s boyfriend. David Boreanaz joins as Angel, a vampire who becomes romantically linked with Buffy. After Buffy is clinically dead but revived, a new Slayer, Kendra, played by Bianca Lawson, arrives. Unlike Buffy, Kendra was raised by the Watchers, and the difference between the two Slayers is evident. Kendra lacks Buffy’s ability to improvise, leading to her death and the activation of Faith, played by Eliza Dushku. Again, the difference between Buffy and Faith is evident. Faith didn’t have the support system Buffy did with her friends.
Each season carried a theme. The first season, set mainly in and around Sunnydale High, showed that high school was hell. By the time Buffy graduates in season three, she had prevented several apocalypses, saved the student body more times than they could count, and befriended many others. Season two shows how Buffy’s approach, while not always successful, had advantages over a strict teaching. The season also had Buffy fall in love with the wrong man, Angel. Angel was under a Gypsy curse; if he ever achieved happiness, the Angelus personality within would be released, causing untold tragedy. Season three shows the difference between the relationship Buffy has with Giles, the relationship the Council of Watchers would impose on Slayers, and the relationship Faith had with the Mayor, who was using the girl for his nefarious purposes. Season four was about change, with Buffy and Willow heading to university, Xander getting a job, Oz leaving because he’s a danger as a werewolf, and Cordelia leaving for LA with Angel for a spin-off series*.
The series became known for its writing, taking chances that wouldn’t normally be seen on the regular networks. “Hush”, a fourth season episode, took a show known for its snappy dialogue and made everyone mute, unable to speak, and was successful. “Once More, with Feeling”, from season six, was an all-musical episode, making /Buffy/ the second show to try that, the first being Xena, Warrior Princess.
How does the TV series stack against the original? The series built on top of ideas presented in the movie and gives them more time to develop. The implications of the Buffy-verse is shown to viewers. The result is a TV series that has more than its fair share of academic papers written about it, with over two hundred produced about various aspects of the show, from dialogue to characterizations to the metaphors of humanity used as the base of many episodes. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series has had comics, including Seasons 8 through 10, and games, including Eden Studio’s role-playing game of the same name. The TV series has far surpassed its original.
Next week, continuing the history of adaptations with the early years of the film industry.
* Angel, naturally enough. Set in LA, Angel was the head of a small private invesitgation company, specializing in the unusual.
Didn’t expect to have a news round up so soon after the last one, but several major announcements came out over the past two weeks too good to sit on. Let’s get to them.
Showtime announces Twin Peaks to return in 2016.
David Lynch is involved through Lynch/Frost Productions. No word on whether the new series is a reboot or a continuation, but will be a limited series, with nine episodes. The big problem with the original series was that the network wanted more even after the mystery was solved. The nine episode limited series will let Lynch tell the story he wants.
Ghostbusters reboot confirmed.
This isn’t the sequel Dan Aykroyd has been pushing for. Paul Reig, director of Bridesmaids and The Heat, will be working on a gender-flipped reboot. Joining Reig is writer Katie Dippold, who has worked on Parks and Recreation and The Heat. Will it work? Depends on audience reception, really. The original Ghostbusters was second only to Beverly Hills Cop in terms of popularity in 1984 and both movies took advantage of music videos to get noticed.
LeCarré’s The Night Manager being turned into a limited BBC series.
John LeCarré’s spy thriller will star Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston in the BBC adaptation. No word on who the actors will play yet.
Lost Sherlock Holmes film turned out to be misclassified.
A 1916 silent film adaptation of Holmes thought lost turned out to be mis-filed by Cinematique Français decades ago. This isn’t the 1914 A Study in Scarlet that the BFI was looking for, as reported last month, but an American film made in Chicago by William Gillette. The BFI is excited over the find. A Study in Scarlet is still being sought.
Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy being adapted.
The three books in the trilogy, Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars, will be adapted for SpikeTV by Vince Geradis, a co-executive producer of A Game of Thrones. Robinson will be on board as consultant.
World Wide Dredd.
A seven-part Judge Dredd web series has been announced by Adi Shankar, producer of 2012’s Dredd. Shankar has been working on a project featuring the Dark Judges. The news follows the Day of Dredd campaign to get a sequel to the 2012 movies done.
The LEGO Movie spin-off announced.
LEGO Batman will be getting his own movie. Will Arnett will return to voice LEGO Batman while Chris McKay, animation supervisor for The LEGO Movie will be the director. Release date is expected to be 2017. I am now wondering how well LEGO Batman will fare compared to Superman vs Batman, and would not be surprised if the LEGO version did better.
Stargate still being rebooted.
Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin are returning to the Stargate helm with a reboot trilogy, as was reported back in September here. Details have still not been announced beyond the trilogy being a reboot instead of a continuation.
Spinward Traveller TV pilot on Kickstarter.
d20 Entertainment is working to put together a pilot episode of Spinward Traveller. The show, based on the Traveller RPG, follows the exploits of the free trader Beowulf in the Spinward Marches of the Third Imperium. The Beowulf‘s fame in the game comes from the distress call on the back of the box of the classic edition of Traveller.
Starship Troopers reboot/remake could be in works.
Still unconfirmed, but Megan Ellison of Annapurna Pictures had some interesting tweets involving the work.
Magnificent Seven being remade.
Denzel Washington may star in the remake. This leads to the chain of remaking an adaptation; the original Magnificent Seven took The Seven Samurai and placed it into the American frontier.
Speaking of Denzel Washington…
The Equilizer is set to hit theatres in September. The movie is a remake of the CBS TV series starring Edward Woodward that ran from 1985 to 1989 about a semi-retired spy who freelanced as a troubleshooter for people who needed help.
Sonic the adaptation
The speedy hedgehog is getting a combined live-action/CGI animated movie. Little has been released other than Doctor Eggman will be the villain.
Magic School Bus rebooted to Netflix
Miss Frizzle rides again as the series gets rebooted thanks to Netflix. The original Magic School Bus aired on PBS as an educational series where Miss Frizzle took her students in the titular bus to visit various locations, such as Egypt, space, and the human body.
Lion King spin-off Lion Guard
The series will follow Kion, the second born of Simba and Nala, as he leads the Guard. While other characters from the series may appear, new characters will compose the cast.
Grumpy Cat gets Christmas Special
Internet celebrity and meme source Tardar Sauce, also known as Grumpy Cat, will be getting a Christmas special that will air on Lifetime. The cat earned the nickname because of colouration and facial features that made her look like she was perpetually grumpy. When asked about the the special, she said, “Let it – NO.”
You new too, Scooby-Doo?
Warner Bros. to reboot Scooby-Doo, most likely as live-action movies. No cast is attached yet; the reboot of the adaptation movie is still in pre-production.
“Demon With a Glass Hand” to be adapted for the big screen.
Harlan Ellison’s episode for The Outer Limits will the basis for the upcoming movie based on the classic TV series. The episode involved time travel, aliens, and a man with a computerized hand.
Once again, the day will be saved…
… thanks to the Powerpuff Girls! Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup will be returning to Cartoon Network in 2016.
True Blood: The Musical.
With the TV adaptation wrapping up on HBO, Charlaine Harris’ The Southern Vampire Mysteries may become a stage musical. Nathan Barr, who worked on the TV series, has composed the musical.
Pacific Rim returning hard.
The sequel to the movie has been announced for April 2017. In the meantime, an animated series and a book series based on the movie, the latter having begun with Year Zero, are in the works. The original movie centered on fighting an invasion of kaiju, or giant monsters, with giant mecha and did far better outside the US than in it.