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Friday, February 03, 2023

The top three movies in the box office last weekend were “Beauty and the Beast,” “Power Rangers” and “Kong: Skull Island.” What do they all have in common? They’re all reboots, remakes or sequels, capitalizing on the previous fame and success of their predecessors. Perhaps that’s a very cynical way to view it, but the fact is, Hollywood realized people love familiar things and are nostalgic, and that both these things mean very easy money.

Why waste time coming up with a new and creative story when Disney can literally rehash scenes from one of its most popular animated films? Maybe tack on a few new lines of dialogue, change some backstory, add a popular childhood actress, a ton of CGI and wham! Money comes rolling in. Disney has way more live-action reboots planned, from “Mulan” to “The Lion King.”

We’re a bit hesitant to call any of these Disney live-action films good movies on their own merit, since in our minds, we’re always going to be comparing them to the original. “Beauty and the Beast” was pretty and fun, but the original was a work of art.

Likewise, if Marvel had not decided to reboot Spider-Man with Andrew Garfield within half a decade of the Tobey Maguire franchise ending, perhaps the reboot wouldn’t have fallen at. Perhaps had Marvel also taken a little breather between sequels, some of them would’ve stood out instead of seamlessly blending into mindless action sequences.

These films aren’t terrible, but compared to their originals, they just don’t have the same spark.

But these films, reboots of reboots, remakes of remakes and sequels of sequels still end up making hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office.

Why? Because we, as humans, are suckers for nostalgia. We’re not going to get on a high horse and say we don’t find the idea of a live-action “Mulan” pretty darn cool. We’re not going to pretend we’re not slightly interested in Tom Holland, the third Spider-Man actor in our lifetimes. We’re not going to pretend we’re not anxiously awaiting the eighth “Star Wars” installment and every other title LucasFilm throws at us. Even though we are wary of the changes Disney makes to our beloved childhood films, even though there hasn’t been a good Spider-Man movie since the 2002 movie, even though nothing will ever hold up to the original “Star Wars” trilogy, we still pay money and get excited watching these remakes.

There’s nothing wrong with that. If you get a little disillusioned with these sequels and remakes, that’s fine. We understand. But if they still get you excited, if you’re still going to line up for tickets for “Fast and Furious 96,” then that’s fine, too. But as consumers, perhaps we should demand a little more than sloppy remakes and sequels that always fail to compare to the original. Yes, there’s more sophisticated, Oscar-worthy films, but for quick, fun entertainment, it’s a little disappointing to feel, well, disappointed all the time.

Last year, in addition to the live-action adaptations and sequels, Disney also gave us “Zootopia” and “Moana,” two brilliant films that stood on their own, without the burden of a predecessor. It might be hard to come up with new, good material, but clearly, it is not impossible. They did, after all, do it the first time round.

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