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Thursday, June 30, 2022

Oxview: Top 5 Reboots

Felix Bunting runs through five of the best rebooted franchises

Dark Knight Trilogy (2005-2012):

Batman has moved through several iterations—the camp and slapstick TV series, the mindless action films from Tim Burton, and then the Nolan series. Whereas many recent superhero films have stuck fairly rigidly to the formula of a wise-cracking hero, enough action to keep children interested and sporadic fanservice character cameos, the Dark Knight series went the other way. Rightfully identifying the dark nature of the source material, this adaptation painted an engaging picture of an emotionally tormented hero who, unlike many superheroes, could be injured and could be beaten. The villains of the series also manage to maintain a lot of the nuance lost in other action films, with the evil of the the villains matched by other, more mundane but more human, character traits.

Star Trek (2009-2016):

The latest incarnation of Star Trek passed the first and most important test for a reboot: it was enjoyable for those without any knowledge of the original series. Watching the film in the cinema, with no previous knowledge of the show, the plot was coherent, the action well-paced and not gratuitous, and the characterisation enjoyable. Although I was unable to join in with the laughter and cheers from other people at the showing when certain characters appeared, I feel approaching the film without that baggage ensured the film could be enjoyed without pre-existing knowledge.

Sherlock (2010-):

The BBC adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes novels is phenomenally popular. The plots intelligently blend the stories from the novels with new directions, updated with contemporary social concerns and developments in technological understanding. The dialogue varies from witty back-and-forths between Holmes and Watson, to annoying one liners from Holmes. As the series progressed, the plots began to collapse below the weight of increasingly incredulous reveals, and the female characters became ever less well-written. Recovering with a well-written final episode of the most recent series, the future of series is unclear.

Muppets (2012-2014):

As a child, one highlight of the winter holidays, and a resignation by parents that Christmas has begun, was watching Muppets Christmas Carol on VHS. To this day, I still believe Muppets Christmas Carol to be the best Christmas film and Michael Caine’s finest hour. It was challenging, therefore, for the Muppets reboot to meet this standard, which thankfully it did. The plots were well crafted, and the characters were clearly created by a team who loved the original series, and were delighted with the opportunity to bring them to a new generation. Add to this a strong soundtrack (Man or Muppet was rightfully an Oscar winner), and the combination is a fitting tribute to Kermit.

Community (???)

The TV series Community has attracted a cult following. With pop culture references so funny you laugh out loud, to pop culture references so specific you laugh out loud to let people know that you understood, it is clear where its popularity comes from. Always slightly too meta for its own good, it never quite managed to become as big of a hit as it deserved, and successive series have seen the show lose some of the bravery of its humour which made it such good viewing. The characters in the show, in their uniquely self-referential style, repeatedly promised us “six seasons and a movie” and although this reboot hasn’t happened yet, I hope those involved in the show can fulfil that promise.

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