I’m Getting Old (1): why I’m betting on the sequel over the reboot this summer

2 02 2009

Post-US Superbowl TV Ads, the geek community are communing online today about these densely-packed super-trailers, 30 seconds to a minute of tightly-cut, TV-friendly glimpses of this summer’s American blockbusters.  Me? I keep disconnecting further year after year with this particular info-dump – the date in the marketing calendar that it is, as fabricated an occasion as Valentine’s Day.  However, everyone knows the latter can indeed be fun if one has something to celebrate, and so it is with the Superbowl ads – there’s always something that hits my button, gets my juices flowing, sends me “on the jazz”, in the words of The A-Team.  And so it is this year.

Except it’s not the one I was expecting it to be.  I’ve been a Star Trek fan as long as I can remember.  I haven’t watched an episode in years, yet can discuss things I saw from twenty years ago with some accuracy.  I saw all the movies right up to Insurrection, all the TV iterations up to Enterprise season 1, and then gave up on the lot, the whole thing.  Just stopped, got busy with other things, moved on.  And in so doing, became a fan of J.J.Abrams‘ TV creations – Alias was such a rush those first two years, like nothing on TV except the concurrent arrival of 24, while Lost has an absolute textbook-perfect pilot, and did something new for US TV.  I was impressed when he was tapped to replace Joe Carnahan directing M:I:III, and loved what finally ended up on the big screen.  So why am I less and less enthused by the trailers for the ST reboot coming our way this summer?

Abrams and his writing pals Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman have given Paramount something they’ve wanted every ten years or so, which is a vehicle for a younger, cheaper cast to carry the brand forward.  They’ve invested in proven talent at every level, and have even kept the links to the existing mythos to try not to alienate the massive fanbase, while finally making the franchise relevant to the larger number of non-fans.  It looks shiny, fast-moving and action-packed.  And it looks uncomfortably like a school play, full of children playing known adult figures.  I like it at a superficial level, but nothing about it works the way, say, a new James Bond works, or Shaft.  Not yet.

On the other hand, a film I had absolutely no desire to see, no emotional connection to from childhood, yet ended up thoroughly enjoying, for the shallowest of reasons, was Michael Bay & Steven Spielberg’s Transformers.  The trailer to the sequel, the first actual footage released so far, was everything that was good about the first film, in spades.  The heroes are in jeopardy, the earth too, familiar faces are back, and things blow up and get smashed REAL good.  Some things in life make perfect couples – fish and chips, cheese and pickle, John Woo and cinematic violence, and in this case, Michael Bay and GIANT FREAKIN’ ROBOTS SMASHING THINGS.  More of that is just what the doctor ordered.

So yeah, I’m betting on the sequel over the reboot for most fun for my money this summer on the big screen.  I might lose – heck, I’ll be happy if I do lose.  Either way, though, Paramount win.



8 responses

3 02 2009
Dave Whittaker

You’re forgetting G.I. Joe, but yes either way it’s a good time for Paramount. Need to get those Hasbro shares.


Btw, that four lane wide unicycle bot Prime was limply hanging off? But one component of a combiner, and if you look real close at the HD version where the bot pops out of a wall and transforms, you can see one of the three bike bot combiners, which will be female.

Something the basement dwellers whined about so much in the first film that got taken out. This time around it looks like Bay might have his revenge though.

Rumours abound that somebody big gets taken out/becomes an hero, the fanboys will cry, and Bay will have his revenge.

I will chortle like it’s 1986 again.


3 02 2009

I was wondering what you’d thought of the first one. Glad to see I’m not the only one who enjoys the lashings of the original wrapped up in Spielbergian FX and Bay-style pandemonium. For all the problems I have with some of his films, and the critical catcalls laying “the death of narrative cinema” (TM Mark Kermode) at his door, the fact is that, with the right marriage of man and materials (ironic in this case), he’s arguably the finest commercial US blockbuster director working, the Tony Scott of today. Especially since Tony Scott spent the 90s classing himself up even as he was the go-to guy for Bruckheimer.

I’m not forgetting G.I.Joe, I’m just not discussing originals – this was the sequel vs. reboot theme. I’m going to put up another post on the other big SF film this summer that, oddly, did not receive a Superbowl trailer, yet has the potential to be the best of the lot, while being treated as BOTH sequel and reboot.

3 02 2009

Transformers was not a good Transformers movie; too many humans, inappropriate gross out humour, inexplicably long build up..
However it was an enjoyable, silly Hollywood Summer film, could have been about shape shifting giant rabbits and would have been the same ( there’s even a ready made gross out joke there!). Better than the American Gundam, because it actually had robots in it.

Star Trek is odd because they keep going backwards, which in such a well documented universe is silly because you keep having to tip-toe around the paradoxes. Trouble is I guess, they want a film with people shooting things and all that nasty pacifism gets in the way.

3 02 2009

“an enjoyable, silly Hollywood Summer film” – exactly my point about why I liked it. I lack investment in it – unlike Star Trek. And yes, Star Trek II proved that wider audiences prefer the franchise without the liberal peaceniks getting in the way… 🙂

3 02 2009
Matt Dillon

It’s probably worth noting (especially by your other readers) that you really weren’t impressed by the original 1986 animated Transformer movie, largely (I think) because without the nostaligia that so many of us share and the sheer balls-out spectacle of the recent Bay flick all you were left with was the story — something that you had (even as you say) no investment in and something which was pretty shallow to begin with. And yet essentially there’s very little between them in terms of merit or substance.

3 02 2009

Ah yes, our cultural exchange day, which ended up being – Transformers the animated movie. Dammit, I really should have flung a western at you!

8 02 2009
Matt Dillon

Yes, you should have — but as I recall we were both tired, both grumpy, and both far too lazy to put anything else on. Still, at least I was able to introduce you to the Bay flick, which even now you are busy championing! Job done! 😛

16 02 2009
Reimagine Me Some Motivation « Fuzzy Logic

[…] Me Some Motivation As my friend and associate Hugh David recently commented on his own blog , 2009’s run of blockbuster cinema titles is most likely going to come down to one particular […]

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