The remake trend of the last few decades has paved the way for the rise of unnecessary gritty reboots. These reboots typically take happy and light franchises and ask the question: What if instead of filling people with joy, these films made people existentially sad? It's a simple formula, really. A director takes a beloved character from the past and ages them up, or applies real-life rules to their unrealistic lives, or decides that they kill people now. This radically new way of seeing the character is eye-catching, so audiences flock to the theaters. In doing so, executives make more money and greenlight more gritty remakes.
The best of these gritty remakes ask (and answer) an interesting question about the human experience by way of using an established IP. The worst gritty remakes suck all the fun out of the property while somehow failing to make this new bummer of a film interesting in any way. Sadly, a lot more of these gritty remakes have been the latter. From the big screen to the small screen, these are the gritty reboots that really didn't need so much grit.
The MummyPhoto: Universal Pictures
Prior to Tom Cruise's take on The Mummy, the most recent incarnation had been the popular campy franchise starring Brendan Fraser. With Fraser as a leading man, the tone of the films was fun and funny. Sure, a mummy was trying to take over the world, but there were plenty of smiles along the way.
Every shot of 2017's The Mummy is grayer and more washed-out than its predecessors. The mummy is a little bit scarier, and things work out a little less well. Cruise's love interest doesn't even make it out of the film alive, which should give some idea as to the departure in tone from the Fraser version of The Mummy.
CBR called this gritty reboot "astonishingly dull, stylistically dreary and a waste of nearly every talent in it."22425Unnecessary?
- Photo: 20th Century Fox
The 2015 take on Marvel's first family is odd, to say the least. In general, these characters are known as adventurers, and their cheerful adventures sprawl out across the galaxy. The 2005 version features plenty of laughs to accompany its more dramatic moments, but those laughs are largely absent in the 2015 version.
In the comics, when the Fantastic Four discover that an accident has given them incredible powers, they basically immediately set off bettering the world. In the 2015 film, Johnny, Ben, and Susan are forced into working for the government while Reed is on the run for a year. Not exactly a cheery origin story.
The film was basically universally mocked, only earning a 9% on Rotten Tomatoes. CBR described the director's version of the gritty reboot as "caking the whole film in grey and directing his actors to speak in a monotone."16818Unnecessary?
- Photo: Paramount Pictures
The 2016 remake of Ben-Hur was not a well-received film. Creating 1959's Best Picture-winning Ben-Hur - not to mention its 1925 silent predecessor - was a massive undertaking. It was the most expensive movie ever at the time, and employed hundreds in its creations. That amount of work really showed, too, and the film earned rave reviews and classic status.
Sadly, years later, the majesty of that Ben-Hur was replaced with special effects and CGI that didn't conjure up the same sense of wonder. The Guardian stated, "This dull, clunking return to one of cinema's great warhorses lacks all the subtlety, passion and grandeur of its more illustrious predecessors."
The increased edginess of the adaption comes through in scenes like the famed chariot race, which The New York Times described thusly: "As bodies are trampled and dragged on the track, and squealing horses topple in clouds of dust amid the deafening clamor of amplified hoofbeats, the 10-minute scene powerfully captures the savagery of life-or-death spectacle and the delirium of a mob swooning with blood lust."1218Unnecessary?
- Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures
In Point Break, Johnny Utah, an FBI agent, infiltrates a group of surfing bank robbers. In the 2015 reboot, these robbers do a lot more than surf. In an attempt to add more action and excitement to the film, the crew is trying to perform the Ozaki 8 (a series of action sports challenges taking place around the world) and are robbing banks along the way. Similar setup to the surfing-and-robbing scenario the original offered, but deliberately more "extreme." Instead of a silly ex-football player learning to surf, the film follows an ex-action sports star climbing, snowboarding, surfing, and dirt biking his way across the world.
Sadly, this film thought it could replace genuine heart and lighthearted beach-bro charm with more set pieces and more action. It was sorely mistaken. The Guardian called the film a "pointless remake, stuffed with humorless and self-important machismo."12014Unnecessary?