Max Landis and The Culture of Rebooted Movies
by Phillip Wilcox "Our Movie Demon"
Recently news was dropped that a reboot of the 1981 horror/comedy classic An American Werewolf In London was going to be rebooted. Oh, don't worry, it's not like it will be rebooted by some new upcoming unknown filmmaker, or by anyone who is known for making bigger budget movies, not even by anyone known in the horror cinema circuit! Nope, it will not only be not only directed, but written by non other than Max Landis, the son of the film's original writer/director, John Landis (National Lampoon's Animal House, The Blues Brothers, Thriller Music Video). Good news right?! Eh, that's debatable. For those of you who will most likely be objective about this whole thing, I can imagine you saying things like, "Give it a chance the movie may turn out well!" Or "Give Max a chance, he may do a good job!". And while both of those statements have a small percentage of being true, the percentage of both of those statements turning out to be the opposite of turning out well is even higher.
Max Landis first caught my attention when he made a splash with his first big budget written movie Chronicle back in 2012. I will admit I did and still do enjoy that movie! For the main fact that it does Chronicle the origin of would be superhuman characters who go through a transformation when they discover something otherworldly underground. And for those of you who know me well, I love Well Told origin stories, especially when it pertains to Superheroes. Ordinary people who do have an incident, go through a major transformation, and undergo a character arc of discovering who they are and what they will do with their new power. In ny eyes Chronicle achieved such themes in a contemporary story setting so well. Just as well as let's say M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable starring Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson. In fact I feel Unbreakable dealt with the superhero origin story in a way more realistic fashion, especially when it came to extracting any sort of huge CGI special effects. It really M. Night really wanted to stay authentically to the realm of emotionality and the everyday struggle of the characters in the story in a very relatable way. No flying, no fancy super powers that require lots CG visual effects. Which makes Unbreakable another one of my favorite films to date!
So needless to say I kept my eye on Max Landis to see what other great stories he'll come up with after Chronicle. Sadly Chronicle would be the only movie he's written that I've ever enjoyed. I'm not sure what happened but he just stopped writing stories that have some sense of originality or great characters. Instead he would come out with other movies like Me Him Her, Victor Frankenstein, Mr. Right, and American Ultra. All movies which could be considered "Fun To Watch". But to me, these are movies that will never stick with me. They are easily forgotten. And frankly, when listening to him speak in interviews on Youtube, he can come up with multiple movie ideas on the spot right off the top of his head, but anytime he does they're RARELY ever good ideas, and yet he thinks they're gold. Franky he seems more concerned with quantity rather than quality. Like "Let's take every awesome idea I have and make it into a movie!" However as Quentin Tarantino had said in a recent interview when asked about what he thinks about how technology gives everyone the ability to make a movie, the main point that Tarantino made was that "Not every movie needs to be made. Not every movie Should be made." A point that only 2 groups of people have missed: High Ranking Studio Executives who pump out reboot after reboot of iconic and classic movie titles, and Today's Younger Generation of Impressionable Would-Be Filmmakers who think this is totally ok. And this concerns me.
That being said, I have a deep concern for the well being of a horror film, An American Werewolf In London, that meant a lot to me growing up. I'm sure John Landis has total and complete faith in his son to do the film reboot justice. However I can come up with a pretty accurate percentage statistic on my own of how many reboots/remakes do its original counterparts justice - Folks, in that instance, the percentage is LOW! Which is why I cannot and do not subscribe to watching or even supporting reboots/remakes or those who make them. However there is an extremely small percentage of Rebooted Movies that actually work! And who knows, I may be way off on this particular instance about this particular reboot! If that's the case then I will gladly admit to being wrong. But more often times than not, I am right in my gut feeling when it comes to what films will work and which ones won't. And I do not have a good feeling about this reboot.