Dear Hollywood, Stop With The Soft Reboots — I Like Mine HARD!

dear hollywood

dear hollywoodDear Hollywood,

I know it’s been years since I have seen you, nearly a decade in fact. I feel guilty for not keeping in touch, that’s on me. To be honest, I’m not writing you for simple pleasantries, in fact I am writing you today as part of a larger intervention. But, we’ve been here before, haven’t we? We both know you’re an addict and you won’t admit it, won’t hit up old friends like me to help you out. You move from one addiction to another without fully kicking your last one.

I am writing you on behalf of all your friends who just want to see you get better. We need you to cut the obsession with “soft reboots” aka “sequels” and return to the hard reboots of the oughts. That’s right, I want you on the HARD stuff. But, it’s only because I want what is best for you…

…But mostly me.

Let me be clear when discussing your past and present addictions, Hollywood, so there is no confusion; remakes, hard (often, but not always dark) reboots, and the current trend of soft reboots.

Addiction #1: THE REMAKE

Google’s Dictionary (Oxford’s apparently if you look close) defines a remake as:

noun – a movie or piece of music that has been filmed or recorded again and rereleased.

Easy enough. Remakes were a trend first, going back decades and decades in film history. Not just remaking movies into newer movies, but also remaking TV shows into movies. Though many were quite good back in the day, by the late in ’90s and oughts you became obsessive, even for an addict. Just to name a few random ones, I am not casting negative judgement on all … Lost In Space (1998),  3:10 To Yuma (2007), Annie (1999 and 2014), King Kong (2007 and 1976), The Mummy (1999), Bad News Bears (2005). Yes, you are still addicted to remakes, with The Magnificent 7 (2016) and A Star Is Born (2018) also immediately coming to mind.

Let’s not even start on Disney live-action remakes and 101 Dalmatians….

Though not as prevalent and sickening this addiction once was, now it’s also being overshadowed by your unhealthy usage of soft reboots. I know you’ll always be stuck on remakes, so let’s move on because I’m not doctor, but ruminating too much on this one may be unhealthy.

Addiction #2: THE HARD REBOOT

The dictionary won’t help me to clearly define a reboot, but Wikipedia may have an elegant answer:

In serial fiction, the term “reboot” signifies a new start to an established fictional universe, work, or series that discards continuity to re-create its characters, plotlines and backstory from the beginning. It has been described as a way to “rebrand” or “restart an entertainment universe that has already been established”.

In my mind, the biggest difference between a remake and a reboot is that a remake is the exact same story, whereas a reboot restarts a story at the origin, but then grows in a completely new direction with the sequels. It’s kind of a term reserved for franchises, wouldn’t you agree, Hollywood?

I remember when you really hit the “hard” reboot… hard. At first it really improved your mood and made us both happy. The back-to-back smash hard reboots that really set two franchises on the right track were Batman Begins in 2005 and Casino Royale in 2006. They both took something cheesy that lost all credibility and turned it around into hits, critically and financially. And I love you for that.

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This is not just a TV or movie thing, the two can crossover in the age of prestige TV. Look at HBO’s Westworld. It’s not a remake, it’s a hard reboot that merely borrows ideas and the nickname of one character. Netflix’s Daredevil is a less extreme hard reboot of that franchise, a far cry from Ben Affleck’s version.

Then you took this addiction too far, as any addict does. Hollywood, it was fun at first but you know how to make anything into a bummer, man. You drove hard reboots into the ground, often by going too dark, rebooting too often and quickly, or both. Look no farther than The Amazing Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, and Man of Steel/Batman V Superman. Hard reboots are harmless in moderation, but… well, let’s get to why I really wrote you.

Current & Most Dangerous (Annoying) Addiction: THE SOFT REBOOT

So, what is a soft reboot? You should know better than anyone, it’s all over your nose.

From yet another source, I really like this definition of soft reboot from a user on Quora:

A “soft reboot” is when you build a story within an existing universe that’s essentially so far removed from the original characters or events from past entries that it becomes a new “jumping on” point, or reintroduction.

A soft reboot is a pretty expansive term, having overlap with reboots and remakes. Yet I would say it is most consistent with a sequel. A special type of sequel.

TV has been doing soft reboots far longer than films, but the first soft reboot in film that I really took note of was Star Trek in 2009, though I didn’t yet have the term yet to describe it. Sold as a prequel/reboot, it also served as a sequel to everything that came before it, kicked off by the original Spock accidentally creating a second timeline full of new adventures (but once a Khan, always a Khan there must be, apparently).

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Now these things are f**king everywhere. Shiny enough for kids, appealing to geeky adults because they rolled whichever aging actor out of their crypt to reprise a role that should be left in the dust. I can see why you deal in soft reboots so often, you can get high enough on yourself and yet make a profit (mostly… mostly…).

Here’s how your yet-to-be-mentioned addiction to sequels grew into a nasty, festering soft reboot addiction.

Though this doesn’t track it all the way back to the beginning of the modern-day addiction, let’s examine what is referred to as the “Sequel Trilogy” in the galaxy of Star Wars. It is the prime example of a soft reboot. The Force Awakens gives us new characters, sends them on a similar enough journey as before so fans recognize it as legit, and brings back actors that have aged out of their roles just for nostalgia.

I wonder if you have any benders like like coming up, Hollywood?

Well, well, well, Hollywood. Shrunk? A “remake” of Honey, I Shrunk The Kids with Rick Moranis in the cast called Shrunk? Young kids discover grandpa’s old ghostbusting gear in a film that also includes Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd? A Mighty Ducks Disney+ streaming series starring Emilio Estevez? Look at what you’ve become, man! Stop bothering seniors, just hard reboot that shit! Let the past die… or whatever.

Just straight up sequel it or reboot it, I can’t stand you when you mix your addictions into something entirely worse!

I just want back my friend, the Hollywood before this ghastly soft reboot addiction. Please write me when you are well. Otherwise I can no longer stand by you. You need help, brother.


Nick Doll

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