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The Age of the Remake: The Death of Cinematic Imagination

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What on earth has happened to cinema? What was the last, truly original, groundbreaking and (this one is the clincher) completely imaginative film that you went to see? And if you can actually think of something that fits all of those categories, was it any good? Probably not. Cinema has become a bit stagnated; cinematic imagination has apparently gone completely down the pan in a sort of Channel 4's-attempts-at original-fictional-programming-type void of creativity.

It's not just an issue that audiences have noticed, either. Screenwriters and staff for recent action-packed flick The Bourne Legacy have claimed in a recent Alex Zane interview that the film industry is in the middle of an age of reboots, remakes and prequels. And apparently The Bourne Legacy is the closest thing a film-goer will get to an original, wholly new film this year. The sad thing is, they're right. And even then, it's a bit of an overstatement considering that Legacy is pretty much proverbially sellotaped to the Bourne series of films. Not exactly original, but that's not the issue. The point is, if even those who create huge blockbusters have noticed this, then there's obviously a problem somewhere.

So when did this all kick off? Personally, I think it was with J. J. Abrams's reboot of the Star Trek franchise in 2009. It was a hit, a really big hit. Directors and screenwriters, among others, probably watched in awe as the age-old, and very tired series got a well needed kick up the backside and became, suddenly (and almost impossibly) 'cool' again. Ever eager as people are to jump on the nearest bandwagon that will make them the quickest dollar (call me cynical if you like, I still think I'm right), remakes and reboots have been popping up left, right and centre ever since. Just after the Star Trek reboot, suddenly there's a reboot of the A Team franchise. More recently, whilst I was watching the aforementioned The Bourne Legacy in the cinema, at least 80% of the trailers preceding it were for remakes of old franchises. For example, classic Schwarzenegger action film Total Recall is back with a vengeance, which prompted a few groans from the audience. Plus, murderous, armour covered executioner Judge Dredd makes his reappearance on the big screen, which prompted even more, much louder groans. Thirdly, whilst it's not a remake or a reboot, I am still also quite irritated that Liam Neeson is back in a new Taken movie - I'm not sure why they're doing that, but leaving it this long before releasing a sequel smacks of creative desperation, borderline starvation.

What really got me going, though, was the fact that underpants-clad hero Superman is back. Again. Why?

Don't get me wrong, all of these films could be fantastic. They might end up being complete triumphs of cinema, and I might have to end up eating my own words for breakfast, alongside the fried egg on my face, on a plate made of my own embarrassment. It might even be great for a new generation of film-goers to experience the same feelings of wonder and awe that the older generation felt over the same films. It's also great to see just how far special effects have come since the originals, how much more realistic things look and how much cinema has progressed.

Maybe I'm living in the past. But, the point at the end of all this is that once a film is done, finished and released, it should be left well alone for people to enjoy. Especially if it ends up being a classic, because remaking it will only detract from it. In fact, remaking classic films is kind of the same thing as a boy-band from The X Factor (I won't pretend I know what any of the bands are called) re-making and re-releasing The Beatles hits. Sure, we can up the production, throw more money at it, clean up the sound and modernise it a bit, but it still won't be as good as the original, it's less imaginative, less creative and, in some cases, it's sacrilegious.