The Difference Between A Reboot and A Remake

It seems like Hollywood is just plain running out of ideas and is now relying on nostalgia to make money. A couple of years ago, they made new Total Recall, Planet of the Apes and Star Trek films. We just got a new Robocop film that totally disregards the events of the previous films. In May, Warner Bros. will be releasing yet another Hollywood version of The King Of Monsters, Godzilla. And, apparently, we’ll be getting a new series of films based on the Terminator franchise!

I guess that's cool?

I guess that’s cool?

Now, I’m not here to pass judgement on these new iterations of “classic” films. No, what I want to do is clarify the mistaken concept that reboots and remakes are the same thing. For a comics fan like me, I’m pretty accustomed to what reboots are. And remakes have been done for the movie genre for ages, so I have a lot of indirect experience with this as well.

It’s actually understandable as to why some people are confused between the two. Both reboots and remakes adapts familiar and nostalgic subjects to modern times. Also, they both take a lot of familiar elements from the source material as a tribute to it. they may borrow some elements from the original material as well. But, even so, there is a simple and huge difference between the two.

First, let’s talk about what a remake is since it’s actually the easiest to explain. A remake is essentially a new version of something. There may be some updates with the characters and the settings in an attempt to modernize an old story. However, the plot will still remain generally the same. 

The most obvious example of this would be the film Psycho. The original movie was remade in 1998. It’s evident that it’s a remake because each and every shot was directly copied from the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock film. Most of the camera angles are even staged in the same manner. 

There are more examples that are not evident. One particular example would be The Invasion of The Body Snatchers. There are actually four films based on the original story. All of them have the same general plot (aliens trying to take over the world by replacing people with copies) with only a few changes made to keep the story fresh. They even changed the title of the last two remakes (Body Snatchers and The Invasion) just to differentiate them from the prior two movies. 

Another thing is that remakes are usually done for standalone movies. This means that these item do not have sequels or anything that continues the storyline. In fact, it’s possible to make remakes of sequels only! An example would be fan remake of one of my favorite games, King’s Quest II from AGD Interactive. They updated the graphics and added a few more story elements to make it more appealing to today’s audiences (as well as keep things interesting for people who played the game before). But the plot is still generally the same.

By the way, you can download this game for free!

By the way, you can download the fan remake for free!

Now, a reboot is a totally different beast. Reboots usually keep the general idea only of the source material. But the story can be changed. Also, reboots are just like it sounds: it starts something from scratch. Usually, this pertains to long series with long continuities to keep track off. Sometimes, it can be easier to start from the ground up, especially if the stories become too entangled and complicated for their own good.

Comics usually employ reboots after a few decades or so. Take DC Comics. In 2011, they started The New 52 reboot as sort of a clean slate for older fans to get back to comics as well as try to attract newer fans. But, this wasn’t even the first time they did that. The start of the Silver Age of Comics heralded newer versions of their superheroes, such as brand new versions of The Flash and Green Lantern. And in 1985, they did the Crisis on Infinite Earths event, which totally destroyed the multiverse DC did.

The one that started it all!

I actually have this comic lying around somewhere.

So, in the movie front, a good and recent example would be the new Robocop film. It has elements of the original 1987 film but makes some radical changes to the overall plot. Like I mentioned, the upcoming Terminator films will probably be a reboot as its reported to disregard all of the events of the previous films of the series.

Of course, there are some films that are hard to define. For me, Total Recall is both a remake and a reboot. They made some radical changes to the characters and plot. But, ultimately, you arrive at the same basic outcome of the original film. 

Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter if Hollywood makes a reboot of a film series or decides to remake an old movie. In fact, it doesn’t even matter for us to define what a remake and a reboot is. As long as the new films are good, who cares if it’s a remake or a reboot. As long as I’m entertained, I’ll be fine with whatever it is.

What’s your definitions of remakes and reboots? Put down your thoughts in the comments section below.

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