What good remakes and revivals share

Bear Luke, Campus Carrier photographer

Remakes and revivals have become a strong presence in entertainment media for some time now. Every year, the public sees new recreations of their favorite franchises, whether it be old video games, Disney movies, or revivals of beloved television shows. This would be fine if these constant remakes and revivals were not plagued with fundamental issues and a lack of understanding of the art it derives from. The problem stems from the motive surrounding these remakes and revivals, nostalgia marketing. 

I am sure it was a daring idea at some point to bring a piece of media back from the grave, however, with shows like “Futurama” and “Family Guy,” as well as movies like “Cinderella (2015)” establishing a market for remakes and revivals, this opened the floodgates for revivals and remakes to be made every year. How, then, does one create a proper remake or revival, and how does one avoid creating a flawed one? 

It is important to look at various examples of both. The prime example of a perfect reboot, at least in my opinion, is “DuckTales (2017).” This show is a revival of the classic Disney Afternoon show, “DuckTales.” I believe it achieves everything a remake or revival should try to achieve. 

A remake or revival should do its best to achieve two things with its media. First, it should try to keep elements that make the original media memorable and artistic. Hypothetically, if one were to make a “SpongeBob SquarePants” revival after the show was over, it should feature Spongebob and the character traits that define him. If it did not feature Spongebob and/or what makes his character memorable and likable, it would feel like an entirely different show. 

The “DuckTales (2017)” revival makes sure that many of their characters and themes are intact. Scrooge McDuck, the lead character of “DuckTales,” acts exactly like how he is portrayed in the original. The revival also keeps its core themes intact, making sure the product feels like how the original did emotionally and tonally.

“Lion King (2019),” a remake of the well-renowned “Lion King,” is a poor example of a remake. Some of the characters, like the villain, Scar, are different in tone and execution, and the movie simply cannot work under its own vision. The director, Jon Favreau, desired to make the animals in the film as realistic as possible, but that causes the revival to lack what made the original special. The original animation was designed to be as expressive and emotionally moving. To have the revival’s mantra be so counterintuitive to the original’s vision means that the revival lacks what makes the original so beloved. 

The other rule that every remake or revival should follow is that there should be some aspects of the original changed and that those changes should fit the context of that revival. If one makes a movie almost identical to the original, the movie then feels like a carbon copy. It is not unique or artistic and feels like a retelling for profit. 

Disney remakes once again fail here, as “Beauty and the Beast (2017)” almost feels indistinguishable from its animated original. The only way the movie is different is in its portrayal through live-action. No change in story or art comes from making it live-action, it was only done to give “reason” for the remake’s existence. 

“DuckTales (2017)” does have an artistic reason to exist, however. In the show, the three siblings, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, are given completely different personalities from their original counterparts. This is a change that reasonably impacts the end product and thus gives the work meaning. 

The siblings in the original did not have much difference in their personalities, and were basically the same character. The revival thought it would be better and more distinct if the characters had different personalities. Huey is smart, Dewey is tough, and Louie is sharp. The creators took aspects from the original and redesigned them to fit with the revival’s new iterations of the triplets. 

This is what a perfect remake or revival should desire to do: find the perfect middle ground between rules one and two by keeping important characters and themes intact, while also changing up aspects to fit the context. “DuckTales (2017)” is a perfect revival, and if one were to follow the rules to creating a perfect remake or revival like it has, then it would be perfect.

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