At the UK premiere of Invictus, Matt Damon has said that the next Bourne film is likely to be a prequel or a reboot (shudder!!). Add to that the reboot of Spiderman which is on the way and the only comment I can make is “What the heck are movie companies thinking of?”
First off, spend five minutes with me and you will realise I am not a big fan of reboots. The only film that was rebooted recently and was likeable (Batman Begins aside) was in my opinion Star Trek, which I thought was very good, but I have seen it three times now and each time I like it less, so this is subject to change. My main problem with reboots of recent years is that they seem to miss the point. The first that springs to mind is the upcoming remake/reboot of Lake Mungo, a flawed but very good Australian horror/thriller. This film was made on a shoestring budget and is shot like a documentary (the film has a very Discovery Channel feel to it), and the shocks mainly come from this premise – clips are re-shown and zoomed in to reveal that a parent’s dead daughter is in the frame. Now I speak the honest truth here when I say the reboot is about to be made without ANY documentary style footage. My first reaction to this would be “then it’s not a reboot, it’s a different film”!
That is like making The Red Shoes without any dancing, Jurassic Park without dinosaurs, rebooting Clerks with a $300m budget.
My second problem with this news is that the Bourne Supremacy got its ITV premiere in 2009, that is, less than a year ago this film was seen for the first time on terrestrial TV; the trilogy was released on Blu-ray in June 2009. Now to me, this is probably at least 10-15 years too early for a re-imagining of a show, I mean, to be honest the final film in Paul Greengrass’ trilogy is still quite fresh in my mind, the DVD hasn’t even got a scratch on it yet for god’s sake and I double up DVDs as beer mats!
Thirdly (and finally you will be pleased to know), what are they trying to achieve? The three films gained critical acclaim and as previously stated in my top films of the decade, forced Bond to reinvent itself. They also grossed $945 million worldwide, so in what way can they improve with a reboot? With Spiderman, while it didn’t receive critical acclaim, the 3 films manage to acquire a large amount of moolah for all parties involved.
Now, I am by no means an oracle – these films could surprise me and be great and make me say that the originals were trash. My opinions of reboots could change if a few came along where the director has obviously made a conscious effort to keep the spirit of the movie, if they started rebooted bad adaptations (Silent Hill for one), but when you start messing with classic films like Predator, Halloween and Robocop they are fighting a losing battle.
It struck me when writing my review for Watchmen recently that a divide seems to have opened up in the movie industry as regards action sequences. There seem to be two schools of notable action in common day moviemaking:
A. The hyper-kinetic, handheld, shaky-cam, mega-edited hand-to-hand combat typified by the Bourne films.
B. Slow-motion, bone-crunching, balletic brutality, sometimes but not always involving bullet-time, born from The Matrix and elongated to its logical extreme in the films of Zack Snyder.
Now, these are not the only forms of fighting we see. You could also count the newer forms of martial arts, most notably Tony Jaa’s Muay Thai style. But I would argue that the two given the most attention in the last few years, both in praise and criticism, are the two aforementioned.
It leaves a question of what exactly will become the norm for modern action. Perhaps it will remain at to two extremes, on which revels in the blow-by-blow fascination of violence and the other which spends little time on singular blows and is more interested in placing the audience amidst the combatants. Years ago, fight scenes were simply done at regular pace with easily-spotted dives taken by stuntmen (see the likes of Die Hard and onwards to so many mid-90s picks like Con Air etc.). Now it seems we must strike a balance between the two or face a war between fighting styles beloved of fans.
Some adore Snyder’s method, slowing down the action into the bullet-time motion for the purposes of the audience seeing the blows make contact and for bodies to fly across rooms in moon-walking style before speeding back up to pepper the scenes with both hyper-slow and hyper-fast beats. Other favour the Greengrass close-quarters speed-fighting, however unclear it can sometimes become.
Modern action by no means needs a norm, but it seems interesting to have these two duelling forces stepping to each other, both presenting entirely different methods for presenting fighting on screen, and which will win through in terms of followers. At present, Snyder’s style does not seem to be finding too many imitators, although you could put forward the point that his style is a slightly-altered version of that peddled popularly by The Matrix in the early-00s and before that by wire-fighting extravaganzas from the Asian circuit. The Bourne style has been aped most famously in the recent Bond incarnations.
So, which do you prefer?
Also, check out this excellent article from Slate on the evolution of the fight scene.