Movies Roundtable: Are There Too Many Reboots Of Stories Like King Arthur, Tarzan, Zorro, King Kong?

This week’s topic:

With yet another reboot of the story of “King Arthur” coming out this weekend, what do you think of continued reboots of stories like King Arthur, Tarzan, Zorro, King Kong, Godzilla, etc? Is it entertaining to see each generation’s take on these timeless stories or has the time come to retire these fables for good?

Here is the Inside Pulse Movies’ crew’s takes!

Jake Ziegler

This movie looks like garbage. Most movies Guy Ritchie directs are garbage. Honestly, I have no problem with the concept of “remakes” or “reboots” or whatever, as long as they have something interesting or cool to do/say. This movie just looks really bad though. Some of the reboot movie are cool, some are bad, and I think it’s fair to assess each attempt on a case-by-case basis.

Mike Noyes I don’t know. Maybe it’s exciting for younger kids who haven’t seen the older versions yet, but I’m over it. I generally don’t go see these when they come out. And King Arthur in particular looks really bad. Guy Ritchie’s style works sometimes, but I don’t think it’s going to work here. Also, I don’t remember giant Lord of the Rigs type elephants running around in Arthur’s time. It’s probably a fun movie, I just have no desire to see it. Studios and artists should focus on more original ideas like Get Out or Colossal, the best films I’ve seen this year so far.

Travis Leamons

This runs long, so bear with me.

As someone who has seen King Arthur: Legend of the Sword I can say that it is not Guy Ritchie’s worst film. Then again, Ritchie is not a particularly strong filmmaker. The end result is if Ritchie was the surrogate mom to a baby of Gladiator and Willow DNA. That’s King Arthur. Those elephants that are a big part of the advertising are only present in the prologue (shrewd marketing Warner Bros.).

Now the question about continued reboots of timeless stories it’s all about the almighty dollar. More appropriately, the foreign gross, as more than two-thirds of a U.S. release profits are made from international ticket sales. (For instance, Kong: Skull Island made $166 million U.S. and almost $400 million internationally.)

There’s clearly an audience for these films but the size is dwindling. Disney’s John Carter should have been the start of a major franchise for the studio and yet fizzled. The source material has a lasting legacy, inspiring everyone from H.G. Welles to James Cameron, and yet audiences didn’t gravitate to the space opera.

Godzilla (2014) is no Godzilla (1954), but at least it was an improvement over Roland Emmerich’s 1998 version starring Ferris Bueller, right?

Peter Jackson’s King Kong (2005) was more of a tribute to the 1933 original than try to be a modern update (a la the 1976 release). The recent The Legend of Tarzan, I freely admit, was better than expected, and one I missed during its theatrical run. The Mask of Zorro with Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta-Jones is a great action-adventure spectacle that would be ruined with the let’s-add-a-kid-as-a-secondary-character sequel (see also The Mummy Returns).

We shall see how Jonás Cuarón (son of filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón) does with Z starring Gael Garcia Bernal as the legendary hero in black.

I tend to gravitate to original projects and small distributors (seriously, A24 is where it’s at!), but I also understand that studios would rather play it safe with a remake, reboot, or retread than invest a huge sum with an original idea. The safe approach may be what’s best for business (if audiences keep buying it, studios will keep making it), but that doesn’t mean I have to accept it.

John Cavanagh

My most anticipated movie of the summer is War for the Planet of the Apes, a sequel to a reboot. So long as they’re done right, breathing new life into old properties can really help add some diversity to a release calendar becoming more and more indistinguishable from the last.

Skull Island was a release I had a lot of fun watching this year because it was such a refreshingly entertaining B-movie adventure flick. Both the first Sherlock Holmes film and Ritchie’s spin on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. were both enjoyable studio blockbusters in my opinion. Nothing fancy, they weren’t films you run out ready to tell the world about, simply satisfying experiences at the movies.

Having said that, the trend in Hollywood of plundering the public domain hasn’t exactly done them much good lately. Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood flopped with critics, Pan was one of the biggest bombs in history, and surprise surprise, 3D wasn’t enough to woo audiences into seeing a Paul W.S. Anderson directed Three Musketeers. Jack the Giant Slayer was a modestly entertaining feature, and I don’t know anyone who went out of their way to see the new Tarzan. Dracula Untold was another franchise hopeful that failed to find an audience. The list goes on and on, with very few highlights.

It would be nice to see an entertaining new take on the King Arthur story buck the trend, but mostly in the selfish hopes that it might mean a studio (Dreamworks?) will finally dust off Brian K. Vaughn’s Roundtable and fast track it into production. A man can dream.

Travis Leamons

You bring up a good point about Planet of the Apes, as Fox tried in the early 2000s with Tim Burton and Mark Wahlberg and that didn’t work. Same with Bryan Singer leaving X-Men for Superman Returns.

The less said about Fantastic Four the better. As opposed to Power Rangers which was a hit going with the The Breakfast Club with superpowers vibe.

I’m hopefully optimistic about Blade Runner 2049 on account of filmmaker Denis Villenueve.

I also cringe at the thought of remakes to Big Trouble in Little China (Dwayne Johnson’s charisma be damned!), Escape from New York (though I like the idea of Emily Blunt as Snake), and The Crow (a property that seems as cursed as Terry Gilliam’s Don Quixote). And I have no idea what Universal is looking to accomplish with The Mummy with Tom Cruise.

John Cavanagh

Im so lucky to have a brain that watches my back and refuses to commit the existence of Button’s Apes to long term memory. Life is just better that way.

One of my absolute favorite films of last year was Adam and Aaron Nee’s Band of Robbers, which was just a pitch perfect way of taking old characters (Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn) and bringing them into the modern day with a high level of reverence for the source material. Not too long ago, we also got the awesome Raimi-inspired fairytale mashup of Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, containing an out of left fiend level of cheese and gore that caught most audiences and critics off guard. Easy A was a pretty obvious riff on The Scarlett Letter. The BBC mini series Jekyll from 2007 is another solid entry in modern retellings of a classic.

I also feel like we should address The Henson Company’s various dealings in the topic with A Christmas Carol, Treasure Island and Wizard of Oz all getting the feltified treatment by the workshop. I would gladly watch another riff on a royalty free story featuring The Muppets — like The Odyssey! — any day of the week. Even better, have them in their own muppet version of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and I’ll be there opening night!