Anderton Schultz looked back at Kent, his eyes wild. One of the contact lenses had slipped, with blue appearing like an eclipsed moon from behind the blood red. The latex appliances were coming off in spots, and hadn’t really been applied properly in the first place.

“Think about what you’re doing!” Kent cried. “You’re not well, Andy!”

“Cast the warm-bloods into the Caverns of Ice!” growled Schultz. “Cast the warm-bloods into the Caverns of Ice!”

“Stop saying that stupid line!” Kent snapped despite himself. “Andy, for shit’s sake, snap out of it!”

Even if Schultz’s hatred toward Kent hadn’t been laser-sharp and incandescent, he wouldn’t have heard a word. The movie had been made in 1990, and he’d been buried under makeup, but in light of his recent reversals, Schultz had realized that after fighting it for so long, it was time for an embrace.

With a gutteral growl, Schultz hefted Kent up over his head with both hands, using the strength that he’d used often in doing his own stunts. Upon seeing the inky abyss before him, concealing the canyon floor 100 feet down, Kent’s wheedling abruptly turned into frenzied, infantile shrieks.

“Cast…the warm-bloods…into..the Caverns of Ice!”

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The editor put out a cigarette in the ashtray. “Yeah. Sixteen weeks at number one, and a sold-out tour. Starlet’s on the up before the inevitable bullet train to the bottom and tabloid punch lines. Every performance, every song, every goddamn tweet devoted to this guy of hers, who’s so private none of the paparazzi can get a shot of him.”

“More or less what I was told,” Ransom said. “Your man in LA said as much.”

“He also said that you had something for me,” the editor said, lighting another Parliament.

“Yeah,” said Ransom. “I’ve looked and poked and prodded, and there’s no record of anybody by his name, anywhere, ever. The starlet’s muse? He doesn’t exist. He’s a delusion…a hallucination.

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Anderton Schultz had worked his way up in the entertainment industry the old-fashioned way: through hard work and dedicated, scene-stealing supporting performances. Schultz wasn’t a vain man, but there was a measure of deep satisfaction in dropping a mention of his Oscar nomination into conversation with people who’d insisted he was too short or too homely for a successful career in pictures. It had been gratifying, working his way up from “what’s his name” to “that guy” to “that guy from Summers With Charles” “Hey, it’s Andy Schultz!”

Being recognized on the street at least some of the time had its perks, to be sure.

But there was always that guy, that one guy, who’d bring a copy of the 1990 remake of The Lizard Men for Schultz to sign.

It was a trashy movie; he’d spent the entire thing under a mound of Rick Baker latex prostheses. But it had a cult following, as did the campy 1969 original. No matter how many Oscar nominations there were, there’d always be his latex-smeared face leering from a DVD cover and fans snarling his character’s most “memorable” line at him:

“Cast the warm-bloods into the Caverns of Ice!”

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Hollywood loves its trends. From 3D circa 1955 (or 1983 or 2009) to westerns, slasher flicks to torture porn, gritty urban thrillers to disposable-tissue romcoms, moviemakers love molds into which they can pour resources for guaranteed returns. The latest trend is the so-called “reboot” which likens the creative endeavor to pushing the power button on an iMac.

We’ve seen this sort of thing before; remakes have been a part of cinema for decades (lest we forget, The Maltese Falcon was the second adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s novel). It’s entirely possible for a remake to equal or eclipse the original (as with Infernal Affairs and The Departed). It’s also possible, as during the remake glut of the early 1990s, that the result will be as creatively bankrupt as any other formula.

So why single out reboots? And what, if anything, separates them from a simple remake? First and foremost is the matter of time. The Maltese Falcon (1941) was made a decade after The Maltese Falcon (1931) (I’m ignoring Satan Met a Lady [1936] here, largely because it was such a loose adaptation). Ocean’s 11 (2001) followed Ocean’s 11 (1968) by 41 years. Of course anyone who looks can find plenty of exceptions like the aforementioned Infernal Affairs (2002) and The Departed (2006) with only a 4-year gap.

The second crucial element is that the reboot should be part of a franchise or intended franchise. Batman (1989) had 3 sequels over 8 years when it was rebooted; there were 20 official James Bond films over 40 years (1962-2002) before Casino Royale (2006). The Incredible Hulk (2006) reboots Hulk (2003) since the latter was intended to start a series; Eric Bana signed on for three films at the outset.

With that out of the way, what’s to hate about reboots? Plenty.

The most disappointing thing about reboots, in my opinion, is that they seem to have inspired people to really, meanspiritedly bash the originals. It’s as if the only way many people can enjoy the reboot is to convince themselves that the original was a piece of crap, which is sad if you happen to like any part of that original. Look at how the (for the time) highly original elements of Burton’s Batman were denigrated: Jack Nicholson’s gleefully over-the-top Joker was slammed as a “creepy old uncle,” Danny Elfman’s dark, iconic score was suddenly too “jolly,” and the entire production too “lighthearted” or “unrealistic.” The fact that both the original and the reboot might have their own merits proves to be too much doublethink for most people to handle. What you said is all too true. Listen to people’s comments about Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man series versus the 2012 reboot: it’s as if the 2002, 2004, and 2007 films and their stars were universally panned at the time when at least the first two were stunning critical and commercial successes. That’s what reboots do: they create dark alternate realities a la Back to the Future II where the previous movies were all terrible despite Tomatometer scores north of 80%. It’s hard to embrace even the best of reboots, like the Nolan Batman movies, when they subtly insist that the old movies were terrible and should be forgotten.

There’s also the formula aspect: reboots must be “darker, grittier, angstier” than the original. The model for this is the admittedly excellent Batman Begins, which managed to do this despite the original Batman being pretty damn dark, gritty, and angsty to begin with. You can see the formula at work in The Amazing Spider-Man, which gives its hero a tragic past with parental issues (like Batman Begins), regurgitates an origin story that was covered previously (like Batman Begins), and includes a villain that was never utilized in the original films (like Batman Begins). Throw in some Twilight-inspired casting choices and a bunch of big names in supporting roles (like Batman Begins) and the formula is complete.

The gap between remake and reboot is shrinking as well. It took 33 years to reboot Planet of the Apes the first time but only 10 to reboot it the second. Batman Begins was made 8 years after Batman & Robin and 16 years after Batman, but The Incredible Hulk followed Hulk by 5 years, the same as Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man. James Bond got only 4 years between Die Another Day (admittedly not the finest hour for the franchise) and Casino Royale. It’s getting to the point where a reboot of any franchise, with both the promise of new box office dollars and those of potential sequels, is on the table no matter how recently or how well the last movies were made. How long before Warner Brothers reboots Batman now that Nolan is done with him? The Amazing Batman starring Robert Pattinson as Batman and Kristen Stewart as Catwoman could be hitting screens as soon as 2016!

Finally, in most cases, rebooting is excessive. Why not just recast? Casino Royale is an excellent film, but did it really need to take 40 years of franchise history to the curb just to make Bond darker, grittier, and angstier? Brosnan and Dalton were both praised for bringing those same attributes to the series in 1987 and 1995 but neither necessitated a reboot; the producers just ignored or minimized aspects of the series they didn’t like. In fact, editing a few minutes out of Casino Royale would leave it pretty firmly in continuity with the earlier film (the same can be said about The Incredible Hulk).

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The film was rubbish, to be sure, but nevertheless had offered Geraldstein a broad canvas. He’d written several long-lined cues for the battle sequences, basing them on a pair of contrasting themes: an oboe-led five-note phrase for the heroes and snarling brass sixteenth notes for the villains. There was a tacked-on romantic subplot as well, so Geraldstein wrote a string love theme that was interpolated into many of the action sequences, taken up by brass or woodwinds depending on which side possessed the utterly helpless heroine, football-like, at any given time.

Of course, in that era of CGI, Geraldstein had worked mostly from storyboards and a print with green screen where major special effects would still be added. The director and producers demanded daily updates, as well, so the orchestrators converted whatever DAT tapes were finished at the end of each session on the scoring stage to CD and mailed them across the lot to the admin offices. In retrospect, the comments that came back–“scale it back,” “less noise,” “too old-fashioned”–should have been warning signs.

Then, one day, Geraldstein and his orchestrators had arrived for a scoring session to find the orchestra already warming up, with Calvin Zukovsky conducting it. Geraldstein liked Zukovsky; the boy was classically trained and had apprenticed under Konstantin at MGM. But he had a tendency to cave into whatever the producers wanted for a film, musically, and had been typecast in urban thrillers and romantic comedies as a result. He was apologetic to a fault, even offering to take Geraldstein to dinner, but the message was loud and clear.

His music had been rejected from the picture because it didn’t match a focus group’s impression for a movie starring a rapper, and Zukovsky had been brought in to give it a “contemporary” sound.

High Road from Khartoum was a classic larger-than-life adventure tale, one of the great Paramount Technicolor epics from the 50’s. Richard Burton and Rock Hudson had headlined a star-studded cast as British refugees fleeing the Seige of Khartoum during the Mahdist Uprising. It was really nothing more than an elaborate adaptation of Mason’s The Four Feathers with modifications to keep from paying royalties and rewritten to appeal to a postwar audience, but the film had influenced countless others with aspects of the final charge scene in particular appropriated by everything from Zulu to Star Wars.

And Collstein wanted a new adaptation on his desk by Monday. In the old days they might have called it a “remake” or a “re-imagining,” but he called it a “reboot,” that detestable buzzword that implied sweeping away decades of cinematic history was as easy as turning over an old Presario.

I glanced wearily over the producers’ notes. They insisted that the time frame be updated to the present day, that the suicidal charge be modified into a triumphant victory, that the two-dozen pursuers be upgraded to a massive (CGI) army. The Richard Burton character, a retired Army captain, was to be rewritten as a wisecracking photojournalist so the role could be played by a popular rapper who’d lobbied for the part. I was required to work at least of his songs into the film in a diagetic manner. The Rock Hudson part, perhaps appropriately, was to be female and written for the latest pretty young thing to come out of Australia (covering her native accent, of course). There was also a detailed combat requirement: three major firefights, two airstrikes, and a body count of at least 100. I was given leave to use the “f-word” exactly once to guarantee a PG-13.

“There isn’t enough coffee in the world,” I sighed.

“Here’s the pitches we’ve got in fast-track right now,” Scuttler said. “All high-concept, all drawing on aspects of IP’s which test off the chart and are in the public domain along with proven crowd-pleasing updates fresh off the presses.”

Leighton looked at the sheaf of papers spread across his desk. “So all I need to do is choose one and write a script?”

“That’s right,” Scuttler said. “It might have to go to a doctor, of course, but you get screen credit and a paycheck and we get a nice juicy literary name attached to the script. Like Faulkner and The Big Sleep, though if you come up with a murder mystery it should probably be within the context of an intergalactic war or something.”

Leighton had a momentary and horrifying vision of his name, computer-animated, whooshing by a viewer wearing 3D glasses. “Pitch them, then,” he signed.

“Shakespeare’s Hamlet with biotechnology!” crowed Scuttler. “Biotech is hot and ask Disney, Shakespeare ripoffs never get old.”

“They never get old, they just fade away until a second-grader wonders why old Bill cribbed from the Lion King,” Leighton thought.

“Coleridge Rime of the Ancient Mariner re-imagined in a post-apocalyptic setting with faster-than-light travel instead of ships! We think the albatross around the neck could be some kind of squid alien.”

“There may be a sucker born every minute, but most don’t wind up around your neck,” Leighton said to himself. He nodded as if interested.

“Stevenson’s Treasure Island as a disaster pic!” Scuttler continued. “The treasure is the key to stopping the earth’s tectonic places from sinking.”