By: Rachel Stewart
February 1, the third episode of the newly revived The X-Files airs. It’s part of the six episode “mini-reboot” of the original show, where we follow the same classic team of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, along with some other familiar faces such as The Cigarette Smoking Man and Agent Skinner, as they try to uncover government conspiracies and solve “monster of the week” cases. As someone who is a fan of this series, and almost was named “Fox” if I had been born a boy, when I heard about this reboot I was ecstatic, and luckily, so far, it has met my approval.
The X-Files is hardly the first TV show or movie to have a reboot recently. It seems that there’s been an explosion of them, such as Full House coming back as Fuller House, Boy Meets World returning with Girl Meets World, and Ghostbusters rebooting with the same name, but a new, all-female cast. Reboots always seem to get a mixed opinion when the news of their release is made public. Some viewers of the original are incredibly eager, starving for anything new from that fictional world, while others are “purists,” and believe that the original series is special and shouldn’t be messed with. Then there are those like me, who no matter if I’m a fan of the original series or not, I always wonder one thing: why are the creators bringing it back at all?
Is it purely for the money, is it because of a lack of originality and laziness in the creative industry, is it because of a creative team’s pure love for a series, or, more likely, is it a heavy dose of all three?
There are some shows and franchises that reboot mainly for the money, and for lack of originality, sure. An example for this, in my opinion, can be seen in the fairly recent movie, Jurassic World, a “reboot/new installment” in the Jurassic Park cinematic franchise. That franchise has been seen as a “classic” series of movies, and are very well-loved by the general public. Chris Pratt, star of the movie, had also just received his big “action-movie break” after the very successful Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Put those two things together and you’ve got an already popular figure to attach to an already popular series that is almost guaranteed to bring in the dough, which it most definitely did. As of now, Jurassic World is the fourth-highest grossing movie of all time, with $1.670 billion in box office sales. However, quantity of dollars does not equate to quality of movie. As someone who has seen the original movies, I didn’t particularly like this installment, and I’m convinced that the only reason it did so well was because it was part of the franchise and had Chris Pratt in it. It wasn’t terrible, but to me it just seemed like an average action movie with poor characterization, especially of the female lead, lazy plot recycling, with some nostalgic scenes thrown in to make us remember that we’re watching an installment of the “Jurassic” series, which it truly doesn’t feel like it’s a part of. It doesn’t feel connected to any of the other movies, and I feel like it’s only true purpose was to make easy money.
However, on the flip side of the coin, making a movie because it is known it will make money can be done well. Specifically, I’m thinking of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Star Wars is a household name almost all around the world; it’s something that has continued to define pop culture, and set standards for all other space operas to live up to. No matter what this movie was about, it was going to bring in sales because of its name, which it did, $1.983 billion to be exact, which lands it one step above Jurassic World, as the third-highest grossing movie of all time. Now, Jurassic World and Star Wars: The Force Awakens are two movies that I believe were mainly made with the known fact that they were going to make money, but while Jurassic World, in my opinion, didn’t do its predecessors justice, I think Star Wars did this right. They knew they were going to make money with this movie, so they took advantage of that and included things the other moves did not do: they increased the diversity of their cast, added depth and complexity to the main villain, and kept increasing the quality of the visual effects. Along with that, they kept elements that are signature to the franchise: old characters we know and love, a nostalgic opening sequence, the score, portraying a “simple” battle of “the light vs. the dark” as anything but simple, and the overall feel of a grand adventure in space. The plot had enough in it to tie it back with the older movies in the series, but it also laid enough groundwork for the new story by getting us invested in the new characters before introducing the familiar faces from the past.
Just because a reboot happens for the money, or for lack of originality, it doesn’t always mean the new installment will be bad. Sometimes it will be, and sometimes it won’t. As always, I stay skeptical of them, because in my opinion it’s better to have your expectations surpassed than not having them met at all.