In October 1984, when Back to the Future would’ve been in early-development stages, a producer gave a friendly suggestion to remedy one of the biggest flaws in the project. The script was “terrific”, everything was fine, but that title. Wouldn’t something along the lines of Space Man from Pluto have a smoother flow, make more sense to audiences, and convey what the movie’s actually about much more succinctly?
When all you care about is money, bad things happen. That’s the message of Jurassic World, where greedy theme-park executives hoping to spike attendance engineer the “Indominus Rex,” a genetically-modified dinosaur that immediately turns on its creators and runs amok. Designed as a cautionary tale about the dangers of building a meaner, badder monster purely for the sake of profits, Jurassic World works equally well as a cautionary tale about doing the same thing in movies. All of the rationalizations provided by Jurassic World’s employees — “Consumers want them bigger, louder, more teeth.” “Somebody’s gotta make sure this company has a future!” — could have been taken directly out of the mouths of the studio executives who approved this gene splice of a reboot and a sequel. Their creation — the Indominus or the movie, there’s basically no difference — is as advertised; huge, mean, and visually striking. But this experiment is not without consequences.
When Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg last made a war film, they produced Saving Private Ryan, which was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, and features what’s widely considered one of the greatest battle scenes ever captured on film. They’ve worked together since, including on Catch Me If You Can, one of the best movies of either man’s career, but Bridge of Spies might be considered a kind of spiritual sequel to Ryan. That was Hanks and Spielberg’s World War II picture. This is their Cold War one.
On June 20, 1975 a movie about an angry fish opened in about 500 theaters around the country. It was called Jaws, it was directed a guy named Steven Spielberg, it was scary as hell, and it changed the world forever. Its unique release strategy (wide instead of limited), intense television marketing campaign, and record-breaking box office essentially created the summer movie season (and made Spielberg a household name). 40 years later, regardless of its impact, Jaws remains a masterpiece, and a much better and more interesting movie than the vast majority of so-called summer blockbusters that it birthed.
A lot of your favorite 80s classics have been rebooted or remade into not-so-classics. It's the unfortunate state of the movie business. But, today, we get one back. The proposed ‘Gremlins’ remake, that was on the “fast track” as recently as this past April, may be as dead as a Gremlin in a hot tub.