published Monday, June 1st, 2009

Retro Redux

Landmark ’80s franchises are being reimagined as modern movies

Audio clip

Kevin Jackson

Even if acid wash jeans and shoulder pads haven’t made a comeback, in Hollywood at least, the ’80s are in vogue.

Hot on the heels of John Rambo and Indiana Jones, who returned to the silver screen last year, the sequel to the 2007 film treatment of “Transformers” will hit theaters later this month. “G.I. Joe” will receive a similar treatment later this summer.

Locals fans of these series said revisiting a classic franchise can work, but only if the remake stays true to the original’s spirit.

Article: Remembering characters from the 80s

“Transformers 2”

June 24

* Franchise debut: 1984 as a cartoon series/comic book/action figure line.

* Originally starring: Peter Cullen and Frank Welker.

* Now starring: Peter Cullen, Hugo Weaving, Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox.

* Major changes: Computer-generated/live action.

“G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”

August 7

* Franchise debut: 1964 as an action figure, 1967 as a comic, 1985 as a cartoon series.

* Originally starring: Chris Latta, Michael Bell.

* Now starring: Dennis Quaid, Channing Tatum and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

* Major changes: Live action.

“H2 (Halloween 2)”

August 28

* Franchise debut: “Halloween” debuted in 1978. The sequel, which this film is a remake of, was released in 1981.

* Originally starring: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis and Dick Warlock.

* Now starring: Malcolm McDowell, Scout Taylor-Compton and Tyler Mane.

“Fame”

September 25

* Franchise debut: 1980.

* Originally starring: Irene Cara, Debbie Allen, Maureen Teefy, Gene Anthony Ray, Lee Curreri, Laura Dean, Paul McCrane, Barry Miller and Antonia Franceschi.

* Now starring: Paul McGill, Paul Iacono, Debbie Allen, Kelsey Grammer, Charles S. Dutton, Kay Panabaker and Megan Mullally.

* Major changes: Entirely new cast of characters.

“Astro Boy”

October 23

* Franchise debut: 1952 as a Japanese comic book. 1982 as a U.S. cartoon series.

* Originally starring: Billie Lou Watt, Ray Owens and Gilbert Mack.

* Now starring: Freddie Highmore, Eugene Levy, Kristen Bell, Nicolas Cage, Bill Nighy and Donald Sutherland.

* Major changes: Computer generated.

“Clash of the Titans”

March 26, 2010

* Franchise debut: 1981

* Originally starring: Laurence Olivier, Claire Bloom, Jack Gwillim and Harry Hamlin.

* Now starring: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and Alexa Davalos.

“Nightmare on Elm Street”

April 16, 2010

* Franchise debut: 1984

* Originally starring: Robert Englund, John Saxon, Heather Langenkamp and Johnny Depp.

* Now starring: Jackie Earle Haley, Rooney Mara, Kyle Gallner and Katie Cassidy.

“Kung Fu Kid” (“Karate Kid” remake)

June 11, 2010

* Franchise debut: 1984

* Originally starring: Ralph Macchio and Noriyuki “Pat” Morita.

* Now starring: Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith.

* Major changes: Takes place in China instead of America.

“The A-Team”

June 11, 2010

* Franchise debut: 1983

* Originally starring: Mr. T, George Peppard, Dirk Benedict and Dwight Schultz.

* Now starring: Casting isn’t confirmed yet, but Bruce Willis and Ice Cube are rumored.

* Major changes: Members are veterans of a Middle East conflict, not the Vietnam War.

“Footloose”

June 18, 2010

* Franchise debut: 1984.

* Originally starring: Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, John Lithgow, Chris Penn, Dianne Wiest and Sarah Jessica Parker.

* Now starring: Casting isn’t complete, but Chace Crawford is confirmed, and Miley Cyrus is rumored.

“Red Dawn”

September 24, 2010

* Franchise debut: 1984.

* Originally starring: Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson, Jennifer Grey and Charlie Sheen.

* Now starring: Casting incomplete, but Chris Hemsworth is confirmed.

* Major changes: Story modernized from the original’s setting during the Cold War.

MORE FILMS

Although they haven’t been dated yet and details are still scarce, online forums are buzzing with hints at a number of remakes scheduled for the next two years. Each title is listed with it’s estimated release date and the year of the franchise’s debut.

* “The Thing” — 2010 (1982)

* “Short Circuit” — 2010 (1986)

* “Conan” — 2010 (1982)

* “The Last Starfighter” — 2010 (1984)

* “Dune” — 2010 (1984)

* “Meatballs” — 2010 (1979)

* “RoboCop” — 2010 (1987)

* “21 Jump Street” — 2010 (series debuted in 1987)

* “Thundercats” — 2010 (series debuted in 1985)

* “Beverly Hills Cop IV” — 2010 (1984)

* “Labyrinth” — 2010 (1986)

* “Poltergeist” — 2011 (1982)

* “Tron 2.0” — 2011 (1982)

* “Hellraiser” — 2011 (1987)

* “Magnum P.I.” — 2011 (series debuted in 1980)

* “Fraggle Rock: The Movie” — 2011 (series debuted in 1983)

* “The Power of Dark Crystal” — 2011 (1982)

* “Grayskull (He-Man movie)” — 2011 (series debuted in 1983)

* “CHiPs” — 2011 (series debuted in 1977)

* “Lethal Weapon 5” — 2012 (1987)

* “Knight Rider” — 2012 (series debuted in 1982)

* “The Neverending Story” — 2012 (1984)

* “Ghostbusters III” — 2012 (1984)

* “Flight of the Navigator” — undated (1986)

The first “Transformers” movie was a disappointment because it changed too much, said Joey Fils, 29.

“I was disappointed,” Mr. Fils said of the first movie. “I felt like they destroyed the original.”

With the benefit of modern technology, however, some franchises finally can be realized the way their creators intended, local fans said.

The recent “Star Trek” remake is a good example of a remake done right, said Kevin Jackson, 32.

“I have a feeling that part of what was in that movie was what Gene Roddenberry had in mind but didn’t have the technology to accomplish back in the ’60s,” Mr. Jackson said.

“Transformers” and “G.I. Joe” are just the start. Many other classic franchises are being revisited in the coming months.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, young adults, technology and people of interest. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German. He previously worked as the features editor for Sidelines at Middle Tennessee State University. Casey received the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists Award of Excellence for Reviewing/Criticism in ...

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