Have you ever watched a movie or TV show, read a book or even played a video game that you felt like you have seen before? I am not speaking of a parody of work, but rather saying that most works are not exactly original. They seem to have an original story, but the book, movie, show or game could actually be gleaning influence from real life or another form of media. An example would be 1993’s “Groundhog Day” and 2013’s “Happy Death Day”. The respective stories of each movie revolve around the same idea: the protagonist is stuck in a time loop and they have to do something to have them continue. However, the only difference is that, in “Groundhog Day”, Bill Murray’s character, Phil Conners, must change his ways to stop his loop while “Happy Death Day”’s protagonist, Theresa “Tree” Gelbman, must find out who is her killer on her birthday and relives the same day again.
While there may be a touch of difference between the two films, the concept of a protagonist reliving the same day forever unless they do something to have them return to reality render these movies disappointingly similar. The similar idea is seen in these movies, but the executions are different.
As stated before, the only way to make a product different from the original source is for the creator to make it their own. Since video games are a product of a collective rather than spearheaded by someone in particular, most video games can fall victim to appearing the same. A good example would be shooter-type games. If one were to boil down the “Call of Duty” and “Battlefield” series, they would find they have the same premise: play as a soldier that takes place during a war, shoot the enemies, complete certain objectives and beat the game. Even the multiplayer aspects of any shooter genre are roughly the same, whether they be in first person or third.
The only way to make these series stand out from each other would be their story and gameplay. One game could have different gameplay aspects such a health bar and quick time events while the other could just be a multiplayer game that has no single player mode. As long as a game or a movie is not a carbon copy of another, the product will be somewhat original—even if it comes from the same idea.
The idea of a protagonist going out to defeat the antagonist and finally receive a reward or satisfaction is nothing new. In fact, these are rather updated stories from ancient times, such as in Greek legends where heroes like Perseus, Jason and Odysseus faced with a conflict they must resolve. With every story, they have been retold in various ways from books to the silver screen itself. The movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” starring George Clooney, is based around the ancient story, “The Odyssey”. Both versions have the protagonist go through trial and error in order to to return their wife—the difference being the film takes place during the Great Depression and the monsters are replaced with humans that fulfil the same role; not exactly an original story, but rather a revision of the ancient one. Many other old stories have been influenced, revised or even paid homage to in the modern day cinema. Sometimes they are done well and are remembered as classics, while others that are not entirely original flop harder than a fish on land.
The idea of remaking a story is not inherently a bad idea. However, as of late, there seems to be an abundance of remakes of film, shows and video games for the past 20 years. From the many reboots of “Star Trek” to the recreation of the “Tomb Raider” franchise, there have been few new ideas. If there were, they are either hidden in obscurity or had outright failed on their opening day.
Sometimes bringing back an old favorite is questionable. An example of this would be the animated show “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and its live-action film adaptation, “The Last Airbender”. Why in the world would a gem of animation be made into a film in the first place? Now, this show is going to be remade into a live-action series on Netflix. It is possible that this new show could be better, or at least good. But is it likely? That remains to be seen when it is released.
Overall, the stories that have been made for the past few decades are not entirely original. They have the influence of an ancient story or a derivatization of one from only a decade ago.
Chris Malampy is a second-year student majoring in English. CM901109@wcupa.edu