Let’s start by saying that yes, these can be one and the same thing, but a lot of people will end up thinking of a continuation as a sequel, while a reboot might be the same story, but told in a different manner with different actors representing familiar characters. The reboot craze has been around for a while and it’s not likely to go anywhere since people have shown that they’re ultimately willing to pay for each new movie and new look at an old story. Despite what the box office would say, reboots are not quite as solid as many people want to think since the reason that anyone would say anything against them is due in part to familiarity with the source material that a reboot derives its story from, while a continuation, or sequel that’s preferred, draws off the source material directly, as it ‘continues’ the story in a manner that people recognize and have become comfortable with. While a reboot is a new and possibly exciting look at something that people know a little about, it is also a huge investment to ask of anyone.
The type of investment that many people put into their favorite stories is highly emotional and in a lot of cases intellectual since they understand and care about the stories they know and have had in their lives since their youth or at least long enough to know that they do care about the overall tale. A reboot is a rather big request by filmmakers and producers alike for the audience to forget at least a part of what they know about the story to focus on what they’ll be giving the audience by way of a new and exciting look at the same material. Star Wars is a good example since from the original trilogy to the prequels, there was a pretty big transition since there was simply more of everything that ended up being ridiculed and hated for a while until the most recent trilogy came along and rebooted just about everything under the guise of a continuation.
Reboots are essentially like a glitch in The Matrix, where the story is basically the same but will be altered to favor a new storyline that will take place and thereby change things up in a way that the audience will hope to anticipate but won’t fully expect. A continuation can be a surprise as well, but sequels have such a horrible track record in Hollywood that their ability to surprise people tends to lower with each new sequel that comes out since the ‘wow’ factor has to increase almost exponentially in order to keep people watching. On the other hand, reboots can do this without as much effort, but there are times when one can easily assume that this quality makes a few filmmakers a bit negligent when it comes to what they end up creating. There have been good reboots and there have been godawful ones as well, and the truth is that no matter how good or bad they are, the audience will generally be the deciding factor as to whether the movies work or if they’re nothing but garbage that should have been tossed out rather than released to the public.
Both continuations and reboots have their own share of issues since the truth about both is that there are times when they might be needed, and times when it’s best to leave the movie they’re attached to alone. The downside is that with every fresh perspective it becomes difficult to tell when one movie should be left as it is or if there’s room enough to make another movie and create something that people will actually enjoy. For instance, the mere idea of Gladiator 2 as Ridley Scott has been talking about appears to make little to no sense despite his desire to see the movie made, but a lot of people are questioning just why it would even be a thought, to begin with. Not only does it feel that it would minimize the death of Maximus at the end, but it’s hard to see the point of the movie being made in the first place. It’s difficult to say that reboots aren’t needed or wanted and continuations are sometimes, but at the end of the day, every story is valid until it isn’t, but continuations have the advantage of something solid to lean on, while reboots are the wanderers that have to make do on their own. There are a lot of reasons why sequels, maligned as they are, still sound like a better idea than reboots, but one that comes to mind at the moment is the fact that sequels can outdo reboots so long as the filmmaker finds a new and exciting path to tread that still connects to the main story in some manner.