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Franchise: Theme and reinventions.

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Lois and Clark.
In the San Francisco Chronicle, Peter Hartlaub noses around the long-rumored, now a reality "Rocky 6," aka "Rocky Balboa," then notes that most franchises now follow a neat cycle of steady decline, apparently series-killer, and inevitable "reinvention."

The ability to forget the last flop in a franchise may be the most important skill a modern mainstream moviegoer can possess. With sequels and remakes becoming the norm in Hollywood — there have been more retread films than original concepts in each of the past three summers — audiences are being asked to ignore past atrocities with increased frequency.

The makers of "The Omen," which opens on Tuesday, want you to forget four previous films — including "Omen IV: The Awakening." This summer’s "Superman Returns" reportedly will accept the events of "Superman" and "Superman II," but "Superman III" with Richard Pryor was apparently just a bad dream. Michael Mann‘s new "Miami Vice" movie not only does away with Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas, but also pretends that the colors pink and aqua, Jan Hammer‘s synthesizer music and all those Phil Collins cameos never existed either.

Hartlaub points to the geekdom term "retcon," but the best of this new rash of films (see "Batman Begins") seems to be benefiting from not being concerned with dismal predecessors at all. There may be no new ideas in Hollywood, but we thinks there’s an odd, interesting aspect to the reinterpretation phenomena — as these story-lines become familiar to people outside (particularly in the case of "Superman" and other comic-book interpretations) the original source material fanbase and take their place in the pop culture canon, these back-to-the-beginning stories gather the weight of foreknowledge, a kind of low-rent dramatic irony. So we have, say, the TV series "Smallville," which recasts "Superman" as a teenage soap opera, but still retains an air of weightier tragedy than it probably merits, because we already know that everyone will grow up and go their separate ways and end up heroic, unhappy and/or evil. Speaking of, at the New York Times, Michael Joseph Gross offers a closer (if fairly rosy) look at Bryan Singer‘s take on the series:

As the movie begins, Mr. Singer explained, Clark returns from a mysterious absence to discover that Lois [Lane, played by Kate Bosworth]
has a fiancé and a child. This creates what may be the film’s central
quandary. "Even if you’re the strongest man in the world," Mr. Singer
said, "if the woman you love has found someone else that she’s nearly
married to that’s not a bad guy, how do you figure out what your place
is in that woman’s life?"

He added, "I call it my first chick flick."

And at the Guardian, John Patterson, in typically irritating pseudo-serious fashion, suggests that it’s "The Omen III: The Final Conflict" that’s really primed for a remake.

In "Omen III," Damien has blossomed into a young Sam Neill, and is now head of his family’s industrial conglomerate, which he’s using as a springboard to the presidency – a lot like Halliburton, I guess – the better to bring about the Apocalypse. It’s impressive that in order to achieve this, the devil still has to get elected. Touching to learn of Satan’s abiding faith in democratic institutions.

+ ‘Superman,’ ‘Rocky,’ the rest — you’ve seen them all before. Now pretend you haven’t.  (SF Chronicle)
+ It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s the Man of . . . Feelings! (NY Times)
+ Wrong number of the beast (Guardian)

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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