They say you can’t go home again. But some filmmakers seem to think they can. 1982 was one of the best years for films. In fact, it was so good that many of the films from that year have been re-released, remade, or sequelized decades after the fact. And very few of those revisits have been able to capture the magic of that year. Whatever it was, it’s gone. Just take a look at some of the amazing films that came out in the summer of 1982 alone!
And there are plenty of other memorable films from 1982, which we’ll go through as we explore the many attempts to recreate the magic of that memorable year.
48 Hrs. was Eddie Murphy’s triumphal entry to blockbuster films, so it was appropriate that he would make his exit from that scene with 1990’s Another 48 Hrs.
It looks like Blade Runner 2049 is going to suffer (or enjoy) the same fate as its predecessor. It’ll most likely underperform at the box office, but it will find new life and appreciation as audiences discover it outside the theater.
Conan the Barbarian
The original Conan the Barbarian is an oddly satisfying sword-and-sorcery flick filled with memorable characters and beautiful music. Oh, and it has a once-in-a-lifetime performance by then-relatively unknown Arnold Schwarzenegger as the titular character. The 2011 remake might have had better special effects, but it doesn’t hold a candle to Schwarzenegger’s tough yet tragic performance.
The Dark Crystal
Other people might prefer Labyrinth, but for me it’s no contest. The Dark Crystal was Jim Henson’s first foray into fantasy films, and it still holds up as a melancholy masterpiece. Someone might eventually make a sequel or a TV show based on it, but I doubt anything will be able to live up to the original.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial epitomizes 1982. Like most of the films on this list, it’s the first and best of its kind, and it made an impact on popular culture that is still felt today. In 1988, Mac and Me attempted to leech off of E.T.’s magic, but it just serves to highlight how easily the story of an alien coming to Earth and befriending a young boy could have gone horribly wrong.
Before John Rambo became an action figure, he was a deeply disturbed war veteran who just wanted to find some kind of absolution and instead just found prejudice and solitude. He came back for one last hurrah in 2008’s John Rambo, but he could never quite match the gut-wrenching gravitas of his debut.
Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior
Mad Max 2 technically debuted in December 1981 in Australia, but it came out in May 1982 in the U.S., and that’s what matters in my book. This is one of the few movies on this list that was actually improved upon years later. Writer/Director George Miller managed to capture lightning in a bottle a second time when he made Mad Max: Fury Road in 2015. So bravo, sir, for actually bringing back a little piece of 1982.
An Officer and a Gentleman
Anyone remember Annapolis? Yeah, me neither. Or Richard Gere, for that matter.
You would think filmmakers would be superstitious enough to stay away from this film after two actresses in it died young. But they plunged ahead anyway with a remake in 2015, and it wasn’t so much terror-inducing as just plain terrible.
The Secret of NIMH
Don Bluth went on to make many other films, several of which are quite good, such as An American Tail, The Land Before Time, and All Dogs Go to Heaven. But he struck gold with The Secret of NIMH, and he never completely recaptured the magic of that first animated film. The 1998 sequel, which Bluth had nothing to do with, is nowhere near the original in artistic quality.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Khan Noonien Singh was a formidable foe for James T. Kirk, so it makes sense that he would be brought back for further adventures once the series was rebooted. And thus, Star Trek Into Darkness was born. Even though it’s a perfectly entertaining film, it’s no Wrath of Khan.
They tried to make a prequel to The Thing in 2011, and they even attempted to use as many practical effects as possible to mimic the first film’s unparalleled creature designs. But in the end, audiences were left cold.
Tron: Legacy came out 27 years after its predecessor, and it was greeted by a great big “Meh.” Beautiful, but lacking something that the original pulled off with effortless charm: heart.
A Year Like No Other
I was actually born in 1982, so it’s a year that has always been near and dear to my heart. Here’s hoping that Blade Runner 2049 is the last attempt to live in the past, and we’ll move on and tell other stories. We will always have the spectacular films of 1982 and the magic that made them what they are.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.