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07/01/14

Role played: Recreating the magic of movie characters rarely works

Eddie Murphy is reprising his role as Axel Foley from the lauded and loved "Beverly Hills Cop" franchise with a new movie that is slated to be released in 2016.
Let the anticipation and jokes begin.
Plenty of fans and critics alike certainly will be waiting patiently and with great angst and excitement for Murphy to bring the Foley character back to life for a fourth movie installment under the "Beverly Hills Cop" namesake.
But along with the segment of the population that is pumped to see Foley and "Beverly Hills Cop" back in the theaters, you'll always have the naysayers and detractors who believe that Murphy is just attempting to resurrect his career and pad his wallet in the same breath.
It's hard to argue against that point, particularly when you feast your eyes on what was a horrendously campy and dialed "Beverly Hills Cop III." The movie franchise made its mark by being edgy, raw and filled with "R" rated material. The third movie took place at an amusement park, but no one was laughing at any of the lame jokes throughout.

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You have to hope that the fourth movie goes back to the roots of the original movie, and that Murphy is perfectly fine with ditching a kid friendly persona (i.e. Shrek, Dr. Doolittle, etc.) and actually is interested in making a movie that might make waves.
For Murphy, the move could be seen by many as desperation personified. He's had a few decent endeavors at the theater, but mostly his movie career is a shell of what it once was. As successful as Murphy has been in his career, he's also known for so world class flops of epic proportions.
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That's why the idea of Murphy donning his Axel Foley garb might be a little tougher sell than you'd believe. That sentiment rings true regardless of whether you're Murphy trying to magically make Axel Foley relevant again or if Mike Myers decided next year that Austin Powers is ready to come out of super spy retirement.
Bringing back iconic characters, especially ones that haven't been seen in more than a decade, is a risk that most movie studios are ready to take but also one that is riskier than you'd believe. Generations that enjoyed the likes of Foley or Powers have grown up and perhaps out of loving what both characters had to offer. Once the opening weekend comes and goes, and general interest and being curious wanes, the movie ultimately has to stand up as being quality, funny and not a retread of earlier movie incarnations.
Whether you're producing a sequel two years after the original or, like Star Wars, are trying to "reboot" a franchise after being dormant for several years, the built in fan base undoubtedly will come out in droves but whether the movie is worth seeing remains debatable. "The Phantom Menace" made hundreds of millions of dollars, but the finished product pales in comparison to the original three movies.
Murphy's Foley character hardly is Darth Vader as far as popularity and audiences are concerned, so "Beverly Hills Cop IV" had better be a film that is rooted in what made the original great and lively. Otherwise, it will be yet another failed attempt at bringing back a character that was better left dead.

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