Posts Tagged ‘Sequels’

This Time, It’s Personal: The Tragedy of the Sequel (Spoiler Alert Like Crazy)

March 19, 2009

X-Men, Pirates of the Caribbean, National Treasure, Shrek, Sister Act, Rocky, The Terminator, The Fast and the Furious, The Grudge, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, Ocean’s Eleven, Cinderella, Aladdin, Bambi, Spiderman, Batman Begins, Transformers, Rush Hour, Shanghai Noon… The list goes on.

You’re probably aware already of what list this would be of, but I’m going to tell you anyway. Movies that had sequels. To the best of my knowledge, none of these movies had sequels in the works when they premiered. But Hollywood, being so starved for the initiative to formulate an original idea into a full-blown motion picture experience, has gone many, many times down memory lane, taking movies that did well in the box office and making a sequel.

Now, I’ve found that this tends to be the case with most Hollywood sequels: The original movie is worth seeing in theaters, possibly more than once. The sequel isn’t usually quite as good, so you might see it in theaters once, but it would be safer to wait for it to come out on DVD. And if they make a “threequel,” then my only recommendation, in most cases, is that you rent it once after it comes out on DVD.

And why, if I would only recommend renting the third movie in one of these impromptu series, should you see it even the once? Because, my dear reader, to a degree beyond that of the second movie, the third movie offers the viewer resolution of the story. The most unfortunate part of these movie series, no matter how well it started, is the end of the second movie. More often than not, anymore, it seems that filmmakers expect the popularity of the first movie to carry them as far as they care to go, so they have a tendency to end the second movie with a bit of a cliffhanger. A little bait to keep the viewers hooked for a tertiary film. That isn’t to say that no first movie is guilty of this. I mean, I fully expected Spiderman 2 when Peter Parker walked away from Mary Jane.

I should clarify that I am not against the idea of a film trilogy, so before all the George Lucas fans out there start in on me, I’m not against trilogies. I’m against the practice of using a trilogy as a marketing ploy. (Well, to be fair, I’m not a huge fan of the Episode I, II, and III trilogy, but that has more to do with Hayden Christensen having approximately the acting talent of a drowned hamster than with the trilogy thing.)

That actually brings me to my next problem with movie series of today. There seems to be an increasing trend toward making prequels. For the record, these are movies that include new characters for the sole purpose of explaining things we were already meant to know from the original movie.

It scares me that Hollywood thinks they can milk one good box office receipt all the way to three good box office receipts. Though, admittedly, it scares me far more that on many, many occasions, they appear to be correct in that assumption.

I feel sorry for the actors in these film series, too. I mean, playing the same character in three or more movies really pigeon-holds an actor into that role. Take Harry Potter, for instance. To clarify, the Harry Potter series only fits in this part of this post. It was originally meant to be a series, regardless of box office gross. But, it remains that no one who has seen the Harry Potter Series will ever be able to see Alan Rickman or Daniel Radcliffe in anything else without thinking of Professor Snape or Harry Potter, respectively. Go ahead, watch the Harry Potter series, then watch Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and see if you don’t see Ol’ Sweeney putting Severus Snape in the chair.

The one genre that successfully pulls off endless strings of unlikely sequels is horror. Let’s be honest, now. watching Jason or Michael carve up the hottest girl in the movie just doesn’t get old.

That’s all for now

Sir Odd