The Good, the Bad and the Sequel

Written by  //  September 12, 2011  //  Media & Popular Culture, Uncategorized  //  1 Comment

Ah, sequels.  Can’t live with them, can’t live withou… actually, we’re A-okay without them. The Matrix does not have sequels and that’s just fine.  Despite the fact that 90% of the sequels being churned out are dross, why do those Hollywood executives keep green lighting them, you wonder. Did someone not glance through the script of Shrek Forever After? Did someone write the script for Little Fockers and pat themselves on the back for a job well done? Trusty Wikipedia clears up the mystery: So far, of the top ten highest-grossing films this year, do you know how many were sequels?  EIGHT! Are we that gullible? Are we perennial optimists who enter every cinema hall expecting a Judgment Day? Are we surrounded by sheeple? Yes, yes and yes.

So in honour of C20’s anniversary, let’s take a hard look at how our donations to the Hollywood Tropical Island Retirement Fund were spent between August 2010 and August 2011 (and then look forward to throwing away more money when National Treasure 3 releases).

NOTE: Being President of the Milquetoast Society, I do not watch horror/slasher films or their sequels. Was there a particularly scary/bad/silly film? Tell us about it in the comments section.

THE BEST:

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2: At this point in the franchise, they could have filmed Daniel Radcliffe taking a quiet nap for 2 hours and it still would’ve made more money than a small country’s GDP. But I am glad they decided not to go gently into the night. By far the best Harry Potter film (after Cuarón’s Prisoner of Azkaban) and it came so near to being a sappy, tear-jerker. Instead, we were treated to meditative scenes scored with haunting music and then contrasted with gritty montages and that awesome Gringotts scene. I enjoyed myself so thoroughly, that I can look past the very average Battle of Hogwarts and the horrifying epilogue. What an end to a glorious era!

2.  Kung Fu Panda 2: Since Avatar, few films have managed to capture the magic of 3D. Most of the time, you end up watching a REALLY DARK movie with one or two gimmicky scenes to justify the uncomfortable spectacles. DreamWorks on the other hand, surged ahead in the 3D rat race with the gorgeous flight sequences in How to Train Your Dragon, and now with Kung Fu Panda 2. I can’t remember the last time I watched a movie so visually pleasing and actually improved with the 3D experience! And the story is pretty good too– similar to its predecessor, but enough fresh material to keep you entertained.

3. X-Men: First Class: After the execrable mess known as X-Men:The Last Stand and the one we’ve been trying to forget (unsuccessfully), everybody assumed this franchise was dead. Everybody was expecting a halfhearted X-Men: Gambit or a hodge-podge X-Men: Deadpool. Instead, Michael Fassbender came along and Batman Begins-ed the hell out of the series. I vaguely remember some sort of exciting Cold War-related story line with cool B-list mutants, Charles Xavier being adorably flirty and the raddest recruitment and training montages in recent movie history. But mostly, I just remember Michael Fassbender being hot while murdering Nazis.

THE DISAPPOINTING AND THE PREDICTABLY BAD:

1. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: It is kind of telling when one of the biggest names in the industry playing his most iconic role did nothing for a film. Or when replacing two highly annoying characters with the uber-sexy Salma Hayek didn’t make the script less random or the actors less likely to phone it in. I think we can all safely say that this franchise has ceased to be. It’s expired and gone to meet its maker. It’s a stiff. Bereft of life, its off the twig. It’s kicked the bucket, shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible. This is an ex-franchise.

2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon: My eyes hurt every time I see that title. It just feels wrong, like having a lamp on when daylight is streaming in through your window. Also, Shia LaBeouf. WHY IS HE A FAMOUS ACTOR WHY WONT SOMEBODY JUST PUNCH HIM? I just get so irrationally angry when I see him. And it’s not like there was a plot or any new material in the movie to distract me. Same old nonsense… Shia LaDouche being douchy, Optimus Prime saving the day, some pretty but bland girl, lots of confusing explosions…. It really requires talent to make a movie about freaking sports car ROBOTS boring. Then again, Michael Bay is also the director who made you want to root for the Japanese in Pearl Harbor.

3. Cars 2: So let me be upfront here. I haven’t watched this film, and I don’t plan to. The trailer simply did not pique my interest.  With what authority am I calling this one of the worst sequels of the year, you ask? Look, it’s Pixar we’re talking about here. The studio that made the Toy Story franchise, that movie that broke your heart even when there was no dialogue for the first 30 minutes and the movie that makes you sing “Just keep swimmin” every time you see a blue fish (don’t deny it). It is not acceptable for them to make a weak sequel to their weakest film. Then again, I suppose other animation houses ought to win an Oscar now and then, to keep the competition interesting.

4. The Hangover II: I think we can all agree that The Hangover was an awesome film because it was so audacious and absolutely hilarious. And they barely had any crude humour, which is saying something for a movie aimed at the male demagraphic.  So why the hell would they ruin the sequel by stuffing it with unfunny, crude “jokes” and ruining any element of surprise by filming the EXACT SAME plot all over again, except in Thailand? Adding a handful of new characters based on old characters and some extra props does not a successful sequel make.

5. Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader: The Narnia books may not be as popular these days; kids today want subtlety. Even so, surely it can’t be that hard to film the most beloved book from a series that is remembered fondly by millions, and had two very successful films preceding it? Sadly, Dawn Treader turned out to be a lacklustre film which went through the motions in such a joyless fashion. What was a tale about self-discovery, adventure and how, often the journey is greater than the destination, became a mindless chase with some villain none of us cared about and a totally adrenaline-free goal. Let’s hope that with The Magician’s Nephew, they can recapture the magic of Narnia.

One Comment on "The Good, the Bad and the Sequel"

  1. Suhasini September 12, 2011 at 10:10 am ·

    Kids today want GRRM to be subtly tell them how Jaime Lannister’s golden lion shaped brooch matched the golden glint of his hair. 😀
    Apart from dragging perfectly good movies into douchey sequels where we end up hating all the characters in a franchise, Hollywood also seems to love destroying awesome opportunities for good sequels, e.g. the new (old) Star Wars movies.

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