June 20, 2004

Poll results: What do you think of sequels?
Turnout was a bit slim this week, only 7 votes. But I can't say the results were not predictable. Here they are:
Depends if the first film is any good. 57% 4
I love them! 14% 1
Cannot stand them! 14% 1
1 or 2 is OK, 6 or 7 is too much. 14% 1
As many as possible. 0% 0
No opinion. 0% 0
total votes: 7

I voted for "I Love Them!" My reasoning is that sequels can actually improve mediocre films, and sometimes sequels are better than the classics that preceded them. For example, the Alien series. The second film, Aliens, is arguably the best of the series, even though the original is a classic. How about Terminator, how many don't recognize the greatness of T2? And who can forget how much better Evil Dead 2 was than the first. Anyway, sequels have their place and I hope they continue to get made for better or worse.

I have a few other thoughts on sequels. They can be broken down into three categories.
The first of these are the movies that come with built in sequels. This deals primarily with movies based on long running comic books, such as Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, and the X-Men. These characters have so many stories that can be told.
Secondly there are movies that create such great universe that a lot of stories can be developed based on the strength of the newly created characters. This would be like Indiana Jones, The Matrix, Back to the Future, and The Crow. Many horror series can fall into this category as well, most notable A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th. Not to mention long running favorites, Star Trek and Star Wars.
Thirdly there are the movies that do so well at the box office that the studio decides to make more of them just grab the cash. This can probably apply to the first 2 sections as well since this is a business and the studios are in it to make money. This would most notably apply to the horror film series which go on just a little too long, as well as franchises that keep sliding like Scary Movie. Then there are the complete garbage fests like Speed 2 and Men in Black 2.

There are a number of factors that can contribute to the success or the lack thereof of the sequels. One thing that can help contribute to the success of future sequels is the participation of the original creative team and cast members. Getting people like the director or writers involved in sequels helps to insure continuity between the films. There is nothing worse than bringing in a new creative team and watching the quality sink. This also happens when casting changes are made to the lead roles. Both of these contributed to the demise of the Batman franchise, when Joel Schumacher replaced Tim Burton and Val Kilmer and George Clooney succeeded Michael Keaton, the series took a noticeable and severe downturn. Some series are able to move on with the se changes, the James Bond series is a prime example of this, they have undergone numerous changes in the lead roll with little decline. Although sometimes making sequels with changes is good. Harry Potter, for example, I think took a turn for the better with the change in the director chair. Alfonso Cuaron brings a new visual dynamic and style to the series that Chris Columbus lacked. The formula was developed by Columbus, but then improved upon by the changing of the guard, so to speak. Changes in actors can also not signify death. The example I am thinking of comes from a movie, whose sequel is a long running television show, Stargate. It was a mediocre film with a premise that was wide open for exploration and well suited for a TV series. The casting change here was bringing aboard Richard Dean Anderson as Colonel O'Neill, replacing Kurt Russell in the role he originated on screen. It was inspired Anderson brings a great sense of humor and authority to the role that I don't Russell could have.

In closing allow me to say, that I am a supporter of sequels. We just run into problems when studios try to milk a series beyond its usefulness and at the expense of developing other properties. Not every sequel is good, but all we can really hope for is that there be thought given to the process so help ensure a quality work.


Post a Comment