This has undoubtedly been THE MOST sequel/prequel/remake year for cinema. Let me throw out EVERY sequel this year has doled out- note: This list goes in order from January of 2013 to movies in pre-production set to be released in early 2014.
You ready for this? >takes deep breath< Alrighty then.
The Last Exorcism Part II (It was called “The LAST Exorcism,” wasn’t it?), Scary Movie V, Star Trek; Into Darkness, The Hangover Part III, Hatchet III, Monsters University, Despicable Me 2, Grown Ups 2, Red 2, The Wolverine, The Smurfs 2, Percy Jackson; Sea of Monsters, Kick-Ass 2, Insidious Chapter 2, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, Machete Kills, Thor; The Dark World, The Hunger Games; Catching Fire, The Hobbit; The Desolation of Smaug, Anchorman 2; The Legend Continues, 300 Rise of an Empire, Muppets Most Wanted, Captain America; The Winter Soldier, The Avengers 2, Terminator 5, Finding Dory.
I will say I have excluded three remakes, those being Man of Steel, Carrie and Godzilla.
Now…let’s begin by saying that the idea of “the sequel” was thought of as a very awesome way to get more money. Your book or movie got a lot of buzz and a great deal of money the first time around, so let’s keep going. A generally negative connotation goes along with sequels because, let’s face it, sequels are usually forced. They see that something clicks with an audience the first time and it becomes a race. The studios don’t want to let too much time go by so that the audience forgets the predeccessor, so before you know it, publicity comes out about a continuation story. People get excited and rush to see the film when it comes out, but what do they generally find? The same jokes, the same story line, and overall leaves a bitter, rehashed memory of the film you so admired the first time. You are not only disappointed, but are also $20 out because you went to the theaters.
Once again, this is just a generalization. Sometimes sequels are warranted, for example if the story was based on a saga, like Twilight, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, or The Lord of the Rings. Now, we come into new territory here because some of these books have been pulling some pretty low crap trying to milk money out of audiences. They’ve been splitting up the books into separate movies. It began with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows splitting into Parts 1 and 2. I sort of understood that; it’s a quite detailed book and every detail is important to the story, so you don’t want to rush that. But then Twilight Breaking Dawn did it. Then The Hobbit split into THREE MOVIES! Are you KIDDING me? Now you really DO think we are gullible, don’t you? But the problem is we foster their ripping us off because they know we will still go see the movie because we want to be entertained. We are enthralled by the story. so we give them our money ruefully. But I digress- sequels based off sagas are understandable. Same can be said for Superhero flicks. In a way, the movie has become the modern comic books. They are visually spectacular, and almost ALWAYS cannot be made without at least a teaser for a continuation. Look at what Marvel was able to do with The Avengers! That took MILLIONS of dollars, but tying all five superheroes together really paid off for them in the long run! Therefore, movies like Iron Man 3 and The Wolverine are also warranted.
But THEN we have the Milk ‘Em For Laughs. These are comedy films that really worked, be it onscreen chemistry, brilliant writing, original plot, or all of the above. Miss Congeniality, The Hangover, Caddyshack, and Vacation are my best examples of this. They did well, and immediately the studios pumped out sequels that very few consider quality films and no one considers better than the original. I was horrified to hear that three films that came out at relatively the same time and quickly won my heart, Bridesmaids, 21 Jump Street and Horrible Bosses, are getting sequels. SO RARELY do these work that I just feel like, “Stttooopppp. STOP. LEAVE IT ALONE. I liked the first one! LEAVE IT ALONE!”
Next we have our children’s movies. These are of a different caliber because often they instigate nostalgia from older kids, such as was able to be done with Monsters University. When the first film came out nearly 12 years ago, I was among the intended audience. Now we are grown up and appreciate a sequel where our favorite characters are experiencing the same social lives we are. And little kids love to see these stories no matter how good or bad they might be. Children have different criteria and better imaginations than most critics anyway.
Then of course you have your Horror Sequels. These are the Scary Movies, Paranormal Activities and other Blair Witch-Inspired nonsense that can be doled out as quickly as possible. I once made a joke that no matter when you go to a multiplex, there will ALWAYS be a horror movie playing. I think it’s become tradition at this point because scares (no matter how cheap) really sell.
Finally, you have your “F*** It, I’m Making It Anyway” sequels. These are movies that didn’t do well the first time in cinemas, but for some reason, the director or studio just says, “Hell with it, I’m making another one.” This is how we get Grown Ups 2, The Expendables 2 and…it pains me to put this in the same sentence but….the Pirates Movies. I love these films TO DEATH but sadly I have to agree with the masses. Pirates used the SAME formula. The first one did AMAZING, so they made a second one that did EVEN BETTER….then nothing. Pirates 3 still did great but was significantly lower than the rest, and Pirates 4 continued to dwindle. Now they are making a five with yet ANOTHER set of directors. This is a “F*** it, I’m making another one,” movie because every single sign shows that it is doomed to be even worse off than #4, yet they proceed. Percy Jackson is a modern example of this! The first film didn’t do too great, and it has been YEARS since the last one came out and only now are the attempting a sequel. Logan Lerman, THE STAR, is 23 years old. That’s ten years older than the book character! That truly is a case of the movie exec’s not giving a damn.
It also seems that more and more movies are leaving the end open for a sequel, as if it’s a part of the system nowadays. I saw it in The Lone Ranger, Now You See Me, and Dark Shadows recently. I once again stress that there is nothing wrong with sequels…up to a point. When the studios begin to take advantage of their audience is what makes the difference to me. I realize, it’s all a money game. I stated this in my last blog, “The Solution to the Great Movie Slump.” But could it be perhaps that we want something…I dunno….NEW? The studios should EARN our money, not just take it from us. Occasionally, there are great sequels, some even one could consider better than the original, like Godfather Part II (I stand by my claim that Pirates 3 is the best of the POTC series. Don’t care what anyone says). We have a great history of movies that have sort of created their own sagas, like Star Wars, Star Trek, and Rocky. People cherish these films. It is not a bad thing to love a sequel…just watch for the signs so that you are not just a pawn in a big chess game.
…also, The Smurfs 2? REALLY? Are you actually telling me that there is someone out there who likes The Smurfs THAT MUCH?