It’s a strange time when we’ve seen an ageing Indiana Jones plunge into the world of fan fiction by battling aliens, walked through the doomed future of Terminator, we’ve glimpsed The Thing before The Thing and there’s a chance we’ll spend more dangerous days in the worlds of Blade Runner and Alien and yet I’ve come to the conclusion that the world imagined are far greater than those sequels and prequels explore.
Imagining what Ghostbusters 3 would be like is a far better prospect than actually seeing it, likewise the sometimes-threatened E.T. 2. It’s a stark sign of the times when Horrible Bosses joins the likes of The Hangover in getting a sequel purely on the basis that no-one hated them, and will turn up again for another go round.
It’s time to stop, and support the original films that get bullied out of the multiplexes by the glut of sequels and prequels. Wouldn’t you rather see Attack the Block than Attack of the Clones?
In my opinion, there is no real way of telling what standalone films will become successful enough to spawn multiple further instalments and turn into a never-ending money-making machine. There are, however, some franchises I wish would die, others I wish would either continue, and some that Hollywood should try to pursue: With a fifth film due out later this year, Resident Evil – a series based on the popular video game of the same name – is a tired, gloomy and dishevelled series that, no matter how hard the hoards of new cast members, writers and directors try, will never reach the relatively satisfying heights the first hit all those years ago.
Following the success of Winnie the Pooh’s rebirth earlier last year, Hollywood would be foolish not to hire directing duo Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall for round two. Children and adults everywhere are, or definitely should be, calling out for more of their favourite bear and his madcap friends.
Okay, so Brad Bird has said that he would only ever made a sequel if, like Toy Story, the right idea presented itself. I just think the longer Pixar go without making a sequel, the harder it’ll be for audiences to remember the characters and what made The Incredibles so great in the first place. I’ve never seen a set of characters quite like those of The Incredibles that deserved some sort of continuation to their story.
“Franchise” can be seen as a bit of a dirty word, a short-hand for all of the worst excesses of laziness and derivation that at times beset Hollywood. Why be novel or creative, when you can make money being predictable and repetitive? But not all franchises are bad, though most eventually become that way, unless or until they can be successfully rebooted (take a bow, Nolan and Singer). One franchise I sincerely believe has run its course and needs to go to the knackers yard is Rambo. First Blood was pretty good, taking some of the thematic elements of the late 1970’s cycle of dramas that seriously addressed US experiences in Vietnam for the first time, but alloying them to a compelling and propulsive action narrative.
Part II was very silly, but entertaining and of course falls squarely into the 1980’s one man army cycle. Rambo III turned the volume up to 11, but was so shame-facedly outdated and simplistic that it could no longer be watched, much less be taken in any way seriously. A couple of years back, Sly Stallone tried to re-ignite the franchise by taking a team of mercs into Burma to rescue well-meaning but naive Christian missionaries. The violence was taken to meaningless and pornographic levels and it was a film devoid of heart. Considering how intelligently and effectively Rocky was revived as a character, Rambo’s return was grossly mishandled. Aside from a coda suggesting Rambo’s attempt to return to his family in the US, this had nothing.
What I’d like to see is a franchise based around Inception. An obvious one, right? Well, not exactly. I loved Inception, but it exposed Nolan’s weaknesses, as well as his strengths, as a filmmaker and storyteller. What I’d really like to see is an Inception franchise handled similarly to the successful Mission: Impossible one. As well as changing director every instalment, I’d also like to see a variety of lead actors.
The brilliance of Inception lies in its broad scope. In dealing with dreams, you are taking away any and all limitations. Each filmmaker could bring their entry completely in line with their own sensibilities and their own imagination. It would be a good idea to keep one of the original players, like Ken Watanabe as the financier, and/or Dileep Rao as the chemist to allow some continuity. I definitely feel though, that a new cast of characters would allow different storylines and a ‘beginning to end’ character journey in each movie.
It’ll never happen, and indeed, maybe it shouldn’t. I just think that, considering the critical and commercial success of M: I Ghost Protocol, there’s something to be said for introducing fresh creativity to a well-conceived concept.
That’s it for this round of Reaction Shot – let us know your thoughts below.