Thursday, July 4, 2013

Question for the Week of July 1-7: Sequel? Fine

What movies would I like to see sequels of?
I wrote a while ago about remakes I wouldn't mind seeing put to film.

So, yes, there's also a Sequelitis tag on this site, and it signifies moments wherein Hollywood has created sequels that are either (a) foolish in concept or (b) insultingly stupid in execution. The basic barrier that any sequel has to meet is whether the picture feels like a simple retread of what's already happened and whether it has a real story to tell about the protagonist or world of the film itself. So often, those standards have been let down greatly, so here's my two cents on what could/should work - at least, for me...

So which movies do I think deserve (or demand) a follow-up?

Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins - For one thing, the title already lends itself to further stories. For another, I always respected Fred Ward's work, and really enjoyed the attitude and style of this picture. If someone decided to tell more stories with that protagonist - or its general setting - I would be happy to watch them. They'd get extra credit for folding Joel Grey's masterful "Chiun" (even though it's Asian-face, he's awesome) back into the story.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the Eighth Dimension - this insane, original, ridiculously-plotted picture actually announces that there will be a sequel, titled "Buckaroo Bonzai Against the World Crime League."

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang - from a story perspective, it would make no sense for another Shane Black movie to star Val Kilmer's "Gay Perry," or Robert Downey Jr.'s lead, Harry Lockheart - much less Michelle Monaghan's actress/damsel in distress, Harmony. But damn, that film was fun.
However, the movie does end with RDjr's character joining Gay Perry's detective agency, so it's not outside the realm of possibility that this fantastic pair would encounter a new mystery worth unspooling on a 35mm print. If Black directed and wrote, it would almost certainly be a must-see. And it would almost certainly start with Harry Lockheart screwing something up terribly.

Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back - I wish, so fervently, that there were a sequel to this movie that kept the tone, humor, dialogue, and style - but without the walking teddy bears that can somehow stone an armored soldier to death quite easily.

Top Gun - really, this is the kind of tale that lends itself to sequels. It's about something everyone can get behind - the emotionally-traumatized soldiers that we rely on to defend out country - and it glorifies them at the same time as it provides them with some humanity. Who doesn't want to watch a drama about conscientious members of the military as they learn to become true elites?

I would only hope that in this real-world modern Cruise-saturated future, I would want Tom's "Maverick" to have nothing to do with it.

2001 - it's basically impossible to actually reveal the story that Arthur C. Clarke was telling in his original short story, much less the one that Stanley Kubrick translated onto film. However, I found 2010 to be very uninspired, so the actual sequel didn't set much of a bar.

Blade - yes, this picture had 2 sequels, but neither kept to the style or tone of the first film. Rather than watch Blade get the "on steroids + also, mindless" treatment that it got with Blade 2, or the "mindless and less fun" result that was Blade 3, I would like to see something that truly lives up to the attitude of the first picture.

I'm so excited just remembering the first Blade that I might watch it tonight. 'nuff said.

X2: X-men United - I don't think the Brett Ratner-directed sequel should count; not in any way.

Young Sherlock Holmes - Barry Levinson's film was quite a lot of fun, and was good in appealing to both adults and kids. Arthur Conan Doyle's most famed work has come into its own these last few years - it has been retold in the UK via the superb Sherlock series (Cumberbatch! Freeman!), and also re-spun in the US to different accolades that nevertheless attest to a lot of quality with Elementary (Miller! Liu!). And there's a film franchise with RDjr and Bettany, of course.

I've seen all of the former and been left hungry for more, while I've only seen 2 out of 20 eps of the latter, and it is also quite finely-made. Perhaps the adventures of a young super-genius would encourage America's (and the world's) youth to genuinely value intelligence and diligent work. ACD's novels basically inspired me to start reading, so it doesn't seem like a stretch...

The Incredibles - Pixar, as usual, has the right idea: Brad Bird has repeatedly stated that he will not return to this story unless it's a story worth telling. I will be happy to wait until he - and no one else but he - has a change of heart.

Bad Taste - Peter Jackson's debut has already received a lot of love from me, but it should be noted that a sequel, following the adventures of the great Derek, was always in PJ's magical mental wheelhouse. To say I would love to see such a film realized is to understate matters, greatly...

The Shadow - a long time ago - 1994, in fact - Alec Baldwin basically did a better job of playing a tortured soul than Michael Keaton (twice), Val Kilmer, and George Clooney. To see a psychic, guilt-ridden do-gooder fight against crime in the 1940's era of NYC would be a real treat. The original itself should've received more recognition, in fact.

The Rocketeer - the cast was exceptional, the setting was very nicely realized, and this comic book hero has many stories that could be told. If there had been a dozen more of these - with or without Jennifer Connelly in a variety of 40's/50's outfits - I would have been the happiest boy in the world. I might also have an unhealthy obsession with Ms. Connelly, so perhaps it's for the best.

Dark City - I saw this motion picture with DJ in the theater, when it came out. The theatrical version was... deeply flawed, but I've been told that the DVD release is a director's cut which is much, much better. No matter what, I would be happy to see a new film that deals with the aftermath of DC's ending, or even another picture that tells the same story, but with different characters - and, hopefully, more narrative clarity.

Aliens - in my mind, the Aliens franchise really ended with Cameron's classic action/sci-fi vehicle. However, I had to sit through two extremely-flawed sequels and one horrificly-executed spin-off (I skipped the second one, unlike DJ). Yet I still love Cameron's sequel so much!

To rub salt into my wounds, I had to hear about a singularly uninspired-sounding and stupidly-plotted "prequel" which kind of made my blood boil. However, I would kill for a follow-up that took the surviving characters from Aliens and made them confront some new (or, f--k it, even a similar) crisis.. Bonus points if Hudson reappears as his like-minded twin brother.

Big Trouble in Little China - although BTiLC told a complete story - the hero went through an arc, the crucial narrative "problem" was resolved - it was clear that there was still room to tell more stories in this Asian-mythos-meets-the-US world. And, of all the protagonists that I've mentioned in this post, it's Kurt Russell's Jack Burton that could probably entertain me best. At the risk of sounding dumb: dude was a champ, and I liked his style.

The biggest problem there is that the cast has a lot of years on them now, and I generally dislike the very idea of these 20-years-too-late sequels. I'm simply saying I'd have loved to have seen it in the past, and I believe it could be done reasonably today. Maybe. With a small margin for error.

PS, Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans! Let's make sure that John Bull doesn't come back, okay?


  1. Great picks! I personally disagree with including movies that had bad sequels like Blade, Aliens, and 2001, since that seems like a different list (technically, that’s more like a list franchises that should be rebooted). By that standard, I should wish for a sequel for Godfather Part II.

    However, I wonder what Bryan Singer is going to do with X-Men: The Last Stand when Days of Future Past comes out next year, since they're reportedly bringing back Patrick Stewart despite the stuff that happened in The Last Stand. I wonder if they're going to just pretend the Ratner movie never happened, rather than bother writing their way around a bunch of the bad ideas Ratner filmed.

    I'm going to chime in shortly with a few additional picks of movies that should've had sequels.

    1. Thanks, DJ! Honestly, there are a few notes I would like to add to this post - among them, that comedy and action seem best suited to sequels over most other genres. I mean, who wants a Driving Miss Daisy sequel? But I also want to add video clips to the post today; hopefully, I'll get it done by the time I'm finished with a review I want to post.

      I struggled with the idea of requesting franchise re-sequels (which I think is the best name for what I'm espousing). To me, though, the idea is clear: I was expecting something out of this franchise, but it was followed up terribly.

      But the depth of the failings of the sequels to 2001 and Blade and Aliens were like a crack-fueled fever dream. Any series might have an entry that should just be forgotten - like Diamonds are Forever - but they don't always completely derail affairs.

      Good pick, then, on Godfather II, as part III was a total cluster-f.

    2. Aliens and Blade were both movies that begged for a sequel, and I can certainly understand the frustration that the sequels were botched. To my mind, Blade II is exactly the kind of sequel I wouldn't try to erase from reality--Guillermo del Toro's sequel was not a good match with the original, but I didn't totally hate it, and it didn't damage the franchise. In contrast, I can see wishing away Alien3 because it kills off a bunch of characters we wanted to see more of. A sequel to Alien3 proceeds without Newt, Bishop, Hicks, or Ripley. A sequel to Blade II proceeds with fewer Eurotrash vampires--I can't think of any negative effects.

      I'd disagree with you on 2001--I think that 2001 was a perfect one-off film. Any sequel would have to try to explain what the heck happened in 2001, and once you start explaining 2001, you take away what made the original film special. In that context, 2010 was kind of a noble failure.

      Godfather III is the movie that could inspire a "films I would wish out of existence" post. The film features a radical change in Michael Corleone's character that occurs completely off-screen, on top of a ton of other flaws. Continuing to build the franchise on that foundation would be like building a house on top of a sinkhole.


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