In the summer of 2007, moviemakers unleashed a cruel string of movie sequels that jumpstarted the recent plunge in movie quality. That summer, moviegoers suffered through the dreadful third installments of Shrek, Spider-man, and Pirates of the Caribbean. This train of prequels, sequels and remakes shows no sign of slowing anytime soon. When will filmmakers learn to leave their old projects behind?
Don’t get the wrong idea—I love movies. I love that feeling you get when you watch a good one, that little ball of happiness in your stomach that leaves you grinning when the credits roll and the lights switch back on. Very few movies achieve that level of greatness, and even fewer of those are sequels.
Remember Indiana Jones? Back when he was cool, and you smiled when he cracked his whip and made the Nazis’ faces melt? But all that vanished when the fourth movie, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, came out. The film’s corny aliens abducted Indy’s good name, leaving the viewer slumped in the red movie seat cushions wondering where their hero had gone wrong. So many film franchises end in this disgraceful manner, fizzling out like flat soda pop. If only directors could tell when to call it quits.
The horror of the sequels is not the only problem plaguing the box office. Most movies are unoriginal, based completely on another form of entertainment: a comic strip (Marmaduke), a TV show (Sex and the City), a theme park ride (Pirates of the Caribbean) a video game (Lara Croft: Tomb Raider), a board game (Clue, also a Monopoly movie soon), an action figure (Transformers, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra)… This phenomenon, however, is nothing new in the moviemaking world. Since their creation, movies have always been made to cater to the public interest. I’m not saying that all movies have to be original, but it would be nice if for once the best movie of the summer was not the return of, revenge of, or part IV of anything.
Based on these movie faults, I’ve created a list of general rules for filmmakers:
1. Never make a sequel to an animated movie, no matter how good the first one was. Who should have listened: Do you not remember all those straight-to-video Disney sequels? And Lion King 1 ½? Exceptions: Toy Story 2, and Shrek 2 were actually pretty good, but they should have stopped there.
2. Stop at a trilogy. Just stop. Who should have listened: Star Wars (which I loved before episodes I, II, and III), Indiana Jones. Exceptions: James Bond—it’s one of the longest film series in history, they should go on forever! Also, book series that have more than three books, à la Harry Potter.
3. If you’re going to make a sequel, plan on it from the beginning, don’t just expand on a finished story that made a lot of money. Who should have listened: Jaws: The Revenge, The Matrix Reloaded, Grease 2, and a frightening amount of others. Exceptions: Again, Toy Story 2, and Shrek 2
4. When making a movie with beloved pre-existing characters, please be kind to them and keep them from looking like idiots. Who should have listened: Spider-man 3. Why? The clip in the middle when he dances down the sidewalk actually ruined the entire franchise in 30 miserable seconds. Exceptions: None.