By Marc Silvestri
“And the Lord did look sternly upon Noah and said unto him: “Dude, forsooth, ‘Earth Origins: Human Race’ verily did tank! And those barbarous heathens at Fetidtomatoes helped matters not! Indeed, they dealt a fatal blow with a 28% certified fetid!” Noah cast his eyes down and replied to his Lord, “Father, tracking showed interest from children was naught. Mayhap the sequel should be fashioned to more appease them?” The Almighty did ponder this from his celestial recliner and bellowed, “Egad, thou art correct, we must pander to the little ones! Animals! The little brats LOVE animals! WE NEED MORE EFFIN ANIMALS! Sequel shmequel, methinks the time is nigh for a complete reboot!” And a drop of rain did splat upon Noah’s sorry comb-over.”
-Face psalms 20:17
Apologies to all the kiddies out there but here comes a dirty word: SEQUEL! And why is sequel such a dirty, stinky, and dare I say, poopy word? Because lots and lots of movie critics say so that’s why. Now I’m going to get right to the point here – shocking I know – and say that I think the blanket damning of sequels by hoity-toity film critics is biblical levels of BULLS&@%!
Sure many “sequels” suffer Herculean levels of fail (see Face psalms 20:17) but others do quite nicely – Aliens, Bride of Frankenstein, Godfather II, Porky’s II, etc. What really pets my peeve though is that the bitch-fest concerning sequels is specific to movies. And that specificity is where the previously mentioned BULLS&@% comes in. For example: when there is more than one issue published of a book (novels, comics, whatever) it gets awarded the non-derogatory designation of being a “series” (or at worst “the next installment”). If a TV pilot spawns subsequent episodes, it gets to be a “series” too (even if the show is canceled after two airings). So why is it then that when a second or third “installment” of a popular movie is made, it’s shanked by being labeled the (perceived) derogatory word, “sequel”? Sometimes merely announcing a sequel is reason enough to induce mass eye-rolling from haters. And let’s not even mention the dreaded “F” word, FRANCHISE! This is a bizarre and prejudiced attitude against film that I intend to halt (because I have that kind of juice).
The double standard here is annoying because when it comes to movies, critics seem to have a real problem with seeing a popular character in more than one adventure. Now before you scream out James Bond, Harry Potter, or Jason Bourne, remember those are characters based on a “series” of novels, which in the eyes of some gives them a pass. (There are exceptions like the Indiana Jones films and of course Star Wars but c’mon). Inevitably the announcement of a “part II” leads to the villagers lighting up their torches and screaming out that HOLLYWOOD HAS RUN OUT OF IDEAS! Uh, okay. There have been literally tens of thousands of movies made in this country over the past hundred years and if you gather a few of your friends you can probably count all the sequels ever made by just using their grubby little fingers and toes. And Hollywood has run out of ideas? Really?
I suppose that for me what this boils down to is the aggravatingly predictable articles written about this whole “Hollywood has run out of ideas” thing. Seriously, out of the what, three or four hundred movies made each year, how many of those are sequels? Two, three? And that’s in a BIG year for sequels! When you look at a TV series isn’t it really just one sequel after another that follows the adventures of a favorite character(s)? Is this somehow okay because the format is different?
Now let’s make it a given that some sequels should never have been made, some because the only motivator was $$ and others because quality-wise, they just plain laid a duce like King Kong after a bad burrito. (There are in fact, many flushable sequels I choose to forget as to not defile the original that I loved). But to lump the whole concept of sequels into the same King Kong pile of tainted beans, cheese, and tortillas, is like judging a TV or book series on one episode/issue. Having said that, I believe a lot of the prejudice movie sequels endure has to do with the relative scale of the various art forms involved as well as the Super Bowl grade levels of anticipation an event like a major motion picture brings. Allow me to elaborate.
The shear cost and amount of time required to make a film is staggering (especially the summer blockbusters that are most associated with sequels) so that puts them at a disadvantage right off the bat. In other words, unlike a full season of TV shows – where one (or five) crappy episode(s) can be overlooked – the pressure to shoot a good story quickly and on such a massive scale makes it pretty hard to hide a mistake. The “quickly” part isn’t an excuse btw as it’s the consequence of sequels and their relationship to an audience that wastes no time in finding something new (it’s a proven fact that every generation since Grunk jr. first tagged his parents cave wall, suffer more and more from technology induced ADHD). And as far as book publishing goes, unless the publisher has to pay a star author a dump truck load of cash it doesn’t really cost much to write something. Besides, a novelist can be forgiven if one or two books in a series aren’t quite what they should be.
To sum up – yeah, finally – let’s not insult an entire industry for lacking creativity simply because there is a huge number of people out there that want to see an acid-bleeding alien phallically shove his toothy tongue through the skulls of hapless spacemen. (I hope and pray btw that Ridley can save one of my favorite franchises.) And in spite of the “business” aspect of making a sequel (and I do get that) I am a fan of seeing my favorite character living beyond one episode. So I say to the haters: Chills dudes, and on with the sequels! …Crap, a drop of rain just hit my window. Later.
And hey, the fact that you are reading this blog means you have access to a computer. Many people in this world don’t have access to food. Give thanks this holiday at how fortunate you are.
Marc Silvestri was born in 1959 on Easter Sunday, coincidentally on the same day his mother gave birth to him. He’s been in the comic business his entire adult life and in 1993 started his own company, Top Cow Productions. Marc spends his days making crap up for comics, movies, TV, and video games. And is proud to now add professional blogger to his resume. He also likes you just the way you are.