Okay, first, let’s accept some truths about movies:
1) No sequel is as good as the original.
2) The sequel to a bad movie is not going to be better.
3) The second (third, etc) movie in a pre-set series (trilogy, etc) must be viewed in the context of the story arc as a whole, across multiple movies, and therefore does not count as a sequel.
(Allowing for Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, etc. which were meant to be several movies from the beginning. You can make a case for Harry Potter if you want, but I will not accept Twilight.)
Can we all agree on those? Yes?
Then let’s put our hands (and our wallets) down in protest, and agree to the following:
We will not pay to see the sequel to any movie, UNLESS the original was REALLY good, and there is a reasonable chance of the sequel being at least marginally good.
Honestly, people, it’s time we looked at ourselves and what we’re endorsing. The top movies in the box offices right now are sequels (or threequels, etc), a good chunk of the planned movies for the coming months are sequels, to movies that weren’t even good to begin with (or that were, but what appeal they had will be quickly killed by lots of bad sequels)! Dig deep down and ask yourself, were The Hangover, Transformers, Avatar, Final Destination, Twilight, Iron Man, Cars, Kung Fu Panda, Alvin and the Chipmunks, etc etc etc ACTUALLY good? Did they enrich your lives, rather than just entertain you for a few milliseconds? Then why should you shell out your hard-earned cash to see, rent, or buy the sequel?
Here’s, sadly, how it works: Movie production companies invest in a movie if they’re pretty sure it will sell well. If they hit upon a movie that sells really well, they naturally want to do a second one, in hopes of duplicating the fiscal success. Unfortunately, even if the original was good, 99.9% of the time they are only interested in repeating the monetary success, not the artistic integrity. For one of a million examples, look at The Silence of the Lambs. Original: awesome. Sequel: so bad the director of the first refused to be part of it. Following movies: even worse.
We, the theater movie-goers, make this happen. Yes we do! The sad truth is when they hook you with one good movie, they assume they’ve got you for the sequels. Lots of sequels, whether they were good or not, actually do better in ticket sales than the original, simply because word spread about the popular original and everyone wants to see the next installment, only afterwards finding out it’s a load of crap. Whoops, can’t take your ticket back, can you? (At least they can’t trick you into buying the DVD the same way.)
You can’t take it back, but you can refuse to give them your money to begin with! Just stop, think, realize all sequels are pretty much crap, and DON’T DO IT!
I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t indulge your curiosity. Bad movies – esp bad sequels – can be entertaining. I’m saying just refrain from giving those movies money. Wait a year (or if you’re lucky, a few months) til the crap sequels are basically free on cable, or better yet, until your local library gets a copy, or a friend acquires one (but don’t encourage them to). By then, I guarantee, you’ll probably forget there even was a sequel to that one movie, or won’t care enough to actually watch it unless you’re really bored. It’s like the snack attack: resist in the short term, and you’ll forget about it.
Let’s agree that movie sequels are for late night television and stumbling across for free (and holding a jeer session) long after anyone cares. They are NOT for spending money on. Spend your money on the original movies that you really enjoyed, will look back on feeling good and enriched, and will want to watch again.
Nothing good at the movies? Then don't go! Go shopping and buy a good movie, then watch it at home with popcorn and a cozy couch. At least, if you’re set on going (esp if you’re just going to make out in the back rows), go to a movie that isn’t the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or even 5th (as in Final Destination – a franchise whose name gets more and more ironic with each movie) in a dead horse series. Try something new for once, don’t just fall back on the predictable because it’s there.
Please join me in saying NO to sequels. Comment here to take the pledge and tell your friends. Do it for the children. Do it for the actors who have to do the same bloody crap over and over. The cinema thanks you.
Good Sequels I Have Known:
Remember the “reasonable chance of being good” clause?
- The Lost World: The second Jurassic Park was so different from the original, it recaptured the magic of messing with nature and the unchanging prehistoric beasts, while bringing back one pivotal character to take us through the new island and the new adventure. It’s no surprise Stephen Spielberg and Michael Crichton could pull this off, but I’m eternally grateful business interests didn’t stop them from achieving it. Jurassic Park III lost some of its lustre and wasn’t as varied or exciting, but wasn’t a bad movie by any means.
- The Transporter 2: Even more action, cool FX, fighting, and clever plot twists than the original. That doesn’t make it better, it just makes it a good follow-up. I liked the original better for its pacing and the hand-to-hand was better, but the second is a pretty close, well, second for me. (The third, I dunno, you could skip it, but it was alright.)
- Die Hard 2: Like the Transporter 2, they didn’t try to redo the same storyline. They totally redid everything with the same Bruce Willis character: new setup, new action sequences, and villains. That’s how you do it. The original had Alan Rickman, and a bit snappier dialog, but #2 is a worthy, exciting, distinctive adventure.
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: I don’t know if you can really delineate Star Trek movies the way you do with other “sequels,” esp since STTMP was crap. The TOS movies seemed a lot like long episodes of the original series that refused to die quite yet. And we all know with series, sometimes the first couple episodes suck, and then they hit their stride. TWOK is indisputably awesome, and launched four more TOS movies, and a tradition of Star Trek movies that only got crappy with the latest “prequel” installment.
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: Probably the only good three-quel in existence, this makes the bottom half of an Indy sandwich, buffering the eternally irritating 2nd movie, Temple of Doom. The middle movie was an example of trying to go too far out from the original, and the new plot line and characters just falling flat. The Last Crusade brought back the Nazis and the historical treasure hunt in a fresh exciting way, and introduced the rogue element of Sean Connery as Indy’s dad, who became one of the most memorable characters in movie history. (Now let’s just agree, there is no 4th Indy movie. It doesn’t exist.)