So many sequels, so
Why film follow-ups are usually crap
By Lori Mastronardi
|FULL THROTTLE: Charlie's
Angels is back as the three butt-kicking girls look for more box office
"I was just watching
the movie he had rented, so I wasn't paying very close attention to their
fight. They fight all the time, so I figured the movie was at least something
different, which it wasn't because it was a sequel."
-Charlie from Stephen Chbosky's
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
From action flicks like Matrix Reloaded and Charlie's Angels
2, to comedies like Legally Blonde 2 and American Wedding,
this summer has spawned a multitude of sequels to intrigue movie viewers
everywhere. But simply because its predecessor was successful doesn't
guarantee a sequel is worthy of precious screen time and film production.
More often than not, sequels pervade the film industry in such a way that
the search for an original, quality film results in complete frustration.
Simply stated, sequels are created to generate profit. Western media,
information and technoculture professor Tim Blackmore attributes the explosion
of summer sequels to Hollywood's preference for financial security. "Hollywood
is interested in making a lot of money rather than bankrolling new projects
and taking risks," Blackmore says.
Western English professor Allan Gedalof agrees with the reliance on familiarity.
"Beginning with mass culture, repetition became a feature of popular
culture and seriality. If something was good, you brought it back."
Such an explanation relates to society's pseudo-addictions to television
series; we are drawn to the familiarity and immersion of well-known characters
and situations. We identify ourselves with characters, in such a way that
we desperately want to know if Felicity will choose Ben or Noel, who Buffy
will have to overcome to save the day and who's got what it takes to fill
the American Idol mould.
The first sequel to achieve critical acclaim remains Francis Ford Coppola's
Godfather II, as it was awarded Best Picture at the Oscars in
1974. However, the artistic quality of the follow-up film has diminished
in modern times. "Since the original Star Wars, sequels
have generally been made because they make a terrific amount of money."
Although profit sparks the interest of film companies, certain artistic
elements are essential in keeping audiences enthralled. "A director
shouldn't violate the premise of the first film," Gedalof suggests.
Viewers crave the substance associated with the first film, yet are eager
to indulge in story development. "Success is sought in the reproduction
of the original, with added explosions and two or three more endings such
as in James Cameron's Terminator films," Blackmore explains.
Filmmakers tend to gravitate towards particular genres, particularly horror
and action, to create sequels. In fact, the first sequel which invaded
cinematic history was the silent horror film, The Golem and the Dancer.
Paul Wegener and Carl Boese directed the 1917 film as a follow-up to the
1914 original, The Golem.
However, genres like drama fail to expertly fill the sequel form. "Films
like Terms of Endearment III: Dying Again and Life as a House
V: The Chemotherapy would unlikely gain viewer interest," Blackmore
Ultimately, elements of originality and artistic expression fall victim
to the cookie-cutter sequel form. "A huge amount of money is diverted
from people who actually have films to make that are genuine," Blackmore
points out. "A studio would claim that all the sequel money they
generate in the summer goes to pay for the little films we see in October
or February. Maybe."
For those who can't decide whether sequels are entertaining or unnecessary,
this summer will provide an abundance of films on which viewers can judge.