A Break From Sequels, Prequels and Reboots

21Jun12

Since seeing “Prometheus” and taking in a weekend of snark and disappointment from the fandom, I’ve realized two things:

1.) I had no idea “Alien” had such a devoted following that would cause such a backlash;

And 2.) backlash with sequels, prequels and anything with a preconceived notion is inevitable.

Recently, I was speaking with a friend about the upcoming “Hobbit” movie(s)* and how the deck is stacked pretty high against Peter Jackson succeed. Firstly, his accomplishments with the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy were kind of miraculous considering all the moving parts, the hype, and the fact that he had to do it three times. Then you consider his post-“Rings” work, which is mixed at best. “Kong” felt too long and pretentious, I skipped “Lovely Bones,” and any fun I had with “Tin-Tin” I attributed to Speilberg and his “Animated ‘Raiders'” techniques.

Now Jackson returns to the kind of material that made him an A-list director and an Oscar winner.

But we’ve seen it before, sort of. It’s the same world, some of the same actors, and it will probably (read “most definitely”) have a similar musical score incorporating that same flute motif that plays — WITHOUT VARIATION — every time a Baggins does anything. The chance for Jackson to surprise us cinematically is gone. “The Hobbit” also takes place before the events of “Rings,” so we essentially know how this story must end, or at least we can eliminate what cannot happen (i.e. Gandalf and Bilbo cannot die). So the story holds fewer surprises.

Add to that the fact that many “Rings” fans have these books committed to memory, so they not only know how this story ends, but how it unfolds.

You can see how it could work, but also how it could be disappointing. It’s the same thing with the “Star Wars” prequels: even if they had been well made, they could never have lived up to the feelings of first love we had when we saw the originals.

When I finished watching “Episode III” in May of 2005, I felt a chapter if my life had closed. I made a decision that I was not going to pursue anymore “Star Wars” material. I had gotten through the prequels, fulfilling my obligation to the legend or corporation or whatever “Star Wars” was and I could move on. The prequels were a six-year chapter if a life-long obsession and if Lucas said this was the final movie, then what more appropriate place to stop would there be?

Coincidentally, that same summer saw the premiere of Nolan’s Batman series, a trilogy which concludes THIS summer (or hadn’t you heard?). And it seems like with another cultural chapter is closing, this could mean a perfect time to reflect on what we have and what we want.

And upon such reflection, I propose what we should do is take a break, as the title suggests, from sequels, prequels and reboots. We could all decide to seek out original material instead. For maybe five years.

I want to feel inspired by movies, and lately I don’t feel that I am because everything is a sequel or remake, so I bring so much baggage to the film already. Even “Prometheus.” As I said, I’m not a huge “Alien” fan, but I’ve seen those earlier movies and enjoyed them. So I can’t help but contrast and compare.

On the off chance that any heads of major entertainment corporations have a lackey reading this, I would argue that a move away from recycled material and to creating original works is essential to the success of the industry. Movie companies have been trying to make “the next ‘Star Wars'” for 35 years, but they have forgotten that “Star Wars” was an original story. Part of the reason it hit so hard and so well with so many people was because it didn’t exist prior to the movie (well, the novelization sort of, but not really). Yeah, yeah, it was a different age, and they didn’t have Twitter and all that, blah blah blah. Surprises can still be surprises if handled right. People who moan about how trailers and social media and the internet kill surprises in movies these days are missing the big point: since most of this stuff is based on old material, so there was no surprise to begin with.

“But if I don’t watch those remakes and sequels, I’ll miss so much,” you whine. I disagree. Without doing any research, I would guess the movies you would miss include “Iron Man 3,” “Avengers 2,” probably another “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie, Zach Snyder’s Superman movie (50% in slow motion, I’d guess), a couple “Transformers,” that new “GI Joe” movie, and possibly a return to “Blade Runner” (and given the unilateral love of “Prometheus,” combined with the track record of years-later-returns-to-Harrison-Ford movies, I don’t think that’s worth the grief). There’s the inevitable re-boot of “Batman,” which seems like it has nowhere to go but down. And, of course, “The Hobbit” parts one and two.

Your life won’t change one bit wether you see “Iron Man 3” or not.

That’s not really that much to miss when you think about it. What you miss out on is the griping afterwards about “what they got wrong” and how “in the book” this and “I always imagined” that. Don’t do it to yourself.

This is not a pact. I’m not asking people to follow me into this fray. But I will probably do it. I mean, the Nolan Batman movies are good movies, but they’re ending. “Harry Potter” is finished. What else is there except for the self-fulfilling prophecies of diminished returns?

BUT IF I WERE MAKING A PACT, I would argue that this strategy would work, with numbers behind it of course. Each dollar you spend at a movie is a vote. If you don’t want more of something, stop seeing it. If you want more of something else, support something else. The reason these types of movies get made is because they’re a “safe bet.” But they’re a safe bet because we’ve all supported the groundwork films prior. Supply and demand.

 

*seriously? Two movies?

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