Pop Off: Constant sequels mean bad films
Published: Monday, September 2, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 2, 2013 23:09
I have made it no secret that I am not a fan of the sequel infestation currently occurring in our movie theatres. While being a sequel does not automatically make a film bad, or not worth seeing, it does show that studios are turning their attention away from original and innovative productions in favor of more of the same. It is like instead of making an elaborate highway system that could take us anywhere in the country, we just built one road; and made it longer and longer.
But I have almost resigned to seeing a film that came out two or three years ago rebranded with “2” jammed into its title. Yes, many of them are gratuitous and end up being a disappointment. Yet there exists a bigger threat. One that has been around for a while, “Police Academy” probably being the trend setter, that alone is a shame. But it is only now reaching a point of concern. I like it to call it the “Panhandler Franchise,” a series of movies that contains five or more installments and does not go away until it is no longer profitable. It is like Gil Gunderson from “The Simpsons,” he keeps coming back until they stop giving him money and attention.
“Panhandler Franchises” include “The Final Destination,” “Fast and Furious,” “Resident Evil,” and “American Pie;” the youngest of which is 11 years old. Are any of these series, two for certain and one possibly receiving another installment, good or important enough to last over a decade? Most are only getting worse, and seeing as it took “Fast and Furious” five tries to get something right, they are well beyond redemption.
The issue with long running film series in general is most do not have a story with the depth or the longevity to warrant itself. Some stories, like “Harry Potter” are intricate and epic sagas. It deserved eight movies to play itself out, and it probably would have been better off with one more.
However, it is rare that series are written from the beginning to tell a dozen hours of story. It is like a television show; they figure it out chapter to chapter. Remember how disappointing the finale of “Lost” was because they built up the first several seasons so much they made it impossible to write a satisfying resolution. The pattern will repeat, and often become apparent well before the end. One clear instance was with the “Saw” series. It is hard to argue that it did not ultimately serve as torture porn, but it was engaging, had memorable characters and was sadistically creative. They had a solid trilogy and could have easily wrapped everything up in the fourth film. But instead they tried to stretch the series to seven, and by the end the writing had fizzled out and the attitude towards the series was that it had long overstayed its welcome.
The “panhandler franchise” is an unequivocal negative. They are bad for the industry, their casts, and worst of all, their audiences. They suck moviegoers into coming back for more and often deliver meaningless filler. Granted it is equally the audience’s fault for constantly biting the line, but people want more of what they enjoy, it is rational instinct. But theatre lineups are almost becoming a “Catch-22” situation. When there is nothing original and just a platter of sequels, you will pick the series you have become comfortable with, even if it is a fifth worthless installment.