Life + Arts

Sequels present turmoil

The Empire Strikes Back is a sequel that comes through when most other sequels fall short of the original movie. | 20th Century Fox

It’s a well-known fact that sequels are supposed to be terrible.  They cannibalize what was good from the first movie and try to run the box office again, sacrificing what could have been a decent movie for quick cash.  Very rarely does a sequel use the original as a stepping-stone for something more ambitious, and when they try, they usually end up failing hard.

There are exceptions to the rule, of course.  Some of the best movies of all time are sequels.  Terminator 2 was obviously the best of the Terminator series; the same with Empire Strikes Back and Aliens.  Then, of course, you have some movies so terrible they make you want to ban the directors from touching a camera ever again.  Anyone who thought Basic Instinct needed a sequel needs to be tied up and thrown off a bridge.  And there should be some way to bring George Lucas and Steven Spielberg to trial for what they did to Indiana Jones in The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

So, what makes a good sequel?  Just look at the successes –Aliens, Terminator 2 – what do they have in common (aside from James Cameron)?  They take what the first film created and build on it without taking out what made the first one great. Aliens sends Sigourney Weaver back to the planet where it all started and puts her in the unwilling role of saving the marines that were sent to protect her.  Terminator 2 adds more Arnold (always a plus), makes him the good guy and adds twice the robot fight scenes.  To make a good sequel, you have to take what was good, make it better, and make sure you don’t add Shia LaBeouf.  He ruins everything.  Especially Megan Fox.

It’s much easier to point out what makes a bad sequel.  One word springs to mind before anything else: Ewoks.  Well, that and Jar-Jar Binks.  Both ideas were terrible and further cements the fact that George Lucas went completely insane after the eighties ended.  Probably the best showcase of horrible sequel ideas is what happened to the Ocean franchise.  Ocean’s Eleven was a classic heist movie; it was smart, funny, and the cast worked so well you’d think they grew up together.  Once they realized how much money they could make, though, they decided to ask all their friends to come play with them – and the results should not be watched with anyone possessing a working frontal lobe.

Unfortunately, awful sequels are just part of the Hollywood minefield.  If you navigate it carefully, you may just find something worthwhile.  Or you just may blow up.

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