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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Editorial: Unnecessary Movie Sequels

by Guest Contributor: Mark Donica

Well hello everyone, this is going to be a little more of a rant, but it deals with a subject that is near and dear to my heart. So I was walking through the Target the other day when to my surprise I saw that there in fact exists, a sequel to one of the greatest movies of my childhood, “The Sandlot”. You know, I didn’t mind all of the crappy Disney sequels that have been put out (including the upcoming prequel to the Little Mermaid), but when you start messing with live action movies I grew up with, you’ve gone too far.

It got me to take a look at the entire trend of doing straight to VHS/DVD sequels and sequels in general. Obviously, it’s to make more money, but it has to get to a point where the studios question the purpose of their lives. The Disney generation that lived through the “Renaissance” is a gifted group. The best that Disney had to offer came out while we were kids and we have the opportunity to show those classics to our children. Now the only passable sequels were the first. The first were, of course, “The Return of Jafar” and “Aladdin and the King of Thieves”. These being the first, we didn’t know what to expect. “Jafar” was good enough, it had most of the cast returning, but of course the most notable member did not return, Robin Williams. Luckily he did for the final installment of the Aladdin series. Disney’s constant returning to the dried out well of story is thankfully coming to an end thanks to John Lasseter, so we can forget about movies like “Atlantis: Milo’s Return” and “Cinderella III: A Twist in Time”. Bad sequels to good movies are one thing, but terrible sequels to bad movies have no excuse, but Disney has turned into a money grubbing company that doesn’t care about a child’s happiness.

My point is this, what is creative about doing a sequel to a fully fleshed out stand alone film if you can’t get the same (voice) actors or even crew for that matter. The Disney sequels are a good example, but a more recent example would be “Mummy 3: The Tomb of the Dragon Emperor”. It lacks several aspects of the first two films, most notably, Rachel Weisz, Arnold Vosloo and, I think, most importantly Steven Sommers so that already marks it down to maybe a 70%. Starting the movie at that percentage doesn’t leave it with that good of a chance to be very good. Even with Brendan Fraser attached to the film, the fact that their son has aged dramatically since the last film makes the film look confusing, especially since the new actor for the son is only a few years younger than Fraser. The movie couldn't overtake The Dark Knight, so it didn't have too much of an impact on the moviegoers who seem to be more interested in seeing The Joker blow up Gotham.

Sequels in general aren’t usually a good idea with original story ideas or even with some preconceived ideas. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to sequels, they can make good series’ even better, ala this summers Dark Knight to Batman Begins. As a matter of fact, tomorrow I will be giving Batman geek review of the Dark Knight. Now I’m sure you’ve read plenty of reviews of the film, but I’m just going to show what I enjoyed and certain things to watch for in the next movie, whenever it may come out. In terms of sequels, do we really need a Madagascar 2, or a Shrek 5, or a Star Wars 2.5? It is in this moviegoers opinion that no we do not. Let some stories alone so we don't have to get our hopes up with another "Spiderman 3" or "Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Crystal Skull". Let the nostalgia, no matter how recent, live on in the minds of the moviegoer. Most people would gladly double dip on a DVD that has more special features then see their favorites get butchered. Seriously, don' even get me started on X-Men 3.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy what's to come.


Anonymous said...

The one star I plopped on this clunky bore-athon is due to the presence of the great Jet Li as the evil Dragon Emperor of the subtitle and the gorgeous Michelle Yeoh as Zi Yuan, a witch who's been on the Emperor¹s ass for over 2000 years.

Peter Travers
Rolling Stone _mummy_tomb_of_the_dragon_emperor

martial-arts superstar Jet Li triumphs as the mostly wordless evil Emperor Han of ancient China, a glowing magma spirit locked in a terra cotta shell.

Jane Horwitz
Washington Post 073100734.html

Still, Li makes a great villain, using his powers to create fire, ice and other elements.

Edward Douglas
Coming Soon

Toward the end of The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh launch into a vigorous sword fight — and what a grand pleasure it is to watch these two world-class stars in action again...Their duel atop the Great Wall of China is a reunion of titans, an Old Timers' Day for two actor-athletes still in their sinuous prime. Forgive the effusions of an alter-kocker fanboy, but the flinty glamour of Li and Yeoh — buttressed by the stolid, sneering presence of top Hong Kong villain Anthony Wong Chau-sang (who in 1993 appeared in 15 films!) — is the best reason to catch this third in the series of Indiana Jones knockoffs.

Richard Corliss

A memorably badass Jet Li.
Nathan Rabin
AV Club

Mark Donica said...

I see what you're saying, but these praises come from new characters with previous histories together. The legend of the Terra Cotta army and the Dragon Emperor could have been a great martial arts epic, but they decided to slap it with the Mummy franchise name so it has to be chained down with family friendly goodness amd recognizable characters. I would have loved to see this film separate, the idea was good enough that it didn't have to be a sequel to a faded franchise. I loooooooooooooove me some martial arts films. "Hero" is one of my all time favorites, the fighting scenes are so beautiful it's like art, so the use of martial arts in a film based in China are one thing, but it's another thing to use China as an excuse to include "what the kids like".

Blah, I'm getting off topic, I think the story with Jet Li and Zi Yuan in tow didn't need "The Mummy" tacked onto it.

Thank you for your response!

Ezra Edmond said...

I agree that both Michelle Yeoh and Jet Li are fantastic actors, but that does not make a film good. The joy's of the mummy Trilogy's first 2 movies, were the quirkiness, and freshness of Imhotep, who should have been crucial to its third installment (if necessary). I think that another movie about Rick O'connell is completely unnecessary unless it has nothing to do with the other mummy movies and solely focus's him on the day after the fight, or something interesting like that.

It is obvious that the new team that helmed this third mummy film was looking to Indiana Jones 4 as inspiration, mainly with it being a similar style adventure, and taking place real-time later.

And I'm sorry but just using powers to create fire, ice, and "other elements" (Ice isn't an element, its Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water) does not make one a 'Great Villain'. Look at Hitler or any of the Nazi's. None of them can manipulate the elements, and they still are fantastic villains. What made Imhotep a great villain was his inner torment, not his powers (though, they certainly helped).

I think the Mummy 3 could have been fantastic, but just wasn't put through production hell long enough to turn out something worthwhile.

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