Published on May 11th, 2013 | by Clint Davis
Tired of Sequels? — Reader Q&A
Thanks again for the reader feedback! Email me at TheClintDavis@gmail.com.
A recent question I was sent from Dan in Dayton, OH:
What your thoughts on movie sequels? Are they basically cash grabs or are there some legitimate instances where a sequel would be appropriate?
So far at Overdue Review, I’ve only looked at one sequel–Dan cited this as the inspiration behind his question but honestly, who isn’t thinking about sequels these days? Every summer, we’re hammered with a load of sequels that typically stem from action/adventure franchises (more specifically superhero flicks). This doesn’t even include the staggering amount of remakes and reboots (i.e. Superman, Spider-Man, and every horror movie that hits theaters these days) that we see hitting theaters. As discerning movie fans, we may be tired of seeing the same storyline played out with a shiny new actor every five years, but honestly who can blame the studios?
Look at Iron Man 3, which is lighting up the box office although the second film was written off as a straight cash grab. This shows how much the average moviegoer cares about originality. Most people don’t go to the movies that often and when they do, would rather see familiar actors playing familiar characters in familiar situations. That’s why sequels continue to be produced despite them typically being trashed by critics–because they aren’t made for critics, they’re usually made for dead presidents.
To answer your question, Dan–there are certainly times when a sequel or even multiple sequels are warranted. Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy marked some of the best sequel-making in film history, as did Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy–but both had terrific material to draw from. You’ll find that the sequels that often suck are the ones that weren’t planned to exist. In these cases, you’ve got a perfectly good standalone film that doesn’t need any continuation but because of popularity, it’s awfully tempting to go back to the well. Sometimes these work (Back to the Future Part II) but often they’re just second-rate retreads of the same material that worked the first time (The Hangover Part II).
For a sequel to work, it must be given respect by the filmmakers to not simply clone its predecessor but to be be original–which goes directly against the old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. A bit of fan service is required in any sequel, but if you want your series to have a legacy–you have to keep them coming back. I’ll put together a list of my favorite sequels soon, in the meantime, I’d like to know yours! Thanks for reading and writing, Dan.