A few weeks ago, I took to this site to slate sequels and Hollywood’s reliance on them, since then I’ve realised that the entire piece was much more one sided than I’d desired. So I thought I’d follow up now with a positive piece about sequels, for better or worse they have their place in Hollywood, and media as a whole.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe
I touched on these in the last topic, holding them up as a positive example there too, as I do here, as currently Marvel are leagues ahead of their closest competition DC, yes they struggle on the villain front, but you can’t deny they’re vision of telling a wide story arc over nearly 10 years of movies, not to mention introducing new heroes into popular culture. For example the Guardians of the Galaxy, I’m sure many peoples lives (including mine) are brighter for knowing of the Guardians’ existence.
Star Wars (Excluding Prequels)
The recent crop of Star Wars movies have reignited the phenomenon that is Star Wars, spanning from a trio of classic films in the late 70s/early 80s we now live in the second (arguably third) Star Wars boom. Whereas I don’t include Episodes I-III in this heading (there will be a write up about them in the future) the spirit of Star Wars as a story has been focused on one bloodline for seven movies over 40 years, with a spin-off universe to come, Star Wars hasn’t been better since the Empire Strikes Back heyday, and I love it for it.
Star Trek (Not All)
The second entrant with a qualifier, this may be the only example I know where it’s sequel is arguably the first ‘good’ film. Wrath of Khan is a classic that I still enjoy today, and that continued over the next two movies, seeing one good story arc from beginning to end in what should have been a nice conclusion, and then Shatner directed one and well, this is supposed to be positive so I’ll stay clear.
AND THEN, after ten movies, six with the original crew, four with New Generation, the Star Trek universe was rebooted and re-cast, all under the watchful eye of JJ Abrams. With Chris Pine and Zachery Quinto taking over the iconic Kirk and Spock roles, the two flourished n bringing these characters to a whole new world of fans, with a sequel that for me challenged Wrath of Khan (Into Darkness) and an extremely fun third movie in the reboot, I’d hate for them to stretch this franchise into the death it encountered last time out.
Rise/Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
I’m a latecomer to the Apes hype. Having only watched Rise and Dawn a few months ago, but boy am I glad that I did. Telling a tight, engaging story of man’s cruelty and experimentation as well as characterising Apes of all things, Rise set the playing field for a wider story that Dawn carried on, hopefully War will wrap the story up in as grand a fashion as the last two have been presented in.
Rocky (All except V)
Right, last one with a qualifier I promise, but Rocky isn’t just a good story on screen, it’s a heart-warmer off it too. Representing Sylvester Stallone’s last throw of the dice really, it took him from destitution to superstardom. The first two Rocky films are the two classics, based off the classic underdog story in a boxing ring as small-time boxer Rocky Balboa gets a once in a lifetime opportunity to fight for the World Heavyweight title, and miraculously goes the distance with the champ, and number 2 being the inevitable rematch, seeing Rocky come out of top.
The following sequels might not be classics as their predecessors, but I still have a bit of a soft spot for 3 and 4, and a real place in my heart for number 6 (Rocky Balboa). 5 being the only one that I actively don’t like, it’s great to me that a story like Rocky’s can be revisited years later from a different angle (Creed) and still make for compelling viewing, I would have also included the Rambo movies here too, but as much as I like them, I’m not willing to call any of it’s sequels ‘good’ in the same way I can’t call The Hangover Part II ‘good’ I like it, but I know it isn’t good.
The Dark Knight Trilogy
I have saved the best ’til last. What I would hold up as a true peak of comic book movies, The Dark Knight trilogy.
More or less, it was exactly what Batman needed after the career killer that was Batman & Robin. An excellent filmmaker with a fresh twist to put on the Caped Crusader. The first movie in the series, Batman Begins, sees Bruce Wayne’s gruelling journey towards becoming Batman. The Dark Knight hits a peak not seen in comic book movies before, by re-introducing Batman’s mortal enemy The Joker, played by the magnificent Heath Ledger, but you don’t need me to tell you how good this movie is when every critic and it’s dog already has, just be sure that it is really, really, really good. Before The Dark Knight Rises brings Nolan’s Batman story to an end with another charismatic villain performance and the usual stellar supporting cast. Truly a great series.
So there, something positive to read, lest you all call me a misery guts, check back this weekend as I risk my sanity listing all my problems with the Star Wars prequels, which could go on for some time.