For the second week in a row, Taken 2 sits atop of the North American box office. The highly anticipated sequel to the Liam Nesson hit from 2008 has taken in a whopping $87 million at the box office, making yet another return to Bryan Mills and his specialized espionage skill set a movie studio mandate. It’s that rare combination of fan friendly film and commercial success (critics, of course, be damned), the kind of cash cow that no suit can ignore - at least, not without losing their job. Since the dawn of the artform, Hollywood has loved to revisit material. The silents were a study in repeat theatricality, while the Depression saw a glut of musicals and mindless escapism. By the ‘50s, producers found a way to add continuity by building on franchises. Even though Andy Hardy, Charlie Chan, and their lot started the trend decades before, it was the prepost modern movement that argued for the viability of mining an original movie’s mojo for even more money.
Of course, for every unnecessary sequel, there have been many that never made it past the talking stage. A few, like a Hot Fuzz update, seem more like the punchline to a particular interview question than a stone cold career reality. In other cases, time has tripped by without allowing a proposal - like a Steven Spielberg produced spoof of his original blockbuster, penned by the National Lampoon gang, entitled Jaws 3, People 0 -to get beyond the pitch stage. In our humble opinion, there are a lot of great sequel ideas out there, things that rival Aliens and/or The Godfather Part 2 as matching or bypassing their seminal source. On the other hand, there are concepts that clearly weren’t thought out too well. Thus we present the 10 Sequels That Should Have Been/Should Be Made. Each one has plenty of potential. Whether audiences would respond to them now, so far removed from their original inspiration, remains to be seen. As Taken 2 argues, you need to strike while the iron is hot, not hesitant.
This is a stretch, but an intriguing one nonetheless. The original film was rather self-contained. In the end, Mills is off to jail and/or a mental ward, Somerset is relegated to retirement, and John Doe is lying on a slab in the local morgue. So where do you go from there? One idea had Freeman’s tired detective developing psychic abilities and dealing with another mass murderer. There was also the concept of having Somerset spring Mills from his imprisonment, 48 Hours style, to solve another Bible related crime spree. Whatever the proposal, director David Fincher has made it clear that he’d rather have knives driven into his eyes than contemplate a sequel. Enough said.
It’s hard to call this a sequel. In actuality, it’s more of a se-prequel. You see, Quentin Tarantino loves to intertwine his various projects via small, significant cues. Red Apple Cigarettes. Various character names and connections… and in this case, the tale of how a young Vincent (John Travolta in Pulp Fiction) and Vic (Michael Madsen ala Reservoir Dogs) Vega became mob enforcers. The idea is intriguing, but it seems like the passage of time has tempered any real interest. You see, without the stars who initiated these important roles, any follow-up seems pointless. Even more concerning is the concept of how to treat their tale, since their fate is already written in future films.
Jack Burton may have defeated Lo Pan and saved the girl(s) the first time, but he was still riding off into the sunset, big rig style, with a weird Asian monster strapped to the back of his truck cab. Where would the story go next? How would John Carpenter reinvest his take on the sensational Shaw Brothers with even more insider splash? Apparently, we’ll never know. Along with a proposed return to the world of Snake Plissken with something called Escape from Earth (which sounds suspiciously like the Luc Besson produced Lockout from this year) Carpenter abandoned these older characters, content to sit in semi-retirement and produce remakes.
When the first film ended, everything was set for a series of sequels. Tom Arnold’s gentleman spy was outed, his suspicious wife was now into espionage herself, and it seemed like sidekick Arnold had finally proven his post-Rosanne chops. All they needed was an eager James Cameron to make a surefire sequel hit happen. Of course, he decided against it, instead focusing on future Oscar bait like Titanic and current overall box office champion Avatar. While it would be nice to see where this sensational action film would go once Harry and Helen Tasker join forces, it appears that time and intent have prevented a Mr. and Mrs. Smith like return.
When DVD started dominating the home video marketplace, films like this one became benchmarks for critical reconsideration. Even more importantly, they spawned a renewed nostalgic interest that argued for a return. Of course, by the time anyone considered a follow-up to this seminal slice of Amblin adolescent adventure, the main cast were all grown up. So the answer seemed simple—let the Goonies’ children become the new Goonies. Others offered an even better idea—get the adult Goonies to go on one last old fashioned “kiddie” quest. Alas, no one could make it happen, and thus another mythic movie fades into the realm of distant possibility.
// Notes from the Road
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