[13 July 2009]
Can you remember the last time you went out to a nice dinner? I’ll bet you went to one of your favorite restaurants. When money is tight, people generally opt for the familiar, rather than experiment with the unknown. Well, movies are a lot like restaurants, except that the large popcorn costs more than the lobster. Moviegoers are not in the mood for experimentation when they finally make the decision to splurge on entertainment.
That is evident by the current box office chart. Last week, the top two movies at the box office were Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. Both films are sequels, and both have made an obscene amount of money, proving that the public is looking for the familiar. Johnny Depp’s critically acclaimed gangster flick, Public Enemies, came in a respectable third in its opening weekend, but the take was considerably lower than the sequels.
Now topping the box-office list is another sequel, Bruno. Oh, please, don’t try to convince me it’s not a sequel. Trust me, I’ve seen it, and it may be a different character from the mind of Sacha Baron Cohen, but it’s a sequel to his very original 2006 hit Borat, only not as funny. People will believe they’re living dangerously by seeing an original film, but they’re just seeing another sequel.
On July 15, the three sequels will cower under the sequel power of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It easily could wind up being the biggest movie of the summer, although the Transformers sequel is giving it a run for its money ($600 million worldwide, and counting).
With sequel fever infecting the multiplex, it was inevitable that I would catch the fever. It also was inevitable that I would write a column about it. That’s what I do. I’ve been pondering the subject of sequels, and I’ve come up with a couple of lists for you to peruse. Feel free to disagree with me.
—Barry Koltnow / The Orange County Register (MCT)
BEST SEQUELS EVER MADE (They did it for the art, and the money)
1. The Godfather, Part II (1974)
Francis Ford Coppola and I have argued over this movie (he insists that it’s better than the 1972 original; I say it’s a close second), but there is no doubt in my mind that this is one of the best movies ever made, so it certainly deserves this recognition.
2. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
The best of the Star Trek films, this sequel did not induce a coma-like state, which is more than I could say about the 1979 original.
3. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
OK, I admit that the original Star Wars three years earlier is a classic, but the sequel actually turned it up a notch. We lost the surprise element of the original, but we gained so much more.
4. Aliens (1986)
Nothing could top the moment when that thing popped out of the guy’s chest in the 1979 original, but no one can deny that this sequel really took you on a ride. I’ve listened to the convincing argument of some fans who maintain that this is even better than Alien.
5. The Road Warrior (1981)
Let’s put it this way, if Mad Max, the 1979 original, is shown on cable, I’ll watch it once every few years. But when this sequel is shown, I watch it every time.
WORST SEQUELS EVER MADE (They did it just for the money)
Batman & Robin (1997)
A testament to the likability of George Clooney. It is a miracle that his acting career survived this movie. Whenever I interview Clooney, I try to mention this movie at least once just to humble him. Even he admits it’s the worst sequel ever made.
2. Ocean’s Twelve (2004)
How can someone so loved and respected as Clooney make so many awful movies? We’re going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he does a lot of favors for friends. Frankly, the 2001 original wasn’t that great, but it looks like Citizen Kane compared to its sequel.
3. Staying Alive (1983)
How many people who loved the original wondered what happened to Tony Manero after the end of 1977’s Saturday Night Fever? And how many people felt betrayed by this worthless piece of junk?
4. The Matrix: Reloaded (2003)
The only positive thing I can say is that it’s better than the second sequel, 2003’s The Matrix Revolutions.
5. Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997)
Director Jan De Bont should hide in shame.