Have you ever heard someone say, “Sequels are never better than the original”?
I have. And it is often true. Let’s examine why trilogies and the modern day formula for the movies you see today, often fail.
Some Movies Should Stop at One
Take the movie, The Matrix. Stand-alone, it was a good movie. Then you add part two and three onto it and you get a less-than-mediocre trilogy. I don’t think I’ve found one person who thinks the whole trilogy is “awesome”. Let’s look at the first movie. It had a great story, lots of actions, and wraps it all up in the end. It was a hit. Now can you picture the Warner Bros. executives looking at the numbers from the opening weekend, and giving the green light to go ahead with the next two sequels. The next Matrix movie ends with Neo (the protagonist) laying on a table across from the antagonist who is trying to take him down. It leaves the viewer hanging. Standing alone, this middle movie does not complete itself and is part of the problem. The Matrix trilogy should have stopped before it was even started.
A Movie Should be Complete
Nowadays, the formula for a hit movie franchise is three. Big executives love trilogies. And this is the problem. Each separate movie should be it’s own entity and each story should wrap itself up and be complete when the movie ends. But the profit-motivated greed has changed the movie scene. Take Transformers, for example – It was made with the trilogy in mind. The first movie was good. It is a complete entity and the story completes itself. Then the sequel tries to outdo the first movie. More explosions, more headache-causing CGI, and more camera-pans than contained within google’s street view. The problem with trying to make a movie bigger and better than the predecessor is that then you lose sight of what makes a movie good. And that is completeness.
A Movie Should End
The Lord of the Rings movies each had a giant budget and Peter Jackson wanted to do them right, without having any regrets. That is understandable, however, you have to draw the line at what the core film is and then cut out the parts of the movie that do not keep the story going forward. Running too long was part of the problem with the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I not only fell asleep in all of them – partly because they were too long – but also because it was just too much. In the end, I felt exhausted and worn out because the director could not draw the line between what was movie and what was bonus material for the DVD special features menu. A great movie not only ends, but ends leaving the viewer wanting more, not wanting less.
A Movie Should Stay True to Itself
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull should not have been made. And here’s the reason why. The first three movies were made in a different generation. The effects were skillfully done in their respective time period. They make number four, and not only does it feel out of place when you put it side-by-side with the others, but the CGI and effects were just too much. I remember growing up with Indiana Jones movies that had realistic looking effects and real boulders chasing him through the caves. When you can tell that a Jeep cannot physically drive along on the edge of a cliff for a prolonged period of time, the movie loses the realness factor. And I don’t even have to bring up the killer ant mounds, aliens, and telekinesis rubbish to tell you the writer(s) of this script went way overboard. This fourth movie was done in an era when movies try to be bigger and better, and therein lies the problem. Somebody needs to stand up and say, let’s make a good movie, not just a big movie bigger with artificial looking special effects.
Hollywood likes to make trilogies. I think that has been made very clear. More movies in a set, equal more money. That makes sense. But does quantity mean less quality? I think it can if a movie loses it’s focus of how to stay true to the story of it’s characters and what they are trying to accomplish. Let’s go back to the days when great movies were made without worrying about how many sequels are to follow.
To find information on all of these movies online, go to www.IMDB.com.