When I learned how steeped 2015 would be in sequels, I was amped up. Age of Ultron, Mad Max: Fury Road, Jurassic World, Terminator Genisys, and MI: Rogue Nation were just the beginning of the list. Great stuff to look forward to, right? Well, how about now? What are we thinking about the sequels so far?
Out of theatrical releases between May 1st and August 30th, 17 films out of 40 planned for wide release are sequels, prequels, or reboots. That is 40% freaking percent, and a bunch. Of course, there are great original movies being released all the time. This is not intended to disregard those, at all. It just seemed that with such a large number of sequels, it deserved a look.
Sequels and reboots can be great
It doesn’t take my B school degree to figure out why this happens, as it’s a no-brainer marketing strategy to capitalize on previous success. Lock in talent while you can, and strike while the iron is hot.
As a movie goer, I have enjoyed what I thought were great franchise sequels and reboots. Bryan Singer is using a blended approach and bending time to infuse the X-Men mythology with a fresh take. What J.J. Abrams did with Star Trek gave us a new spin on some much beloved characters. (Let’s hope that he does the same with Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens!)
While Age of Ultron delivered no surprises, the Marvel films follow a recipe that continues to perpetuate demand. Proof positive, by using the “infinity stones” as a plot device, Marvel cross-pollinates the franchises, and baits us with promise, regardless of character or story arc. The Avengers catalogue has become one mammoth chronology, and yet it continues to add new elements, and Stan Lee sightings, to the mix.
Not all sequels are necessarily on the popcorn list, but fun frolics like Pitch Perfect 2, Minions, and Magic Mike XXL have been nicely peppered between the blockbusters.
And, some sequels not so much
Others seem to fall into the “just because you could, doesn’t mean you should” category. Poltergeist was virtually a straight up remake with updated effects. If you want to see a better version, then just pull out the original and enjoy that: campy humor, melodrama and all. Entourage is another that comes to mind. I can see trying to follow the pattern of successful HBO sibling Sex in the City, but I just don’t think we cared that much about, nor identified with, this group of emotionally stunted man-children to be compelled to see what happens. And, did we really need a Ted 2?
Now that we are halfway through the sequels of the summer, something is a little ripe, and I’m certainly not the only one who noticed. Most obvious with Jurassic World and Terminator Genisys, some seem to rely so heavily on the old bones of their predecessors that they haven’t even attempted to enhance the franchise. Instead, there’s enough nostalgia to say, hey, we know we’ve got you! We’re not going to challenge you with anything fresh, but we’ll tweak it just enough.
For me, this is a trend I hope is not repeated. Yes, Jurassic World has been an Indominus rex-sized hit, blowing the doors off the global box office. Why? Let’s face it; we love Spielberg movies, dinos, and we have all fallen hard for Chris Pratt. I did enjoy it, but it felt flat, like a cardboard cutout. It looks good at first glance, but look deeper and there’s no substance.
All in all, it’s been an “ok” summer. With 6 weeks, and six more sequels to be released, we can still hope for a pearl. Personally, I’m hopeful for Rogue Nation. May this be a mission they chose to accept!
Your turn: What sequel were you anticipating the most, and were you rewarded or left wanting more?