Saturday, April 23, 2011

Prequels to Sequels... Yay or Nay?

In case any of you were wondering, here was the situation that brought me to this particular topic. I was out with two friends of mine not long ago and as usual our conversation eventually shifted towards media, and movies. We were all anticipating (and that the same time loathing) this year’s lineup for spring/summer seasons. At some point tin the conversation, one of us pointed out that lately, certain genres of movies have been over saturated within the last several years or so. In this case superhero type films, such as the X-Men based movies. With the X-men, there have been at least 4 affiliated films, in the past 10 years, with a 5th one “X-men: First Class” out this spring, and apparently 4 more confirmed titles out within the next 7 years or so. Yikes…

Needless to say, my friend could be right about this, over-saturation of sequels and such. And it seems at times nowadays, its more about how much money they can milk off a series more so that the consistency of the film storyline(s) shown, at least that how it feels to me, so other than that reason (which is fairly obvious), why is it that there’s a drive to have sequels to a film, or a prequel for that matter? And more importantly, why is it more often that not, the sequel/prequel does not do as good as the original film?

Well, in regards to the first question, I would say, for story continuity. Some films do a tendency to be somewhat inconsistent with story plot, even with successful films. This is especially true for underground cult classic films like “Dark City” (which ironically does not have any sequels or prequels despite a demand for one by fans). Therefore a sequel is created to continue the story plot, in order to add more details to the adventure of character(s) from the first film, while answering some questions that were not addressed in the previous film. This at times however, does not fair well with the same story consistency, either by questionable character development of an already established character of the film, or by raising more questions and showing more inconsistencies in the storyline to further confuse the initial story plot of the film-turned to film series. This would be toward the 2nd question of the sequel not being as good as the first. Some examples of this in my opinion would be, “Tron “compared to “Tron: Legacy”. Or “Blade” to “Blade 3: Trinity” (the 2nd Blade film wasn’t that bad and followed pretty well to the first, but again, that’s just my opinion).

Luckily this formula doesn’t seem to follow with film series based on novels. My guess for that is because of the already established storylines, and characters of the series in question, the only challenge is to adapt the novel in question to a movie format. That of course at times can be hit and miss. For example, look at the “Chronicles of Narnia” series. Compared to the books the last 3 films of this set have been fairly good, only a few changes here and there in some of the plots. Though I think with the latest film “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” I think there was a major change in the story with the dream island they visited. I’m pretty sure that section of the film was not the same in any sense compared to the novel, which did annoy me a bit. Perhaps a better example would be the “Lord of the Rings” Trilogy, which (thanks to the director / producer being a major fan of the books) was very consistent in comparison to the original novels, and even went to major details to keep the momentum of the series. A stickler for details, yes, but in a very good way, which as a fan of both, I certainly appreciated. On a side note, the “Harry Potter”, as well as “The Girl who played with Fire” series are two other good examples of successful film sequel series that hold true to the novels they were based on.

Then of course there are the series set of sequels and prequels that for some might seem to be overkill to some, yet in some odd way necessary for that same story consistency, but in doing so, they sequels and /or prequels start to lose that same good story plot from the original film. And which series can easily fit in this category? Well, none other that the entire Star Wars series, this includes the newer trilogy as well as the original one (not counting the 2 animation series of the animation movie…already too complicated to add those to the mix lol).

Why Star Wars? Well think about it; compare the original trilogy to the prequel ones. Yeah it did answer a few questions about the origins of Anikin Skywalker, but raised so many more questions during and epically after the last of that series, “Revenge of the Sith”. I wont go into a huge detail on what exactly (that alone would be a 2 part blog entry in itself and I think one other blogger here is a bigger expert on SW than even me *hint-hint*) I will say this, it seems that the more they add to SW series in all aspects, the more convoluted and confusing the original storyline gets. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one that thinks this either.

Well I can go on this all day, but for now, I think I’ll leave the rest of this open to discussion. What say you all on this? Am I being just a tad too much a stickler for details in a film series consistency? Or am I actually on to something here? Your thoughts please…

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I got your "hint hint" (!) and I will get to doing a review of why the Star Wars prequel trilogy (PT) came up short (and, as you'll see, "coming up short" is putting it generously mildly).

    That review will feature some excellent external references from others far more knowledgeable on Star Wars than both of us put together (!), so do look forward to it soon.

    To further pique your interest, one of them actually wrote a book on the subject (he was gracious enough to mention my name in his "thanks preamble", as my crazy thoughts resonated with his research, go figure). That book is now a university text. I'll discuss more in the actual post, it's pretty nifty stuff.


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