Articles: Summing up the summer of sequels: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly




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Samantha Ofole-Prince

From "Freddy Vs Jason," "X2: X Men United," "Legally Blond 2" to "Charlie Angels: Full Throttle," "Final Destination 2," and "The Matrix Reloaded," it’s been a summer of sequels with studios churning out more than a dozen this year alone, raising the question when does a movie merit a sequel?

Some such as "Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle," which re-teamed Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu as private eye femmes trying to thwart crime, had no plot beyond action and eye candy. The first movie was delightfully tasteless that it was practically impossible to detest. There was a sparkle and vigor to the production which worked once, but the novelty factor has long faded, leaving a sequel which offered nothing but overlong, dull and repetitive action sequences, superimposed with a cynical sense that the only reason the movie exists is because the first one was hugely successful.

"Legally Blond 2" saw the return of the airy Witherspoon. Monotonously and unfailing inane, it was an embarrassing rehash of the original. "Final Destination 2" was just plain old unnecessary for as history has shown us, sequels are no more than shameless cash-ins and it conformed identically to this trend, being as predictable as a sequel can get.

"X2: X Men United," a big screen adaptation of the classic comic book about a group of unique mutants who live in a world where they are persecuted by humans, was one of those rare superior sequels. An improvement over its predecessor, it supplied a fresh stance bringing back its original members and introducing some equally entertaining ones. It had far more action and creativity than its predecessor and distinguished itself with attention to the cast, allowing them to deepen and grow more complex.

The most successful sequel of the year undoubtedly goes to "The Matrix Reloaded," the follow up to the sci-fi phenomenon "The Matrix," first released in 1999. A strikingly innovative science fiction flick about a computer-generated dream world built by machines to enslave humanity, it was a huge blockbuster and one of the most anticipated sequels ever to hit the theaters. Kinetic, atmospheric and visually stunning, it toyed with the boundaries between reality and fantasy in a very inimitable and appealing way and is the most influential action movie since "Star Wars."

Its sequel, "The Matrix Reloaded" was bigger and better than the first and took viewers deeper into the mythology underlying "The Matrix." Picking up where the first left off, it supplied exorbitant action, fighting sequences complete with the customary freeze effects, and a romance not seen in the first which gives it that edgy twist. With a plot that successfully juggles genre in a compelling and skillful fashion, "The Matrix Reloaded" saturated theaters with a level of anticipation that few films would ever be able to meet.

Well summed by Roger Ebert in his book of film, "There aren’t many movies that can inspire such powerful reaction, but anyone who loved movies can remember once or twice when it happened." Such is the case with the Matrix movies. With another Matrix installment titled "Matrix Revolution," to be released in November, it is deemed to be the conclusion to the trilogy. Packed with defying stunts, it is already slated to join the ranks of "The Empire Strikes Back," "The Mummy Returns," "Men In Black II," "The Godfather Part II," and "Terminator 2: Judgment Day II," as high grossing sequels.

"Sequels have a comfort level," states director Stewart Joseph. "Movie goers climb on board what is hot and movie studios try to capitalize on a popular theme, which sometimes fails to generate expected success or even surpass the studio’s expectation, as would the case in many movies."

Studio moguls know that sequels and remakes are often more successful than untried ideas, but perhaps they need to be reminded of the true meaning of the word — a continuation of a told tale. As such, if sequels are contemplated they should stick to the general theme of the first movie from script to main stars; for it’s better to remember a movie franchise for how great it was instead of remembering it for its awful sequel


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