Monday, January 24, 2011

SEQUELS THAT OUGHT TO HAVE BEEN, BUT NEVER WERE (but may still be, given Hollywood’s penchant for sequels and undying greed)

After watching a great movie with fun characters, it is natural to want more. Hollywood knows this sentimental side to all of us: which is why it will keep cranking out shitty sequels made in under 5 days, and we keep buying tickets for them. Then again, on some rare occasions, the sequel nearly betters the original (Terminator, Toy Story, The Godfather, among others). Other movies have sequels so ludicrously bad, it nearly destroys the original for us (90% of the sequels out there). Of course, there are those other movies that should never have had sequels and fortunately, Hollywood was kind enough to spare us. Just because a movie was amazing doesn't mean it needs a sequel. Like The Matrix, for example. SO GLAD THEY DIDN’T MAKE BULLSHIT SEQUELS THAT COMPLETELY UNDERMINE THE RULES CREATED FOR ITS UNIVERSE, PHEW.

Basically, sequel-making is a tricky business. You have to have enough nods and winks to make it worthwhile for the audience, who just want to relive the first movie, really. But you can’t make the movie one BIG elbow nudge; it’s got to be original enough to stand on its own too.

After vast tracts of time spent on Wikipedia research, I have determined that the following (really great) movies might actually benefit from a sequel or two.

I'm not going to mention the Dark Knight sequel in this list, because The Dark Knight Rises is in the works, or Kill Bill, because Q.T. has confirmed a vol. 3 and vol. 4 to be released in 2013 and 2014ish (yay!).

1. Unbreakable (2000):

Ripe for a Sequel Because: These days, Manoj N. Shyamalan’s street cred is dirt. And yet, there was a time when he actually made great movies. One of his best movies (there are two) was Unbreakable. Bruce Willis gives a surprisingly subdued performance as a superhero who discovers his powers, and whose nemesis is the redoubtable Samuel L. Jackson, who believes that comic books are not just picture stories for children, but a treatise on society. Some scenes in the movie were simply stunning, especially because of that undercurrent of latent power that pervaded the movie.

MNS had originally planned the movie as a trilogy—every comic book has three parts, and Unbreakable was merely the origin story. Both, Bruce and Samuel were keen on the sequels, but, the flighty hand of box office records ruled that the movie wasn’t profitable enough to merit sequels.

Perhaps it is for the best?: In a recent interview, MNS said he was revisiting the possibility of a sequel, except, he would write himself in as the arch nemesis. Yeah.

It’s almost like MNS was secretly murdered and his identity stolen by his evil twin, who is now intent on making sure every single movie of his is an outstanding failure. Now that’s a great story, Manoj— go make that into a movie. And make sure that you’re the top-billed star, the scriptwriter, director, producer, gaffer, greensman and best boy. Oh wait, you've already done that in your last few movies.

2. The Incredibles:

Ripe for a Sequel Because: Like most Pixar offerings, this one was hilarious, touching and visually stunning. Oh, and Superhero Fashion 101 taught by Edna Mode. Some Pixar movies just can’t have sequels (Ratatouille, Up, Wall-E), but this isn’t one of them. We want more adventures with the Incredibles! More cape-less costumes and sass from Edna! And definitely more moronic supervillians who insist on monologuing! But so far, no greenlight from the studio.

Perhaps it is for the best?: Disney bought Pixar with the specific intention of making truckloads of money with sequels to the movies they’d already made, apart from the new movies they were to create. So I really doubt that the idea of making a sequel hasn’t already been thoroughly explored. In an interview, Brad Bird has said that they have been toying with the idea of a sequel and they have a few plots in mind, but they wouldn't make a movie till the find a plot that can better the original movie. And Pixar—that’s the attitude I wish the rest of Hollywood would emulate.

3. Eastern Promises (2007):

Ripe for a Sequel Because: Viggo Mortensen plays a chauffeur/ 'laundryman' for a Russian mob boss in London, who is all affable grandpa on the outside, and coldblooded child rapist-murderer on the inside and his slimey, spineless son. The mob isn’t the team of slick, well-dressed chaps nattering endlessly about guns and cannoli that we know so well from the movies, but are a ragtag group of badly dressed, morally bankrupt men, for whom the cost of a human life is a pittance.

This was a haunting movie, where even the violent, blood drenched sequences were somehow lyrical. It ended with Viggo Mortensen inducted into the vory v zakone and poised to take over the London mob. I for one, would love to see how Viggo attempts to strengthen his position in the mob, while retaining his humanity.

Perhaps it is for the best?: Apparently David Cronenberg, Vincent Cassel and Viggo Mortensen are all eager to make the sequel—so this just might be one of those sequels that were!

Don’t you dare sell out, Cronenberg, and make the sequel an action movie or a Russian mafia documentary. Or a goddamn romance movie. Keep it taut, like the first one, and that moody, gritty feel.

4. A History of Violence (2005):

Ripe for a Sequel Because: The Cronenberg-Mortensen team get two mentions on this list, but this one isn’t for a sequel, but a prequel.

In A History of Violence, Mortensen plays a diner owner, married with two kids, living the simple life till his past comes back to haunt him-- turns out that he was an assassin for the Irish mob in Philadelphia and is on the lam. He then goes back to Philadelphia and murders everybody like a vengeful god and manages to get back home in time for dinner. Like Eastern Promises, this movie’s brilliance lies in its examination of relationships and people in the face of violence. Also, very hot staircase sex.

A prequel would be great because we'd all love to know how Viggo was before he had the cares and joys of a family, when he was an assassin trying to make his way in the mafia world, and why chose to leave it all behind to woo his future wife and become a diner owner who has to attend PTA meetings and the like. So much potential, but no word from Cronenberg on this.

Perhaps it is for the best?: Like I said before, studios pay people to find ways to milk every movie to the last drop. I don't doubt a prequel idea was considered, but it takes a good director to put his foot down and refuse to have his name tacked on to a two-bit movie riding on the success of the first movie. I'd MUCH rather not have a sequel than have a shitty sequel.

5. Van Helsing (2004):

Ripe for a Sequel Because: No, I haven’t taken leave of my senses, and yes, I distinctly remember the movie. I thoroughly enjoyed and I wont apologise, so there!

Van Helsing was no Oscar winner or even a very good action/ horror movie and really, Hollywood should stop trying to make traditionally boring institutions secretly cool. But, the movie had its moments and was eminently watchable.

The movie ended on this major cliffhanger about Van Helsing’s true identity—now, you don’t reveal something like that and then leave your audience high and dry. Besides, they can learn from the mistakes of the last movie and make a GREAT sequel.

Perhaps it is for the best?: The first movie was pretty sucktastic and no amount of Hugh Jackman-related badassery could change that. Also, Dracula dies at the end of the movie, and since the hot guy who playes Dracula was pretty much the whole reason I liked that movie… perhaps this movie shouldn't even be on this list?

6. Master and Commander: Far Side of the World (2003):

Ripe for a Sequel Because: The 19th century naval equivalent of Kirk and Spock, a crafty foe, wry naval humour, stunning battle sequences and the high seas—how could this possible go wrong?

It didn’t. Based on the Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian (which, any nautical nut will tell you, are among the finest naval adventure books ever written), this movie was superb. Everybody loved it: the critics, the book fans, new audience, the Academy. This movie was just crying to be made into a sequel. Hell, they even left a sort-of cliffhanger in the end anticipating dozens of sequels. Plus, there was more than enough source material to draw from.

But eight years down the line, and the sequel is still a pipe dream. Apparently the entire cast and crew want a sequel; Peter Weir regularly had fans coming up to him, falling on their knees and pleading for the sequel, but the studios felt that the movie just wasn’t enough of a hit to warrant one. Recently, Russell Crowe has started petitioning for the sequel too!

Perhaps it is for the best?: Okay fine, at the end of the day, the sequel can only rehash the old storylines and sure, the naval battles would’ve been great but we’ve already seen some great scenes in the first movie. And really, naval banter is a bit overrated… you know what, no. This sequel (or prequel) would be PERFECT. These characters are RIPE for further development, and the whole American Independence wars background would been riveting. As for maritime humour? "Do you not know that in the service, one must always choose the lesser of the two weevils." Comic. GOLD.

Make this happen, Hollywood.


  1. Super ! I'm still going to call you out on Van Helsing though :s

    Pixar's decided to give a sequel to Cars for some reason, but I do agree that the Incredibles would make for a great second movie.

    I would love to see another Easy A though its not the kind of movie that gets a sequel : perhaps just a continuation of Olive Penderghast's life maybe in college ? And the next parts of Golden Compass would be nice just to be able to finish the damn trilogy, though I didn't love the first one.

  2. I know, right? Cars has to be Pixar's weakest film.

    I'd like to see lots more of Emma Stone, period!

    And Danish, I don't know how to tell you this, but I kind of never really liked the His Dark Materials trilogy (I hated it), so you wont catch me mourning the lack of movie sequels.