Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Are some sequels long overdue or just expired on arrival?
One of the big movies being pumped up for the upcoming fall film season is Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,the Oliver Stone directed sequel to his 1987 financial melodrama starring Michael Douglas as the evil template for future financial schemers,Gordon Gekko.
Gekko is back,fresh out of prison and getting drawn into his old stomping grounds via his daughter's fiance,Jacob(Shia LaBeouf)who suspects that the death of his mentor was from foul play involving hedge fund manager Bretton James(Josh Brolin).
In exchange for helping him bond better with his daughter,Gordon agrees to aid Jacob in his plan of revenge against Bretton,making Gekko more of an antihero this time around.
So far,the advance word has been pretty good for Wall Street 2 but given not only the lapse of time between films,the current economic woes of our country may be another reason that this follow-up film could find itself facing a serious deficit at the box office on opening weekend:
There are sequels that have benefited from a good long gap between films(Toy Story 3) and just as many,if not more so,that have proven the old adage "know when to say when!"(Godfather III).
Whether or not this will hold true for Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps or even the highly anticipated Tron Legacy,it is good to look back on past pop culture errors in order to spot the problem before things get too far out of control and over budget.
A prime case in point is Blues Brothers 2000,which basically was an excuse for Dan Ackroyd to revive his old SNL persona of Elwood Blues without the late great John Belushi at his side. Even by packing in as many musical guest stars as he could and having John Goodman try to fill Belushi's shoes,the movie wound up being two million dollars short in covering it's budget upon release. As B.B.King would have said,the thrill was definitely gone here:
Another memorable bad musical movie sequel was Graffiti Bridge,starring Prince in his role from the phenom known as Purple Rain. Morris Day and the Time also showed up on screen but a few other elements that made the original film so captivating were missing,such as a somewhat coherent script and great musical numbers.
Graffiti Bridge came not long after another Prince film flop,Under The Cherry Moon,that while it had no connection to either one of the other flicks,this sad sack singalong caused film critics to question if Purple Rain was just a cinematic fluke and Prince a one hit wonder of a movie star:
It's not only musical sequels that get the far too late sequel shaft;horror films are notorious for literally pulling people out of the grave as fodder for another chance at raking in a tidy,if not gory,profit. However,in the case of The Rage: Carrie 2,no bodies were unearthed to slap this cheesy teen fright flick together.
Now,some of you may be thinking"Uh,didn't Carrie and her mom die at the end of that movie?" and you would be correct. That annoying fact didn't stop the gang here from simply having an alleged half sister(thanks to Carrie's dad,who is conveniently absent here)who winds up attending high school where Sue Snell(Amy Irving),the survivor from the original story,happens to be a guidance counselor. What a cinematic coincidence there!
Amy Irving asked for director Brian DePalma's blessing before she did this movie and Sissy Spacek was appealed to by the new director Katt Shea to permit her likeness to be used for edited in footage from the first film. Too bad no one seemed to have asked Stephen King if he wanted this movie to exist,but then again writers are considered to be pesky creatures in Hollywood,so not so shocking that consulting the man who created the characters first would be last on the list:
"Yeah,well,those are just genre films,after all. It's not like they would do that to a serious movie." So not true,folks. 1974's period mystery Chinatown was considered a classic even during it's initial release and in 1990,Jack Nicholson reprised his role as Jake Gittes in the aptly named The Two Jakes.
Nicholson also took over in the director's chair and despite having Robert Towne on board again for the screenplay,this story that draws Gittes into the secrets and lies surrounding the booming oil industry in California had no grip on audiences or critics this second go-round.
That lack of enthusiasm and box office returns caused a possible third chapter helmed by Jack and friends to be shut away in a drawer,most likely for good. The main bone of contention seemed to be that The Two Jakes was simply a vanity piece for Nicholson,plus a long drawn out plot that went nowhere to boot.
Some say that it's a much better film than first believed and maybe so,but just watching the trailer felt tedious to me:
Time will tell if Wall Street 2 was a savvy decision or a failed leap of faith(and that goes for Tron Legacy as well,guys). Sometimes,it's best to leave a work of art alone,especially if they got it right the first time out.
The same argument can also hold true for American remakes of foreign films;as much as hoopla as the proposed U.S. version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is getting these days,many of the book's fans will insist that the Swedish film adaptations are far more authentic.
While you can't please all of the people all of the time,it doesn't hurt to take their pop culture concerns into consideration. Assuming that they'll just jump on board and sing along to your tune can ultimately make you lose some assets in both the long and short run at the theaters(Note:this end video is a tad spoilery-you have been warned):
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