Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Friday, October 08, 2010

This Sequel is brought to you by the number 3

Opening in limited release at the end of October is the third adaptation of the possibly final book of Stieg Larsson's Millennium mystery series,The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest. This last-to-be-made-in-Sweden flick holds just as much interest for fans of the books as well as those awaiting the first Hollywood version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

With the distinct chance of there being an uncompleted fourth novel(held up due to a dispute between the heirs of Larsson's estate)that could be published someday on the horizon,more weight than usual is placed on this official for now final chapter. The book was well received when released a few months ago and word of mouth for the film is just as good.

They say that the third time's the charm and while I've only finished both reading and seeing the movie version of the first book in this series,that may hold true in this case. Trilogies have a nice neat symmetry to them that seems ideal for prolonged story telling in any form:

This got me to thinking about third movies,or "threequels" as they have been called on occasion. Some are very successful conclusions to an ongoing story while others have turned out to be sheer cinematic disappointments. Granted,some movies should have never had a part two to begin with but that doesn't let this third time around the multiplex try off the hook.

To start off our look at a few of the hits and misses of Part 3 flicks,a major off the mark third act was Godfather III,which poor Sofia Coppola bore most of the brunt of in her first major actress role as doomed Mary Corleone. Most of the laments and punchlines about this overblown movie began and ended with her name(to be fair,she was a last minute replacement for Winona Ryder who dropped out of the part unexpectedly).

Other things conspired to make this movie a mess,however,such as a convoluted plot that mixed Vatican politics with Michael Corleone's last ditch attempts to reform his mobster ways and struggles between the old and new forces of the mafia. At least Sofia was able to find out that her creative talents were better suited in the director's chair than center stage. Everyone else on board this wreck still has the stench of ham clinging to them from this finale flop:

High hopes were also placed on Superman III,back in 1983 after the rousing reception that it's predecessor got from audiences and critics alike.

Unfortunately,the addition of Richard Pryor as an iffy bad guy/comic relief and the lack of Lois Lane(Annette O'Toole pops in as Lana Lang,Clark's old high school crush) dragged the movie into a downward spiral that affected many of the other follow-ups to the Superman saga.

Perhaps the Superman reboot to be helmed by director Zach Snyder will help to shake off the box office kryptonite that has plagued most of the other films in this series. You can't blame everything on Superman III,but it was clearly the beginning of the end for quality comic book based cinematic capers for a long time there:

Good third films tend to appear in the most unlikely of genres sometimes;after the lackluster slice n' dice presentation of the second Nightmare on Elm Street film,little was expected of it's next gory go-round. Nightmare on Elm Street 3:Dream Warriors had a secret weapon in it's arsenal,the participation of it's creator Wes Craven in writing the screenplay.

Even with a different director running the show,this Freddy feature had some of the most memorably freaky sequences and a strong melding of the first movie's original premise and mythology(thanks in part to Heather Langenkamp reprising her role as Nancy)with a new set of characters and situations.

A major plus was the expansion of the dream power abilities of the sleeping victims that made the fight against Freddy more intriguing to watch. Craven had hoped that this would be the final installment in the franchise but when done well,it's hard to keep a good ghoul down,especially when he becomes more profitable than before:

Some might argue that there's a difference between a piece meant as the last of a trilogy and one that's just a third entry in a continuing series. To me,what matters is how well the final product is and even folks who have never seen a James Bond movie are familiar with Goldfinger,one of the most well known films of that seemingly never ending spy story.

Many of the big league icons of the Bond series come from this third film,such as the gold coated nude girl found dead in bed,the quirky yet deadly henchman Oddjob and of course,the naughty named love interest Pussy Galore. Also,one of the best verbal exchanges between villain and hero on film is captured here,along with Bond in a most untenable position:

Bond: "Do you expect me to talk?"
Goldfinger:"No,Mr. Bond-I expect you to die!"

It may seem quaint but that old school spy movie treatment does hold up well,even with the likes of the Jason Bournes and Evelyn Salts(won't be surprised to see a sequel or two on that front)cropping up these days. Daniel Craig may do a decent Bond(and perhaps a good job as the male lead in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo remake)but one look at this classic Bond movie shows that he has a lot to live up to still:

This just proves that a Part Three film has quite the power to make or break a potential series,as well as end things on a high note. Some are as beloved as the first film to come out of the gate while others are reviled as betrayals of what was promoted as great movie moments to come.

The real secret to a good third film is the intention to tell a good story that wraps the lingering plot threads up in a way that satisfies all concerned. Looking to simply make another bundle of bucks sets the bar lower than usual. In choosing to embark on a third film,one must ultimately choose between goodness and greed. For many movies out there,having more than one sequel is the least of their worries. You don't really get a chance to make a third impression,after all:

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