Escapism Through Sequels: Substance May or May Not Be Included

Updated: 08/13/2011 (slightly edited for grammar)

After writing my previous post, my attention was directed at an interesting opposite viewpoint.

The m0vie blog thinks that film buffs’ criticisms at Hollywood’s overabundance of sequels is low. He admits that not all sequels are good, but says neither are many originals either. He thinks it’s unfair for moviegoers to immediately judge movies based on their sequel status. He also says it’s bad to label original movies “good” by default. (Sturgeon’s Law is brought up to validate his point.)

I have to concede to his argument to some degree. Yes, there are many creative and original movies that are crap. And yes, we do tend to forget those original movies that were crap. Why? Because they weren’t worth remembering and odds are nothing new will come of them.

The blogger also states that it’s unfair to claim that independent films are better. Yes, sometimes independent films can be too esoteric for their own good. Yes, sometimes they can be too artsy for anyone to relate to and enjoy. And yes, sometimes there are studio films that are better than the indie ones. But he’s forgetting the problem with sequels: familiarity.

It’s the studios that are hitting low here. They’re dishing out multiple sequels and bad adaptations because of audience familiarity. They assume that moviegoers will think: “Hey, I know those characters!” “Isn’t it fun to see them in a movie?” This allows the studios to cheaply throw something together in favor of recognition than creativity. And it’s a practice that’s becoming rather upsetting.

When a movie is good, it leaves us with an everlasting effect. We as viewers enjoy the characters and script, as they contained a human element. The characters were more than one-dimensional and the story was strong and worth following. Those elements made the film feel genuine and thus provided a fulfilling and enjoyable experience. Thus, we expect any sequels to this film to live up to the original’s grandeur.

But when studios release many of these sequels, it’s offensive to the original film’s legacy. Characters become cardboard cut-outs as action sequences and special effects become the movie stars. Plots simply become maps for the new stars. Actors and other filmmakers behind the scenes are simply names to help in advertising. We might recognize the name of a character, but everything else has changed. It is no longer the film we knew and loved.

The fact that studio heads believe that moviegoers like this cheap garbage is infuriating. Whatever happened to escapism with substance? Why does originality and creativity have to be discarded after a series’ first entry? At times it seems as if that’s all we’re being served. And the studios are serving it with the attitude of: “It’s all that’s available. Take it or leave it.” And that mindset is starting to grow old.

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About jacobjmouradian

Welcome to my blog! My name's Jacob J. Mouradian, and I am a college student with a lofty goal of studying film and an even loftier dream of making movies. Though I am obsessed with film and will be using this page to post my take on current developments within the film industry, critique and analysis of films past and present, and even some of my own video projects, this space will also be subject to personal submissions of other forms of art, discussions regarding multiple social topics, and pieces of writing (both creative and scholarly). If I pique your interest, just tune in! View all posts by jacobjmouradian

2 responses to “Escapism Through Sequels: Substance May or May Not Be Included

  • Darren

    Thanks for the link.

    it’s an interesting observation that sequels and remakes and prequels are especially bad because they serve to “tarnish” the reputation of a good film, as opposed to existing in a self-contained vacuum that we can choose to ignore (or even simply avoid ever becoming aware of).

    I can see where you’re coming from, but I’ve always found that I can treat individual instalments in a series the same way. I don’t think of Godfather III while watching The Godfather or The Godfather, Part II. I’ve bleached most of The Kingdom fo the Crystal Skull from my brain, save the truly awful bits we must never forget.

    Being entirely honest, I’m willing to accept the fact that I’ll have to ignore the vast majority of sequels if it means I occasionally hit paydirt. I don’t care about Ringu 2, if it means I get The Good, The Bad & The Ugly. I can settle for The Hangover II, as long as you give me The Dark Knight. Obviously, the ratios are higher, but Rise of the Planet of the Apes makes pretty much everything that followed the final scene of Charleton Heston on the beach worth ignoring – if not worthwhile. Much like Goldeneye forgives all the Roger Moore era, or Casino Royale makes us forget the last two Pierce Brosnan instalments. But that’s me – everybody approaches film their own way.

    Great article, and thanks again for the link.

    • jacobjmouradian

      Hey, sorry this is such a late reply, but thanks for the comment. Obviously, it’s not often that I get responses on my post, much less other writers who I’ve referenced in my posts.

      That being said, I probably should have clarified in my post that I, too, agree that not all sequels are bad and some do in fact surpass their source material (this seems to happen with quite a few superhero movies). However, like you said, these examples of “paydirt” are sparse and we need to wade through the mediocrity in order to find them. I guess I’m just less tolerant of the wading than others.

      Again, thanks for the comment, and keep up your blogging. It’s great work.

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