It’s becoming an inescapable trend – re-boots, remakes and sequels are everywhere, and arguably too many series are making ‘a sequel too far’ in the name of profit, so we decided to name and shame some of the most unimaginative and redundant features that have hit cinemas in the last few years, or are going to soon. Ultimately, these films are posing a threat to studios and writers who want to create new, unique films and as a result this is a dangerous trend for both the discerning cinema-goer and for filmmakers themselves.
The Terminator franchise had already run its course even before Salvation had hit our screens, and as a result Terminator Genysis seemed all too much like a bad joke. The fact that the catchphrase “I’ll be back” was dug out only confirmed the suspicion and an ageing Schwarzenegger really hammered it home. Though in its own way a classic, the original Terminator is a far cry from being one of the best films ever made and it was financial success that saw the series carry on. Doing so, as far as two or three films, is entirely reasonable for a film of its quality and lasting appeal. Five editions in though, the franchise feels like a tired, dated, money-spinning dead horse that Hollywood couldn’t help flogging just a little more.
1983’s Scarface, starring Al Pacino as the impetuous Tony Montana, was already a remake of the 1932 film of the same name. Of course updating a film after so much time isn’t an un-savoury practice but Universal’s plans to make a further spin off film with a modern twist threaten to step on the toes of a classic. Scarface is one of a quickly depleting number of great films that stand alone, with no sequel, spin off or re-boot, (that is, if we accept that it essentially takes the limelight from the original and is quite distinct from it, which it does and is), and stands as a testament to the careers of Al Pacino and Brian De Palma. It’s a film here for a good time, not for a long time and as a result, making a spin off for the sake of some Hollywood profit feels a lot like selling out.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
A franchise that has had so many iterations and instalments, running from 1968 to 2014 (as it stands), and the series’ most recent edition, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, was clumsy and predictable. Essentially the film portrays a fragile state of diplomacy between two tribes – the humans and the apes – which eventually erupts into conflict with a continuous undertone of the debate about racial superiority. The film conveys it’s fable-esque message about how easy it is to adopt defensive ‘us versus them’ attitudes reasonably well but overall is entirely un-remarkable. There are so many superior, lower budget films that will go comparably unseen by audiences while Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, (with its amazingly awkward title that reeks of ‘this series has gone too far and needs to stop’), made a massive profit. That’s not to say the film isn’t enjoyable, it just does nothing unusual, ground-breaking or great. It’s far from great. It’s mediocre.
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
A film that definitely has its merits, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is massively enjoyable (scoring an amazing 93% on Rotten Tomatoes), but that doesn’t stop it being a hugely symbolic part of a harmful trend. Another massively profitable film in a massively profitable franchise and a franchise that has, no doubt, reached some entertaining, adrenaline pumping heights over the course of its life. All the same though, imagine the amount of new films that are neglected a spot in cinemas, or screenplays that don’t even receive funding for production each year because studios are determined to pump out as many instalments as they can from profitable franchises. The truth is Mission Impossible is a fun franchise, but did we ever need six?
Independence Day: Resurgence
A very good, very enjoyable film, but not a great film, 1996’s Independence Day is in for an unnecessary sequel. The fact that twenty years has gone by since the original and no one thought of this earlier is surely a sign, is it not? Independence Day averaged around a six out of ten from reviewers, so we’re definitely not talking about a classic here and the fact that a sequel is in the works after such a long break from the franchise seems, frankly, a bit of a puzzle.
This list could go on (and on… and on), but many of the same arguments would be presented. If you want a palpable idea of this sad trend taking hold, take a look at the listings of your local cinema and consider how many of the films coming up for release are sequels, remakes or re-boots.
By George Storr