The Expandables: The Age Of The Franchise

Intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action and some mild language

attack of th sequels

“Sequels are like safety nets for studios and investors; they consistently deliver the most potent box-office punch” – Jeff Bock.

In a galaxy too close for comfort, it seems like too many people are getting overexcited about the looming threat of Star Wars Episode VII. Apart from subjecting impressionable younglings to the bamboozlement of Roman numerals, how will popular culture cope? Moreover, what good will it do for the already franchise-infested movie industry?

Yes, place the emphasis on industry – it really has got to the stage where movie-making has become a bustling business where umpteen gazillions of dollars are pumped into the objective of making bigger and better sequels – using the same characters (and actors), fights/car chases/Stan Lee cameos (tick appropriate box), effects, gimmicks and humour to avoid taking any creative risks. As evidenced by this year’s crop of X-Men, Twansfoamers (no, altering the spelling doesn’t ease the pain) and Planet of the Apps (ha!) sequels of sequels assuredly retain the financial stability of the modern movie-making madhouse.

Traditionally, cinema-goers have been perturbed by what came to be labelled: “sequelitis,” and movie critics habitually scoffed at them, decrying them as mere substitutes for creativity and originality. Look out: the new brand of sequels are the harbingers of that commodity of ingenuity; instead of railing against them, we should embrace them.

Here’s how – and why…

winter soldier

“We are not really talking about sequels any more. We are talking about films that are conceived of as longer plays than one film” – David Hancock, Screen Digest.  

Essentially, movies are now concocted within a certain franchise template, specifically designed to outperform its predecessors. Plus, a particular narrative is dispersed throughout numerous instalments, and having familiar faces and safe-bet material saves a fortune in carving out new publicity strategies. Accept it: gone are the days when sequels seemed tagged on primarily to snap up some more dosh, and lacked the surprise and originality of their predecessor. Now continuity is the key – production of the official follow-up can start even before the original has been released!

Just take Captain America as a prime example. Captain America: The First Avenger was a really good film; yet earlier this year: Captain America: The Winter Soldier accumulated a mighty $715 million dollars because it set out (rather skilfully, thankfully) to expand and vastly improve its material. Naturally enough, no prizes for guessing that Cap 3 is sure to be with us shortly…

Just as Guardians of the Galaxy can be rightly celebrated as the crowning triumph of the summer, offering a simple fun formula of material not used heretofore, but then, before you can nab an Infinity Stone, the rush of fizzy refreshing originality is swiped aside momentarily by the slightly unnerving inevitability of the sequel. You saw the message at the end: they will return. This came as no surprise to me. It was preordained, betcha.

Yet there was also the probability of the movie turning out to be the next (ahem) Howard The Duck… and that’s the point.

Nobody (generally) likes to take risks in Hollywood.

Business is business…

The original can be really cool!
The original can be really cool!

eddie joneseddie joneseddie jones

^ but make it again… and again… without changing key elements, it becomes boring and nobody will want to watch any more…

 

“Sigourney and I have a long creative history, dating back to 1985 when we made Aliens. We’re good friends who’ve always worked well together, so it just feels right that she’s coming back for the Avatar sequels” – James Cameron.  

No one ever dies in science fiction – this should not take anyone aback. Despite the departure of Grace Augustine from that $2.7 billion behemoth of 2009, fan-fave Sigourney Weaver confirms that she will feature in ALL THREE sequels(!) Her other great character: Ripley, was cloned.

Even Spock – who sacrificed himself at the end of the best Star Trek movie – was, by some absolutely ludicrous plot-device, brought back to ruin the next “grand” episode of the saga. And… hey! As a perennial favourite, it was only a matter of time before the reboot came along… swiftly  followed by the (some may say) superior sequel…

This system is not unique to the science fiction/fantasy genre but can be applied just as easily to action thrillers and feature-length animated movies too. It would be a futile gesture to call for a boycott against such trash as Transformers, for it has already been decreed that this wretched franchise will lumber on, regardless of what serious cinema-goers want to see.

Bradscribe understands the art of writing a good follow-up, and like all the best-loved franchises, this Post will have…

to be continued...

Who knows, it’ll probably be bigger and better than this one!

Cheers!

 

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