When Franchises Go Bad
Biologist Randy Thornhill and anthropologist Craig T. Palmer popularised the idea that “rape evolved under some circumstances as a genetically advantageous behavioral adaptation” (to quote good ol’ Wikipedia). While this is almost certainly true (to the rapist’s lawyer), here’s an article on another form of rape: the kind which – in my eyes - is far worse. The rape of franchises in film.
Think about that heart swelling music as Luke Skywalker looks out at the sunset on Tatooine. Then think about all those awkward romance scenes with Christian Hayden and Natalie Portman. Sadness is down to a feeling of once having a great thing, and feeling the empty space it’s now left behind. These empty spaces are dotted throughout the landscape of classic franchises, which proceed to get raped by someone who has a lack of vision or creativity. The original Star Wars films are ‘classics’ – an amalgamation of nostalgia and excellent film making. The turn of the century saw a new Star Wars for younger fans who missed out the first time round. Younger fans who like political squabble and drawn out bureaucratic debates? And a character so badly received they put him in the background for the next two movies (yousa know what I’m talkin’ bout?).
George Lucas is an asshole; he put aliens in the last Indiana Jones film (watch South Park’s The China Probrem to see Kyle’s response to this). Put it this way – if you are fat, have no personality and bad hygiene, your chances with the opposite sex are greatly reduced. You might get lucky once, but then it ends. You try again and you’re not so lucky, so you work out, get fit and clean yourself up. You may look okay, but you’ve still got a shitty personality. Great things happen on a whim, and the creative talents behind them are usually really fucking high at the time (rumour has it that George Lucas had a near death experience before envisioning the original movies, so his brain was probably drenched with DMT). Want an example – listen to Weezer or the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ old stuff – then fast forward in time.
‘Smile, you son of a bitch!’ A dramatic end for the rubbery shark, Bruce – but Jaws is considered one of the all time greats (my brother seems to think so, anyway). So when something gets as big as Jaws, you make a sequel – where the shark gets electrocuted. Then another one, where the shark ends up in a sea-life centre. And then another one, with Michael Caine in it. They may be fun films to watch, but they’re the retarded offspring of a glorious creation. Sequels very rarely exceed their precursor. Spiderman 2 is the only one that springs to mind – primarily because of the villain. Spiderman 3? Too much crammed in (and too much pressure from the studio) – it’s like taking part in a chilli cook-off. Use the Sandman to clean up the sick afterwards.
Even highly regarded films seem to diminish in quality – Back to the Future, as much as I love the trilogy, is clearly defined by the first film Watching number three is more of a, ‘okay, I’ve watched the first two – I guess I’ll have to finish them off’. The same can be said of the original Indiana Jones trilogy (Raiders is the shit), and more recently the Dark Knight trilogy (‘Why do we fall, Bruce?’, so Heath Ledger and Tom Hardy can take centre stage). These films are not bad in themselves, but their original feature is almost always the ‘classic’ people remember.
Some sequels are envisioned as great films, and end up having their skirts lifted in a back alley. The aforementioned Spiderman 3 was a disappointment, and it seemed Sam Raimi had less control over this than he would have liked to have had. Alien Resurrection was penned by every nerds favourite, Joss Whedon. Joss expressed disappointment with the final product, so we can only assume it would have been a weird Serenity/Alien crossover, had he taken the directorial role.
Although I can’t pass judgement – as I haven’t seem them yet – I have a feeling the reboot of Total Recall and Robocop won’t have the same cult status as their counterparts. Shoot me if I’m wrong. The state of Hollywood today – while it has always been lined with coke – seems like a hyperbolic jizz-fest, with reboots of films made only a decade before. The only difference is that more people are getting raped. And there’s a red faced player in town… Michael Bay.