Feature Article

The Remake-Prequel-Sequel Syndrome

Has The Movie Industry Run Out Of Ideas?

by Melissa Minners

 

   

            There has been a trend in the movie industry; a trend that may have begun long ago in a galaxy far, far away…or even further back than that.  Once upon a time there was a thing called the serial movie.  Basically, the powers that be would release chapters of a full-length movie – usually an action / adventure film – over a long period of time.  Week after week, each chapter would end in a cliffhanger, virtually ensuring that the audience would return to find out what had happened to their favorite characters.

            Eventually, film makers realized that the idea of serial films could work just as well for full-length features.  When George Lucas created Star Wars, he had no idea that the movie would be such an unprecedented success.  The film attracted a huge fan base.  These fans begged to know more about the characters.  What had happened to their heroes?  Had they eventually defeated the Empire?  Did Darth Vader come back and destroy them all?  Enquiring fans wanted to know and George Lucas was more than happy to provide them with that information in the form of a sequel.  The success of The Empire Strikes Back begged another sequel. 

            Film makers everywhere began to jump on the bandwagon.  After all, look at how much success Lucas had enjoyed.  The problem with this newly emerging trend is that some movies should just end when the credits roll.  However, blinded by dollar signs, many in the industry decided to try their hand at the sequel trade.  Some were successful, some bombed, and some just didn’t know when enough is enough.  Perhaps the audience can buy the idea that the town of Amity is just a shark haven.  It’s easy to believe that the Brody’s, living in Amity for much of their lives, would run into a shark or two.  However, when things start to get personal, we’re getting out of hand.  Can we honestly believe that every great white shark is on the hunt for a Brody family member?  And what about the Halloween movies?  How many times can we watch Michael Myers be killed and come back to life? 

            The creators of the Home Alone franchise realized that they couldn’t keep allowing Kevin to accidentally slip away from his parents, so when they came up with Home Alone 3, there was a different character as the smartass kid who always managed to stay one step ahead of the bad guys.  Yet, there was really nothing different about the movies.  Even some of the pranks the kids pulled were the same.  They just repeated the premise of the original movie, made a couple of tweaks and inserted a new character in a new location.  Basically, it’s the same movie over and over again.

            But this wasn’t the end of the movie industry's bid to make more money by extending the story of a successful film.  Welcome to the land of the prequel, where the film industry brings you back in time, back before your favorite movie was born, and shows you how your favorite characters came to be.  Why did the house in Amityville become haunted?  Who was the man that had killed his entire family and why did he do it?  That was the idea behind The Amityville Horror 2.  The original movie was a hit.  It was scary as hell!  The prequel was a joke and the scariest thing about it was how horribly it tanked. 

            Enter George Lucas once again with his version of the prequel.  Let’s find out why Darth Vader became the ultimate galactic bad guy.  Not to say that this wasn’t a good idea, but Lucas forgot that he had already allowed several authors to explain much of the tale behind Vader’s descent into evil.  At times, the movie prequels he created conflicted with approved accounts of Vader’s past.  Inconsistency often causes the greatest fans to grumble.

            However, the most annoying trend of all has to be the remake.  What is with the remake trend of late?! True, the film industry has always been big on remakes, but lately it seems that there are just NO original ideas out there. Even George Lucas remade his own films by tweaking what he already had and releasing them as Special Editions. Why is it that these particular film makers tend to think that they can do it better? Often times, they destroy classics; movies we've grown up with and can't imagine any other way. Many people try to keep an open mind about these things, but how many remakes of TV shows like The Dukes of Hazard, Charlie's Angels and the Brady Bunch can we stand.

            Let’s not even mention all of the science fiction horror classics being remade.  Just how many versions of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers are out there?  Why do we need to see three different clones of a movie about a creature from the swamp?  Wait!  Let’s make a sequel as well – Return of the Swamp Thing.  They remade The Amityville Horror.  Are they going to stop with the first film, or are they going to make a remake of Amityville Horror 2.  Quite honestly, now that they’ve completed the first one, why stop there.  After all, the sequel was such a bomb, they can’t help but do a better job this time around. 

            There is even a trend within the remake trend – the foreign movie remake.  First there was The Ring, a movie based on the Japanese box office smash hit, Ringu.  (Guess what?  There’s a sequel, too!)  Then came The Grudge, which is based on another Japanese film, Jun-on.  Now, rumor has it that Tom Cruise is looking to produce a remake of the Chinese film, Jian gui, otherwise known as The Eye.  Judging from the way the movie industry has basically butchered the foreign movies they’ve been trying to remake, it might be a good idea for Cruise to stick to his remakes (Mission: Impossible and War of the Worlds) and sequels (Mission: Impossible 2).

            It would seem that Hollywood is suffering from a horrible disease – a strange, yet serious malady known the world over as lack-of-new-idea-a-a-a-a-a-itis.  The cure for this illness?  Perhaps the movie industry should ask the hundreds of independent film makers out there – the folks they scoff at because their films don’t contain big names or because they are “too artsy”.  At least one thing is for certain – the independent film industry is not over-run by prequels, sequels and remakes.


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