There’s a number at the end of the title? In the words of Del Boy “Oi up eyes down for a full house”

Anyone who is in some way connected to a social networking site will have no doubt been exposed to the trailer for the third installment of the Hangover franchise within the past week. It’s brought about mixed reactions as far as I’m aware. With the die hard fans dropping to their knees and thanking some form of God for this news, while others simply tutted and thought ‘it’s not for me’. And then there’s people like me who thought ‘avoid that like the plague’. 

I’m not going to rant about the Hangover films because that would be a waste of my time, but the revealing of the third film has sparked off a flare of disappointment in my mind for sequels in general. It annoys me to see the amount of sequels that are being churned out, one after the other, just repeating the same terrible film over and over again, why can’t we have some originality? Not all sequels are bad though I must say very early on, if you’ve seen the trailer for Kick-Ass 2 that was released earlier this week then you’ll know that there is a way for sequels to not be terrible. Unfortunately for cinema audiences it’s not a principle that many film makers stick to. 

It annoys me when a sequel comes out and it’s just a repeat of what we’ve already seen. Prime example of this; the transformers series. The first one wasn’t exactly brilliant and it does get worse every time you see it, but for them to go ahead and make more. It just makes you loose faith in people to know that they’re paying to see these films. I missed the second Transformers film (sigh of relief) but then I did have the misfortune to see the majority of the third one. It was no surprise to see that Michael Bay didn’t hold back on the misogyny, head banging violence or terrible dialogue once again. After the first one it was only ever going to get worse, which is surprisingly possible apparently. Not only was it the exact same as the first film but with all of the bits that made it awful turned up to eleven, the film was repeating itself! It was on late, I fell asleep for a good fourty five minutes, when I woke up, the exact same thing was happening on my screen. ‘BOOM’ ‘BASH’ ‘EXPLOSION’ ‘go on, look at her bum’. It was painful. 

The second issue I have with sequels, is when they ruin what you loved in the original so much. Take Indiana Jones for example, I love the first three, I think they are so well made are just a genuine entertaining experience. And then the fourth one was made. It wasn’t terrible, but it did somewhat make the series sag at the end. It was a disappointment and sadly it is one of those things I can’t “un-see” because I went in wanting it to be brilliant, it’s just a shame the story went on something of a tangent. My faith still remains in the originals it’s just a shame the new one didn’t meet the standards. 

There are of course sequels that are brilliant and do not let a series down, such as the Dark Knight Trilogy. That is living proof that it is possible to make a sequel that was better than the first film. Batman Begins was a ruddy good film, but then The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises came along and knocked it completely out of the ball park. It was refreshing to see sequels that were very well made and were different from the original but while still having the essence of the first one. Christopher Nolan still remains one of my favourite film makers and he is proving that he is worth the credit with every film he makes. He also made the wise decision to quit while you’re ahead. I’m happier that he has restricted it to three films which are absolute works of art, rather than run the risk of grinding the series to a halt by driving it into a dead end. 

I do of course have a guilty pleasure when it comes to sequels and for me it has to be Kill Bill. I know the two aren’t Tarantino’s best work but I have to admit I like them a lot. The story didn’t dry up, I wasn’t bored, I didn’t find the second one a let down. It was for me a near perfect sequel that did set a good example of how they should be made. I think Tarantino was very clever with how he structured the story because it is very easy for a sequel to completely detract away from the brilliance of the starting point, but in Kill Bill’s case it stuck to the same lines very well and did a good job of continuing the story. When it comes to the up and coming third installment to this story I keep telling myself to keep an open mind because I don’t want the story to be ruined for me. If worse comes to worst I can always hope that the clinic from Total Recall becomes real and I can go and erase certain films. 

Leading on from this there is the question as to what the best film series is which is a very difficult question to answer considering how easily a sequel can influence an opinion. The most popular options are of course The Godfather, Lord of the Rings, The Bourne Series, Harry Potter and Alien. Godfather doesn’t make it for me because the first two are masterpieces but the third was a let down. Lord of the Rings would have made it if the second one didn’t make the story sag in the middle. The Bourne series was good but nothing brilliant, and Harry Potter really? People seriously consider that as an option? I mean they weren’t too bad but I’m pretty sure most people had lost interest by the fifth one. I know someone who didn’t even notice the transition of Dumbledoore in to Michael Gambon. Alien took a twist part way through so the first two were brilliant and still stand as very impressive films today, but then the third and fourth ones dragged the back end of the series down. The best series for me has to be Toy Story, just purely because of the consistency it has and how at no point does it sag. There is a clear and constant message behind each film and it means something different to everyone, both children or adults. 

So it is clear my expectations for sequels are very high, and it does take a lot to impress me. I don’t hate all sequels, there is a long list of them that I really like, but then the list of ones I dislike is equally long. If a story is worth continuing then it has to done properly, other wise there is little reason for the film to be made. Unless you’re just in it for the money, in which case you deserve to have all cameras taken away from you and to be placed on the naughty step for an extended period of time until you form an idea that is worth putting on to our screens. 

Feel free to leave comments on your favourite sequels, or indeed least favourite sequels. It’s not exactly like I’m going to turn down negativity now is it? 

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The passing of the torch from Sam Mendes: big mistake or wise move?

The news has been announced today that, much to Bond fans misfortune, Sam Mendes has turned town the opportunity to direct the next James Bond film. After his recent success with Skyfall, the news has brought about very mixed opinions as to whether this is good or bad news for fans of the franchise. I have to admit that personally I am torn.

On one hand it is bad news for a fan such as myself, Skyfall was one of my favourite bond films and was a stunning piece of work. Knowing what Mendes has done to the franchise and how he has lifted it back up after Quantum of Solace (Question of Sport) it is quite upsetting to hear that he won’t continue to work his magic and create more films that are amazing. Within one film he managed to bring Bond in to the modern era, whilst keeping him classic at the same time, adding depth to the character and introducing us to one of the best villains there has been, played of course my Javier Bardem. It was a triumph of a film, so it is a shame that we don’t see more work like this, the Oscar winning British Director clearly left a lasting impression and showed how a Bond film should be made. But this does lead me to the ‘however’ of the argument.

On the other side of this coin there is of course positives to the situation. Firstly his work was tremendous and he has set the franchise up beautifully to continue in a way that it should be done, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be done by him. In my mind he has done a classic case of kick starting the process, lighting the fire, taking the first step in to what could easily be the start of something brilliant. He has then stepped back from his creation and let it take it’s own course. It’s sort of like a teacher showing you exactly how to answer a long exam question; they do it perfectly and then leave the rest down to you.

Secondly from this he has boxed quite clever in the sense that he’s quit while he’s ahead. With many film makers nowadays continuing a franchise is quite a difficult thing to get right because if the first one is done so well then the others can’t possibly compete. I have respect for him in that sense because he would rather leave it when it was still good rather than run the risk of it slipping out of his grasp. I was so pleased when Skyfall received the BAFTA for outstanding British film because it  was the first time that a Bond film has been recognised at a major award ceremony. Mendes knew he had to do something outstanding for the 50th anniversary of the franchise and he exceeded the very highest of expectations, but now the expectations are even higher I think even he would struggle to out do himself.

There is talk already of who should direct the sequel, with many names being recommended but none being confirmed thus far. Mendes has set a very high standard for making a Bond film so the next person to take to the director’s chair should only do so knowing the challenge they’re taking up. Some people have responded to the news by suggesting that Paul Thomas Anderson should take up the job. Now I love PTA’s work and I think he is excellent at what he does, but the term “wrong gig” springs to mind when suggesting he makes a Bond film. It would be like getting Stanley Kubrick to make a Indiana Jones film; their talent would be too much for the franchise to handle.

So the future is looking, well unknown at the moment for Bond. Until a new director has been secured bond fans will have to keep their ears to the ground. But I think I can speak for most people when I say I think Mendes did a brilliant job with Skyfall, and yes the passing of the torch so early in the relay is not one that we wanted to see this early, but it’s one that I’m sure won’t be a mistake. Unless the next film goes the same way as Quantum of Solace. In which case I think I’ll have to be writing a strongly worded letter to Mendes requesting his immediate return to the franchise. And failing that is shall turn in to a rather Goldfinger type scenario. “Do you expect me to talk?” “As a director I would expect some level of communication to take place, but primarily I want you back on that set now and you show them how it’s done!”. Or just another letter, depends what mood I’m in.

Feel free to leave comments on your opinions towards the the news, and also if you feel up to it feel free to leave suggestions as to who you feel should direct Bond 24.

As per usual I shall leave it at Au revoir.