What has happened to the films we loved?

Now, I have blogged previously about how difficult it is to make a sequel or indeed prequel that is good. It’s a situation that can tip one way or another very easily and has masses of potential to be brilliant or awful. But once again I find myself in a situation where sequels are annoying me.

Picture this scene: you’re a film lover, you’re flicking through the television channels in the hope of finding some entertainment after a long day. After a large amount of time spent skipping past ‘Made in Chelsea’ and other such nonsense you come to realise that there are only bad, trashy sequels being run by the different stations. What’s the resulting effect of this? Me shouting inappropriate words at an inanimate box with lights and sounds coming out of it, followed by a swift angry walk to the nearest computer. If you can’t picture it then trust me when I say, neither ends of that tale are pretty. 

This is the situation I’m finding myself in tonight. I want to relax and watch a film that is an enjoyable experience and yet I find myself being angered by seeing what has happened to films that were brilliant. It is horrible to see the idea a film that was a work of art being handed to a different film maker to be re worked and added to, thus turning the idea into something quite ugly. And then it’s even worse when the idea of a good film is made ugly by the person who made it well in the first place. Want examples?

One of the best examples I can use for this the 1979 film Alien, directed by Ridley Scott. I absolutely love that film, I think it is such a work of art. The screenplay was perfectly written to suit the complex yet human like characters, the actors were very well suited to their roles, for it’s time the special effects are incredible, and there’s still that haunting feel to the quiet soundtrack that puts me on edge when I hear it. That’s what the 70s had in store for us, and it was a masterpiece. Now after a bloody good sequel (Aliens), a quite bad sequel (Alien 3) and a sequel that no one knows what to think of (Alien Resurrection) we find ourselves in the new millennium, and what’s happened to the Alien films? We see it expanding out to Alien vs Predator.

Now if you want to put the movement from Alien to Alien vs Predator into a different scenario then just imagine having your favourite book read to you. But whilst this person was reading the book to you they shouted every single word, left out details so you didn’t know the characters, made all the action scenes very quick with a lot of blood, and then just took away any real interest or intelligence from it. That’s what it is. Alien vs Predator is doing what Alien didn’t. The story is beyond pointless to anyone above the age of 14 who has a brain, the characters are so stupid that you don’t even care about them, whereas in Alien you obviously did (getting teary over John Hurt), the special effects are just so unbelievably obvious that the realistic feel that Alien had has been completely eradicated. It is a mess and a half of a film. It took was what essentially intelligent sci fi and turned it into pointless trashy horror for teenagers. There’s a scene in the Tim Burton film ‘Batman’ where the Joker and his henchman parade around various art pieces and deface and vandalise them; that is ultimately what has happened here. 

The next on my hit list of films being ruined would have to be James Bond. After the success of Casino Royale in 2006 it really looked as though the Bond franchise was rising back to glory. That was of course until 2008 when Quantum of Solace was born and decided to puncture Bond’s life jacket. A film that was basically a prolonged sequence of violence with very little story and a blatant lack of character, it made all of our hopes for the future of bond seem wasted. It was the sort of film that did feel like it was being lead by the second unit, with car chases and violence being the prominent factor and therefore sacrificing substance for action. For those who don’t understand the reference to the second unit it’s very simple; the main unit directs the actors and therefore handles their characters, the second unit is basically in charge of actions sequences and other such aspects of a similar nature. So in Quantum of Solace is does feel as though the second unit have a lot of control over what’s happening because of how much action there is. Also notably the title of the picture itself was ridiculous, taken from a book that it had no connection to and then incidentally the title had no connection to the film (other than the rather bleak reference to Quantum). It was a disappointment of a film that and did put the Bond franchise in a position of near disrepair, obviously until Sam Mendes came along last year and rose Bond up to higher than before. I’ll refrain from praising Mendes on this occasion, I have done so many times before.

Finally I do have to mention the Star Wars franchise when talking about ruining films we love. The original Star Wars films, which we have to refer to as four five and six now just to avoid confusion, were stunning pieces of work. They are timeless films that can be enjoyed by every member of the family and Lucas deserves any credit he gets for them. But then his bank balance started to dry up. Indiana Jones hadn’t done anything in a while. Willow didn’t really rocket at the box office. It wasn’t exactly looking great for him. So he decided to make three prequels, which were just terrible. They enlightened us to some details of the story that were a bit vague and basically displayed more clearly some of the tales we hear in the original three films, but other than that there are no uses for them. The special effects are no match to that of the original films, the screenplay is so basic is just seems like George was trying to spell out every single word so any five year olds watching could keep up, and worst of all even the actors don’t seem interested. By the third prequel we see some truly talented actors such as Samuel L Jackson and Ewan McGregor engaged in dialogue that they clearly don’t want to be involved in. The delivery of lines just had an underlying feel of “we really don’t want to be here, please can we just get this scene done”. Another aspect of the prequels that was beyond pointless was this sudden introduction of political troubles. So instead of seeing the characters engaged in exciting battles that meant something, we see numerous scenes of debates and discussions about things the audience do not care about. It was a wasted element to prequels that George Lucas just seemed to put in there because he could, in a rather Tarantino styled manner. But hey ho the films took money so George is happy. Hopefully J.J Abrams can work his magic on the franchise and show that not all modern Star Wars films have to be a disaster. 

There are other examples I could have used but I feel as though I would just be covering old ground and exhausting it, I feel as though I made my feelings towards Tron Legacy very clear in the last post. I haven’t even begun to talk about Die Hard 4 Pointless. That shall be saved for another time. Until then it is safe to say that I am annoyed to see old films that were pieces of art being added to like a cheesy sitcom in order to make money. If this does continue to happen I will have to take some form of action against film makes, starting with a strongly worded letter to each of the culprits. 

As always feel free to leave any comments you have on the subject or about my writing in general. Oh and if there’s any comments left that are defending Tron Legacy then I’m not reading them. 

Until the next time i shall say as always au revoir.