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Sequels Separated by Decades…

Flynn lives! Jeff Bridges’ career declines! The viral marketing campaign for the sequel to Tr0n kicks off this week at Comic Con and I’m skeptical – but not just because they haven’t decided to go with the logical title Tr1n. I’m mostly skeptical because it’s a sequel to a cult movie produced twenty years after the fact. How many sequels separated by decades have actually succeeded?

It was cutting edge for the time, I swear...

It was cutting edge for the time, I swear...

You might make the case of the James Bond films or the new Star Trek, but those franchises have never really been ‘dead’ for decades at a time before being revived. I’m not really thinking of reboots either. More direct sequels that are released decades after the original. The biggest offender seems to be George Lucas. Not only did we have a completely unnecessary (save maybe the third film) prequel trilogy two decades after the classic ended, we also had Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (and rumour is we’re likely to have a sequel).

Other misguided siblings include the twenty-five-years-too-late Superman Returns, a successor to the Richard Donner films that opened the franchise. While better than its immediate two predecessors (Superman III and Superman IV), it didn’t exactly set the world on fire. Die Hard seems to be an arguably exception – with the last two spaced-out sequels surpassing the immediate sequel in quality – though nothing compares with the original.

It isn’t just an action movie phenomenon, though. Perhaps the most famous example would be Godfather III. Only two years separated the original two classic pieces of cinema, but nearly two decades passed before the trilogy was completed. Though the film doesn’t deserve the harsh criticism it has received, it is a mostly average film. One senses the only reason it was made (and Coppola has, in fairness, conceded this) was to make money. Another example is The Two Jakes, the little-seen sequel to the classic Chinatown, which lost Polanski as a director (due to the on-going controversy) and replaced him with Nicholson himself behind the camera. The movie isn’t an out-and-out failure, but it’s in no way as good as it should have been.

Did you know that Al Pacino's salary was multipled by 10 for each Godfather film? $50,000 for The Godfather. $500,000 for The Godfather: Part II. $5,000,000 for The Godfather III. The more you know...

Did you know that Al Pacino's salary was multipled by 10 for each Godfather film? $50,000 for The Godfather. $500,000 for The Godfather: Part II. $5,000,000 for The Godfather III. The more you know...

I wonder if Tr0n 2 is to be condemned to the same fate. Maybe these movie franchises were unable to keep up with changing public taste – maybe audiences twenty years ago were a lot more forgiving of the occult trappings of the Indiana Jones trilogy than modern audiences are of the alien extradimensional trappings of the fourth film. Maybe franchises that were once pioneering now seem tame – The Godfather was the defining mob experience, but by the time the third film had come out Martin Scorcese and Brian dePalma had redefined the genre again. Maybe franchises should be run close together – like the Bond films – so they can gradually evolve. If Casino Royale was the first Bond movie to follow Dr. No it would be hard for the audience to reconcile, but the twenty-odd films in between have allowed the franchise to grow without having to take massive leaps and starts.

Still, perhaps the problem is us. The audience. Everyone remembers when they saw the original Star Wars or Indiana Jones movies. Most of us would be kids. They were new, they were different and we were a lot less cynical. That first viewing experience is very hard to recreate these days. Maybe the audience go too grown up for the films. I’m not entirely convinced by this logic, but it’s worth at least considering.

So, I don’t know. Being honest, I don’t remember too much of Tr0n – I was tiny when I saw it. I remember being blown away by the graphics and I imagine any follow-up would similarly have to set the benchmark for this generation, which will be tough to do the year that Avatar comes out. I’m not dying to see the movie, but for the moment I’m casually interested in its development. It just seems odd that Tr0n, a film that prided itself on being brilliantly original, would have such a conventional sequel.

3 Responses

  1. […] time! That means more blockbuster and more comic book movie gossip! It seems that everything from the Tron viral campaign to the impending release of the Alice in Wonderland teaser is generating a lot of buzz. And quite […]

  2. […] Watching the test footage (with added Jeff Bridges!) has made me want to see Tron: Legacy despite the fact sequels arriving twenty-odd years after the original usually aren’t too hot. As for Alice in Wonderland, the better half knows the classic far better than I do, so the fact […]

  3. […] to screw with my gran’s childhood. Well, at least it’s not a remake – it’s a long-distance sequel. Yes, Dakota Fanning has been cast as the lead in a sequel to The Wizard of Oz. And not only that, […]

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