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 Post subject: Stories where sequels are artistically impossible PostPosted: 2012-03-04 02:26pm
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We all know that sequels are about how the numbers crunch on a spreadsheet and there ain't no art to it. If the original did a decent box office and the numbers work out, there will be sequel. Weekend at Bernie's 2, we understand why you exist even as we hate you for it.

So setting the business BS aside, I'm talking about art. I think the perfect example is the Matrix. Nobody will argue that the sequels were awful. But is there any way to do them that couldn't have been awful? I don't think so. The whole storyline was pretty much wrapped up by the end. Neo had his apotheosis within the machine world. They no longer had any power over him. There's the interesting question of what to do with all the bodies in the farms, of course. There's no ecosphere left outside for them to live in. Getting unplugged would pretty much equal a death sentence. Humans would have to remain plugged in but, really, would that be so bad? There would be no need to work or age. Death of the meat unit is going to happen eventually but until then life should be pleasant. Granted, we have it from Smith that paradise is incompatible with the human mind but how well do the machines understand human psychology in the first place? Resolving that sort of thing wouldn't make for a riveting movie. To keep the conflict going, you pretty much have to invalidate the ending of the first movie which, to all appearances, was pretty much victory in the machine war. A clean and focused plot becomes muddled with needless complexity that only bogs the story down. It's no different from the typical Star Wars Expanded Universe stupidity of resurrecting Palpy countless times. No, he died in Jedi. You can have other Dark Lords, honest. You'll just have to do the hard work of creating an interesting villain instead of going back to the well.

Now something like Indiana Jones, it's built like an adventure serial and we had two pretty good sequels. A fourth certainly could have been possible, spinning off the storyline to a younger Jones. Shia LaBoof crystal skullfucked us on that one, sadly, but it didn't have to suck. Should have gone directly to the Cold War with cartoonish commies to replace the cartoon nazis. Have it be that captured Nazi scientists are working on an immortality serum to keep Stalin alive forever. Give the new guy three movies and then let the series take a well-earned rest.

I'm willing to be proven wrong on the Matrix bit. I haven't seen any alternate sequel ideas that weren't terrible.

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 Post subject: Re: Stories where sequels are artistically impossible PostPosted: 2012-03-04 03:35pm
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I think the Terminator movies after T2 would qualify. Going from The Terminator to Terminator 2 was fine, since the protagonists' objective was merely to make sure John Connor would be born to lead the resistance. Surviving Skynet's first strike still leaves plenty of room for a second, for post Judgement Day battles, or for whatever else you can think of within the base timeline.

Going from T2 to the later movies, on the other hand, doesn't really work. The protagonists decided that mere survival wasn't enough, and they sacrificed a great deal to make sure Judgement Day didn't happen. Going back on that cheapens some of the best parts of the best of the Terminator movies.

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 Post subject: Re: Stories where sequels are artistically impossible PostPosted: 2012-03-04 04:46pm
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Terminator is a very good case of this. By rights, a sequel likely should have sucked since it's like a horror movie with an iconic villain, rehashing the same premise again. Amazingly enough, there was enough new there that it was a really good movie. What I love is how if you went into the movie knowing nothing, Arnie seems like he's still the Evil Terminator right up to the point where he guns down the T1000 in that service passage in the mall. Yeah, it's hard to not know that going in but imagine the WTF moment if you're watching it clean. If Arnie's the good guy, who the hell is the other guy?! Really well-done. Some purists hated it but I think they're being too picky.

But at this point, after T2, after the damn story has been capped, you really can't do another time travel Terminator. If they were going to tell another story, they had better place it during the machine war. And T3 was pretty much as awful as T2 could have been. Stupid, needless, unwatchable. Not to mention that the whole machine war timeline you're watching is supposed to be undone by the events of the prior two movies so we're in a case of a Seinfeldian movie about nothing.

Salvation at least did what should have been done, covering the machine war. But again it was handled poorly, oh so poorly. And the whole bit with the Sam Worthington character was so pointless and dumb.

The problem with Terminator is that sequels run into prequel problems. Prequels as a rule tend to be awful because you already know how it's going to end because it has to mesh up with the beginning of the prior film(s). But in the case of a time travel story, the future is the beginning of the story and so the whole thing can suffer from that problem, especially as you get closer to the "start" of the story in said future.

All that being said, there's some pretty cool expanded universe stuff for the Terminator series, fan-written.

http://www.goingfaster.com/term2029/

Has a lot of trivia directly related to Terminator, the official products, and speculative worldbuilding to determine just what the timeline was leading up to 2029 and the defeat of Skynet. Just what would have happened when Skynet went self-aware? How would it have built armies in the aftermath of the war seeing as it probably wasn't designed and equipped for that precise sort of thing? How could humans have a chance of defeating a superhuman AI?

Good stuff.

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 Post subject: Re: Stories where sequels are artistically impossible PostPosted: 2012-03-04 05:17pm
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In the expanded super-duper DVD version of T2 I have, it includes a scene at the end set in (I think) 2029, and you see Sarah sat in that little playground you see at the start and in her nightmares, while Old John (the same guy from the opening future war) plays with his daughter. She explains that they stoped the war but John (as a Senator) continues to fight against the machines.

As for impossible sequels, I woudl say any film where the story is unquestionably finished. For instance, Shaun of the Dead deals with the problem, kills most of the cast and that's it. Can't have Zombie Day twice. Or pretty much any film about the apocalypse. Cant really have "Armageddon II: A slightly Bigger Rock."



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 Post subject: Re: Stories where sequels are artistically impossible PostPosted: 2012-03-04 07:45pm
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One of the biggest ones I think was Highlander. There can be only One. It was in the tagline, it was how the film ended, but they kept on going to the point where The Source destroyed everything about the series and made the key phrase irrelevant and completely wrong.



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 Post subject: Re: Stories where sequels are artistically impossible PostPosted: 2012-03-04 08:08pm
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Lost Soal wrote:
One of the biggest ones I think was Highlander. There can be only One. It was in the tagline, it was how the film ended, but they kept on going to the point where The Source destroyed everything about the series and made the key phrase irrelevant and completely wrong.


I wholeheartedly agree about this one. And it's a good thing the film producers realized it; any sequels to "Highlander" would have been terrible.[/denial]



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 Post subject: Re: Stories where sequels are artistically impossible PostPosted: 2012-03-04 08:23pm
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One of the most funny in retrospec things about the Highland sequels is how badly they bombed only vhs and DVD sales making up the difference to profitability and then only just. If wiki is to be believed The Quickening pulled in half as much as it costs (34 mil budget to 15 mil box office) The Sorcerer (26 mil budget to 36 mil box office) Endgame (25 mil budget, 15 mil box office) and finally the Syfy TV movie The Source which cost around 13 mil and if it made any money I'd be surprised.

As for movies which can't have a sequel how about Jaws (The shark's dead) or Scarface (He's dead). Heck any movie where the lead ends up dead at the end should not have a sequel. Supernatural horror villains excluded.




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 Post subject: Re: Stories where sequels are artistically impossible PostPosted: 2012-03-04 08:26pm
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 Post subject: Re: Stories where sequels are artistically impossible PostPosted: 2012-03-04 08:37pm
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Grumman wrote:
Going from T2 to the later movies, on the other hand, doesn't really work. The protagonists decided that mere survival wasn't enough, and they sacrificed a great deal to make sure Judgement Day didn't happen.


But if you make sure Judgement Day doesn't happen; then you create a timeline paradox. I don't buy the multiverse argument for one; because if it was impossible to change your timeline's future, then why was so much energy expended on time travel by both Skynet to develop the technology, and then by the Resistance to capture the Temporal Displacement Complex?

That's why I loved that line from T3: "Judgement day is inevitable, you only delayed it."



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 Post subject: Re: Stories where sequels are artistically impossible PostPosted: 2012-03-04 08:44pm
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MKSheppard wrote:
Grumman wrote:
Going from T2 to the later movies, on the other hand, doesn't really work. The protagonists decided that mere survival wasn't enough, and they sacrificed a great deal to make sure Judgement Day didn't happen.


But if you make sure Judgement Day doesn't happen; then you create a timeline paradox. I don't buy the multiverse argument for one; because if it was impossible to change your timeline's future, then why was so much energy expended on time travel by both Skynet to develop the technology, and then by the Resistance to capture the Temporal Displacement Complex?

That's why I loved that line from T3: "Judgement day is inevitable, you only delayed it."


Wouldn't there be a paradox with Judgment Day even if Skynet's mission was successful? If John Connor never leads the Resistance, then Skynet (presumably) wins - and never makes a desperate, last-chance attempt at sending a Terminator back in time in order to prevent the rise of John Connor. It really doesn't make a lot of sense even in the first movie as to why Skynet thinks it can drastically change the "present" by changing the "past" without causing a paradox, which is why I tend to let the second movie's added timeline weirdness slide.

Although with the multiverse theory . . . perhaps Skynet thought survival in any timeline was better than permanent extinction.



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 Post subject: Re: Stories where sequels are artistically impossible PostPosted: 2012-03-04 10:02pm
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MKSheppard wrote:
But if you make sure Judgement Day doesn't happen; then you create a timeline paradox.

So what? It's difficult to make an adequate movie that features time travel (or prophecy) without causing timeline paradoxes. The alternative is a "shaggy dog story" plot where nothing you do matters: it doesn't matter if Sarah Connor dies, because that would create a timeline paradox. It doesn't matter if John Connor dies, because that would create a timeline paradox. It doesn't matter if a time traveller makes the sun go supernova that obliterates Skynet before it ever begins, because that would create a timeline paradox.

Better to just ignore paradoxes altogether, rather than half-assing it with some kind of omnipotent, omniscient interference making sure the important stuff happens on schedule.

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 Post subject: Re: Stories where sequels are artistically impossible PostPosted: 2012-03-04 11:04pm
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I would argue differently with both Terminator/Terminator 2 and Matrix

Terminator Franchise - Consider this; Skynet was hardware and software development. Do you really think any company that's reverse engineering something like the Terminator chip and hand are not going to keep numerous offsight, encrypted, maybe 4 high level executives know about them back-ups?

Destroying the primary would slow things down, especially with Miles Dyson dead, but that wouldn't stop anything. You'd have to find every single backup copy and destroy them fast enough that Cyberdyne wouldn't see it coming.

Sara Connor's poor planning and Miles Dyson's arrogance are not an reason for lack of sequel.


Matrix;
Matrix was certainly harder to continue, and the sequels were so full of philosophical bullshit... yeah. Cut that out of the movie, and Neo's power outside the matrix, and you're onto something.

However, that doesn't preclude making a sequel. It just makes it difficult.

Personal, I would have advanced the six months, with the plan to destroy Zeon. I would have also note made Zeon look so 'techno hillbilly'. Make it a left over colony that died out that 'The Original One' lead people he freed to. Let Neo and them go to the source, and then hit a twist as massive as 'the world is a illusion'.

Turns out, the Zion archieves are all a lie to keep the 'resistance' going. In reality, the Matrix, ZEon, etc, are a interstellar colony ship, and this method was decided upon as a way to get a whole shit load of people 'ready to go' when they reached the target planet. TUrns out, there are thousands of matrix-ships out there. All of them large hallowed out asteroids.

Or alternatively, humanity put it self into the matrix after they ruined the environment, and the machines are simply waiting for whatever they used to ruin the environment to 'wear out' before terraforming the planet and giving it back. Zion is a 'hold out' colony that was devoted to destroying the matrix and taking over, but over time, that history was lost. 'The One' and those events were created as a way to start releasing humans from the matrix, because guess what - One of the continents is now ready for habitation.


Others, I will not attempt to defend.
Highlander 2 - WTF. Highlander 3 kinda made sense. The Highlander TV series is an alt universe.

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 Post subject: Re: Stories where sequels are artistically impossible PostPosted: 2012-03-04 11:58pm
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When I watched Highlander 2, I found that it is really just the plot of the first movie in where a Frenchy Scotsman fights a hammy villain who is murdering everyone he can (luv that Michael Ironside) all being juxtaposed against an somewhat visually interesting cyberpunky future. Despite the rather hackneyed attempts at resetting the immortal fighting game (Zeist and getting married in the orange juice) I think the movie is kind of fun and enjoyable if only to see the super 80's special effects spectacle and more Christopher Lambert with pretty like a pony hair.

It does expose the worst parts of the general premise though which is a bunch of arbitrary rules that nerds wet themselves over. Again their attempts to explain the origin of the immortals was rather strange but in the end all it did was allow them to make the same movie again. Definitely a weaker movie, but I think the fatty nerd reaction is a bit tiresome as again, it's just the same setup as the first with some extra bits.

I feel like The Sorcerer is just the first movie with Mario Van Peebles as the Kurgan plus magic powers. It could have probably been a prequel with Connor just finding Cain and killing him before the gathering of the first film but I guess they weren't going to pay for a period piece as filming in some random city was probably cheaper.

I won't argue that End Game and the Source aren't terrible though. They took the best parts of the TV series and just forgot about them in favor of pointless fanfiction.

Yes the first movie really doesn't allow for any kind of sequel, but I think the TV series showed it was possibly to develop the premise admirably if you ignore pesky continuity :3



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 Post subject: Re: Stories where sequels are artistically impossible PostPosted: 2012-03-05 12:33am
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Solauren wrote:
Terminator Franchise - Consider this; Skynet was hardware and software development. Do you really think any company that's reverse engineering something like the Terminator chip and hand are not going to keep numerous offsight, encrypted, maybe 4 high level executives know about them back-ups?

Destroying the primary would slow things down, especially with Miles Dyson dead, but that wouldn't stop anything. You'd have to find every single backup copy and destroy them fast enough that Cyberdyne wouldn't see it coming.

Sara Connor's poor planning and Miles Dyson's arrogance are not an reason for lack of sequel.

The problem is that you are not arguing from an artistic perspective. Sure, in real life Dyson and the Terminator might have thrown their lives away for nothing, but that's why we're watching a movie and not real life. "Sucks to be you, Miles!" does not make for a satisfying movie.

While it's not an example of an artistically impossible sequel, I have the same complaint about the start of the third Alien movie.

[Reveal] Spoiler: Alien 3 spoiler
Hicks and Newt dying in stasis just cheapens the previous movie. Two of the iconic scenes of the entire franchise (Ripley going Rambo on the nest and the "Get away from her you bitch!" scene) are cheapened by having Newt die in her sleep shortly after.

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 Post subject: Re: Stories where sequels are artistically impossible PostPosted: 2012-03-05 12:59am
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You do have to give the writers of Jaws sequels credit for coming up with the idea of a mama shark seeking vengeance for her skn's death like Grendel's mom. I couldn't make up anything that bad. It's like the growling tornado in Twister. Grr! Serial killer funnel!

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 Post subject: Re: Stories where sequels are artistically impossible PostPosted: 2012-03-05 01:50am
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To me, Terminator 3 was a valiant but ultimately failed attempt to repair the damage done in T2.
Terminator (1) was artistically brilliant, you've got Skynet going back trying to change time, the resistance going back trying to stop it, and no-one realising that all they were doing was creating the whole situation in the first place, that this was how it all happened. They had free will to make their own decisions, but the effect of those decisions had already happened (in the future) and now they were just supplying the cause. A lovely little loop.
And then T2 had to screw with it.



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 Post subject: Re: Stories where sequels are artistically impossible PostPosted: 2012-03-05 11:46am
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The two Matrix sequels could have been folded into a single film. Lots of padding in both of those movies could get snipped out and the result would make just as much sense without being so tedious. I like the idea of tacking on the concept of the Matrix being a projection for human sleepers either on their way to another planet on a colony ship or in a survival chamber on an Earth being slowly restored after environmental degradation. That element would have flipped the story and made the motivations of the Zion resistance questionable. Another wrinkle would be the idea that Neo, in the end, was a defence mechanism designed to "awaken" if a programme instability such as the Smith virus started raging through the system. Perhaps Zion is the automatic checking subroutine designed to neutralise programme defects as they develop or keep the system's development dynamic by introducing an element of chaos into what otherwise would be a very stifling tendency toward order.



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 Post subject: Re: Stories where sequels are artistically impossible PostPosted: 2012-03-05 11:59am
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If you wanted to be really trippy, you could suggest that Zion and all the stuff going on in "the real world" isn't; it's just another level of the Matrix used by the machines to trap and study any who manage to escape level one.



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 Post subject: Re: Stories where sequels are artistically impossible PostPosted: 2012-03-05 12:17pm
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Eternal_Freedom wrote:
If you wanted to be really trippy, you could suggest that Zion and all the stuff going on in "the real world" isn't; it's just another level of the Matrix used by the machines to trap and study any who manage to escape level one.

Yeeees. It would also explain Neo's powers in the real-world.
It would also explain some things about the "real world" and the ending of M3 that always bugged me.

Is the "real world" the Purgatory of the Machine's Utopia, and the ending of M3 the collective redemption of Mankind [to live either in the purified-from-the-wounds-of-the-war-real-real-world or in a proper Matrix where humans would be really "free"] ???




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 Post subject: Re: Stories where sequels are artistically impossible PostPosted: 2012-03-05 01:41pm
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WRT The Matrix, I'm pretty sure I remember somewhere that the original plan was: first film, then a sequel (the story of the actual sequels rolled into one film), then a prequel showing how the Matrix came about in the first place (which ended up being part of the Animatrix anthology). I think that would have been an improvement... but actually, the original film stands much better on its own, without having all the mystery and ambiguity sucked out of the world and replaced with lameness.

And I'm going to have to agree with Korto on the Terminator franchise. The sequel is a good film in its own right, but it does rather undermine the (superior) original.

The same is true for Aliens IMO: it turned the alien from a horrible rape-monster and turned it into a hive of vicious ants vs marines huthuthut. I like it, but it just ruins the original.



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 Post subject: Re: Stories where sequels are artistically impossible PostPosted: 2012-03-05 02:11pm
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Fucking prequels! They may not be "artistically impossible", but generally, they're "artistically irrelevant"; If the stuff in them was that important, it'd have been in the original film. The rise of the machines in the Matrix might have been entertaining, but it's really irrelevant to the original film. Same goes for the Star Wars prequel trilogy - at most, I think all we "needed" was a single film, a character study of Anakin/Vader.

Sometimes I'd quite like to see other stories in the same setting, but stretching out an existing story, pointlessly fixating on silly details for obsessive nerds to wank over doesn't do anyone any favours. Contrary to evilsoup, I like the way Aliens followed Alien - same setting, same monsters, totally different story.



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 Post subject: Re: Stories where sequels are artistically impossible PostPosted: 2012-03-05 04:50pm
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Lost Soal wrote:
One of the biggest ones I think was Highlander. There can be only One. It was in the tagline, it was how the film ended, but they kept on going to the point where The Source destroyed everything about the series and made the key phrase irrelevant and completely wrong.


The first movie seems almost entirely self contained. The entire movie plays like they shouldn't have a sequel. I dont know why they had the sequels, but they made them, and so then you ended up having all this bizarre explanations to pad things out so they could HAVE a sequel. And with each new sequel things just kept getting more and more bizarre becuase they changed things yet again.. and again... Its the film equivalent of the Black Knight going 'I'm not dead yet!' (OOPS YOU'RE NOT REALLY THE ONLY ONE!)

It's pretty amusing to note that the movies couldn't pull off what the TV series did.



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 Post subject: Re: Stories where sequels are artistically impossible PostPosted: 2012-03-05 05:02pm
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Damn edit button: to add:

What's more is that it shows they didn't really grasp the point of the original movies. In that you have this guy whose lived for centuries, is effectively immortal, and is part of an entire secret race/society of others like him who have their own cultures, traditions, etc. They're a literal wealth of human history, and the movie was an exploration of how such individuals interact with and view humanity as a whole. Up to and including the whole 'good/evil' dynamic. But what every subsequent movie focuses on was the 'chopping off heads and gaining power OMG LAST BATTLE' stuff where Connor (and then Duncan) has to play a role as a superhero and defeat the new evil baddie who just happened to pop up. The Worst offender in this regard was actually Endgame, where they had this contrived 'TOO POWERFUL' nonsense, like it was a video game and the bad guy had managed to unlock god mode or something.

It's pretty amusing to note that the movies couldn't pull off what the TV series did. The animated series straddled the line between the two, although I suspect because they couldn't just show people getting their heads chopped off they had to tone down the fighting. But the TV series spent alot of time exploring the sorts of ideas and themes that the movies could have and should have explored, and generally did a better job of it.



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 Post subject: Re: Stories where sequels are artistically impossible PostPosted: 2012-03-05 07:11pm
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How about the 1976 remake of King Kong. Kong is shot the hell up, falls from the World Trade Center and dies.

Nooooooooooope. In King Kong Lives! He's in a coma and is brought back to action by getting an artificial heart, made possible by another giant gorilla being found whose blood makes the surgery possible.


At least when they did a sequel to the 1933 King Kong they took Carl Dehnam and had him running from his creditorsand law suits back to Skull Island hoping to hit it big again. There he runs into a not quite Kong sized white gorilla......

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 Post subject: Re: Stories where sequels are artistically impossible PostPosted: 2012-03-05 07:35pm
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Connor MacLeod wrote:
The entire movie plays like they shouldn't have a sequel. I dont know why they had the sequels, but they made them, and so then you ended up having all this bizarre explanations to pad things out so they could HAVE a sequel.


Well because the first movie was a surprise success for very little money and they thought it could work again. Of course they figured it was best to keep the hoooooooooowhite Scotsman and since prequels weren't a thing yet they just went for a sequel and hoped nobody cared that much.

The problem was it's hard to recreate the same stakes even if they did do a prequel or reboot since the whole big deal is stopping a crazy immortal from taking over the world somehow. A big lightning orgasm isn't the best reward for the audience especially after Highlander 3 has like four in the span of 30 minutes.


Connor MacLeod wrote:
It's pretty amusing to note that the movies couldn't pull off what the TV series did. The animated series straddled the line between the two, although I suspect because they couldn't just show people getting their heads chopped off they had to tone down the fighting. But the TV series spent alot of time exploring the sorts of ideas and themes that the movies could have and should have explored, and generally did a better job of it.


A lot of that is just the luxury of a TV series as far as screen time goes. Like you said, even the original movie only had so much exploration of Connor's life through the centuries and most of what we got that wasn't in Scotland was him killing a nazi because he's immune to bullets and (best scene) him being drunk and getting stabbed three times. Also some brooding in his loft.

A good movie needs some more spectacle though. It's a weird fantasy concept that uses contemporary settings to have cheap fights between a huge guy and a half-blind Frenchman with swords and sparklers triggered by said swords.

The two post TV series movies aren't wholly bad in concept, but there execution was terrible. Ideally they should have just dropped Paul and Lambert as the big stars and focused on new immortals so it would be easier to sell us making the audience care about smaller stakes. Connor won the prize three times and Duncan had defeated so many immortals that there was little left to do with them.



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