You can hear an audible groan from the film fans of the world with the announcement of each new terrible sequel or remake. Mainstream Hollywood seems bereft of original ideas, and so we end up with a lot of terrible ideas instead. Nothing could illustrate this more than the oft-rumored (but thankfully never produced) remake of Casablanca starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez.
The evidence that sequels and remakes are a bad idea is overwhelming. The world didn’t need another The Day the Earth Stood Still starring Keanu Reeves. Disney seems to have made the argument that all sequels should be banned all on their own: just walk through the animation section of any video store and see crimes against your childhood neatly alphabetized: Cinderella 2 and 3, Fox and the Hound 2, Return to Neverland— none of them compare favorably to their predecessors.
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But I’m not here to bury sequels and remakes. I love ’em! I won’t bore you with a top ten list of my favorite films (I’d likely end up banned from GameSpite if I tried), but among those films are quite a few revisitings. The Empire Strikes Back is a sequel and probably my favorite film of all time. The Thing is a remake, and it’s one of the finest horror films ever put to celluloid. The Godfather Part II is arguably better than the first film. Sequels have been kind to the current era’s superhero movies. Spider-man 2, X-Men 2 and The Dark Knight are my three favorite superhero movies, and they’re all sequels. Horror is notorious for over-sequelizing (the recent Friday the 13th was twelfth in the series!) but I wouldn’t give back Evil Dead II or Romero’s Dawn of the Dead for anything.
Of course, there is a dark side. X-Men III is wretched. Spider-man 3 isn’t as bad as people say, but it is still an unsatisfying and uneven film. (I’m extra sad about that one because Sandman has been my favorite Spidey villain since I was a tiny tot watching Spider-man and his Amazing Friends). Godfather Part II is a cinematic classic, but Godfather Part III is legendary for failing to live up to its legacy. Still, as much as I hate X-Men III, I would still like to see another installment in the series. If Coppola announced he a new Godfather film was in the works, I would feel a bit of frisson before my rational mind kicked in and started having doubts.
I guess I’m just an eternal optimist. One of the ways I passed the time when I was a kid was speculating about possible sequels to all my favorite movies. As an eight year-old I wrote my own sequel to Gremlins, and if there had been an internet back then I would certainly have posted it somewhere online. Despite how crushed I was as a kid seeing Back to the Future III or Ghostbusters 2, I would still have been trying to record the commercials for any new sequels on VHS so I could rewatch them over and over, and begging my mom to buy me the movie tie-in book when we went to the grocery store.