As most movie watchers have noticed, this has been the summer of sequels. Far too often the sequel is the result of some Hollywood-type moneymaker betting that people will be just as willing to fork out money to see the same actors reading an almost identical script. For a perfect example of this, take Rush Hour II. The first Rush Hour had a winning combination of two actors (Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker) whose differences gave them a certain spark. Their use of East-meets-West humor and fast moving stunts were remarkably humorous the first time around. But, as is typically the case, the sequel lacked the spontaneity that is so important in this type of humor. The acting seemed fake, as if the two were trying too hard to make the buddy-buddy, we’re-best-friends-act work for them.
Not only was the forced acting a definite detraction from the film, but similar plots between the two films left the viewer with a feeling of dj vu all too commonly found in sequels.
Also along this line was the film Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. I must admit I was truly looking forward to this film. Having seen all of the other Kevin Smith movies and immensely enjoying the uniqueness associated with these offbeat films, I was rather surprised at the lack of plot or individualism in the characters. Although Jay and Silent Bob both retained their less than polite but likeable personas, the parade of returning one-line characters just served as a reminder of how much better the other movies were.
But even if you left the theater a bit disappointed with this film, you at least had the pleasure of knowing you hadn’t just seen Jurassic Park III. This sequel barely qualified as a movie and came much closer to being that awful nightmare you wish you never had. With a badly written script, an awful reoccurring cell phone joke, and mediocre acting it comes as no surprise that this film didn’t live up to the standards of Michael Crichton’s original Jurassic Park. Instead of retaining the interesting scientific look at a potential overstep of human boundaries that the original contained, Jurassic Park III, with its senseless characters and overdone special effects, only makes us resent that Darwin’s theory on survival of the fittest doesn’t apply to movies. The audience left the theater with a single question in their mind: “How in the world did Ta Leoni survive when by all rights her character should have died in the first few minutes?”
But not all sequels this summer proved a disappointment. In a summer movie season packed with all too forgettable films certain movies stood out among the crowd. The Others, though not strictly a sequel, gave watchers a twisting puzzle while all the time reminding us of The Sixth Sense. (Can we all say “I see dead people”?) Set in a darkly colored countryside during WWII, many of the film’s shots silently portray the darkness of the era and emotionally connect the audience into the plot. Though not terribly realistic, it holds the watchers attention throughout.
American Pie II also made connections with the target audience. This sequel adds and perhaps even improves upon the previous film. A feel-good movie for the sex-oriented college group, American Pie II includes slightly raunchy humor, hopeful relationships, as well as some heartwarming friendships. Though obviously Hollywood produced, people can enjoy its idealistic view of how everyone wants to remember their college years.
After a summer movie line up like these films, you may ask what comes next? Well, a whole range of movies is just waiting to be released. Critics are speaking well of the newly released Don’t Say A Word, an adventure terror film starring Michael Douglas. Also recently released, Zoolander, starring Ben Stiller, is causing a stir with its current tagline “3% Body Fat, 1% Brain Activity.” Who knows, perhaps this new group of films can raise the standards currently being used in films…though, with taglines like that, this writer doubts it.