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Sequels That Shouldn’t, and the Difference between Good and Great

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Indiana Jones IV – I know, I know. We all love him. We happily reminisce about how he shot the guy with the sword. We can hum John Williams’s score in our sleep. But come on. How can a 60-year-old action hero possibly come off as compelling? I remember a bygone era when Spielberg and Lucas actually created. Now it’s all remakes and adaptations and forced allegories on the Iraq war.

Star Trek…what number are we on? – J. J. Abrams, one of the creators of my favorite show Lost, is going to resurrect Kirk. We just might find the captain sitting at the helm of the Enterprise, punching in an assorted group of numbers that somehow add up to 108. The creative well dried up on this franchise a long time ago—it’s dead, Jim! Please, just let it go.

Ocean’s 13 – That number has a rep to maintain, you know.

Hannibal RisingThe Silence of the Lambs endures as one of the more provocative and intriguing thrillers ever made. The franchise, however, has devolved to something less about story, and more about how much we can disturb and gross out the audience.

Are there any original stories left?

No. Not for a long time now. What sets great stories apart is not their so-called “originality,” but the colors used to paint the tale. We all know the story of Romeo and Juliet. James Cameron, however, set it on a boat with a well established—even mythic—history, and scored a 600 million dollar gross.

Star Wars follows the Joseph Campbell hero model step for step. But no one had ever seen a lightsaber then, or a ship that actually looked to be flying through the stars.

And Indiana Jones? He’s James Bond, set before the Cold War and prefers a whip over a Walther.

Stories are not hard to come by. Telling them well, however, takes a certain amount of work. There’s a reason it took Tolkien nearly twenty years to write The Lord of the Rings. The Shawshank Redemption works not because of its story, but because of its characters, and the clever sleight of hand dealt by the filmmakers in the movie’s climactic acts.

So, please pardon the small degree of cynicism held toward the films listed at the start of this post. I’m sure they’ll hold a certain degree of entertainment. For now, though, that’s all they are—good stories.

I long for great stories.


Written by taj

January 19, 2007 at 12:41 am

Posted in Movies, Pop Culture, stories

2 Responses

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  1. […] Alias and co-creator of Lost) had been tapped to return the Enterprise to the stars.  Aside from the petty jokes I threw at the news, I took a casual interest, and secretly hoped the effort would die just like the many […]

  2. […] July 26th, 2007 in Movies Okay.  I know I’ve ragged on this movie, at least once on the blog, and many times […]

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