Defending Sequels

Being the big nerd that I am, I’m already seeking out lists of movies that are coming out in 2017. And there are a lot of movies coming out in 2017 that I can’t wait to see.

But I’ve noticed something that I guess should trouble me, but it really doesn’t. Looking through the movies scheduled to come out next year, I see a ton of remakes, sequels and adaptations of books or comic books. I guess this is nothing new. This bothers a lot of people, and it kind of should. Remakes, sequels and movie versions of novels all lack the originality of the source material.

Actually, it doesn’t necessarily. While I can say, with no hesitation, that some remakes and sequels would have done better to remain unwritten, there are a lot that do great things for the story. So, sorry not sorry, I’m going to defend them today.

Sequels continue a story.

As a fantasy fan, I can’t think of a single book I love that isn’t part of a series. Harry Potter, Song of The Lioness, Hunger Games, Divergent, Dragonriders of Pern, Chronicles of Narnia. Literally I could fill a page with examples, but you get my point. So, why do people get so bent out of shape when a movie has a sequel?

I do want to stress that there is a world of difference between a sequel and a ‘cheapquel’. Allow me to demonstrate.

Paranormal Activities was a great movie. I loved the first one, but it left a lot of questions. Honestly, I’ve seen all of the Paranormal Activity movies, including The Marked Ones, and I still have questions. That’s the fun of the series, though. The whole story fits together like wonderful, bloody puzzle pieces.

Now, let’s compare that to another classic in the genre, Saw. I’ve seen them all, and I don’t feel that any of them added any deeper understanding to the situation. Really, I feel like we could have stopped after three. This isn’t to say that the first Saw wasn’t great. It really was. That twist at the end blew my mind! We didn’t need a second movie. We only got one because the first movie did so well.

Remakes help a new generation of fans fall in love.

Every now and then I actually watch something wholesome with my kids. Not often, but sometimes. One example is Annie. My kids loved the original with Carol Burnette as Ms. Hannigan. We loved the new one just as much. The new one was, in fact, incredible. It paid homage to the original while still standing on its own two feet. The remake of Rocky Horror Picture show was also great.

I love watching remakes with my kids because, frankly, some things don’t age well. It’s a lot easier getting the kids to give something a try if I’m not trying to explain 80s and 90 fashions. They can experience the story for what it is.

I can actually think of at least one case where a remake was way better than the original. That example is Poltergeist. There was no sex scene, the special effects were boss and the ending was way happier. I was always lukewarm on the original series, but the new one was really good.

Movie versions can be magical.

We have a rule in our house. If you didn’t read the book, you don’t get to watch the movie. (With the exception of Forrest Gump. Don’t read that book, don’t do that to yourself.) This rule works really well for us. The monsters and I read then watched Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Chronicles of Narnia, Spiderwick Chronicles and Percy Jackson. Sometimes the movies are great, like Harry Potter. Sometimes I want to wrap my hands around the director’s neck and squeeze until there’s no breath left in him, like Memoirs of a Geisha. Sometimes it’s just fun as hell to watch a movie version of characters I already love, like all of the Avengers movies, First Class and Days of Future Past. (Batman Vs. Superman was terrible. Sorry, Ben Affleck, it’s not your fault.) Sometimes loving the movies inspire people to read the books. I have a lot of friends who watched Game of Thrones and had to read the books after. I also have a lot of friends who didn’t read the books before watching the show and didn’t know the Red Wedding was coming, hehehe.

Finally, let me give you what I think is the best example of a screen adaptation. It’s kind of unique, and I’m sure you’ve heard of it.

The Walking Dead. Now, I read this comic book religiously for a while. It’s interesting. Most zombie movies revolve around the first wave of terror. It’s kind of fun seeing people just try to live their lives alongside zombies. The tv version is quite different from the comics. Some characters, like your precious Daryl, don’t even exist in the comics. Some things are the same, but other things vary wildly. This comes from the fact that a different writing team is creating the show. Neither are, in my opinion, better or worse than the other. It’s just a great example of something I wish more writers would realize. You know, the writers who will probably give up eventually because ‘it’s all been done already’.

Everything has already been done. That’s true. You can never ever come up with an original story. What is original is your telling of it, your voice. That’s why we keep making remakes. We keep telling the same stories in new mediums. Because while the stories may be as old as time, the writer’s voice isn’t.

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