“Prometheus” – Finish the first film if you want us to see the sequel!
HollywoodNews.com: Corey Atad wrote a great ‘wish I had gotten around to writing it first’ piece on Friday. It’s about well, it’s called “Prometheus; or Stop Trying to Set Up Sequels!”. I’ve whined about this in brief or in the context of something else from time to time, but the whole ‘everything’s a trilogy’ mindset has been quite harmful to any number of pictures over the last decade. When you go back and look at the films that spawned successful franchises, they generally began with mostly close-ended installments.
Star Wars stands on its own, as does The Matrix, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Batman Begins (heck, over the last four years I’ve come to admire how The Dark Knight begins and finishes its Harvey Dent business within its own 152 minute running time). Even the first Back to the Future ended its specific narrative before offering a comedic cliffhanger that didn’t necessarily need to be revolved (the producers always say they sure as hell wouldn’t have had a flying car at the epilogue if they knew they were going to have to do expensive FX for a flying car all throughout a sequel). Even Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone had a relatively self-contained story that didn’t necessarily require a sequel to complete its narrative.
But these days there is a certain thinking that one must intentionally leave your story unresolved in order to justify a sequel, as opposed to merely making one successful film and hoping the audience wants more. Personified by John Carter, Dark Shadows, and Prometheus this year, and films like Night Watch, Robin Hood, and The Golden Compass in years past (yes the latter is actually less cliffhanger-ish than the book), there is indeed a min-trend of intentionally leaving your primary story open-ended in the egocentric presumption that parts 2 and 3 are merely a good opening weekend away. Arguably the first explicit ‘to be continued’ wasn’t even Lord of the Rings, but rather Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers back in November 1997. I remember being genuinely shocked that the film ended without the primary conflict being resolved, even as the film still felt like a complete story for the main characters. But my favorite sequel tease remains the finale of Bryan Singer’s X-Men. Even when I first saw the film back in July 2000, it struck me as almost craven how explicitly they were setting up a next installment. The entire first film, for better or worse, had the feel of an expensive television pilot. Yes the film tells a mostly complete story and yes it still mostly holds up, but the last two minutes never fail to make me chuckle. I kind of wish they had been completely honest about what they were setting up. In my version:
Magneto: “You know Charles, this plastic prison can’t hold me. I’ll be out of here by summer 2002, possibly 2003.”
Xavier: “And I will always be there, old friend. At a theater near (as Patrick Stewart turns to the screen and points directly at the audience)… you.” CUE END MUSIC AND FADE TO BLACK
To read more go to Mendelson’s Memos