Less than a year ago, we got our first glimpse of three trailers to three promising sequels for this year’s summer movies. Just when you heard the themes of Mission Impossible, Pirates of the Caribbean, Superman, and X-Men blaring through the speakers at your local movie theater, you can’t say you weren’t excited about at least one of the coming attractions that awaited you, starting this last May.
Their originals were so entertainment, so brilliant in their imperfections or lack of, how could a person not want to see the continued adventures of Jack Sparrow, the ongoing struggle for acceptance for mutants or the next impossible mission for Ethan Hunt.
Critics were telling us that they too had great hopes. We liistened to them. We were expecting to see the same intelligence in the originals continued on into their sequels. We knew Superman would save the day, but with the added brilliance of director, Bryan Singer, how could we resist? They added the brilliance of Seymour Hoffman to Mission Impossible 3, and didn’t he look the devil in those trailers?
Mission Impossible 3 or M:I:3 came out in theaters in May. Sure, the two crucial characters in the first two films returned. Tom Cruise put on the wires once again, just after a barrage of controversy over his marriage to young Dawson’s Creek actress, Katie Holmes. He looked like he was back in top form in those teasers. But, what was unveiled to be true was something of a mess.
Cruise’s Ethan Hunt was not only married but retired. He was summoned and ordered back into action in a convenience store. Wasn’t the John Woo Ethan Hunt wearing a cool pair of shades that transmitted his orders in the last film?
Hunt found himself back where it all began, dangling from wires, putting on masks, and ultimately becoming invisible.
Then, the bad guy played by Hoffman traps him. It had some great moments of adventure, and pure spy fun. But, ultimately, the film looked so similar to James Cameron’s classic, True Lies, and Cruise felt like he was Maverick of Top Gun lost in the world of a secret agent. Since Arnold Schwartzenegger is busy governing California, we have to settle for a weak Ethan Hunt.
X-Men 3 came out in June. Hugh Jackman put the Wolverine claws back on, Patrick Stewart drove around in Professor Xavier’s motorized wheelchair, James Marsden’s Cyclops mourns the passing of his beloved, Jean Grey, and Haley Barry’s Storm rides the wind and blows away bad guys with lightning bolts. The action is thrilling, the story is intriguing. The players all bring verve to their roles.
But, it’s a shame the film doesn’t follow as closely to the comic books as the originals. If you are a true fan of the Marvel comic, you will be disappointed with the gaping holes in the story, but if you just enjoy the exploitation of superheroes, it’s the right movie for you.
Superman returned in Superman Returns on June 28th of this year. Replacing Christopher Reeves as the Man of Steel, Brandon Routh was a surprisingly perfect fit. Kevin Spacey gave us a new kind of Lex Luthor. While Gene Hackman’s performance was almost fun in its over-the-top campy humor, Spacey made Lex dark and sinister as he should be.
The spirit of the original Superman films isn’t lost, but what is lost is our need for a humorless, and unstoppable character such as the Man of Steel. How can a perfect, impenetrable person who always gets his man and gets the girl penetrate his audience when that audience has the dark, deep-seeded pain of Batman and Spider-Man to penetrate them?
Finally, we come to the most recent disappointment. Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest was released on July 7th in a big uproar of excited and hopeful people sitting in front of the big screen in Pirates costumes. They cheered as it began. They cheered when Jack Sparrow made his appearance. Truly, this sequel to the 2003 adventure film was the most highly anticipated film of the year. Then, while director Gore Verbinski gave us the right props, the right pirate lingo, and all of the craziest sea-living monsters you could ever imagine, the story is lost.
It jumps from story concept to story concept. With an understanding that they had made this film and the 3rd installment at virtually the same time, you have to consider the fact that the filmmakers aren’t going to resolve all the issues in this film as we’ve learned from the Lord of The Rings trilogy.
But, they could’ve kept structure and storylines simpler. Just when you’re learning about Davey Jones, they take you to a foggy jungle where a woman with black teeth is practicing black magic to learn… something. It’s as though they packed so much into the film, they lost track of a few of their story ideas. In short, the latest Pirates of The Caribbean film offered none of the wonderfully choreographed swashbuckling adventure the original did, and made the story for all three films seem like a big joke.
What happened this summer? The fun and brilliance of several great original movies was lost. The excitement to see another disappointment has left us cautious and much more critical of any future sequel endeavors. But, hopefully, our want for sequels of any kind hasn’t been shattered completely.