Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Did I say that was the last word? Sorry, this is

I couldn't help myself. I have one more thought to add about sequels, and then I'll shut up. Probably.

The year was 2006. We were all eagerly awaiting the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie. The first, three years earlier, had been terrific and we were all expecting a great string of pirate movies.

And then one day I ran across an interview with Orlando Bloom (Will Turner) and Kiera Knightley (Elizabeth Whatsername.) And Bloom used the three words. Or perhaps to give you the full effect he had on me, he "USED THE THREE WORDS."

The interviewer asked what the new movie would be like. Bloom smiled and said:

"Bigger and better."

And I said - "Uh oh."

Visions of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom flashed through my head. The filmmakers wanted to outdo themselves and were once again mistaking the flash for the what really made the original work – the characters and situations.

Bloom repeated the phrase later in the interview, and I knew it was a bad sign. And I was right.

Look, I get it. The PotC series has raked in almost $4 billion dollars worldwide, they don't need me to tell them their business. But anyone who's honest will have to admit none have been as good as the first. You could even argue that none has been good except the first. The third – At World's End – was so bad it actually went back in time and made me like the first one less.

Even the first one, if you think about it, isn't a pirate movie. None of them are. Sure, there are pirates in it, but they're almost innocent bystanders – as innocent as pirates can get, anyway. The PotC films are monster movies, ghost stories, in which pirates get involved almost by accident.

And that's not just my opinion. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer rejected the original script because it was just "a straight pirate movie." Like there would be something wrong with that. It was his idea to add the whole supernatural aspect because why would anyone pay good money to see a pirate move that didn't have the undead in it?

But that goes back to my point about sequels. They didn't trust that audiences would fall in love with the characters, that Depp would be so entertaining, that the relationships and the – dare I say it? – acting would capture viewers. So instead of trying to tell a story, they junked up the sequels with virtually non-stop action and explosions and monsters and some crazy shit about the East India Company.

So any way that's my feeling about sequels, movie, book or otherwise. They ought to keep in mind the elements that made the original popular in the first place, and develop those.

Now, back to work.

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