If you haven’t figured it out yet, in the movie world, 2012 is the year of the sequel. And the prequel. And the reboot. Really, 2012 is just the year of a lack of originality. But, then, so was 2011. Chances are that a lot of what you are going to see this year is the continuation of a franchise in some way, shape, or form. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing.
There’s The Dark Knight Rises, the third installment in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. And Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, the coming together of Marvel heroes Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, and more.
Don’t forget The Amazing Spider-Man, Sony’s impossibly soon reboot of Sam Raimi’s successful Spider-Man franchise, directed by relative newcomer Marc Webb. Or The Hobbit films, which will serve as prequels to Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings franchise.
I don’t know any (sane) person who is harping on the studios for giving those films the green light. But then there are films like Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Step Up 4, and Scary Movie 5, each of which is scheduled to be released this year. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Even G.I. Joe: Retaliation is pretty questionable. And don’t get me started on Paranormal Activity 4.
Some sequels this year are going to be awesome (or so we hope); others are likely to leave us scratching our heads wondering why they were made. And then there are a few, 3 in particular, that catch you off guard and leave you in a weird state of excited confusion (or confused excitement). Men in Black 3 comes to mind here. So, too, does American Reunion. But the ones I want to discuss today are Prometheus, The Bourne Legacy, and Taken 2.
Prometheus is one movie this year that has a lot of people, myself included, very excited. After a long stint in action and drama, directing films like Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Thelma & Louise, and American Gangster, director Ridley Scott is returning to the genre he helped define: science fiction. Scott is the renowned director of Blade Runner and Alien, two of the most successful and lauded science fiction films of all-time. Seeing him come back to the sci-fi scene is huge, but it’s even huger for the simple fact that Prometheus is, in some way, a continuation of the Alien franchise.
The film was originally developed as a direct prequel to Alien, taking place prior to the events of that film and leading into the Alien story; however, Ridley Scott has done away with that idea. Prometheus is now being touted as an “un-Alien” Alien prequel. The film is now set to take place within the same universe as the Alien films, but its events aren’t directly related to those of the franchise. Scott has said that the film “shares some DNA with” Alien, but not with the later Alien films (Aliens, Alien 3, Alien: Resurrection).
I’m interested to see what Scott is going to do with the story and how exactly it ties into Alien, especially since Prometheus is set in the same universe, but its events are unrelated. Alien really is one of the greatest science fiction movies ever, and as I watch it now I can’t help but think how great it’s going to be to see Ridley Scott make yet another science fiction film. Starring a stellar cast, including Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce, and Idris Elba, Prometheus is due in theaters June 8.
THE BOURNE LEGACY
The Bourne Legacy is perhaps one of the most intriguing franchise continuations this year, particularly since it will be the first time that Matt Damon is not playing CIA operative Jason Bourne. In fact, no one is. Despite being based on Eric Van Lustbader’s novel, which is centered around Jason Bourne and is a continuation of Robert Ludlum’s acclaimed Bourne novels, The Bourne Legacy stars Jeremy Renner as CIA operative Aaron Cross, not Jason Bourne.
After Matt Damon decided not to return to the franchise, the filmmakers moved in a different direction and recruited Renner, whose recent roles in The Hurt Locker, The Town, and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol have made him an ideal fit for an action franchise. In fact, there are some who think he will replace Tom Cruise in the M:I franchise; but I’m not buying it.
Despite having a different main character, The Bourne Legacy should still feel like part of the franchise: Cross is an agent who has undergone the same training as Jason Bourne and will maneuver through the same universe as Bourne. Whether Renner will return to star in any subsequent Bourne films remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure: he’s got us interested in what Bourne, er, Cross, can do.
The Bourne Legacy is scheduled to hit theaters on August 3.
Liam Neeson is a badass. Taken was the surprise hit of 2008. But did it warrant a sequel? No, not really. I was surprised when I first heard talk of a Taken sequel back in 2010, not because Taken was a bad movie. In fact, it was among my favorite movies of 2008. I just wasn’t so sure that a story was there.
In Taken, retired CIA agent Bryan Mills (Neeson) travels across Europe in search for his daughter (Maggie Grace) after she has been abducted from a Parisian hotel. Of course, the search is tough and Mills must rely on all of his old skills to find her, which results in one hell of an entertaining thrill ride. Oh, and if you wondered, yes, he does eventually find her.
So where exactly does a new story come into play? Mills’s daughter gets abducted again? Irresponsible young people, I tell you. But no, that’s not the story; instead, it’s Mills and his wife who get taken while on vacation in Istanbul. And the man holding them hostage? The father of the kidnapper that Mills killed while searching for his daughter.
See, just because it didn’t necessarily call for a sequel doesn’t mean that a sequel can’t be done, or that it’s a bad thing. The story looks be to right, as Luc Besson’s stories generally are. If the cast and crew can come together and make an action-adventure that doesn’t feel stale or too much like the first film, Taken 2 could be just as good as the first go-round when it is release in early October.
Sequels are often an issue in Hollywood. K spoke to this in his discussion on trilogies: the first film is great, but it’s generally all downhill from there. And in some cases, the first film is terrible, and while it would seem there’s nowhere to go but up, everything still goes downhill. Very rarely can a franchise feel fresh throughout, but it can happen.
It will be interesting to see just how Prometheus, The Bourne Legacy, and Taken 2 turn out. Director Ridley Scott’s return to the sci-fi genre with Prometheus is definitely welcomed, but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee a great film; however, if the trailer is any indication, I’m expecting big things. The Bourne Legacy will be the franchise’s first foray into a Matt Damon- and Bourne-less film, which could be either a good thing or a bad thing. And with Taken 2, there’s no telling what we’ll get: a film too similar to the original, or one that sticks to the script just enough and is still enjoyable.
We’ll have to wait and see, but these are definitely a trio of films to start getting excited for. Be sure to keep updated with Hype the Movies, but in the mean time, I have just one thing to say: get hyped!