February 5, 2004

The B List

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Why must Hollywood take a beautiful film and turn it into a cash cow? Haven’t there been enough ridiculous remakes and insipid sequels already? It seems as though studios just can’t let certain characters fade away and retain their dignity, always to be remembered fondly.

Instead, we’re constantly bombarded with remakes, sequels, and prequels that promise to deliver nothing but frustration in return for taking our moolah. This February, Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights is coming out in theatres. This time the story set in Cuba right before the revolution starts, threatening to tear apart a rich white girl and her new love, a Cuban waiter. In honour of yet another gratuitous cash grab, let’s take a look at some other stinkers that make us all want to hang our heads in shame and embarrassment.

Jurrassic Park

There is nothing you can say to redeem these sequels, except that each time we did learn just how far special effects can go. Not only were the story lines boring, but the characters were unconvincing, and the situations were contrived and rehashed. I feel sad that people think these movies are in any way representative of the great books that Michael Crichton wrote. Jurassic Park was the first book that I stayed up all night to read. The original movie was brilliant, and even though I was forced to watch it over thirty times while babysitting, it was still good every time. You couldn’t pay me to watch the two sequels.


I love Audrey Hepburn so much. She is one of my idols for her style and grace, things that I definitely don’t personally possess and which seem to be eternally associated with the lovely chauffeur’s daughter. Add to the fact that Humphrey Bogart is simply the epitome of cool, especially in white jacketed tuxes, and you can’t go wrong. The classic movie is a delicious romp through the realm of romantic comedy. It’s really quite amazing that with a talented cast, composed of Juliette Binoche and Harrison Ford, the remake could go so wrong. But it did, like a train wreck, except you don’t even want to watch out of morbid curiosity: you just want the movie to have never existed.

The Matrix

Yes, I know that everyone has already torn the sequels to bits, stomped on the bits until they turned into a fine pulp, poured gasoline on the pulp, and burned the pulp away, leaving a stained and slightly oily floor. And the sequels deserved it; I’m obviously not going to dispute that. Rather, I’d like to remember the feeling I had the first time I saw the original Matrix, how I shivered with the goosebumps and tried to ignore the sweat in my armpits. For me, and many others, watching that movie was a religious experience, but with a meaningful and personal impression, not the tacky and blatantly manufactured experience the sequels left me with. I know I’m just going to pretend that The Matrix world ended when Neo flew up, Superman style, away from a phone booth.

Star Trek

Though I may be stoned for admitting this, I love watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. In my opinion, it’s a fantastic show with great actors, interesting story lines, and inventive special effects. Plus, Patrick Stewart is hot. So when they started making the Next Generation movies, I was psyched, and well rewarded with great flicks like First Contact. And then the franchise decided to squash my hopes and dreams by releasing Star Trek: Nemesis, one of the worst thought out movies I’ve ever seen. Not only did the creators of the movie develop a story line that wasn’t all that interesting the first five times it was explored, but the ending of the movie left me saying, “What, that’s it?”

Star Wars

I don’t even really know what to say about the new prequels that hasn’t been said before. Except this: I heard someone say that a particular movie script was so bad, it was George Lucas bad. Ouch.

But wait, let’s not despair entirely. Not every sequel, remake, or prequel is super sucky. Just look at X-Men 2 which surpassed the original movie in both character development and action sequences. While Terminator 3 was absolute rubbish, Terminator 2 was enthralling, much better than the original Terminator. Since the talk about a new Indiana Jones movie seems to have moved into production and possibly filming, I do have hope that it will be a movie that is worth my money. It’s true that Harrison Ford is getting a little long in the tooth, but how old was Sean Connery in The Last Crusade? Exactly.

Basically, the original depiction of a story is usually the most interesting and the most honest representation of the concept. Once studios start fiddling around with the creative idea to spawn a lucrative franchise, quality goes steadily downhill. So be wary of those sequels, prequels, and remakes, and perhaps rent a good old classic instead of shelling out mega bucks for a glossy, vapid reinterpretation.

Archived article by Sue Karp