Being very into movies means that when I see a movie, not only do I want to see the first movie, but I want to see any sequels or spin-offs it has. Unfortunately, movies rarely live up to being constantly riffed on and adapted into numerous sequels, so this often becomes an adventure as much of personal endurance as one of exploring a fictional universe. So why not chart the madness and write about it?
I don’t do these very often, admittedly, because they’re big projects and usually endurance tests. There’s not much in the way of rules, though I will only write about projects that have three or more movies to their name, particularly if the later installments are less popular. I’m also trying to stick to an informal rule that I only pick projects that are wildly different between the installments or have a marked decrease in quality. We’ll see if I ever have to strike through that sentence when I decide to pick something lame like Lord of the Rings to talk about.
Planet of the Apes – I had never seen any of the Planet of the Apes movies before doing this project, and was in for quite a treat. Not only are they still worth watching, I actively love half of them (yes, 2.5, I’m not going to tell you how that fraction works.) This was the first project I did, mostly to catch up on the movies before I saw 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and it’s definitely from a rougher time. I’m still proud of it, but you’ll notice the conspicuous absence of the Tim Burton remake of Planet of the Apes. I’ll visit that travesty (and do a real write-up of Rise) to celebrate the release of an eventual Rise sequel.
I never did write up one of these for Rise, but I did talk about it in my favorite movies of 2011 list, which you can read here.
Final Destination – Horror movies are kind of the perfect thing to do these projects on, and horror movies are kind of a metaphor for the trajectory their franchises often go. Usually there’s one decent movie, and then a lot of directionless drivel as the concept is trotted out again and again until it’s driven so far into the ground nobody has any affection left for it. Just when you think it’s dead for good, someone makes a bad remake that you’re hopeful for but ultimately disappointed in, and then it’s all over.
Final Destination isn’t quite like that, thankfully, but I did spend a lot of time watching people die so I could be prepared for the subtle nuance of the universe leading up to the release of Final Destination 5. And that’s me being snarky, but actually it ended up accidentally paying off handsomely, as I go into in my piece on that movie.
Alien – The truth is that the easiest time to do a SoS project is right before a sequel or prequel comes out. There’s interest, not only on the part of you guys as readers, but on the part of me as a watcher. I like to brush up, especially if it’s a franchise I’m not particularly well-versed on, and this is often the perfect opportunity to do so. That’s the impetus of taking a look at the Alien quadrilogy: Prometheus is coming out, and it’s been years since I saw some of these films. Special care in this instance was taken to also discerning the differences in the director’s cuts of all four of the main films. And I even watched AvP for a laugh. For such a small project, this one’s incredibly dense!
The Magnificent Seven – A requested project, one of the weirder suggestions I had ever received, was to watch The Magnificent Seven (a classic I hadn’t seen, to be fair) and its three much more obscure sequels. Uncertain what I was getting myself into, I dived in, and found myself in the middle of an actually interesting collection of movies that represent a genre that lost, refound, and then relost its identity in the course of four movies, a pristine example of why the western as we know it essentially doesn’t exist in a vibrant way anymore.