A short thought on sequels

I woke up this morning thinking about Ghostbusters. The first Ghostbusters is an undisputed classic, it has an amazing cast, a memorable catchphrase and theme song and some really hilarious dialogue. And Ghostubers 2 is…well the sequel to the first. This got me thinking about how difficult it is to produce a really good follow up to a great movie, especially when that movie is an unexpected hit. I think the mistakes that most people end up making is trying to recreate everything that made the first movie a success. Of course you have to borrow plot elements and tap into that same energy that made the first work so well but I think, more importantly, you have to bring something new to the story to distinguish the sequel from the original.

My favourite sequels are movies like The Empire Strikes Back, Godfather II, Toy Story 2, The Dark Knight and Terminator: Judgement Day. I’m not as against the idea of sequels as most people are. The point of film is to entertain and tell stories but it’s also a business and the studios need to make money. My only prerequisites for a sequel is that it 1. needs to be feasible in the world of the story – a movie like Titanic doesn’t need a sequel. It’s a self-contained story that can’t go any further. 2. The sequel needs to be well done and by this i mean it needs to be different from the original. 3. It needs to raise the stakes of the story.

I think the movie that most people would put down as their favourite sequel (myself included) is The Empire Strikes Back. It does everything a good sequel should – it brings our favourite heroes from the original back and puts them on another adventure and it raises the stakes. In the end this movie is actually a loss for our heroes, Han gets captured, Luke loses a hand and finds out his father is the second most evil person in the universe and C3PO ends up in more pieces than Lindsay Lohan’s acting career. It’s bold and not only emulates the success of the first but finds its own success.

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