The Far Side of the World, Peter Weir’s naval war drama featuring Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany is not complete without Master and Commander. The film was based on a book series on the adventures of Captain Jack Aubrey (Crowe) and Stephen Maturin (Betteny), his ship’s doctor, by author Patrick O’Brian, and it ought to have been made to suit many other films for Master and Commander. Instead, a following film never materialized despite decent box office receipts and two Academy Awards.
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Now, almost 20 years later, it seems as if the long-awaited sequel of the Master and Commander is in the making – as a prequel. According to Deadline, Patrick Ness (A Monster Calls, Chaos Walking) was invited to develop the screenplay by 20th Century Studios. While The Far Side of the World adapted a number of novels from O’Brian, it was mainly drawn from the tenth book in the Aubrey-Maturin series.
So I don’t want to spoil one of all the best-known films, but the shark dies at the end. So how are you going to make sequels? Well, of course, more sharks. But Jaws made it strange to keep the same human characters, and to target them with more sharks. Jaws 2 and 3 are essentially films about shark murderers. The last film was literally called Jaws: Revenge, and the shark took revenge on the family of Roy Scheider. Except, once again, the shark that might seem to want vengeance is dead. So which is this shark? Mrs Jaws? Mrs Jaws?
The Blair Witch Project
The idea that these events actually took place is based on the idea that three children were missing and their images were recovered. The following sequels (Shadows Book and Blair Witch) fell prey to one of the unwritten sequelae rules that need to be broader than the original. But Blair Witch’s smallness and minimalism were key and the idea that we never know anything supernatural is in the forest. Making a sequel almost requires you to answer this question, and the power of the film is killed immediately.
Everything we have written about Blair Witch is doubled for Paranormal Activity, another film that has hardly been found, followed by a number of sequences that are becoming increasingly obvious and ridiculous. The first film was about hunting for any shred of paranormal evidence. The last film contains literal portals to other dimensions. So, uh, evidence I guess found!
Meet the Parents
The original Meeting of the Parents was a success. The story of meeting your wife’s disapproving parents is infinitely replicable but at least with the same set of characters not infinitely repeatable. Unless your dad is the Memento guy, this is no easy replacement scenario. So the Fockers and Little Fockers struggled to find ways to restore tension with very little success in Ben Stiller’s relationship with Robert De Niro. Put it like this: Get Out is incredible. Would you like to see Chris meet another crazy friend’s parents in a sequel?
A classic case of a film whose premise never requires a sequel, so they made five more films and a bunch of television shows, of course. The Highlander story is a death battle between an immortal race, until a man remains. Trying to explain how more Highlands followed led to some of the most stupid sequences in history.
Pirates of the Caribbean
The world of pirates is fertile, with fantasies and curses and buried treasure and high seas adventure. In the first film, Captain Jack Sparrow of Johnny Depp was really the support of the comic relief, which linked the different threads and characters. It was so loved by the audience that the sequels made the fatal mistake of turning Jack from sidekick to hero that led to too much wicked antiquity and stumbling blocks. This year a fifth film has been opened and another one risks on the horizon; like pirates of the fantasy who continually plague Captain Jack, the series refuses to die.
This one should have worked out of all the films on the list; The Matrix’s world had plenty of places to explore after its incredible first film. But instead of taking the action that people loved, the Wachowskis doubled on the philosophical foundation of the material and the crafty human town of Zion. Few films of my life broke my heart like The Matrix Revolutions.
Here is another great and little horror film, whose clever location and intriguing, central villain has become a lethal formula for a whole franchise, not to mention surprisingly robust box office. As the series of Saw progressed, any appearance of reality and mankind dropped, replacing ever more absurd and complicated death traps plus gore and blood oodles. Where Saw began and where it wound up, the universes are nearly different.
The Karate Kid
The first karate kid is a big sports film. It doesn’t need anything. And nothing added to repeated sequels, spinoffs and reboots. (Not helping either the fact that Ralph Macchio was playing a teenager in the later movies in his mid-20s).
The original Pitch Perfect was pretty perfect. This does not mean, however, that we needed more of it. The Barden Bellas won the competition already. A group of their members already had a college degree. Pitch Perfect 2 never came up with any reason to bring together the characters, mainly in the chemistry of the actors and in funny songs. And there’s a third movie now. How much you want to bet in a few years we’ll be talking about a 4th?