We’ve arrived: Sequeltology, Episode Final IV. A new hope? Well. Not exactly.
Look, no one goes into a sequel expecting to be surprised, right? We go to be comforted, to lose ourselves completely in the sweet, Jujube stickiness of familiarity. So why should this bracket be any different? Sequels take the risk out of both filmmaking and filmgoing, which is probably why they’re so popular on both ends of the ledger. Seriously: Hollywood wags are quick to scold studios for pumping out parts two and three, but rarely utter a peep about the audience’s unslakable desire to see them. (People aren’t sheep; The Dark Knight Rises did better than, say, Rock of Ages or Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter this summer because it was a better movie! Also because of this.) At the start, this Sequeltology tournament was filled with all sorts of secondary second installments and culty continuations, but even Han Solo post-carbonite could have seen where we were headed in the end.
“Archaeology is the search for fact not truth.”
— Indiana Jones
The late Jeffrey Boam is the sole credited screenwriter of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Boam was one of those talented, can-do-anything '80s Hollywood script stars — his credits include The Lost Boys, Innerspace, Funny Farm, and, no stranger to sequels, Lethal Weapon(s) II and III. But he didn’t really write the third installment in the Indy franchise. “Tom [Stoppard] is pretty much responsible for every line of dialogue,” Steven Spielberg said in 2009. Stoppard is arguably the world’s greatest living playwright, so it’s no surprise that he gifted Indy with a mind-gem like the above. It’s a useful mantra for Sequeltology. This is math, not an emotional guidepost to your heart. It’s a daily, tabulated, categorical, ruthless manifestation of What’s Fact Now. And the fact is, you guys hate Rocky Balboa.
Christmas Vacation (lost to Dark Knight)
"And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he's gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse." There was no chance the film in which Christopher Nolan single-handedly invented cinema was not going to steamroll a Vacation threequel that's basically an Ernest movie, albeit an enjoyably profane Ernest movie.
There's a very specific, fleeting kind of glee around the Grantland offices on Bracket Day, heady moments the editors greedily drink in as we creep toward the cliff's edge to lash our latest single-elimination tournament to a stake, waiting for the churning waters of the Internet to part as the Kraken of our readership rises up to consume its sacrificial offering. We know the feeding is coming — after all, we are the ones summoning the slumbering leviathan from the deep — but we're always a little surprised at the violence of the ritual; within moments, Facebook and Twitter feeds are flooded with gore and the staff is swept out to grisly @-deaths in an unforgiving sea freshly chummed with our newest, dumbest ideas.
Wait a minute. Is this a bracket about movies or a faux-epic retelling of Wrath of the Titans? Did that one even have a Kraken? We bet it had, like, 10 Krakens; that's the way sequels work, but it's not like anyone saw it and can tell us. Anyway. Let's just get to the trolling, shall we?
As we prepared this week's Sequeltology bracket, the Grantland staff found itself debating one of the most important philosophical questions of the motion picture era: Is The Silence of the Lambs actually a sequel? After a lengthy exchange, and not a few angry post-debate shin-kickings, we settled on an answer. Sort of. For our purposes. Decide yourself; we're nothing if not transparent, especially when we feel like we can get a post out of it. — Lisanti
Emily Yoshida: We're fast-tracking a new bracket to finish off the summer, and the theme is movie sequels. Here are the potential candidates we discussed in our top secret meeting earlier today. Let us know if you'd like to add another title to the running. Though most of our titles are Part 2s, keep in mind any sequels are eligible, as are prequels. No Bond movies.
Also: The following list was dictated by the Sequeltology committee to one Mr. Simmons, who conveniently forgot to write down our Lord of the Rings suggestions, so it is very likely that there are other omissions as well:
On Friday, Memorial Day weekend will begin, Diddy and his family will commence another long summer of wearing nothing but white, and Men in Black III will arrive in theaters, marking the true beginning of Hollywood’s blockbuster season. After the catastrophic gambles, mild misfires, and historically overwhelming successes of, respectively, John Carter, Battleship, and The Avengers, we’ve finally made it to the months where nearly every movie has franchise aspirations and a genuine movie star (it’s not your fault, Taylor Kitsch!) in a lead role. It’s the moment when studios stop giving us what they think we want and start giving us what they hope we’ll tolerate.
Fans of idiocy the world over rejoiced yesterday when news broke that Bobby and Peter Farrelly were planning on revisiting their first — and some would say funniest — film, Dumb & Dumber. According to Deadline, the new project would be a sequel (presumably called Dumb & Dumbererer because obvs) and the plan is to reunite original stars Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels.
Green Lantern opened and bombed in mid-June — or, in blog years, in 1874 — and since then its failed cinematic vision of a charismatic Ryan Reynolds and a heroic Space Chicken has been on the mind of absolutely no one, save for the accountants at Warner Brothers who have to try and explain away over $300 million in sunk costs. Still, a creative and financial disaster like that can only mean one thing in Hollywood: sequels! Yes, Warner Brothers president — and apparent masochist — Jeff Robinov told the L.A. Times today that Green Lantern 2 is still in the works. According to Robinov, the problem with the first one wasn’t the cartoony CGI, it wasn’t the fleet of Muppet-y space cops, and it certainly wasn’t the Pullman Loaf with Abs that is Ryan Reynolds. No, Green Lantern’s Achilles' heel was that it wasn’t edgy and dark enough: "To go forward we need to make it a little edgier and darker with more emphasis on action," says Robinov. To aid with the transition, director Martin Campbell will be jettisoned in place of someone bleaker (Lars Von Trier?).
It all makes sense, of course. Because a movie about a test pilot with a magic ring that can project giant emerald fists would be a success if only it were broodier. Cue up the torturous backstory and throw some Linkin Park on the soundtrack! Creeping Nolanism strikes again!