The sequel. The idea of it hardly inspires confidence does it? You could end up with an Empire Strikes Back or a Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. A Terminator 2: Judgement Day or a Speed 2: Cruise Control. The Dark Knight, or a Batman & Robin. We often get sequels it doesn’t seem anyone asked for (looking at you XXX: Return of Xander Cage), and yet there are some films where I’ve left the cinema desperate for more. Are great films better to be left alone untainted by a poor follow up, or is it worth the gamble. For different reasons, here are some great films I would love to see a follow up to. Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
The easiest one to pick on my list. I really enjoyed the original Swedish movie interpretations of Stieg Larsson’s ‘Millennium’ trilogy of novels. They were all made at the same time for TV, and I owned them all on DVD when they came out. It made a star of Noomi Rapace, and I’ve been a big fan of her work since in The Drop, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, and Prometheus. I enjoyed those films as much as the books themselves and was hesitant when it was announced that an English language remake was in production. David Fincher’s up there for me in my favourite directors, and when the trailer (one of the best I’ve ever seen) dropped with it’s flashing imagery and Led Zeppelin cover it caught my imagination. Rooney Mara hadn’t done too much other than a brief appearance in Fincher’s The Social Network (2010), and it was a brave decision to hand such a complex character as Lisbeth Sandler but she was superb. I love when Fincher goes dark and dirty with his films, and this was dripping in that. I imagine it will be difficult for Finchers, Mara and Daniel Craig to schedule in time around their other projects, but in The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest there’s a ready-made trilogy in waiting. The first film works as a stand-alone story, so I imagine the idea was to see how that landed with audiences. The following two rely on each other more though, so it would require a commitment to do them both.
A bit of an anomaly in the list seeing as this is itself a sequel to Tron. It’s far from a perfect film, and more of a guilty pleasure for me than anything else. Although the story and dialogue were shocking (honestly couldn’t tell you what happens), the visuals and Daft Punk score were strikingly good - *just thinking about that now and have had to put the soundtrack on as I type*. The black background and light affects worked so well in 3D too, and is the only film I think of where I would say watching it through those stupid glasses is better than in 2D. I read that a sequel was in production, only to be cancelled recently which is a shame. They wouldn’t even have to work hard on a script that makes sense to keep me happy. Just wheel in Daft Punk and throw in some ridiculous neon action sequences. Oh, and bring back Olivia Wilde. Thanks.
I wrote in my last blog post about how the zombie genre is now getting really tired for me. But as with Shaun of the Dead, there is still opportunities to do something original with it. Zombieland did just that. I was really put off watching this film when the trailer was doing the rounds purely because it just looked liked yet another zombie movie. I’m not sure why I caved eventually, but I remember putting it on Netflix and having an absolute ball. The jokes are constantly funny, and they come thick and fast. The violence is over the top, so much so that the zombie backdrop is just that, and a platform for some great comedic performances by Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, and one of the best ever cameo appearances ever ever ever. Eisenberg is peak-Jesse Eisenberg in this one, so it may hinge on whether you’re in to that, but for me it’s much more of a Social Network than Batman vs Superman Eisenberg performance. There was a TV series based on the Zombieland world that fell flat and was cancelled, but were they to stick to the same tone as the first and push it’s originality further still there’s definitely room for a sequel. On the La La Land red carpet I saw that Emma Stone was recently asked which of her films she would like to see turned in to a musical. She answered Zombieland, and I would 100% buy a ticket for that.
South Park’s team decided to turn the heat up on the United States’ war against terror with this satirical Thunderbirds rip off. I’ve watched it so many times, and have vivid memories of that vomit scene on repeat until my sides hurt with laughter. The songs are genius, and I seem to find something different funny with every viewing. The idea to create the film with wonky puppets becomes a brilliant joke in itself, particularly when it comes to a head in the funniest sex scene I’ve ever seen. I’ve never watched lots of South Park, but if they haven’t already I would imagine Matt Stone and Trey Parker would have a lot to say on Trump America. What better way than with further action film clichés and stereotypes in puppet form?
My film of 2016. I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed this. I realised the other day that there hasn’t been many comedies recently that have grabbed my attention enough to go and watch them in the cinema. They’re often either a poor sequel to an old classic (see Zoolander 2), or 90 minute sex joke probably starring Zac Efron. Shane Black has history with his buddy cop comedies, and Nice Guys is now right up there with Lethal Weapon and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. As with his previous work the dialogue is snappy, funny, and works around an interesting detective investigation. The Ryan Gosling/Russell Crowe miss-match works wonders, and all three said during the marketing campaign how keen they would be to make another. I'm not sure it made enough money to warrant that which is gutting as there is a huge amount of potential with these characters.
That Byron Howard and Rich Moore's brilliantly clever look at society, discrimination and social stereotypes just edged out Moana as my favourite animation of 2016 says a lot. Too often kids films can take the foot off the pedal and cruise along with little effort, comfortable in the knowledge that the bright colours and fart jokes will be enough to recook the investment. Shrek was one of the first animation to add jokes only the parents would get, but even that looks tired when you have films such as Zootropolis/Zootopia trying their best to push the barrier and hold up a mirror to the world we live in. With that in mind, there is a lot more for them to say and I think kids and adults alike would be keen to see it.
Shaun of the Dead (2004) is somehow one of my favourite ever comedies, as well as making it on to my list of favourite ever horror films. Hot Fuzz (2007) is brilliantly funny too (always thought it would make a great cinema double bill with Bigelow's Point Break, the 1991 thriller from which it took a lot of inspiration), but I don’t remember reacting to The World’s End (2013) in anyway near the same way. While the first two in Wright’s ‘Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy’ heavily referenced films I knew very well to comedic effect, I remember thinking that I would find The World’s End funnier when I’m older… so its terrifying to think that soon may be the time to give that another go. I'm a huge fan of Edgar Wright’s snappy style and cuts, and there’s actually a great analysis of his visual comedy which I recommend checking out here. After he backed out of doing Marvel's Ant-Man in 2015, the release of Baby Driver crept up on me a bit this year. Had I known one of the m…
I'll admit that I immediately dismissed the first John Wick film when it was released back in 2014. Although I'm a big fan of Point Break (1991), Speed (1994), and The Matrix (1999), it's fair to say that Keanu Reeves' more recent releases have been pretty disappointing. The idea of seeing a film about an ex hitman out for revenge after someone kills his dog didn't inspire me with confidence either. However, having heard lots of positive things about the action sequences Charlotte and I grabbed the DVD ahead of the release of it's sequel and thought it was a huge amount of fun. It's a franchise that knows exactly what it's about: thrilling action with it's excellent stuntwork from it's lead actor, and it does it really well. Laurence Olivier he ain't, but Reeves is a brilliant physical actor who throws himself in to a role (often literally), and this is a film that plays to those strengths. Thankfully Chapter 2 is more of the same, so …
As is now a famous Philhelm Scream tradition (ie. I’ve done it once before, last year), approaching the half-way point of the calendar year feels a suitable time to take stock and rank some films. After what was an incredible strong Oscar year, there’s a good showing of the nominees here seeing as each received a January release here in the UK. Fingers crossed July – Dec is just as good!
10. Hidden Figures I thought it was a bit of a shame Hidden Figures (along with 2016's Hell or High Water) slipped under the best Picture radar a bit this year, while the incredibly dull Lion (2017) and Dev Patel’s hair seemed to get a lot more coverage. The story of the first ever black female employee at NASA, and the struggles she faced to get there was told really well. It’s a proper fist pump of a story, and doesn’t get too bogged down in the boring number crunching that it could so easily have done. The leading trio of Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monáe and Octavia Spencer are each brilliant…