Thursday, 28 January 2010

Quit while you're ahead

I watched Terminator: Salvation last night and I'm sure I'm not the only one who has thought "Enough, already!"

It was an enjoyable enough experience, in a "blokes movie night" (thanks for the company Justin) sort of way. Loads of guns, loud noises, some interesting looking Terminators and a vaguely coherent plot. Unfortunately, there was just too much suspension of disbelief required. As if a jump-start defibrillation wasn't enough, they went on to do a heart transplant in an open field hospital with that same heart (God alone knows where the anti-rejection drugs were going to come from).

This is all an aside from my real point... Why don't some people just quit while they are ahead?

Terminator was a fantastic movie. Highly original plot, interesting and not-carboard-cutout characters, Arnold, Arnold not stretching himself artistically, guns, loud noises. What's not to love? I remember having a discussion with a friend prior to the release of Terminator 2 that the whole concept ran the risk of entering a time-travel paradox of its own: Can't kill Sarah Connor? Send someone else back to kill John. Or further back and have another go at Sarah?

Any of this sound familiar?

Before I go any further, I though T2 was a good movie too (and not only because of the GnR theme song), but it really didn't need to be made. Sure the first movie left you with some unanswered questions, but that isn't always a bad thing. In fact, it is a good thing. Sometimes we can just enjoy things a bit more when our imagination is left to fill in some of the details.

How about I share a small list of great movies (or books, or TV) that really just should have quit while they were ahead:


  • Ghostbusters. Again, I've got nothing bad to say about Ghostbusters 2 and I'll be in line to watch 3 if I get a chance. But, why?

  • Highlander. Oh, dear. Is and always will be my all-time-favourite-bestest movie. Just so long as I forget they ever made sequels. Why, oh why did they forget that "There can be only one"?

  • Red Dwarf. As if seasons 7 and 8 weren't bad enough, but then they came back for more.

  • Toy Story. Shrek. Brilliant movies that finished their stories. Only one reason for a $equel.

  • The Blues Brothers (you can make a new Bluesmobile, but a new movie? Aargh!)

  • The Godfather (they keep dragging YOU back in?)

  • Comedies like Revenge of the Nerds and Police Academy. All the jokes that needed to be made were made in the originals. Repeated, they are just unfunny.

  • Mad Max (sure the original left the story open for a sequel, but it didn't need it. To say nothing of more than one.)

  • Rocky (exactly the same story how many times is it now?)

  • Alien.

  • I could probably go on. But won't.


I'm giving a free pass to Back to the Future (which could have stopped at 1, but at least it looked like the sequels were always planned), Star Trek (could stop at any time, but even the mutliple movies fit like a longer TV series), The Simpsons (because) and Indiana Jones (what pulp fiction character ever stops being awesome just because we get bored?). I'm enjoying The Fixer on SBS right now, but give me a few more episodes into season 2 before I decide that they should have just made a miniseries (how many times can John and Lenny argue over whether he'll take orders or not?).

And to justify the TILT tag on this post, here's my list of those movies and such that could easily have kept going, but stopped when they should. I like these (because they are awesome and because they knew when to quit):

  • The Princess Bride

  • Life on Mars (I could rant here about all the shows that the American TV industry feels the need to remake with local accents, but that would take too long)

  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off. They could make a sequel today and it would rake it in at the box office. But they haven't. Therefore: Awesome.

  • Fawlty Towers. John Cleese, you are the master of comic timing. And a perfect judge of when smacking Manuel is no longer funny.

  • Blade Runner (Am I counting my chickens before they are hatched? They let a sequel novel be written so a film is not out of the question. Please no.)

  • Doctor Horrible's Sing-along Blog (see above). I'd also like to add Firefly/Serenity here but I think their one series, one movie is more a case of good fortune rather than good planning.


And a couple of parting thoughts:

  • District 9, are you listening to this? No, really. District 10? No. Just, no.

  • Why can't modern fantasy writers do anything that is not part of a trilogy or longer? They can be good at short stories, but not a single novel?


And before anyone complains, I know that there have been good sequels. Even good sequels that surpass the original (if only rarely). I just like stories that get told, we enjoy and are then over.

Until we read/hear/see them again.