Originally posted by Dan Allanson
With Independence Day : Resurgence released a full 20 years after its predecessor and the latest instalment of the Bourne franchise heading to the multiplexes 9 years after its Ultimatum (Legacy not withstanding) it’s time to examine whether the time between makes the film fans heart grow fonder.
Recent film history demonstrates some of these gaps haven’t produced a sequel but a reboot of sorts. Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and Fury Road were separated by 29 years and shared a director, central character and stylistic similarities but while certainly part of the same family tree certainly aren’t original and sequel. Alien and Prometheus also share the same cinematic blood line. Separated by an even longer hyper sleep of 33 years again the two films share a director returning to his most revered work, a similar story of explorers happening across a terrifying threat and recognisable emotional beats. There are countless other recent examples such as Tron and Tron Legacy (28 years), Dumb and Dumber and Dumb and Dumber To (19 years) and Zoolander to Zoolander 2 (15 years).
Is the revisiting of the beloved originals just another example of Hollywood running out of ideas? Should the originals be left in the past where we can stare longingly back at them through rose tinted 3D glasses?
Do the originals offer anything new to the original anyway? As Dr Jones rode off into the sunset with his father and friends by his side the Indiana Jones series came to a perfect conclusion. The further adventures of Indiana were left to our imaginations. Sure it was fun to hypothesise what adventures Indy could have experienced in the 1950’s, the 60’s and beyond but if Kingdom of the Crystal Skull taught us anything it was to be careful what we wished for. All the ingredients were there. Spielberg returned, so had George Lucas and Harrison Ford agreed to jump aboard as well. The band was back together and the end result hotly anticipated. Released 18 years after his supposed Last Crusade, Crystal Skull was critically maligned and perhaps worse tarnished a legacy for many of the series devotees.
One reason for a return could be the vast improvement in effects and creative opportunities since the original. Fox had requested a sequel to the hugely successful Independence Day once the studio saw the box office returns but director Roland Emmerich declined. Emmerich later explained that he felt the effects and budget at the time could not meet the scripts lofty expectations.
Another reason could be a directors wish to return to a franchise with something more to add narratively. Ridley Scott has previously returned to the Alien franchise and will repeat the trick as producer with Blade Runner 2 expected next year, 35 years after the original. Harrison Ford may be the king of returning franchises with Blade Runner, Indiana Jones and Star Wars on his résumé.
In the case of Independence Day Resurgence the time gap works in the narrative. The 20 years dormancy is reflected in the story as the sequel is set 20 years after the events of the original. The originals characters are older yet familiar and are welcome as a nostalgic nod for fans. There is also the sense of a next generation for younger, new film goers with the casting of Liam Hemsworth and the now inevitable world building for a trilogy closer.
An inordinate amount of time between the original and a sequel doesn’t always make the heart grow fonder and often feels too late to capitalise both creatively and commercially. Sometimes though it does as in the case of the fun and frothy Independence Day Resurgence.
Any thoughts? Spot on or completely wrong? Leave your comments below and follow me on Twitter for more ramblings @danwhofell.