Think about the films you’ve seen the past year; how many of them were a part of a greater cinematic universe, or some sort of reboot or sequel to another film? Chances are, if you’re a casual movie-goer, they’re the majority.
Movie franchises are everywhere and they’re unstoppable. It’s a genius economic strategy to collect huge fan bases and ensure loyalty as each additional instalment becomes a necessity to watch, out of some misplaced sense of obligation to see where the plot goes since you’ve already made it this far. This comes with plenty of problems. More often than not, studios grow complacent with no incentive to innovate, always following a similar template that is sure to please crowds and achieve big box-office success.
They’re not all bad however, with some solid franchises churning out great movies after another. But as Harvey Dent once said, “you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain”, so even good franchises may be included to encourage them to ease off into some sort of conclusion.
Here are 5 movie franchises that need to wrap up quick!
The Fast and the Furious
Fast Five was a stroke of genius. After four films centred on street-racing, the franchise was indeed growing stale. Shifting its focus to exciting heist and vehicular combat that dreams are made of added new life to a dying franchise.
However it does look like the success of Fast Five was a one-time wonder as its two sequels seemed to adopt the same formula and pretty much the same plot. It’s become highly sentimental, ab-using the word “family” about a billion times in the past three instalments that it becomes cringe-inducing every time Dominic utters it.
The franchise have also taken its bonkers approach to action sequences well out-of-order, with runways that virtually never end and cars that are apparently indestructible and can even fly. In the dying days of Rome, Gladiatorial games became increasingly absurd as they attempted to fill the arena with water and bringing ships and other wild disastrous ideas. Similarly post Fast Five, we realise the kind of absurdity that surfaces when studios run out of ideas. Finally, wasn’t Brian O’Connor’s perfect send-off the best way the series could’ve come to a close?
Pirates of the Caribbean
We pretty much remember the Pirates of the Caribbean films for its bad qualities now anyway, namely its outrageously long running time and Johnny Depp’s increasingly unbearable performance as Captain Jack Sparrow.
It did begin well, with the surprising success of Disney’s adaptation of the theme park ride resulting in critical and financial success and many accolades given to Depp for his bravura performance as the slippery pirate. However little has been done to meaningfully build on the original’s success with its poor screenplay and uninspired plot. More problematically, Depp’s typecast of repetitive performances as eccentric, giddy chatterboxes across many films are growing tiresome on plenty of audiences – think the Mad Hatter, Barnabas in Dark Shadows, to Mortdecai the worst of the lot.
Hence, we have an unimaginative plot, extremely bloated instalments and a main protagonist we’ve grown to hate – all indicating a fall from glory and time to abandon ship.
This is an example of a franchise that seems to have totally lost its way. Just take the poster of its most recent instalment (the sixth I believe); a newcomer would have no clue it was called Ice Age as its intergalactic adventures hold zero relation to its original subject matter. Just where are they going with this franchise? It’s been milked, stretched and desperately exploited to squeeze every drop of profit from families whose parents are certainly as confused as I must be. You may think you’re just deceiving the children but they of all audiences deserve the best of cinema. Blue Sky Studios can do much better.
It has certainly been a rocky start that is painful to accept. Man of Steel was criticised for its dull tone and reckless destruction, while the sequel that would atone for its sins, Batman v Superman, was remarkably even duller, with a mundane titular conflict that could have been settled with a civilised talk. Suicide Squad further tarnished hopes for the DCEU as its villains are now just as boring as its heroes.
I’m not giving up all hopes on this franchise, but given the ill-conceived origin stories and dull tone that permeates all of its instalments, 2017 is a defining year for the franchise. It all lies with Wonder Woman and its flagship Justice League movie this year as they are the only hope for a solid start for a decade-long series. Should these instalments fail to bring the franchise forward in any meaningful way, I’d say its time to pull the plug.
One tip, a change in director. Snyder is as stylish as a director gets, and does great visual spectacle like 300 and Suckerpunch. Sadly, his vision fails to go beyond the surface. He is a fanboy, appreciating films on an entirely superficial level, but never able to dissect them and show off these nuanced characters on the big screen. Seems like 2017 is a defining year for Snyder as well.
Related: The Fate of the Furious Review
And finally we come to the world’s biggest movie franchise of all, the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I understand how big a deal the MCU is to most of us and I’m not here to rant or complain. I’m here to praise the MCU and how consistent it has been over the past dozen or so movies, churning out movies of real quality and characters we care so deeply about.
One reason for its consistent crowd-pleasing is that it constantly rewards audiences for values we champion: kindness, courage and purity that are exemplified by the heroes we love. It’s made its appeal universal, a position never achieved by its emo cousin. I’m also here to encourage Marvel, to have the guts to move into a powerful conclusion – and leave it alone. Like the Western, Horror and now Superheroes, these are movie trends that come and go. The horror craze of the 80s that saw the genesis of Freddy, Jason and all sorts ended in undignified fashion. Its antagonists started to amalgamate, resulting in bizarre spin-offs that betrayed their source material – a shameful way to see off a decade of high quality horror that would never be matched till today.
With the superhero genre running out of genuine ideas, it is my opinion that when the Infinity War ends, it would be fitting to close this phase on a high note. It would be a tragedy if the superhero legacy ended any way else.
Related: Alien Covenant Review