A Super or Suck Sequel?

Do you remember Godfather Part II, The Dark Knight, or Toy Story 2 and 3?

Do you (achingly) remember Men in Black 2, Shrek 3 and 4, or Caddyshack 2?

What’s the difference between these sets of films?

Oh yeah…some of them majorly SUCKED.

For Hollywood, the world of sequels, prequels, and remakes is a tough venue to master. And honestly, whenever you hear that the hit movie of last year is coming out with a beloved sequel or any kind of movie cousin, you get a little bit worried: sequels tend to linger on the side of Why The Hell Did They Make This? So, whenever the deep voiced guy of the trailers proclaims that the latest blockbuster is birthing a new film with the number 2 at the end of the title, consult this guide to make sure you’re not about to fork over $15 dollars for a suck sequel.

-It may be suck if you wonder: “Where are they gonna take this?”

So you’ve watched the first film, you adored it, and the ending was satisfying, entertaining, and seemingly…the end.

But the trailer shows the beloved characters getting into more mischief, and a sinking feeling settles in the pit of your gut (it might be that stale popcorn, though). If the first didn’t provide enough room for a reasonable sequel, or just seems absolutely unnecessary (cough, MIB:3, cough) avoid it definitely.

-If genre is Superhero/Comic Book, Animated Cartoon, or Explosive Action

With these genres, it’s easy to produce sequels: throw in a new evil villain with even more techy gadgets, introduce more colorful characters, and add another greased hair bad guy and double the beers, bombs, and boobs.

But the story always reigns supreme – Toy Story 3 succeeded because it provided a heartwarming ending for its new and veteran fans, while also balancing new characters who developed the plot. Shrek 3 bombed (at least critically) because it was obvious its random plot twists and surge of new (annoying) characters were all creations of a greedy DreamWorks production team and justifications of its ninety-three minute script.

-If the first was amazingly great and its nearly impossible for its successor to out-shine it.

 -The franchise is carried by a different, perhaps, lesser-known director with every succeeding movie.

See pictures below for details.

 -This is probably the 6th film or so…

Really, how many Halloween slasher films is there now? Police Academy 6…come on. Hell, Rocky 4 was pushing it. What number do you need after the title to know that studios desire money, not critical acclaim? It comes to a point where the series becomes worn out…and so does the audience.

What do you guys think? How can you tell if that prequel, sequel, or remake is going to be super or suck?

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

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   Three Steps to See This Movie:

1)      Suspend Reality for 2 Hours

2)      Sit down in your gum-stained seat

3)      And Just Have Fun

 Really. It’s literally that easy. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (abbreviated AB:VH) is what the trailers profess it to be: good ole’ summer fun. And plus, who wouldn’t want to watch Honest Abe slashin’ some bloodsuckers? With spellbinding special effects, nonstop action, and a script that can sometimes elicit laughs, AB:VH is one of the best action flicks of the summer so far.

So, how do you mix the Civil War with fiends of the night, Emancipation Proclamation with hellish monsters, the 16th President with ruthless vampires? Without being overtly idiotic or laughable, Seth Grahame-Smith, who both penned the screenplay and the original novel, handles it with ease. It’s not totally President Lincoln moonlighting as a vampire slayer: as the movie progresses, the vampires become more and more interlocked with Lincoln’s political life. And Grahame-Smith uses the complicated relationship between Lincoln and vampires to his advantage. It’s written in history textbooks everywhere that the Civil War was one of the most difficult battles for the U.S. Why? Well, vampires joining the Confederates side, of course! Why did Lincoln’s son, Willie pass at away at such a young age? A vampire bit him, duh!

And while these plot twists might sound plain stupid, the movie actually suffers from a different set of problems: occasional weak dialogue. Though the 1800’s put a greater value on the art of rhetoric, no one was that witty or that quick and smooth of tongue, or could let eloquent words flow so easily as they stare into the camera, swinging their ax with emotionally charged music pulsating in the background. But perhaps Grahame-Smith and director Timur Bekmambetov let these hilarious segments slip in, as to entertain the audience even more, giving AB:VH a little more specialty.

Abraham Lincoln gets in this whole vampire-killing business anyway in the first place because his mother is murdered by a vampire. As the years past, Lincoln runs into this vampire-bounty hunter of sorts, who trains him and sends him on various missions to kill these demons until he meets his mother’s killer and avenges her death. But along the way, Lincoln, as a backup career if this vampire killing thing doesn’t work out, is already deep into the world of law, fighting to free all slaves (like his recently freed black friend, Will) and has met the love of his life, Mary Todd. With his mother’s murderer dead, and no reason to kill any more, Lincoln hangs up his ax and eventually becomes President. (I wish it was easy as the movie shows.)

But the vampires aren’t done with Lincoln yet: they kill little Willie, cloud up the Civil War by aiding the Confederacy, and begin to ruin the fate of the Union. Old Abe and his killing buds are forced to pick up their weapons again. Regarding actual history, never mind the fact that Lincoln wasn’t wholeheartedly pro-slavery at first or that Mary Todd rejected Abe’s proposal twice. (Or  that vampires, you know, don’t actually exist.)

I told you to suspend reality.

But that’s the fun of it! AL:VH gives the opportunity to experience mind-blowing action and an engaging storyline and amazing special effects, avoiding the mindlessness of Battleship but experiencing the visual brilliance of Snow White and the Huntsman.

The verdict? AL:VH is visually astounding, action-packed, and just plain fun, one of the best movies this summer.

☆☆☆