Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Sequel-itis

I saw Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End yesterday. And it's pretty much official: I am sick of sequels. Every movie I have reviewed this month has been a sequel. Spider-Man 3, 28 Weeks Later, Shrek the Third, and now POTC 3. And only one, 28 Weeks Later, has actually been a good movie. Which is the one I had the lowest expectations for. I guess Shrek the Third is the best of the "three-quels." But that's not saying much.

This month, more so than any I can remember, has felt like a chore for me as a film critic. It has been full of nothing but blockbuster after blockbuster, and I have felt obligated to drag myself to each one. Yet I have gotten hardly any pleasure from it. Watching these movies has felt like work. I have seen these movies not so much out of any real desire to see them, but for work only.

Next month is looking up though. This coming week I will review Knocked Up (which I can't wait to see), Judd Apatow's new film after The 40-Year-Old Virgin (one of the best comedies of recent years), and the week after that I will review Killer of Sheep - a film that was made in 1977 but never released theatrically until now, despite being considered one of the greatest films ever made. It makes its North Carolina premiere at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) in Winston-Salem on June 7 & 10, and then has no more scheduled screenings in the state. And I get to go see it, I'm really excited.

I just want to see something on screen I've never seen before. May has been nothing but a constant sense of deja vu. Before May I was actually getting to see lots of really good films. I reviewed Zodiac, The Lives of Others (still the best film of the year), The Host, The Hoax, Reign Over Me, The Boss of it All. I gave each film three and a half stars (except for Lives of Others, which got four). Now I'm handing out two-star grades left and right.

Why do original visions not sell as well? Why do people go see the films they're familiar with, instead of taking chances? I sat through each of these "three-quels" thinking about how I had seen it all before. There was nothing really that new in any of them (except for Peter Parker the emo kid, but that was just silly). What happened to the days when everyone went to see movies like The Godfather and The Exorcist and Star Wars. Now studios can just reheat the same old crap over and over again and people still eat it up. I just don't get it. And frankly I probably never will. I thought At World's End was far too long at 168 minutes and had a headache when it was over, but I thought 153 minutes of The Death of Mr. Lazarescu was perfectly acceptable. And the only thing that happened in that movie was an old man was driven from hospital to hospital until he died because no one would take him in. Did I mention that it's in Romanian? I guess its all about preference and taste.

Give me originality of vision, engrossing stories, and profound themes over wall to wall action any day. Especially if we've seen it all before. Three times.

I have sequel-itis. Give us something new at the multi-plex, please. Just looking at the theater listings right now makes me bored. These sequels are clogging up our theaters, and smaller, more worthy films are getting lost in the mix. If I want to see Jack Sparrow or Spider-Man again, I'll go watch the original film. When I go the theater, I want to see something brand new. Or at least a fresh perspective.

All we're getting right now is stale, reheated leftovers.

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