In Hollywood, too much of a good thing is clearly never enough. Successful films and franchises must be sequeled unto death . . . and beyond. Especially if they are genre movies and franchises.
At a recent viewing of Ex Machina (which I thought was surprisingly good, despite the familiar genre territory), the previews teased upcoming reboots of Poltergeist, The Terminator, Mad Max, and Star Wars. Four franchises that do not need any additional entries, whose original, seminal films are genre classics. For better or worse, they do not need re-doing. Hey, Hollywood—if you need to make more money from these franchises, why not just re-release the originals?
It seems that, in the era of ultra-short attention spans, anything that made money before can be remade again. But there will be a breaking point. Too much of a (formerly) good thing will not sustain mediocre repeats with slight variations and keep box-offices overflowing. A quick look at upcoming genre movies shows that comic book superheroes are also going to jump the shark. And soon.
Still to come in 2015 are The Avengers: Age of Ultron; a new Fantastic Four movie; and an attempt to do Ant-Man for the big screen. Oh—and another Star Wars film. (Cause, you know, six just aren’t enough.)
In 2016, fans of DC superheroes will get to see an initial cinematic version of Deadpool, and the much-anticipated Batman vs. Superman. Meanwhile, Marvel’s readers will get to see another Captain America flick, a new X-Men, an initial Gambit, and the premiere entry in what is hoped will become a Doctor Strange franchise.
Also, there will be, yes, another “new” Star Wars film. And yet another reboot of Star Trek.
Scheduled for 2017 are new Wolverine, Guardians of the Galaxy, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and Thor films from the Marvel stable, plus another “new” Star Wars movie and the premiere of DC’s Justice League franchise. Planned for release in 2018 are cinematic versions of DC’s The Flash and Aquaman. And from the Marvel stable, more Avengers, Spider-Man, and X-Men, plus an adaptation of The Black Panther. And this is by no means fully inclusive.
Ex Machina may be the last great genre movie that treats its potential viewers as grown-ups. It is a serious and wonderfully executed example of “what if?” sci-fi. See it. Then spend the next several years reacquainting yourself with the masterworks of the sci-fi and fantasy genres—films from the 1920s, ‘40s and ‘50s,’70s and ‘80s. Mostly you can get to see them at home, really cheap, and enjoy genre filmmaking from when it was still fun and less than totally cynical attempts to empty your pockets by showing you shiny baubles that require no mental effort other than keeping your eyes open for a couple of hours.