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Which franchises do we want to continue?

BondBoxSet.jpgI was going to start another feature on a different subject today but as I was looking through the previous stories of the last few weeks something struck me, there are a number of trilogies being talked about being restarted and that led me to think which trilogies, or franchises, would you like to see keep going?

We've already talked about the best trilogies, and some of us went onto talk about the worst trilogies, but despite both those titles I think there's another area to talk about the trilogies, or the franchises, that we want to see more from. Looking at the news lately there's already quite a few.

I think we should actually take the plunge and expand from the trilogies that we've been talking about and discuss all franchises now, and see which that we really want to keep going. Not the ones that Hollywood are spoon feeding us, but the ones that we really want to see continue, the ones that are worth seeing continue.

Now I've just picked out a few that have been talked about over the past few weeks and thought they would be worth discussing.

Mission: Impossible IV has just been talked about, and I'm incredibly up for that. Yes there are weaker ones in the franchise when compared to the others, but overall I think each film has delivered some great action and tension, particularly the first and the last.

Some are arguing that the third film is the only one that truly takes on the team idea, and they are right, it's really a Mission: Impossible film, but the rest aren't that bad. I love Mission: Impossible II, mainly because of the villains and their set-up, Dougray Scott and Richard Roxburgh, Scottish and English do make great baddies!

The first film is just ram-packed with tension that keeps ramping up, and the opening set-up with the complete team, a team who are wonderfully cast again, is something I never tire of watching.

There's a strong cast in each film and a great adventure and action laden story, sure the first two concentrate more on the lead character, but frankly I don't mind that, especially as Tom Cruise gives a very strong performance, particularly in that last film. Brian De Palma, John Woo and J.J. Abrams make the line up of directors to date, now think what the other films in the franchise could bring, new, bigger casting and some great directors to give a different feel to each film. How can you not want to see another in the blistering franchise?

Star Trek is an odd one and represents a lot of franchises at the moment, the restart/remake/reinvention/re-imagination/reboot - whatever the spin doctors in Hollywood studios want to call it it's pretty much the same. Star Trek is going back to before the first television series to bring back the characters we love in the only possible way they can to continue the franchise.

The problem here is that the love isn't for Star Trek, it's for the dollar bill. The studio have looked at where the box office returns or the viewing figures were the best for the franchise and realised that it's the original crew, however they are too old to make a decent Star Trek film, so how do they include the original crew without using the old actors? Bingo, go to the past.

With that we've lost some great ideas, Enterprise was a Star Trek series that could have made the cut had the schedulers not moved it around at a whim and it been given the chance to develop it into a great series and some great films. The potential was surely there, but it didn't get the chance and was killed.

Then J.J. Abrams had the idea for the new film, do what Enterprise did but with the original crew, and recapture that excitement and build that spirit that was seen through those films. Great idea, but really not that far from either the original films or Enterprise, despite the big budget, director and cast, we're back in the old days again.

I love the idea of Star Trek coming back, I love the films with my favourite being Undiscovered Country to date, but will this new restart bring back the old magic? The ultimate problem of course is that at some point it will stop, unless they just keep going with the current cast - I mean how many can they get out of the current crew? Three films perhaps? Four? Then they'll be in the same place and same age as the first Star Trek crew. Except early Star Trek film history to be slowly re-written and altered.

Personally I'm excited for this film but I don't really know if I want to see the franchise continue in this way.

If you'd asked me before we heard anything about the new film Terminator Salvation I would have begged you to continue the series, a great franchise with great characters, and it ended on a low note. There was plenty to pick up from. However there wasn't much scope for continuing the franchise considering the fact that Arnie, the real Terminator, was entrenched in politics and wasn't getting any older, and of course the Terminators can't age...can they?

Then when McG started taking up the franchise I have to say I was dead against it. I just thought it would be awful and would continue the downward trend from the third. Now though, things have changed. The footage looks great, the cast strong, and the ideas pretty incredible. As far as franchise continues go, this could be the strongest out of them all.

However, the timeline is a tricky thing with the Terminator series and I really do wonder how they are going to make sure it works, and works going forward. I'm starting to think with this whole "the future isn't the way I was told" tagline that things are going to change, and as the franchise continues those changes will grow and grow.

Of course I still think it's going to turn out one of the strongest franchise continues we've seen, and really pick things up from that third film.

Spider-Man is a tricky one, like Terminator it's started to go downhill a little with that third film, but unlike Terminator there's not a great deal of unexplored territory with the story. Oh I can hear your fingers up in arms racing to the keyboard, screaming across the keys and shouting about how much mythology there is in Spider-Man, all the characters, etc. However to someone who isn't into the Spider-Man comics I stand by that.

As a Spider-Man audience viewer I struggle to see how much more we can get out of the character other than the continuing battle of romance with and without Mary Jane and the bringing in of each new villain. There's no real change to the formula or story progression that really attracts me to it. Oh sure I'll watch them because they're exciting, but genuinely wanting to see the franchise continue? I'm not entirely convinced. Are you?

Chronicles of Riddick is a franchise that I'm in two minds about. I'm really not that bothered about seeing more of the Chronicles side of the character. Now I know that some of you are very excited about the vastness and epic story there, and you know after reading the comments in an earlier article about it I agree. I enjoyed it for that side of the story, and I don't particularly want the franchise to return to a small story, on a planet where he's surrounded by creatures once again.

The reason I love Pitch Black so much over The Chronicles is mainly because of the character of Riddick. In Pitch Black the character is dark, torn between humanity and survival, and not caring about anything but his own life and anyone that dares crosses him will either be cast aside or pushed through. In effect he was one of those creatures on the planet.

Come The Chronicles he became a lot less and his character was much more like any other hero character, there wasn't that hard edge that there was to Pitch Black, and indeed it felt much more watered down - and I'm talking about his character.

So I am looking forward to it only if they can recapture the strength of that character once again, sure have a big strong epic story around him, I would love that too, but get that original, torn, struggling with humanity character back.

Yes I am a fan of Vin Diesel and do believe that there's much more to him than the action star we've seen, but saying that the Fast and the Furious franchise is great fun, especially if you like cars and your car is in the film too - mine is! Seriously though all the elements are here to make it work, great characters who have mixed moralities but a huge buddy element, and not just between the two leads but all of the leads. Underground car racing, battling on the slightly wrong edge of the law, it's adventure, action and fun altogether.

I think after reading that paragraph you know exactly where I am with the franchise. It doesn't try and deliver something that it can't, it does what it says on the tin, and I think that's where so many people go wrong with this franchise - fast and furious. Check.

Oh dear, I do struggle with Bourne, not because there isn't a great character, not because there isn't an incredibly strong story, and not because there isn't bags of potential and much more to come out of it. No. The reasons I have a problem with this franchise and why it falls short of its potential so often, the action.

For Bourne the action is a huge part of it all and the style of filming really does damage that. Matt Damon trained in various fighting styles for the films and yet you see none of it, the director and camera man decide to follow the Hollywood style of filming action. You zoom the camera right into the detail of the fight, block the sequence out and film it short section by section, and edit it incredibly fast, or you film the lot hand held and zoomed in and edit that together with the close cropped shots.

What you get at the end is a frantic sequence of cuts of things happening that your brain cannot keep up with, and it's only once you see the slow, pulled out shots (which are usually at the very end of the action sequence) that your brain matches what it new before the scene, what it's gleamed in the odd shot throughout, and the final shot, and you "catch up" with the action.

I really don't like that style and it does damage the film for me, and if that were to continue in the franchise, as it has to date and been getting worse and worse, then I'm not wanting to see another Bourne. However if they were to change that style, something that is a real struggle to do now that they've associated the style with the film name, I would be back on board, for the story and character are really strong and engaging.

Batman has just been going from strength to strength and there seems to be no stopping it. The latest instalments in the franchise have seen Christopher Nolan take the helm and some stunning creations of superhero come to life. The Dark Knight was an astounding piece of work, although it was overshadowed by one single actor, the script, cinematography, sound and direction were superb and built an amazing thriller which just happened to have some reality based superheroes and super-villains in it, and that made it stunning.

Really, how could you argue against seeing any more Batman films? Unless of course you use the argument that you don't want to see one that doesn't match up to these, for how could another film top these Batman films?

I don't think they can really, but that's no reason to stop, and Batman is such a rich and deep character with a huge basis in reality these days that there just seems to be so much to offer the audience.

X-Men has some great advantages, it's the name of a universe filled with hundreds of characters, and although there aren't all the leading ones, even amongst them there are tons of great characters to pull from, and like Batman they have a strong grounding in reality and a fair amount of depth to them.

So far the franchise has seen strong films, regardless of what you think of The Last Stand, it's still a strong film and a good X-Men film. Yes it races ahead with some of the characters and doesn't allow the same depth to some of them, but there's a great darkness and that struggle with humanity and morality that makes all these franchises so good.

There's no doubt that there should be more X-Men films, although there is one way I don't want to see it go, the young X-Men. It's too early for this, way too early, and we all realise what a young franchise means even if we don't want to accept it. We're going to see a teen-friendly film with more studio executive check boxes ticked, and a formula to grab the audience in. That's not X-Men for me.

We haven't finished with the Xavier-Magneto relationship by a long shot, and I don't mean going to the past and revisiting them, I mean right now, after The Last Stand. There's more to be had from all these characters and the studio being scared away by salary requirements is understandable but damned annoying. I want to see more continuing on with that ensemble.

Although saying that, the origins stories have me excited, but again seem to be recreating the X-Men formula by pulling in tons of characters and making a big ensemble X-Men film - is that really the origin of Wolverine?

So I'm definitely keen to see more of X-Men, just the right X-Men.

Now that I've had my say, it's up to you. Tell the people out there, and the people that matter, what franchise you want to see more of, and not just which ones but what you want to see more of in them.

Do you agree with the ones I've chosen, and for those reasons? Or would you rather not see them, or maybe you're happy with the way X-Men are going, you want Batman to stop, or Star Trek is doing just the right thing?

What franchises do you want to see continue from here, and not just of this list but of any franchises? What of Indiana Jones? Star Wars? James Bond? Superman? - Oh I wish I'd talked about these too, I could have been here for another five pages!

Update: I've added a site wide poll to gauge your response to this feature, so get voting.



I was with you all the way on that up until Bourne's action and X-Men: The Last Stand quality control, both points of which I couldn't agree less, lol.

Differences of opinion on these minor points aside, a damn good article Richard. It says something for your writing that a long piece like this is readable. A great deal of other places who do pieces like this turn me off within a couple of paragraphs.

I thought that comment was going downhill to start with! Phew!

Thanks Stuart, that's really kind of you, much appreciated! I sometimes get told I write too much, but then that's what I write about. I couldn't write a feature and not mention these franchises, I even struggled not to keep going!

Disagreement is good, but what franchises do you want to continue?

One franchise that was stopped in it's tracks that wasn't a stunning film but which I would've been interested to see go on to it's conclusion was His Dark Materials. Golden Compass has it's problems but I've heard it's the weakest of the three novels. Sadly with time dragging on, the young cast aging rapidly and the fact it was pretty much written off as a flop makes that unlikely.

To be honest I'm interested with what they're doing with Star Trek. The line from Spock in the new trailer "James T. Kirk was a great man, but that was another life." intones to me that they're going with a rewritten timeline approach allowing them to revisit the franchise being tied to but not tied down by "Older Crew" cannon. Yes, that will cause outrage amongst the hard-core Trek fans, but the reality is there's no credible way to launch a new franchise using old characters.

Iron Man is one I could see go on. It was a comicbook movie that struck the right tone. With The Dark Knight on one end of the serious scale and Fantastic Four too far on the other side, Iron Man was the right combination of quite serious but also fun. I just hope they stop recasting half the roles for every installment. Without Downey Jr though, the franchise is dead in the water.

Bond is one I'm torn on right now. Casino Royale hit the right balance between trying to relaunch the franchise without appearing to blink too much in the face of Bourne. Quantum of Solace was the blink. It flip-flopped so badly between imitating Bourne and going back to giant OTT old-Bond set design and trying to not be a Bond movie at all all the while forgetting to tell an interesting story. They're going to have to do something really spectacular to get me back on board for Craig's third outing. Sadly the money QoS made, and the general positive nature of the reviews (even though most of them are sickeningly apologist) make me thing we're in for more of the same.

Stuart's right- great blog :)
I find it difficult to imagine some films which are at the trilogy stage turn into successful franchises without maybe becoming a it tired. The second MI film made me fall asleep, which is maybe a bit of a bad start for a franchise!
[Removed advert - Richard]

I started reading this feature without any idea how i'd comment, seeing as how I couldn't really add a thought of a franchise to continue going that I didn't think went without saying.

then, Stuart up there mentioned Iron Man and i realized that i was actually quite jazzed about seeing where it was going. I liked it so much in fact, that i'd pay in advance to see at least one more. And it's funny, because i never once bought an Iron Man comic and always thought it was a poor man's comic when put up against "meatier" fare like "batman" or "x men".

Yeah. Iron Man. and huuuuge thumbs up to Downey and crew for turning me into an old school Iron Man fan and actually holding out hope for the Avengers, whatever form that one would take.


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