This post discusses the upcoming (putative) Terminator 5 film project, and how making it R-rated may result in a better box office performance than was experienced by the PG-13 Terminator Salvation (Christian Bale, I admire you greatly as an actor. But seriously, what were you thinking?). This lackluster performance could have had nothing to do, of course, with the poor plot line and the fact that this story and its characters have been flogged to death. Even more ominous is the fact that the probable filmmaker is responsible for the Fast and Furious franchise, which should never gone beyond the first film, whose only saving grace was Vin Diesel.
While there have been a few successful film franchises, such as the Thin Man series, or Basil Rathbone’s Sherlock Holmes films, they worked normally because, while they had some commonalities – usually the central characters – each film had a distinct, and normally strong storyline. The more recent franchises, however, have been nothing more than money grabs, to be honest. Terminators 1 and 2 worked very well because they had such strong characters and compelling, if not always plausible, stories. By T3, however, it’s just a rehash of the same premise. I feel this particularly strongly with the Aliens franchise. Alien and Aliens are both superb; in fact, Aliens is one of my top 5 films. They work well on so many levels; again, there were common elements between them, but also significant differences. Aliens added new pieces to the puzzle, so to speak: By Aliens 3, there were no new pieces, but a mere re-configuration of what had been seen in 1 and 2. As for Aliens 4, the less said the better.
While formulaic film making is nothing new, the more recent versions of this phenomenon don’t seem to even try to introduce anything novel. A parallel development is the increasingly egregious TV-series creep: Why come up with anything new when you can simply adapt a television series into a film? This formula has not worked very often mostly, I think, because the film makers tried to recreate the feel and ambiance of the original television shows, which is almost impossible, since too many of the variables are different, e.g., the actors, the chemistry between and among the actors, and so forth. I’m not opposed per se (well, perhaps a little) to adapting television shows, but why not make them true adaptations, rather than imitations? I live in dread of the conversion of reality television series into films.