The Age of Sequels

Sequels are commonplace these days in books and films, more so than they ever have been, it seems. Obviously, there is a massive financial advantage to sequels, particularly in the film industry, but I wonder what attracts the viewer/reader to invest in these films/books and why are we so disappointed if the follow-up to an original hit turns out to be less than we hoped for. For me, I feel different about film sequels than I do about book sequels. I tend to be wary about film sequels, yet I love book sequels.

The news that has triggered this train of thought was that I heard today that there is a sequel in production for the film Independence Day. First of all, the original film was so good, I am struggling to imagine that they can better the original and secondly, it was the casting of Will Smith that made the first film so good in my opinion and he isn’t involved this time round, so I’m really not sure that they will be able to offer a worthy sequel, even with the return of Bill Pullman. I think that perhaps I have already made my mind up about whether I am going to like this film or not, although I am sure I will watch to see if I can be otherwise convinced.

Yet I am very excited about the return of Carl Logan in Rob Sinclair’s sequel to Dance with the Enemy in his second novel Rise with the Enemy. I have it pre-ordered to download on the 30th April and I can’t wait! I have previously waxed lyrical about Dance with the Enemy and I am positive that I will be writing a glowing review of its sequel. Watch this space!

In truth, I have only ever been disappointed in one book sequel and that was the third book in the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth, Allegiant, a trilogy that I had read under sufferance having been mithered by my 15-year-old daughter. To be fair, I enjoyed most of the book, I just wasn’t keen on the ending. I felt that I had invested so much in Tris’s journey that the ending left me feeling short-changed. I’m sure that there was a “bigger picture” positive message to be found but personally, I wanted a nice happy ending. Three books with a character leaves me with an emotional connection with that character; I imagine them as a close friend and I feel that I have a vested interest in their future. So when the book ends and the character doesn’t quite have the ending I would have liked, I feel a distinct lack of closure. With one book, it is bad enough, but when I have followed a character for three books, as she overcomes challenges and cheats death, I want her to reap the benefits of her trials and tribulations.

Just before I read the Divergent trilogy, I read The Hunger Games, again at the behest of my daughter. I absolutely loved this trilogy. I have read it again since at least twice. The book, while similar in the near-death experiences stakes, gave me closure for Katniss Everdeen and it was the same with the Harry Potter… books. By the end, all was right with the world. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that all books should have a happy ending but personally, I’d at least like the main protagonist to be at peace, whilst living some semblance of a happy life, especially when they have been through a series of harrowing experiences as part of their story. I’m not keen on the film remakes of these books either. For me, they just don’t live up to the books.

Perhaps I don’t invest in a film in the same way that I do with a book. Certainly the time taken to watch a film is considerably shorter than reading a book, even when it is read from cover to cover in one session, as I have been known to do on regular occasions! Perhaps my love of reading clouds my judgement. I am certainly an advocate of preferring books to the film remakes. Like a lot of people, when I read a book, I imagine the characters and the location settings and I do often have a habit of “casting” any potential film remakes. For example, I had Channing Tatum in mind for 50 Shades of Grey and I was a bit disappointed with the casting of Jamie Dornan (although I have to say, the clips that I have seen of him in the film, he does seem to have convinced me a little – the DVD comes out on my birthday so I’m looking forward to finding out). For my favourite series of books, the Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum novels, I had my mental casting couch out again and I had Sandra Bullock in mind for hapless bounty hunter Stephanie, Hugh Jackman for Italian Stallion cop Joe Morelli and Dwayne Johnson for mercenary cum bounty hunter extraordinaire, Ranger in the film remake of One for the Money. Having read up to the seventeenth Stephanie Plum novel at this stage, I was particularly invested in these characters and was devastated that the film didn’t come close to living up to my expectations. I got this film on DVD for my birthday too so this may not bode well for 50 Shades of Grey!

So, it seems that I do not look forward to sequels of films as much as look forward to sequels of books. Thinking about the sequels of films that I have watched and enjoyed, there are only a few. Bad Boys 2, Bridget Jones Diary: The Edge of Reason and Sex and the City 2. (Yes, I was the one fan that the film had!) I’m sat here trying to think of others and I’m drawing a blank. So if I can only think of one sequel to a book that I haven’t enjoyed (and it was only the last couple of chapters that I objected to) then I can only come to one conclusion; book sequels are infinitely better than film sequels. At least, they are to me! If you can think of any more films that have great sequels or any more books that have bad sequels, please comment and let me know.