Monday, April 25, 2011

The curse of sequels

We just watched Toy Story 3.  It was quite a poor movie, which is sad given how much I liked the previous two movies.  But it was bound to happen.  Sequels are often of poor quality.

Sequels impose constraints on creativity: the franchise cannot be risked by an innovative storyline, so the story doesn't deviate from previous stories.  The characters do what they always do, just bigger and better.  The stakes get higher, and the characters replay their same personalities all over.

Toy Story 3 kept to the standard plot-line of Woody and Buzz disagreeing over something, and both of them working together with all the characters in the end.  What was disappointing was the morbid storyline, the Mafia-esque characters at the daycare center, and the constant Mattel advertising for Barbie.  The story was very weak, with a disaster introduced just to move the plot forward.  The toys were thrown into daycare where they are misused by careless children.  I don't need to reveal the plot for you to guess that the good guys win in the end, and the evil ones are defeated.  All the characters are clearly one-dimensional, and the story barely strings together the wild and improbable adventures that are required by this franchise.  Also distressing were the long segments of thinly veiled Mattel advertising.  It made an already weak story pathetic and lifeless.

As a franchise, Toy Story is clearly dying.  Toy Story 1 and 2 were both good, and now this franchise is being mercilessly milked for cash.

A much better choice is to watch a fresh movie instead.  We watched MegaMind a few days ago, and loved it.  It had a refreshingly new story, characters with distinctive personality, and witty dialogs.  The theme was old: superheros saving the world, but with a beautiful new twist.  Another good new movie was How to Train Your Dragon, again with a new story, great characters and dialogs.

Pixar seems to have lost its creative steam.  The upcoming movies are sequel heavy: Cars 2 (sequel) and Monsters Inc 0 (prequel).   Cars 1 was pretty average, so I won't bother with Cars 2.  I loved the original Monsters Inc, and I fear that they'll completely ruin its next version.  I might just stick to non-Pixar movies as far as they keep milking their franchise.