Monday, January 5, 2015

Top Five (other) Sequels I Need To See Before I Die

"'Freewill', my ass..."
So, a few nights ago I had a crazy dream.  It started w/ Monster Mike & I hiking through a Yakutsk winter clad a la Chevy Chase and Dan Akroyd in Spies Like Us, while being hunted by twerking wookalar trying to show us Peter Jackson's new script revisions to his upcoming Dune trilogy.  ("At the end, Maud'dib stands on the great worm and yells, 'Gotcha suckas!'")  Then, and this is the truly weird bit, I dreamed that David Lynch & Mark Frost announced finally that they planned to write and shoot a new season of Twin Peaks... a happening I've been waiting no less than 23 years for.

I know...  Totally insane dream, right?  Plus there was that guy with the cheese at the end.  What was up with that?

Anyway, while I was thinking about how incredibly unbelievable all that was the next day, I started pondering the larger theme of the "lost sequel" - the unlikely follow-up entry to that thing you love which is sometimes just imagined, sometimes promised but never delivered on, and sometimes are just a natural result of one needing more content in order to figure out just what the hell actually happened in the stuff you've already seen in the first place (i.e. Twin Peaks).  Often, living long enough to have a chance at seeing these sorts of sequels come to fruition becomes a staring contest with Death himself.  I fully believe the sheer pig-headedness of it is the only thing that keep most geeks alive past the age of 40.

So without further ado, in honor of the nuttiness of my recent hallucination of Lynch and Frost pledging to satisfy my #1 fanboy-est desire of all time,  I thought I would list and discuss entries #2-6 on my "Sequels I Am Determined Not To Die Before The Final Creation Of" Countdown.  

Drumroll please, maestro.

#6 - Firefly: Season Two, or Serenity: Re-Aiminating to Misbehave Agin'

Six is an artificially low number on the list for this classic, but it's mostly there just so we can get this no-brainer out of the way.  I mean, come on... Did anyone really think it wouldn't show up here?  
Had to buy that guy a new hat last time...

Joss Whedon hit a nerve that desperately needed to be scratched (yes,yes, I know) when he made Firefly, and the poor handling it received from the TV brass at the time earned it legendary status in the circles of geek oppresion conspiracy theory.  The amazing thing here is, though, we already got a sequel with the film Serenity.  Regardless, the fact is Whedon could make five more Serenity films and the hunger would still be out there and the fanbase would still feel as cheated out of the property by Big Hollywood as any typical Lions fan feels after watching...  well, any football game ever. 

If Whedon can put something new together for Capt. Mal and crew in his copious free time, there is no way the opening night line isn't going to stretch at least past the Area 51 console.  My enthusiasm for another installment is tempered only by the fact that my favorite character was Shepherd Book.  And well...  Sigh.

#5 - My So-Called Life: Season Two

I realize this isn't really "geek fare"and likely comes as a surprise to many reading the list, but, next to Firefly, MSCL is the ultimate example of a finely-crafted show which came at a pivotal moment in time, prepared to re-draw the boundaries of what we should expect from a television drama, only to be cruelly cut down in its prime, before being ever allowed to come to full flower.  (Which is to say, it was a show that premiered on FOX.)

Get out of my dreams, Get onto my bike.
(Billy Ocean said that.)
The sole season produced gave us questions, made us laugh and cry, and ended in true cliffhanger fashion for all eternity... with the blonde neighbor kid who looks like the Greatest American Hero sitting on his bike in a poorly lit residential neighborhood, wondering if Angela will ever get a goddamn clue for once.  I mean, who can't identify with that noise, am I right?  And all in a misty soft focus that made it seem like a nostalgic dream probably two years before it was even made...

I heard there was a spec script for a new revival of the series where Angela marries Jordan Catalano, but when he returns from the war in Afghanistan no one is sure whether he's a sleeper agent for the terrorists or not...  But that seems far too utterly ridiculous to me to ever work on TV.

(PS:  He's the Joker now.  Process that.)

#4 - Porno

Trainspotting is one of the pivotal landmarks of my personal development during the 90's and still counts among my Top 5 greatest films of all time.  It was for me a near-perfect cinema moment that encapsulated (as much as a UK movie about heroin could) the frustration of my post-college Midwest Yankee inability to break away from my old life.  Furthermore, it was my first introduction to the young Obi-Wan, Capt. Jamie MacLean, Lucius Vorenus, the Full Monty, and, not least, Mrs. Nucky Thompson, in all her fully knee-weakening Scottish-accented glory. 

Also Spud.  You had to hand it to Spud, right catboy?

Shortly after this film, a rift reportedly arose between filmmaker Danny Boyle and regular collaborator Ewan MacGregor after Boyle chose to break form and cast Leo DiCaprio as the lead in his following film, The Beach.  From what I am led to understand, it's this rift that more than any other factor has prevented a follow-up from being made since.  And while they have both had remarkable careers on their own since, I for one wish they would just get their shit together and try to get along for the two hours it would take to film the damn movie.  Am I so wrong?

Author Irvine Welsh, who wrote the original book the film was based on, also penned a 10-years-later sequel called Porno, wherein Sick Boy attempts to get rich producing... well, you know.  I fully realize I could check in on the whereabouts of my favorite characters just by checking the book out from the library.  But I haven't had the nerve to try to bring it up to the circulation desk yet.

#3 - Master & Commander 2:  The Fortune of War

One A&W, neat
With the noted qualifier that I haven't read more than the first book of Partrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series, in my opinion the film adaptation of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is perhaps the perfect action-adventure film, rivaled only by the likes of The Hunt For Red October or Jaws in its brilliance.  It ages well, is perfectly paced, aspires to higher ideals than the thrills it consistently delivers, and never has a missed or clunky moment.  And unlike all the other rivals in this category, it manages to pull all this off while being a PERIOD PIECE.  At sea.

Think the logistics of that through.  That's like the movie version of reciting "O Captain, My Captain" while gargling root beer and riding a unicycle.  And nailing it.  Or something.  Honestly that simile made a lot more sense in my head before I typed it out.

I've been told by those who have read the full series that the adaptation made enough of a hash of the overall timeline to make a follow-up entry problematic at best.  I will take their word for it, though it seems a seamless enough story to a casual viewer like myself.  (I guessed at the sequel title above randomly based on list of books in the series.)  Suffice it to say however, if Russell Crowe ever decides to use his Hollywood clout to demand a second installment be produced, I'll be beating to quarters opening night in a heartbeat.  No matter how wrong that sounds.

#2 - Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The Eighth Dimension is one of my ultimate guilty geek pleasures.  The brilliant cast and no-prisoners blend of 80's pulp sci fi adventure with full deadpan camp hit a sweet spot that should make it a thoroughly enjoyable and highly quotable flick for thinking people of pretty much all ages.  Except my mom's age probably.  But that's ok really.

Why?  Because they're Perfect.
At the end of the film, just after BB gets the girl and restores our faith in heroes, but moments before the catchy-as-hell end credits victory dance/walk of the surviving (and some miraculously resurrected) Hong Kong Cavaliers, we are cruelly teased with the title card "Watch for the next adventure of Buckaroo Banzai / BUCKAROO BANZAI AGAINST THE WORLD CRIME LEAGUE".  Talk about Babe Ruth calling your shots.  But as Tiffany once so heartrendingly sang to us in those same 80's, "What could've been is better than what could never be at all".  

Part of what I love about the BB property is the creators' 100% commitment to the joke in the face of any and every piece of sanity available to the contrary.  The DVD commentary of the first movie for example features fully straight-faced discussion of Dr. Banzai's reaction to the film made of his life, and the novelization expands the plot to plants seeds of the coming conflict against his true arch-nemesis, Hanoi Xan, leader of the World Crime League.  Alas, nobody else seemed to get the joke however, and so for thirty years the dream of this team of actors and creators being allowed a follow-up film to explore some even more far-fetched but shockingly brilliant insanity has been naught but a poignantly sad could've been

Damn you almighty box-office dollar.  Damn youse to hell.


It's recently come to my attention that this last sequel (Buckaroo Banzai) may actually have recently happened in a direct-to-video feature (which strikes me as an increasingly anachronistic designation as time goes on).  In any event, I am unsure quite how to process this news, and for the time being I've chosen to follow a course of complete and utter denial until I get any better ideas.  I seriously need to think this through for a while.  

But I suppose that's not as bad as it could be, all things considered...  I mean if  Twin Peaks Season 3 actually happened, for instance, I'm relatively sure my nervous system would go into spontaneous meltdown.  My eyes would roll back and I'd just collapse limply and ignominiously onto the sidewalk to face the taunting and denigration of random passersby.  So let's be glad that one's still a fairy tale.

I wear the cheese.  It does not wear me.