back. It's been four years since we all met the
über-hacker Everymana seeming eternity
for fans of "The Matrix," who have waited
impatiently for the sequel, "The Matrix Reloaded."
Now that "Reloaded" has been loaded into multiplex
projectors across the country, I have the
opportunity to talk about the phenomenon of sequels
Let me begin by postulating the Strickland Law
of Sequels: the more original the original, the
more banal the sequel. Several exceptions to this
rule immediately come to mind: "Aliens,"
"Terminator 2" and "The Empire Strikes Back." But
countless other examples of the rule leap off the
silver screen and into the porcelain bowl: "Batman
and Robin," "Caddyshack II," all of the "Jaws"
sequels, "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier,"
"Jurassic Park: The Lost World." And so many
I have not yet seen "The Matrix Reloaded," and
will probably wait for the crowds to subside in a
week or two to see it. But early buzz seems to
indicate mostly style and little substance. A
cinematic video game, a dazzle for the eyes but not
the mind. Did anyone expect differently?
Strickland's Law of Sequels would have predicted
such a result. The first movie, reflecting the
angst and ennui of a world in the midst of a
technological revolution, was a masterpiece of
originality. According to Strickland's Law, then,
the sequel must therefore be a one-dimensional
piece of claptrap. Which I'm sure it's not, but the
basic premise still holds. In terms of originality,
it's probably a mere shadow of the original.
Strickland's Law of Sequels illuminates the real
reason that sequels get green-lit: money. Sure, in
some cases the original filmmaker has a vision for
the next installment, and an inventive sequel comes
about (note previous examples). But the primary
raison d'etre for sequels is to make money
for the studio which releases them. With such
motives, things like originality and creativity are
secondaryperhaps even discouraged, if it
means straying too far from the original formula
which gave birth to the first success. If the
studio senses a big payoff, they can often be
willing to lay out a large investment in the
production (the two "Matrix" sequels cost a
combined $300 million). But you can be sure the
films resulting from such large investments will
closely follow the original formula. "Risk" is
indeed a four-letter word in Hollywood.
A long string of utterly banal remakes, sequels,
adaptations and spin-offs has spewed out of
Hollywood in the past ten years. Originality has
become a rarer and rarer commodity. Sadly, it's not
because it doesn't exist, but rather fewer and
fewer executives will take a chance on an unknown.
As a result, we'll continue to see reload after
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