x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

The ill-advised cinema sequel

In today's movie world - dominated by remakes, reboots, reimaginings, sequels, threequels and 3D rereleases - even the most forgiving film fan can start to feel jaded.

Movie purists can be an irritating bunch; the kind of snivelling know-it-alls who insist James Bond was rubbish after his first big-screen outing, Dr No, or that all Hollywood adaptations of European or Asian films are worthless. But in today's movie world - dominated by remakes, reboots, reimaginings, sequels, threequels and 3D rereleases - even the most forgiving film fan can start to feel jaded.

That's how I felt last week when the director of Top Gun said he intends to make a follow-up to the classic flyboy drama.

As the unmistakable sound of another beloved 1980s film becoming a "franchise" echoed around the internet, movie gossip sites instantly began speculating about the details. The most pressing question: would Tom Cruise reprise his role as Maverick? (Not unimaginable, considering Michael Douglas stepped back into Gordon Gekko's bespoke shoes earlier this year, seemed to be the consensus.)

But I don't want to see Cruise, now 48, donning the green jumpsuit and Ray-Bans again. I don't care how Maverick has grown over the past 24 years, or how US fighter pilots have had to adapt to the changing defence and technological landscapes of the 21st century.

I hate the idea of Top Gun 2. But I don't hate it for the reason a movie purist would hate it, (for having the sheer audacity of trying to trade under the name of a classic). I hate it because it will - in all likelihood - be rubbish.

I don't feel that way about all follow-ups, mind you. The Wall Street sequel was surprisingly well conceived, considering the 23-year gap; the Star Trek reboot was a delight, as were the recent Batman movies. But for every successful attempt at reheating a once-popular franchise, there are countless crushing failures.

There was a time when I would have welcomed Top Gun 2, however. As a teenager in the mid-1990s, I fell in love with the Star Wars, Indiana Jones and the Terminator movies - all of which were already franchises by the time I discovered them. But after making short work of each saga on VHS, I felt an emptiness in my stomach. Why did they have to stop making Star Wars movies in 1983, Indiana Jones in 1989 and Terminator in 1991? Surely the fanbases were large enough to justify an new outing every year or two?

Well, now that's exactly what happens. The fantasies of 15-year-old film geeks have become the prevailing wisdom of the major Hollywood studios. But after three woeful Star Wars prequels, two dire Terminator sequels and the travesty that was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (little green men - seriously?) - I'd rather feel emptiness in my stomach than sickness.

And it's not just Top Gun that's set to be pointlessly revisited. The website DenOfGeek.com has a list of 75 movies currently being remade or rebooted. I should have been more careful what I wished for.