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Sequels By Eliza Noell

It’s understandable that people have a wide range of opinions when it comes to movies. People’s perspective can be unique. Film is a great tool to touch on many people’s interests, especially in attracting those of all different mindsets.

What makes a movie good? What are tools directors use to captivate audiences of differing mindsets? Several concepts should be looked at to consider a movie good. These include elements such as cinematography, acting, and screenplay. A film must communicate a message to the audience, or to incorporate subtext.

Subtext can be used by the useful concept of “Show, don’t tell.” As said by No Film School, “Subtext is all about the subtle messages you’re trying to convey to your audience without explicitly coming out and stating them.”

Film as Literature teacher, Mrs. Murray, explained her thoughts on what concepts made a movie a good one.

“It appeals to a wide audience, that [a film] it appeals to more than one generation, or that you have a family that can sit down and watch it, those types of things,” Murray said.

Senior Guadi Fanelli also elaborated on the topic, “[It needs] a universal story, first of all. If it’s a story that’s worth sharing, that will not only impact one person on a personal level, but a lot of people. I think that’s what makes a good movie. It all lies within the story and how you want to share it.”

But approach should filmmakers use when they wish to continue a film’s story through a sequel? Some of the most recent box office hits have been sequels, such as Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and Avengers: Endgame.

Sequels have a concept that standalone movies don’t: the continuation of a story. Referencing Gustav Freytag’s Pyramid of Plot Structure, the plot of any story ends with a conclusion, where all loose ends and conflicts are tied up and resolved. This can make it difficult for a sequel to generate a compelling plot based on a story that is already resolved in the previous installment. Therefore, writing good sequels tend to be a more difficult task than writing a standalone feature.

Fanelli describes what she believes makes a good sequel:

“I’m not too big on sequels, but if they make it for the sake of the story, I think it’s good. If they develop the characters to the point where it makes sense for the movie to go on, for the storyline to continue, then that’s what makes a good sequel. I dislike most [sequels], just because people make them to make them. Like the Lion King movies…Cinderella has a ton, Shrek has a ton. I just don’t like it when they do it for the money.”

According to ScreenCraft.org, the key to an audience’s (and Hollywood’s) love for sequels is the feeling of familiarity.

It’s refreshing to see recognizable characters on screen again, especially if the previous film was a success. The audience’s hype for the new installment of a familiar series will likely drive up the profit the studios make.

A film’s lovable characters are just one concept of many that must be used wisely to make a good movie, which includes the sequel.

Screenwriter and script reader Ken Miyamoto of Screen Craft stated, “There’s no need to re-introduce the characters or the concept in the opening pages because we have the original films for that. All screenwriters need to do is to take things forward and embrace the core characters and concepts, throw more conflict at them, and take the audience for another great ride.”

Murray described what she felt should be included in a good movie sequel.

“Well, most people who are going to watch the sequel have already obviously seen the first one, that’s why they’re watching the sequel, so they have an idea and the backstory. But it’s good to have a little connection to the original, and to maintain the strength of the central characters, and add something that lets those characters develop or grow, perhaps something unexpected, so it’s not another, ‘Oh I know how this is going to end,’ so it leaves us wanting to see a little bit more,” Murray said.

In addition to sequels, another popular type of movies are remakes.

Since 2019, Disney has released five live-action remakes of their classic movies throughout history, and audiences seemed to have a mixed view of the situation.

Some remakes, like the Beauty and the Beast live action, which was well received by others, have been considered a success, while others, such as The Lion King, have been said to lack the charm the original brought.

Remakes are unique in that they act not as a sequel nor an original.

Their characters are familiar but refined or refreshed. The need for a remake can come several reasons, such as if the original being of outdated or poor quality. This can give a modern, unique spin to an already-known story.

To reference Medium.com, a remake should be able to communicate a new and interesting spin on another’s work, while still maintaining familiar yet fresh plot.

“I think it’s interesting. I like it. I like both. I liked the remake of Beauty and the Beast. I haven’t seen Aladdin, it is on my short list to watch, and I’m looking forward to Mulan. I think it’s interesting, it’s more like seeing it on Broadway, so I think they’re really good,” Murray commented.

All in all, movies and film can, and have, been used to communicate influential and meaningful messages. Whenever you can, go watch a movie, try to see what elements you liked. What did you dislike? What would you like to see more of?

To quote from Mychael Danna Acadamy Award’s speech:

“We love films and storytelling as a people. It’s just a human compulsion to listen and tell stories.”

Credits:

Created with images by Erik Witsoe - "I love this time at the theater, the minutes of waiting for the film to begin and the crowd sits with anticipation, the smell of popcorn fills the air and the soft chattering of friends make the soundtrack of the evening worthy of the film to come." • Myke Simon - "Movie night" • Justin Campbell - "When I was a small child I remember going to this theater with my grandmother to see various plays. I have always had a soft spot for this theater. I waited an entire week for the conditions to be right for this image. I’ll forever be able to have this piece of my heart visible to the world now. And that fact means so much to me. Because it might be special to someone else who isn’t able to go see it anymore." • Ahmet Yalçınkaya - "untitled image" • Romain MATHON - "untitled image" • Peter Lewicki - "Theatre Interior"