Why do so many sequels suck?

or, Why is it that The Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded were so good but The Matrix Revolutions sucked horribly?

I’d watched two Matrix movies in a row, one a night, but I refused to watch the third last night.

Why? Because it’s a really awful way to end the series. Not much of a resolution, to my mind. Additionally, after the amazing work of the first and second films, the third just seemed to drag on interminably. So, I am left to wonder. With such a good beginning to the series, why was the end so terrible? There’s not that many ways to fuck up a good film concept, is there? But, I guess there really was. This is not going to be a post of my conceptual modifications; doing that is a road I’d rather avoid. Mostly, it’s a discussion of series that sucked versus series that didn’t, and how they seem to differ.

Essentially, I’m going to compare The Matrix, Spider Man, and the Bourne films. These are examples of three major paths in three-film sequences (although I’m holding out for a fourth Bourne movie.)

The Matrix trilogy

The Matrix was groundbreaking. Of this there is no question. (Incidentially, if you enjoyed The Matrix, another really good film in the same general vein is The Dark City: it explores what happens when humans are used for experimentation by more powerful beings.) Yet, in the films after the first, there seemed to be a loss of direction, as well as a very poor plot structure to Revloutions. Basically, with the change in film style which accompanied the move to a larger budget, something of the grunge style of The Matrix was lost and replaced with a sheen of glamour that simply did not fit overall.

Spider Man

The zentith of the Spider Man films really seemed to be in the second; the first had room to grow, and it did so throughout the second film. However, in deviating so far from the original plot with how Venom came about—and killing off Venom, as well—damaged the overall structure of the third film. As well, it focused a great deal on Parker’s emotional distress caused by the symbiote … in fact, it focused on his emotional destruction that it lost any seriousness it attempted to contain and fell wholly into the realm of farce. In general, the third film attempted to do too much.

The Bourne series

As a way of doing action right, the Bourne movies are exemplary; they developed plot well, cutting what was not relevant today in order to streamline the plot to fit today’s market, unlike the 60’s spy thriller novels upon which they are based. Additionally, the production values fit the slightly gritty, extremely violent object of the films very well. The further development of the second and third films not only as side-by-side, but intertwined, expanded the plot of each far more than one individual film possibly could; essentially, Supremacy and Ultimatum form one film, stretching over something approaching four hours, which tells the complete story leading from Marie’s death to the end of the Blackbriar project (sorry if that was a spoiler for anybody. I hope I didn’t give much away … and that you’ve seen the movies by now. I mean, they’re everywhere. All the time.)

So yeah, there’s some thoughts on how not to write movies, and how they should be done. All as an amateur critic.

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