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Where will Hollywood's search for authenticity end?

Where will Hollywood's search for authenticity end?

Week in geek Movies Where will Hollywood's search for authenticity end?

Long-running franchises, in their attempts to bottle the essence of the original movie, are going back to source material and bringing back the old protagonists

Emily Blunt in Mary Poppins Returns, a sequel to the 1964 Mary Poppins.
They don’t make them like that any more … Emily Blunt in Mary Poppins Returns. Photograph: Disney

What is it that makes Star Wars enduringly popular? Or Terminator? Or Halloween? What combination of essential ingredients, what magic wellspring of authenticity, is required to ensure audiences and criti cs warm to latter-day episodes in the way they once basked in the satisfying glow of the beloved original?

This question seems to have become essential to the business of big-budget film-making in 2018. To say it all began with Star Wars: The Force Awakens would be to stretch the truth, but bringing back Luke, Leia and Han certainly helped us to forget we ever sat through six hours of Jar Jar Binks and whingeing teenage Anakin Skywalker in the abominable prequels.

In truth, this business has been going on for decades; the only difference is that Hollywood used to have the decency to permit older stars their cameos, from Charlton Heston’s monkey-suited turn in 2001’s Planet of the Apes remake to the rather more elegant appearances of 1962’s Cape Fear stars Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum in Martin Scorsese’s 1991 remake.

These days, original cast members are no longer restricted to supporting roles or blink-and-you’ll-miss it appearances. The huge succe ss of The Force Awakens and, to a lesser extent, The Last Jedi appears to have convinced studios that in the desperate hunt for franchise credibility, only the original will do. And if you want to achieve ultimate authenticity, it is probably a good idea to cook up a plot in which all the rubbish movies that audiences and critics hated never happened.

Halloween review â€" a slasher classic you just can’t kill off Read more

The latest example of this back-to-basics, return-to-the-source mantra is the restoration of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) to the Halloween saga. Strode comes out of retirement to battle masked meanie Michael Myers all over again in David Gordon Green’s belated sequel, which conveniently forgets any of the movies made since 1978 â€" including 1981’s Halloween II and 1998’s Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, both of which starred Curtis.

We’re also due to get a new Terminator movie that will ignore every sequel since 1991’s T 2: Judgment Day and brings Linda Hamilton back as Sarah Connor. From what I can tell, this is largely because Hollywood already tried restoring Arnie to the saga and found audiences were still not interested.

It’s tempting to wonder, given the current box-office and critical success of Halloween, if 20th Century Fox might consider turning back to Neill Blomkamp’s ill-fated pitch for a new Alien movie starring Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley. Blomkamp’s idea for a sequel, set many years after the events of James Cameron’s Aliens (and ignoring all subsequent films to bear the title), could have been the blueprint for Halloween and the forthcoming Terminator 6. Unfortunately, it was torpedoed by Ridley Scott in favour of Alien: Covenant, his own bland sequel to the insipid Prometheus.

Covenant was Scott’s misguided attempt to expand the story of Michael Fassbender’s devious android David into an entire movie â€" as well as bringing back the xenomorphs he prev iously insisted nobody could possibly still be interested in. Frankly, Blomkamp’s alternative pitch could not have turned out worse had he decided to bring Ripley back as a clone of her original self who ends up playing mum to a part-human, part-xenomorph horror sprog. Ahem.

Not to be put off, Scott last year said he would consider the idea of restoring Weaver as a younger Ripley through CGI for future prequels, presumably using similar “ghosting” technology to that utilised by Marvel and Lucasfilm on recent projects. This would have the advantage of allowing the veteran British film-maker to complete the increasingly tedious timeline between Prometheus and the events of the original Alien, via several further, no-doubt increasingly prosaic, instalments.

That sounds like a pretty roundabout route to achieving authenticity â€" especially when Blomkamp’s plan has the considerable advantage of ensuring we all: 1) do not have to sit through any more Prometheus film s, and 2) are formally permitted by Hollywood to forget Alien: Resurrection and the Alien vs Predator films existed. But this, for better or worse, is the kind of muddle Hollywood is increasingly likely to start finding itself in, until it finally decides to start making decent original movies again.
At least other forthcoming projects are taking a more sensible approach to the endless desire to peek into the rear-view mirror. Rob Marshall’s Mary Poppins Returns looks set to lay the nostalgia on pretty thick, but the only returning star of the original will be Dick Van Dyke, this time as Mr Dawes Jr. Producers have resisted the temptation to wheel out the original Poppins, though you suspect Emily Blunt would have been given her P45 had there been the faintest chance of persuading a digitally de-aged Julie Andrews to go gallivanting about with animated penguins and um diddle diddle diddle umming with young Bert all over again.

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  • Movies
  • Week i n geek
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  • Planet of the Apes
  • Cape Fear
  • Halloween (2018)
  • Alien
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Source: Google News Hollywood

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