2020 has been a year unlike any other. There hasn’t been this level of social disruption since the outbreak of World War Two. But even then, the theatres kept chugging along. Cinemas and film production has never experienced the sort of upheaval we’ve had this year. And its uncertainty that looks set to continue in to 2021. Box office takings have been the lowest on record as cinemas had to shut their doors for weeks on end. Major releases were pulled, shelved until theatres reopened or, in rare cases, pushed out on to streaming services.
Movie making itself became tricky if not impossible. At the end of the year when Mission Impossible 7 staggered back in to production, even the usually patient Tom Cruise had had enough with the whole situation and idiots not abiding by social distancing rules, firing some choice words at crew embers not standing two metres apart. Most of us shared his frustration.
The end of the year looked to provide a much needed festive pick-me-up, but with some selfish folk ignoring the rules and COVID 19 mutating in to a new strain, the highest level of lockdown was imposed again on some parts of the country. It was one last kick in the nuts from 2020, Christmas plans for many cancelled with just a few days notice.
In comparison to the lives lost across the year from the pandemic, missing out on trips to the cinema doesn’t compare, a small price to pay for keeping people safe. Still, there are many people who rely on the industry for their livelihood, and not just the wealthy A-listers. The film industry supports millions of jobs, from cinema staff, to those working in the industry on security, catering, lighting, props, and much more. How much of the industry will be lost remains to be seen, but given that cinema in the UK was in a precarious position before the pandemic, the future looks decidedly uncertain.
As if COVID wasn’t enough, the film industry in 2020 seemed to lose a bigger number of legends and beloved figures than in previous years, including Sean Connery, Olivia de Havilland, John Saxon, Ennio Morricone, Kirk Douglas, Max Von Sydow, Alan Parker, Joel Schumaker, Ian Holm, David Prowse, and Terry Jones. And then there was Chadwick Boseman. At just 43 it seemed particularly cruel that an actor who was entering the golden period of his career was lost to us. But not only has he left a legacy of fantastic performances, he showed us all how to face the most adverse of circumstances with grace and courage. There was no wallowing or sorrow; instead he kept on working and acting right the way up to the end. It’s a lesson we could all heed at year’s end; when life gets tough you just have to keep ploughing on.
How then to review a year of cinema where most of the big movies didn’t show up? There were some great releases amongst the few films that did come out. The aforementioned Boseman was fantastic in his final performance, Spike Lee’s brilliant Da 5 Bloods (2020). Best Picture winner Parasite (2020) would have made the best films of the year list no matter what other movies had come out.
Tenet (2020) saw Christopher Nolan offering more evidence of his directorial brilliance, even if the script wasn’t up to the usual standard of a Nolan flick. Rocks (2020) was one of the most unique coming-of-age dramas of recent years, while The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020) was a great courtroom drama, a sub-genre that hasn’t seen a decent instalment for a while. Then there was On The Rocks (2020) which saw director Sofia Coppola team back up with Bill Murray for the first time since Lost In Translation (2003); while the resulting film couldn’t top their first outing it was still a superb watch.
A full top ten of terrific 2020 movies was always going to prove impossible though, so we thought we’d offer something a bit different this year, something to put a much needed smile on movie fans faces. Our end of year top ten is a bit of wish-fulfilment, a ‘what if’ question, an alternate universe where the year was peppered with the greatest sequels of all time. So here to end 2020 we present our ten movies that really deserve sequels. If we’re really lucky maybe we’ll get to see a few in 2022. Stay safe, and happy movie imagining.
James Cameron’s follow up to Alien (1979) is probably the greatest sequel of all time. That all of Cameron’s great work was undone in the first five minutes of Alien 3 (1992) is one of the biggest crimes of cinema. We just watched two hours of Ripley, Hicks, Newt, and Bishop fighting for their lives, only to see them unceremoniously killed off-screen. Their characters deserved so much more. They came close to getting it to when Neill Blomkamp outlined his idea for Alien 5 and caught the attention of 20th Century Fox. Newt would return, now an adult, accompanied by an aging Hicks and Ripley. It was also rumoured to be set on Earth, just as the original concept for Alien 3 had teased. Sigourney Weaver was also impressed enough with the script to announce she’d be up for reprising her most famous role, but unfortunately Fox didn’t choose to pursue the idea, instead backing Ridley Scott and his dour Alien prequels. It’s still not too late for Fox to do another u-turn, with Weaver, Michael Biehn and Lance Henriksen all still acting (though Bishop being old could be tricky to explain). Whether Carrie Henn would return though is doubtful; Newt remains her only acting credit to date. There is hope though; thanks to the poor reception Alien: Covenant (2017) received, Fox put Scott’s prequel trilogy on hold, the final part Alien: Awakening shelved for now. In February 2019 James Cameron announced that he was working on reviving Blomkamp’s script, and in June 2020 word was released that a new Alien 5 script by Walter Hill and David Giler, focusing once again on Ripley, was being written. With Disney purchasing Fox, it was also announced that Scott’s third prequel was also being resurrected. How many of these projects will see the light of day though still remains to be seen.
Tasty Morsel – The original script for Alien 3 by cyberpunk author William Gibson saw Hicks team up with another group of marines to battle Weyland-Yutani on a space station where he discovers they are breeding an alien army.
BEVERLY HILLS COP 3 (1994)
The first two Beverly Hills Cop films were masterpieces of action comedy, made so by the brilliant relationship between the films central trio, the cocky badass Axel (Eddie Murphy), the uptight Taggert (John Ashton), and the free spirited but naïve Rosewood (Judge Reinhold). Add in great action set pieces and soundtracks, and they were the ultimate Saturday night adventure movies. When part three went in to production fans were hopeful. John Landis (American Werewolf In London, Blues Brothers, Trading Places) was in the director’s chair while Steven E de Souza (48hrs, Commando, The Running Man, Die Hard) was on scriptwriting duties. It should have been a perfect match, but Beverly Hills Cop 3 was Axel Foley neutered. Out went the bad language, the high octane action, the seedy side of night time Los Angeles, and the winning soundtrack. John Ashton had to pull out due to a clash of productions schedules and the winning trio was broken, with poor Hector Elizondo given the thankless task of filling the shoes of Taggert knock-off John Flint. Worst of all, the story was given a child-friendly slant as Axel has to save a kiddie theme park from a group of lame villains. Fans and critics ripped the film to shreds and the franchise stalled. CBS paid for a television show pilot with Brandon Jackson playing Aaron, Axel’s son, but it wasn’t picked up, while a fourth film has been kicking around in development hell for over two decades now. It seems hard to imagine the series continuing without Ashton and Reinhold, but at 72 and 63 it would be hard to have them still pounding a beat as Beverly Hills cops. Still, it would be great to see them on screen with Murphy one more time, recapturing that witty back and forth that drove the first two films. And god knows cinema has been bereft of fun-spirited but edgy action films for years now.
Tasty Morsel – One idea for the third film was for Axel Foley to cross paths and team up with Crocodile Dundee; the idea was rejected by Eddie Murphy.
It didn’t take long for people to recognise Casablanca as a brilliant movie, so much so that within weeks of its release discussions around a possible sequel began. Talk even got as far as a potential title, Brazzaville, named after the city Captain Renault recommends fleeing to near the end of the original film. But that’s where plans for a sequel ended. In 1974 Francois Truffaut turned down an offer of remaking the original, while in 2008 there were rumours that Madonna was interested in setting a remake in Iraq. The less said about the 1983 prequel television show with David Soul as Rick, the better. With the original cast sadly no longer with us, if a follow up was to now be made recasting would be essential. But who would be brave enough to step in to the legendary shoes of Humphrey Bogart? Russell Crowe would get our vote, the right combo of cool and unfeeling on the surface, but a warm heart buried below. With the war still raging on there would be plenty of escapades for Rick to get caught up in, and with his new best friend Captain Louis Renault in toe (tailor made for Jean Dujardin) it would make for an excellent buddy action film. Sadly, with this much time gone it seems unlikely that even the remake-hungry Hollywood would mess with such a classic like Casablanca.
Tasty Morsel - Screenwriter Julius Epstein had two goes at turning the film into a Broadway musical, in 1951 and 1967, but neither made it to the stage.
With comic book movies starting to get in to their stride in 2005, an unlikely hit arrived from director Francis Lawrence, unlikely for two reasons. First, few people outside of the hardcore comic world were aware of excellence of the John Constantine: Hellblazer comic series. Second, those fans that were aware of the book’s quality were royally pissed off by the announcement that the British, blonde haired, cancer ridden lead character would be played by Keanu Reeves. Despite the initial resentment, Reeves stood strong and turned in one of his best performances to date. He may not have looked the part but he certainly embodied Constantine’s bleak world view. Reeves’ quiet pessimism has never seemed more appropriate for a role than it did here. In the film Constantine himself visited hell and back thanks to a near death experience. As such he has unique powers which allow him to commune with the dark side, powers he reluctantly puts to use to help policewoman Rachel Weisz unravel the mystery of her sister’s apparent suicide. The film tackles some heavy subject matter with Lawrence blending harsh imagery and demanding set pieces to unsettle the viewer. Lawrence also blurs the line between a dingy Los Angeles and a shockingly practical vision of Hell to create a setting where no one ever feels safe. A modest $80million budget scored a box office take of $230million profit. Even the demanding comic fans enjoyed it. While Reeves has stated that he would be willing to return to the character, a sequel has yet to materialise and the actor has since taken his understated action skills to the monster John Wick franchise instead. Meanwhile, John Constantine moved over to the small screen with a 2014 television show that only lasted one series. A revival of Reeves’ take seems unlikely, but with so many great stories from the Hellblazer comic to draw on it’s a travesty that we won’t see the character on the big screen in his Keanu form again.
Tasty Morsel – The character of John Constantine in the Hellblazer comics was designed to resemble the rock singer Sting.
Another take on a comic character crying out for a part two is Karl Urban’s Judge Dredd. The 2000AD comic character Judge Dredd and his futuristic dystopian world is one of the greatest comic creations of all time, but his first foray to the big screen was so bad it almost killed off any thoughts of Dredd coming off of the page again. Sylvester Stallone is a talented actor, no doubt, but his Judge Dredd (1995) gave no mind to its source material other than the characters name and costume. It was a miracle then that Pete Travis’ Dredd (2012) made it into cinemas to wipe away the memory of the 1995 dud. Travis’ film perfectly captured the rough, battered, adult atmosphere of the Dredd comics, and didn’t spare the violence for the sake of box office profit. And in Urban he found his perfect Dredd, a note perfect take on the ‘street judge’ who, as he does on the page, never takes off his helmet. Fans and critics lavished praise on the film but sadly people didn’t part with their money to go and see it, perhaps remembering the stink of Stallone’s mid-nineties version. As a result the film failed to make back its budget and Travis was unable to take forward the full trilogy he envisioned. The film’s reputation only grew though and when “movie sequels fans want to see” lists were written on the internet Dredd was always near the top of the list. The good news is Dredd and Urban look to be moving to the small screen for a limited series, tentatively titled Judge Dredd: Mega-City One.
Tasty Morsel - In the classroom in Peach Trees, as well as in the mall, the new American flag can be seen. It only has six stars, representing the six mega states in Dredd’s version of future USA.
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (2011)
An excellent adaptation of all of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series of novels already exists in the form of the 2009 Swedish television movies, with Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace in the lead roles. Even so, David Fincher’s 2011 adaptation of the first book, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, was itself a fantastic film. Fincher also found his own winning duo with Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara playing the central pairing or investigative journalist Mikael and goth hacker private eye Lisbeth. The supporting cast was equally stellar, with Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard, Steven Berkoff, Robin Wright, and Joely Richardson only elevating the script further. It was an intriguing mystery of a script to, the whodunit of Larsson’s top page turner making the 158 minutes of movie whizz by. It was Craig and Mara who stole the film though, creating an uneasy but absorbing coupling that was quashed in the film’s final moments. Fans hoped it would just be a pause though, with Craig and Mara picking up where they left off in the sequel. Fincher’s original plan was to shoot all three films back-to-back, but script changes caused delays and Craig and Mara moved on. Disappointingly, the studio pressed on without them, recasting Claire Foy in the Lisbeth role and Sverrir Gudnason in the Mikael part; they had none of the chemistry Craig and Mara shared. Coupled with too much meddling with Larsson’s original story, The Girl In The Spider’s Web (2018) was a critical and financial flop. It effectively killed off the movie franchise of Larsson’s novels and it seems highly unlikely Craig, Mara and Fincher will return now. More’s the pity as their first part in the story was one of the finest thrillers of this century.
Tasty Morsel – The Lisbeth role was originally offered to Natalie Portman, who turned the role down. Jennifer Lawrence was then considered but turned out to be too tall. Mara then captured the part.
THE GOONIES (1985)
With the exception of The Expendables and Ocean franchises there aren’t many big ensemble casts that get back together for sequels. The reason good ensemble casts work though is the chemistry between the extended group, and gangs didn’t get much better than The Goonies. With a story by Steven Spielberg, a script by Chris Columbus, and direction by Richard Donner, it was all down to the cast to make sure the final piece of the jigsaw fell in to place; they didn’t disappoint. Everyone has their favourite, whether it’s the cuddly Jeff Cohen, wise-ass Corey Feldman, technical wizard Jonathon Ke Huy Quan, or the sassy Martha Plimpton. It was such a complete group it seemed like a gang that would go on to have all kinds of adventures, like the Famous Five or the Secret Seven. Sadly it didn’t happen. There is an alternative; a where-are-they-now reunion. Fortunately, all of the original cast are still with us so a second Goonies gathering is a possibility. It would be great to see whether Mike, Mouth, Chunk and the gang are all still the same, or whether roles have switched. The possibilities are fascinating, as are the ideas for an adult adventure. As a teaser, on 5th December 2020 the cast got back together for an online reunion to read through the original script, raising over $130,000 for the charity No Kid Hungry. Even after all these years, the chemistry between the cast was still there. Director Donner has mentioned a few times over the years that a sequel is being worked on, but to date nothing has materialised. Here’s hoping the recent cast reunion gets the necessary movie making cogs turning,
Tasty Morsel - Robert Davi, being a trained opera singer, came up with the idea to sing to Sloth an extract from opera Madama Butterfly.
INSIDE OUT (2015)
Naming the best animated movie of the last twenty years would be a tough task. The golden period of modern animation started by Toy Story (1995) shows no signs of slowing down, with the likes of The Iron Giant (1999), The Incredibles (2004), Wall.E (2008), and Up (2009) all upping the bar almost year by year. Possibly the best animated movie of this era though was Peter Docter’s Inside Out. A fantastic concept, we followed the five internal emotions of adolescent Riley living as their own entities within Riley’s consciousness. A perfect balance of laughs and heart-string-tugs, the film was rightly graced with glowing reviews, awards, and a large box office haul. With Riley aged just eleven though, there’s plenty of other tales to be told as she wrangles her inner characters, Joy, Anger, Fear, Disgust and Sadness. Riley handling all the angst and confusion of being a teenage girl would make for a fantastic follow-up, and there could even be a trilogy with Riley moving in to adulthood, with the central five emotions changing character or growing in number. When asked about a possible sequel, writer and director Docter has confirmed that he never envisioned more than one film. With the financial success, Pixar made enquiries soon after release, but to date nothing has emerged from the discussions. Fingers crossed that changes soon.
Tasty Morsel - Docter stated that each emotion character was based on a shape; Joy is based on a star, , Fear is a raw nerve, Disgust is broccoli, Sadness is a teardrop, and Anger is a fire brick
KILL BILL (2003)
Despite his love of genre and exploitation cinema, to date Quentin Tarantino has never made a sequel. Given how popular his films and the characters in them are, its quite surprising. The closest he’s come to date are his two Kill Bill films, but rather than a proper sequel Kill Bill: Vol.2 (2004) was just the second part of a movie he was forced to cut in two due to its extraordinary length. This hasn’t stopped Tarantino from teasing fans with sequel ideas though, such as a Vega Brothers movie with John Travolta and Michael Madsen, or an Inglorious Basterds follow-up where Aldo Raine takes on the Klu Klux Klan. His best idea though was his suggestion for a proper Kill Bill sequel, the seeds of which were clearly laid in the first film. When Beatrix Kiddo kills former teammate Vernita Green, her small daughter Nikki walks in on the bloody aftermath. Kill Bride, as it could potentially be called, would see a grown up Nikki tracking down Beatrix for a bit of revenge of her own, as per Beatrix’s offer ‘When you grow Up, if you still feel raw about It, I'll be waiting.’ Uma Thurman is still more than in shape enough to return to the Bride and has already voiced her fondness for the character. As for Nikki, there’s a whole host of great young actresses who could take on the part, but our choice would be Willow Smith. Chuck in the Bride’s own daughter out to protect her mother at all costs, and the script practically writes itself. And as luck would have it, in 2019 Tarantino confirmed that he and Thurman had sat down to talk about a sequel and they have an idea they want to pursue.
Tasty Morsel - The boots Uma Thurman has on when she is buried alive are the same boots that Michael Madsen used in Reservoir Dogs (1992).
THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (1994)
The biggest and most simple reason most film fans want to see a sequel to a particular film is to spend more time with great characters they love. And there probably isn’t a more beloved pairing than Ellis Boyd ‘Red’ Redding and Andy Dufresne. Famously, King’s original novella The Shawshank Redemption didn’t feature a reunion scene between Andy and Red, ending with Red travelling on the bus to try and find his friend. But on test screenings director Frank Darabont knew he couldn’t leave viewers hanging, he had to show the pair meeting up again after all they went through. The final silent shot of the crystal blue sea water and Andy spotting his best friend walking along the sand is one of the most heart warming scenes ever filmed. There isn’t actually anything more to say in their story, so perfect is Darabont’s film and King’s story. But it would still be great to have pair back on screen again. Since making the film Freeman and Robbins have become firm friends so it might not be too much of stretch to convince them to work together a second time. What to have them doing though? There are still old friends inside serving time, such as William Sadler’s Heywood, who could possibly use some help. Shawshank also poignantly explored the nature of convicts returning to society, told stunningly by James Whitmore as Brooks in the film’s best subplot. There is definitely more to be explored here and a script which delved in to this topic with all the class and heart of the first film would be an excellent watch. Providing of course, we get the happy ending Darabont delivered first time round. We can hope.
Tasty Morsel - In the original novella, Red is a middle-aged white Irishman with greying red hair. Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Paul Newman, and Robert Redford were all considered for the part. But Darabont has stated that he only ever had Freeman in mind for the role, a part which Freeman has stated is now his favourite of all the movies he has made.