Animated franchises featuring animals gone wild are the flavour of the season. After Madagascar 3, it is now time for the fourth instalment of the Ice Age series. The prehistoric buddies, Manny the mammoth, Diego the sabretooth tiger and Squint the sloth, return for yet another manic adventure this time setting out on a floating iceberg. The series may not be quite scientifically accurate – part three, Dawn of the Dinosaurs, had them encountering a lost valley of dinosaurs – but it is certainly popular: it is currently the fourth-highest-grossing animated film of all time, making this follow-up wholly inevitable. Which brings us to the question: which franchises should have been long canned?
Pirates of the Caribbean
When it was all hunky dory Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) only vaguely reminded you of a decrepit British rock musician fumbling feverishly for a vein into which he wished to introduce a particularly potent opiate. At this point, taking on tedious descriptive addenda referring to peculiar tide patterns, Sparrow was bit of a Mad Hatter: dotty and delightfully verbose.
When it became mildly annoying That cadaverous rock star actually emerged as a member of the cast, in the form of Keith Richards – the script reported that his character, Captain Teague, fathered Jack Sparrow. This was midway through the franchise, in a movie now better known among industry mavens as Pirates of the Caribbean: At Wit’s End.
When it began to cause aneurysms The drug, it appeared, had taken effect, inducing Sparrow to gape at a white pebble as though it were poor Yorick’s bleached skull. And then the pebble turned out to be a crab, which then birthed other pebbles, which were also crabs. And these crustacean cobbles lifted up an entire ship and carted it forward. And then, with every heave of the hull, audiences collapsed in the aisles, rendered insensate by all this imbecility.
When it was all hunky dory
Or chunky with a whole lot of gory. Steven Spielberg’s 1975 killer shark flick induced so much fear in audiences that upon viewing it, people balked at so much as glancing at an aquarium.
When it became mildly annoying Joe Alves, who worked as Spielberg’s production designer in Jaws, resurrected the undersea monster in the 1983 film Jaws 3D, this time coaxing it out of two dimensions into the third – given the subject in question, it was quite ironic that despite all the technology propping it up, Alves’s film lacked what Spielberg’s creation had in bucketfuls: depth.
When it began to cause aneurysms The plot of the third film in the series, Jaws: The Revenge, directed by Joseph Sargent, stood on ice thin enough to star in an Al Gore documentary about the climate crisis.
When it was all hunky dory Die Hard: John McLane was a 33-year-old Bruce Willis – he of the impossibly precipitous, made-forfilm noir nose – battling the lupine Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) in a death match of blazing guns and sardonic humour.
When it became mildly annoying Die Hard with a Vengeance: McLane was a 40-year-old Willis – he of the relentlessly receding late-career hairline – battling the horribly insolent Simon Gruber (Jeremy Irons) in a woefully contrived game of Simon Says.
When it began to cause aneurysms Die Hard 4.0: McLane was a 52-year-old Willis – he of the luminous-as-the-Twentieth Century Fox-marquee bald pate – battling an alarmingly anaemic Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant), whose evil designs included such ghastly capers as remotely accessing the computer network of a power station. This begs the question: will the franchise finale bear the title Die Hard with Obamacare, in which a 65-year-old Wills rails against Obama’s nefarious plans to foist government-approved private health insurance plans on the whole of geriatric America?
By SF Balki on July 20 2012 7.06am