Sick of Reboots, Sequels, and Extended Universes? Blame Classic Literature

We find ourselves in the midst of another summer and with it, an endless brigade of sequels, prequels, reboots, requels, and the ongoing march of extended cinematic universes. A new Mummy. A fifth Transformers. A new Baywatch. A third installment in the third imagining of Planet of the Apes. A third actor playing Spider-Man in the last decade. A sequel to the Alien prequel. Another damn King Arthur. Another three Marvel shows on Netflix springing up for every new Marvel film, perpetual menaces likes heads of the hydra.

cruise-mummy
The Mummy we deserve

And while the tastemakers and critics bemoan this ongoing onslaught of tired ideas and bloated franchises, it’s worth pausing and reminding ourselves that there is nothing novel about this. This lack of new ideas is not new. Sure, 2017 is bloated with stories and characters lacking originality, but so was 2016, 2007, 1997, and 1597.

If you’re really looking for someone to blame for these endless reboots and expanding cinematic universes, it’s not Michael Bay or Vin Diesel. Blame the real culprits: William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, and all the other writers throughout history who did the same thing we’re seeing today on the screen.

So, dear reader, it’s time for you to sit back, hold your rebuttal until the end, and consider the following list of explaining how the current “lack of originality” is neither original, nor a problem.

Sequels Upon Sequels Upon Prequels Upon Sequels are Nothing New

Surely you’re familiar with The Three Musketeers, the swashbuckling adventure novel by Alexandre Dumas. Perhaps you’ve read it, or perhaps you’re seen one of its screen adaptations, of which there have been many.

3-musketeers
But where’s d’Artagnan?

But here are a few things you might not know about The Three Musketeers and Dumas:

  • The Three Musketeers has two sequels by Dumas, Twenty Years After and The Vicomte de Bragelonne.
  • The Vicomte de Bragelonne is often published as three different books instead of one as it’s extremely long, meaning that The Three Musketeers effectively has four sequels.
  • The third part of the third Three Musketeers book is the famous The Man in the Iron Mask.
  • All of these novels were originally published in serialized form, being released in installments over time. The Three Musketeers took four months to be released, much like a television show is released today.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo, another novel by Dumas, was originally serialized in 18 parts and ran for over two years.
  • When each of these novels were released in English, they were also serialized, often seeing competing versions and abridgments being released at the same time.

Of course, Dumas invented neither the sequel nor the serial. The following authors also followed their novels with sequels that followed the same characters and cashed in on the popularity:

  • Lewis Carroll, after releasing Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1865, followed it up with a sequel, Through the Looking Glass, six years later. He then wrote The Hunting of the Snark, an epic poem published in 1876 that features a few characters and creatures from Through the Looking Glass.
  • Leo Tolstoy might be famous of War and Peace and Anna Karenina, but his first published novel was Childhood, which launched him into popularity. He wrote two sequels to the novel, called Boyhood and Youth.
  • The famous novel we know today as Little Women by Louisa May Alcott was initially two different novels, called Little Women (1868) and its sequel, Good Wives (1869). Not stopping there, Alcott published another two sequels, Little Men and Jo’s Boys.
  • Sherlock Holmes might be one of the most ubiquitously adapted characters today, which certainly wouldn’t be the case if Sir Arthur Conan Doyle hadn’t cranked out sixty sequels to his 1887 success A Study in Scarlet.
  • Literary sequels to great works continued into the 20th century, including Joseph Heller writing a sequel to Catch-22 and Johns Cheever and Updike writing a few sequels of their own.

And of course, there is Mark Twain. But we are saving him for later in this list. Continue reading “Sick of Reboots, Sequels, and Extended Universes? Blame Classic Literature”

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Fourteen Ways to Celebrate Jeff Goldblum Day on October 22nd #JeffGoldblumDay

Everyone loves Jeff Goldblum. Or, if you don’t, you should. And what better way to celebrate Jeff Goldblum and the month of October than with Jeff Goldblum Day on October 22nd (which, depending on what day you’re reading this, is today!)

Why October 22nd? Because that’s his birthday, and now it’s his holiday. Why does Jeff Goldblum deserve a holiday? Why wouldn’t he?

And now, fourteen ways to celebrate Jeff Goldblum Day:

1. Watch The Fly

This, like many Goldblum films, exists between genres. The Fly, a remake of a classic, is a blend of horror and science fiction, a hybrid a la the titular character. Classic Goldblum.

Scary stuff.
Scary stuff.

Also, it’s directed by David Cronenberg.

(it’s available on HBO Go and HBO Now, for those of you who use such things).

2. Watch Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Okay, admittedly Goldblum isn’t the main character here, but it’s another terrifying remake of a sci-fi staple. One of the highlights is the bizarre, tense dynamic between Goldblum and Leonard Nemoy.

These guys!
These guys!

(Also, this one is easy. It’s on Netflix.)

3. Have a Wes Anderson and Jeff Goldblum double feature evening in which you watch The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and The Grand Budapest Hotel

What’s better than the scene where there’s a shootout and Goldblum’s character just stands there watching?

Couldn't find the scene I was referencing, so here's this one instead.
Couldn’t find the scene I was referencing, so here’s this one instead.

4. Watch Independence Day

Obviously. Always a good option. Whether it’s Independence Day, Jeff Goldblum Day, or any other day.

5. Watch The Big Chill

I’m not saying this movie is good. But for many people out there, it’s their first Jeff Goldblum memory.

6. Have a Jeff Goldblum Costume Contest

Always a fun time, and a good way to get ready for Halloween.

7. Have a Jeff Goldblum Trivia Contest

See this page for ideas.

8. Have a Jeff Goldblum Impression Contest

“I go visit her in high school and all the guys she goes to school with are, like, strong and handsome and really, like, funny and do good impressions of Jeff Goldblum and shit like that.”

-Dale Denton, Pineapple Express

Just don’t say this:

9. Watch Annie Hall and see if you can detect Jeff Goldblum during his brief scene.

It’s tough but pay attention and you’ll see him.

10. Watch Jeff Goldblum’s Tim and Eric videos.

These are weird. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. But they also prove how cool Jeff Goldblum really is.

11. Start a petition to have Jeff Goldblum in the next Jurassic World.

It shouldn’t be too hard to shoehorn him in. I’m not saying he should be the action hero, as we saw how that didn’t exactly work in The Lost World. But if he can provide both insights and comic relief like he did in the original, then it could only make it a better movie.

Yep, that's Vince Vaughn standing behind him.
Yep, that’s Vince Vaughn standing behind him.

12. Write a letter to Jeff Goldblum, thanking him for being in the upcoming Independence Day sequel.

You know who isn’t in it? Randy Quaid and Will Smith. But we don’t need those guys, because Goldblum is reprising his role of “unlikely hero.”

This guy.
This guy.

13. Watch any of his roles on various television shows, from Friends to Portlandia to Sesame Street.

You can start here:

14. Or, just start planning for the next Jeff Goldblum Day. You have a year.

Steeler James Harrison Should Only Be Paid for Games He Wins

Over the last few days, social media has drawn my attention to a topic that gets people heated: participation trophies for children. A few people have come out swinging, furious about the idea that a child should get a plaque or ribbon or medal or trophy for anything other than winning.

Steeler James Harrison reignited this conversation by putting a photo of some trophies on Instagram, telling the world he was going to throw them away, and hashtagging #harrisonfamilyvalues. He wants them to EARN their trophies, as he says.

If anyone thinks these are cool, I'll bet you can find them by digging throw James Harrison's local landfill.
If anyone thinks these are cool, I’ll bet you can find them by digging through James Harrison’s local landfill.

Okay. I’ll agree with Drew Margary and quite a few others with, as Margary says:

Now, here is my SUPER CONTROVERSIAL take on participant trophies: They’re fine. They are pointless and stupid, but actively harmless. A trophy is the party favor you get for paying a couple hundred bucks to join a league. It’s a souvenir. A memento.

I’ll also note, as I did during my Interstellar recap, that I don’t have children. But I think that there is a solution here that I would like to see: James Harrison needs to take this a step farther and define success. He needs to define what it means to “EARN a real trophy.” What is to earn? What is a real trophy? What is winning? What is success? Continue reading “Steeler James Harrison Should Only Be Paid for Games He Wins”

10 Things That Would Have Ruined Midnight in Paris

Do Not Read This Unless You’ve Seen Midnight in Paris.

Why?  Because this isn’t a review of Midnight in Paris.  It’s a recap of why I liked it so much, by categorically listing all the things that would have spoiled it for me.

Continue reading “10 Things That Would Have Ruined Midnight in Paris”