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The long awaited film Prometheus, the pseudo-prequel to the beloved sci-fi horror movie Alien, is finally in theaters and making a good bit of money. This got us PAMers thinking, what movies and movie franchises known for creating vivid or memorable universes would we like to see revisited or expanded? We each chose one franchise we (or possible franchise) we’d like to see explored once again and provided our own ideas for such an expansion.
John’s Pick: The “Bond” Series
The character James Bond a.k.a. 007 a.k.a. the man with the license to kill has built a career on taking down evil masterminds hell-bent on world domination. Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony, as the man has amassed enough cultural significance that he could perhaps take over the world himself.
Bond has been immortalized on film for more than 50 years and a stunning 22 movies. He was born on the page, of course, and five different authors have written dozens of James Bond adventures over the years. His video games are the stuff of legend either; there isn’t a person between the ages of 18 and 30 who didn’t obsess for at least a short while over the old N64 edition of Goldeneye.
But what do we know about this guy? Devotees, of course, know about his parents and his history in the military, but maybe it’s finally time a “Young James Bond” movie sees the light of day. And what about the gaming world? A few years ago, EA released a video game version of From Russia with Love, the second 007 feature dating all the way back to 1963. How about a Goldfinger game? Or The Spy Who Loved Me? I’m sure Roger Moore would be game …
As for the movies themselves, we’ve seen so much about Bond’s love life, his penchant for baccarat and martinis, and with the Craig movies, how he started at MI6. For Skyfall (and the movies that follow), let’s bring back Q and Moneypenny so we can see where they fit into his history. Maybe even expand a little on Bond’s relationship with Felix Leiter. With so much material out there, the possibilities for expanding the Bond universe seem infinite.
Julian’s Pick: Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, the first animated feature to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture, was a staple of my childhood, and unlike many other films with which I grew up, it remains a favorite of mine to this day. The beautiful story of love between the Beast and fair maiden Belle, enchanting music composed by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, and subtle twist on the typical fairy tale function all give it an intrinsic value that most other animated musicals could never have.
Beauty and the Beast spawned several straight-to-video films that predictably didn’t live up to their predecessor. Another expansion of this universe would likely bring similar disappointment. However, if it were up to me, taking a glimpse at this world would mean going back before the narrative actually began. Its prologue mentions the Beast’s years spent in despair waiting for the one to break his spell. Maybe it’s just my attachment to the original film that’s doing the talking here, but a movie focusing on the Beast’s life before he meets Belle seems like it could make for a very interesting venture.
Kieran’s Pick: Star Wars
Star Wars is an obvious candidate for an expanded cinematic universe because there is so much potential with the series. Many writers and developers have played with the Star Wars franchise with novels, comics, computer games, the “Clone Wars” TV series and many DVD specials. LucasArts makes a point of keeping the continuity of everything that has been written, even if it is not so advisable, i.e. The Star Wars Holiday Special.
There is a whole galaxy to explore with Star Wars and its many planets, races, cultures, political situations and factions to look at. There is so much history that could created for the series and Star Wars is able to provide a great mix of sci fi, fantasy and mythology. The world created is so vast which is why writers are drawn to it.
There are many avenues of exploration for filmmakers to go with the series. The trailers for Star Wars: The Old Republic MMORG were epic and could have been the great basis for a movie itself. A prequel before the events of the movies can be a route to go, explore previous wars between the Jedi and Sith as the balance between good and evil shifts, how the force was discovered, used and evolved or how the galaxy developed. Or the other way to go would be a look into the future after the events as the Jedi rebuild with limited knowledge or how would the galaxy deal a new threat when there are no Jedis left. There is also the possibility to explore other forms of good and evil outside the use and influence of the force.
Whatever happens, if the universe is expanded upon, a new generation of filmmakers and writers could take over the series. George Lucas needs to step back, and his planned retirement is hopefully the first step.
Max’s Pick: Resident Evil
No offense to the lovely Milla Jovovich, but her character Alice (the heroine of all “Resident Evil” films) just gets less and less interesting as she goes along. Considering Alice is an original creation for the films, can anyone explain why we haven’t drawn on the already well-established “Resident Evil” universe, including comics, novels and of course, the series of games that have come out since 1996? The “Evil” movies have already incorporated a number of these elements and characters, but often they’re tacked on with little to no consequence and Alice is always the most important part.
I say drop her. Reboot the series. The best thing about the “Resident Evil” series is how its themes have evolved from basic survival horror to include espionage and bombastic action (see Resident Evil 5). Expand on the history of the Spencer and Ashford clans, which are the two families who would create the Umbrella Corporation; give more screen presence to the series original, classic heroes, including Leon S. Kennedy, Claire/Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine; and for crying out loud, make Wesker a real, awesome threat. He’s one of the best villains in gaming. You don’t just throw him away like he was in “Afterlife.” The series is one of the best in terms of survival horror and fantastic, over-the-top spectacle. There’s no reason it should be reduced to the B-level status that the films have made it to be.
Sam’s Pick: Inception
Ok, so maybe it’s a little (or really) hypocritical to praise a movie for being the kind of original, thought-provoking work you never see in sequel/prequel/remake driven Hollywood and then go and ask for a second serving, but the world all but demands further exploration of the world of Inception. Nolan’s dream-heist caper moves at such a breathless pace that the elements surrounding all the various mechanics are mostly just teased, implying a rich and textured world without ever having to explicitly explain it.
Take, for instance, the Inception program itself. We’re told that the process of shared dreaming was first developed as a form of military training but has been discarded by the government, or did it just find new life as a form of corporate espionage? Speaking of which, the Cobalt Corporation seems to be at the forefront of dream invasion, but their mysterious motives and unscrupulous methods are never fully addressed. What kind of a state must the world be in when our heroes are working at the behest of a CEO who’s only slightly less shady than his target?
More interestingly, it’s the characters that give the impression of deep, detailed histories that you begin to craft in your head from just a few tossed off lines. Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) have worked together long enough to develop a whole playbook of dream-theft techniques (like the Mr. Charles gambit that once failed spectacularly), but what drew them to the business in the first place? Dom in particular seems to a have a sordid history with the program, as hinted at by his cryptic mentor Miles (Michael Caine).
Then there are questions about what makes Eames (Tom Hardy) so good at “forging” objects and personalities within dreams, what’s going on in Yusuf’s dream-sharing clinic and the time Dom and Mal (Marion Cotillard) spent together exploring dream space, the list is almost endless. Considering the subject matter, the world of Inception is only limited by what it is you can dream of.
Simon’s Pick: The Tarantino Universe
To the casual Quentin Tarantino fan, it could very likely be news just how connected his movies really are – it’s like a blood-splattered family tree. You can call food for nerds if you like, but I personally can’t help but be intrigued in the intertwining universe of Tarantino.
As you likely recall, John Travolta’s character in Pulp Fiction goes by the name Vincent Vega and not coincidently shares the same last name as Vic Vega (i.e. Mr. Blonde) who was played by Michael Madsen in Reservoir Dogs. Yup, they’re brothers (boy, their parents must have done something wrong).
Furthermore, Mr. White (Harvey Keitel) from Reservoir Dogs stated he worked with a lady named Alabama, who just so happens to be hooker Alabama Whitman (Patricia Arquette) from True Romance, for which Tarantino wrote the screenplay. And in recent news, it was revealed that “The Bear Jew” Sgt. Donny Donowitz is the father of Lee Donowitz, the crooked film producer from True Romance.
Toss in the perpetually appearing brands like Red Apple Cigarettes and Big Kahuna Burger (as seen in Pulp Fiction and Death Proof among others) and its all one big swirling mass of awesome. Oh, and if you wondering about Kill Bill and From Dusk ‘Til Dawn? Tarantino has gone on record saying those films are part of his “movie universe” (or what Mia Wallace would go see on the weekend when not snorting coke).
But wait! What about Jackie Brown? Ahhh, well I have a hunch that one (or multiple) characters from the upcoming Django Unchained will have a role to play in setting up that particular tale. There are so many interesting characters (many of which have only fleeting scenes to make an impact) but that doesn’t mean they are any less worthy of extended exposure.
Who wouldn’t want to see a film about the day-to-day life of Jimmie Dimmick and his wife Bonnie, culminating in the arrival of Vincent and Jules with a faceless corpse? Or how about a pseudo-sequel about what really happened to Mr. Pink after fleeing the warehouse at the end of Reservoir Dogs? Hell, why not see if Butch and Fabienne really were able to ride off into the sunset on Z’s motorcycle—I mean chopper.
And let us not forget the “Vega Brothers” project that QT proposed before making Inglorious Basterds, which would have both brothers together in the much-rumored Kill Bill sequel.
Few filmmakers would even consider linking their movies into the same cinematic world, especially when dealing with subject matter varying from robbers to WWII Nazi-hunters. But as most of us are aware, Tarantino is far from your average auteur and though I always look forward to his next fresh product, a dip into the past isn’t necessarily a bad thing in this case.
Steven’s Pick: The Terminator
The “Terminator” franchise has had one of the more troubled paths since its inception in the early ’80s as both Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and Terminator Salvation failed to kickstart the franchise this side of the century line despite studio and audience hunger for mega-franchises and familiar properties. The series rights jumping trains hobo style does not help either. So how to remedy the situation? Call me a blasphemer, but it’s time to say goodbye to Sarah and John Connor.
One of the franchise’s most underrated strengths is the world James Cameron created in just those brief clips in the original Terminator. We saw a glimpse of that future in “Salvation” but the story was too preoccupied with the Connor family story line. The history with Skynet and the rise of the machines is an apocalyptic tale that studios have been eating up these days (Robopocalypse is basically a “Terminator” riff, is it not?), so let’s use that concept and tell another story in the “Terminator” universe. An origin story akin to Rise of the Planet of the Apes could be extremely effective and would keep the aesthetic and language so synonymously identified with this franchise that should’ve never veered off.