Sequels generally underwhelm. Perhaps the audience brings too many expectations to the second round of a good thing. Or more likely, try to flog another quart of milk from the sacred cow. In any case sequels tend to be more The Hangover 2 than Terminator 2.
This week Taken 2 hits the screen at Whistler's Village 8 and gets off on the wrong foot as one of those sequels where the same thing happens to the same dude, with the same bad guys running the show. Where Taken was a slick and violent action hit, thanks to Liam Neeson bringing all kinds of pain and torture, this one seems to have been castrated by the studio and cut to appeal to a younger audience (PG rated?!). Critical consensus is that the violence was filmed then edited out and so the movie, not great to begin with, barely even makes sense. Wait for the Director's Cut.
Also opening this week, Frankenweenie is Tim Burton's stop-motion, boy-and-his-dog take on the Frankenstein's monster legend. Filmed in glorious black and white, Frankenweenie is full of nods to the classic monster movies Burton loves and overall is a solid children's Halloween flick. It wanders aimlessly a bit and the humour is not as Scissorhands-sharp as longtime Burton fans might expect, but it's still good holiday fun.
And now the good news: Word is that the Village 8 is receiving new digital projectors due to a partnership between Metropolitan Theatres and Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corporation. That's right, we're growin' up. Which is awesome because digital is the new Hollywood standard.
Someone decided 35mm is finished and the future is the pixel. There are even reports of studios donating/unloading their entire 35mm film libraries to universities or withholding prints of older films to "encourage" theatres to fall in line and make the switch. The danger here is that there will be old films that don't get transferred to digital and could be lost forever (like when VHS went obsolete and it took 15years for anyone to bother releasing BasketCase on DVD.)
While it should be easier for the Village 8 to get all different types of films now, digital especially makes sense for Hollywood. A download costs nothing compared to shipping thousands of 24-pound, two-reel film canisters around the continent. Also, as has happened, if a file is damaged and the movie won't play theatres can just download a new copy on the spot.
Some worry that digital, by nature, is ever changing and this will lead to continuous upgrades and new formats. Wary consumers remember repurchasing their favourite movies on VHS, Lazer Disc, DVD, BlueRay and now digital. From video games to music to movies, technology has given us new formats every couple of years as well as the consumer electronic gadgets to play them on (plus a mobile one, plus one in your car). Consumer technology is a huge cash-grab, but this is not consumer.
Metropolitan and Cinedigm are throwing up 84 new projectors (at $100K a pop) and Internet experts predict 80 per cent of the world will be projecting digital by the end of this year.
People that spend that kind of money don't do it lightly and when new technology or an incompatible format arises, they'll squash it (or buy it and sit on it). These people are the professionals – shit changes when they decide it does.
Digital, it seems, is cinema's biggest sequel yet and will play an essential part of keeping the stories going.