|Animated sequels have long been in effect - some for good, some for bad. Here's the five that should|
We live in a world where sequels are an inevitability; if a film does quite well at the box office, it's general practice that it'll get a sequel, hence why we're at the stage where we hear chatter about 22 Jump Street, Independence Day sequels and more (you know Warner Bros. begged Christopher Nolan for an Inception sequel). More topically, we have animated sequels, prequels and spin-offs coming out the wahzoo: Monsters University, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, Despicable Me 2 and the Cars spin-off Planes are all due this year alone, with films like How to Train Your Dragon 2, Hotel Transylvania 2, Rio 2 and Finding Dory in the pipeline for the next few years.
Things don't always pan out exactly as we'd like them to, though, and we end up with The Smurfs 2 and Shrek 4, while films like The Pirates! languish alone. As such, I've compiled a list. A list of the animated films that should have a follow up, but in which the studios just don't seem interested. And yes, The Incredibles 2 is unsurprisingly on there.
So, in no particular order...
The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists
Or The Pirates! Band of Misfits, because apparently Americans don't like scientists. A film that, despite being received to much acclaim, has been largely, sadly overlooked; The Pirates! received very few awards nominations last year - even being snubbed by its own countrymen for the BAFTAs - but did snag an Oscar nom. for Best Animated Film. That itself should be indicative of the film's quality. But, sadly, the film's less than stellar box office returns mean a sequel hasn't been greenlit - as much as Aardman would like one.
The film's quirky humour and irreverent, history-flaunting escapades were tremendous fun and it was great to see Aardman back to making stop-motion films after two CG outings. The film was based on the book of the same name by Gideon Defoe, which is just the first in a long series, so there's plenty of source material to draw from. In fact, when I interviewed the film's director Peter Lord almost exactly a year ago, he said, of a sequel, "We’ve got the story, all we need now is the backing." Sadly that backing never materialised.
The director wants it, we animation fans want it, so what's the problem? Box office returns, I imagine. So, spread the word, introduce the film to your friends, make this a cult hit and a few years down the line, who knows, in the same way Firefly got a film and Arrested Development arose again, we may be talking the further adventures of this ragtag band of misfits.
The one everyone's been clamouring for since 2004. Many took the ending of the first film itself as a set-up for a sequel (rather than just a nod to the perpetual nature of Saturday serials from which it was partly inspired). Brad Bird has been teasing us for years that the film would happen, if and when - and only if and when - he had all the pieces in place. But the years have gone by and that's just never happened, meanwhile the director has moved into live action with Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol and his currently-in development Tomorrowland.
He's been teasing us again more recently, though, speaking to The Hollywood Reporter and saying that he most certainly has "been thinking about it," adding "I love those characters and love that world. I am stroking my chin and scratching my head. I have many, many elements that I think would work really well in another [Incredibles] film, and if I can get ‘em to click all together, I would probably wanna do that." So all hope isn't gone just yet, and whether it takes up shortly after the first film like the upcoming Finding Dory will, or whether it moves in real-time and explores the family a decade on, like Toy Story 3 did, we'll be happy to see whatever we can get.
The point has been raised that, even more so than when the original film was released, superhero films are most definitely in right now. Fellow Disney-owned studio Marvel are raking in billions of dollars a year with their Avengers-based films, Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy has been and gone, we've got X-Men, Justice League and Fantastic Four films still coming; studios are rolling in money while delighted fans flock to the cinema. But it won't last forever, the bubble has to burst sometime, and we'd hate for that eventual decline in superactivity to be the reason we don't see more Parr family antics.
Rise of the Guardians
The name itself, Rise of the Guardians, lends to being the start of a franchise. Fight of the Guardians or Battle of the Guardians or something to follow seems only logical. In fact, that was indeed the plan. Director Peter Ramsey and executive producer William Joyce hadn't been shy about talking about the film as the start of a franchise. Unfortunately, the film's disappointing box office returns - attributed to a combination of not-great advertising and hefty competition from Skyfall and Breaking Dawn, Part 2 - meant the film resulted in a multi-million dollar write-off for DreamWorks, effectively scuppering sequel talk for a while.
The film has drawn many a comparison to Marvel's The Avengers, and I feel that's indicative of why this film should continue to a franchise. Rise of the Guardians takes a group of characters - icons, really - that we're familiar with, some that we've been aware of our entire lives, ones particularly important and magical to the children of the world, and it makes them dramatically interesting. Santa was tough and quirky, The Easter Bunny was badass, Jack Frost was angsty and a little dreamy: these characters are an interesting team that we want to see more of. The first film was emotionally rewarding for most of the character arcs it established, but there is still so much more left to explore with these characters. Rise of the Guardians certainly doesn't feel like an end to their story.
The first film was daring (a little too much maybe, the director has since acknowledged): not clichéd, dark in places and really an ensemble piece. It's a different beast to what DreamWorks usually does, and that's an avenue the studio seemed very keen to explore. Joyce recently said he was "in talks" about a sequel, adding "there is something that we are proposing that we hope they will want to do." Let's just hope that DreamWorks are willing to take one more chance on these characters.
A Bug's Life
Not a popular opinion, I'm aware, but this is actually the Pixar sequel I'm most interested in seeing. A Bug's Life is a fantastic film - one of the hallmarks of my childhood - but it's fallen out of focus. While Pixar films like Finding Nemo and Ratatouille continue to get praise to this day, it's far rarer that you'll hear people talking about A Bug's Life. Not because it's a bad film (it's seen as one of the studio's less magnificent entries, sure, but it's still revered compared to, say, the Cars films), but because it's dwarfed by its surroundings: being enclosed by two Toy Story films isn't an enviable position to be in.
A Bug's Life was a very important film for the Emeryville studio, their second feature and their first chance to prove they weren't a one-hit wonder (obviously now the concept of someone thinking Pixar might be a one-hit wonder is laughable, but this was way back in the 90s). The film went down well and managed to swat off its battle with DreamWorks' Antz, but it didn't linger in the public consciousness in the same influential way that Toy Story did. Pixar have moved away from the film, and as we get sequels to classics like Finding Nemo and Monsters, Inc., as we get short films continuing the legacy of Cars and Toy Story, A Bug's Life just sits there.
It's my sincerest belief that the original film contains some of Pixar's most wonderful characters: a great protagonist, their first actual princess, great side characters and a truly scary villain. This all seems fertile ground for more great insect adventures. However, the fact that it's one of their less beloved properties, coupled with some significant members of the original voice cast (including the great Pixarian Joe Ranft) having sadly passed since 1998, means that A Bug's Life 2 is really just a pint-sized pipe dream...
Winnie the Pooh
Okay, not a traditional sequel maybe, but I'm very keen and very eager to see Disney release another traditionally animated Winnie the Pooh feature film in the near future. The 2011 film was rather slight at just 63 minutes and was rather loosely connected too, but was regardless one of the sweetest, most earnest and most nostalgically innocent films of the year. Let's not forget, Disney is largely renowned as a creator of magical childhood moments, and Winnie the Pooh fully transported me back to mine. A pretty great quality for a film to have, I'd say.
The film for some bizarrely stupid reason was placed against Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 in America, so didn't hit big. In fact, it seems the studio has all but forgotten about the charming little film, as UK Blu-ray copies of Wreck-It Ralph, Disney's 52nd animated feature, label it as 51, as though Winnie the Pooh never even happened.
Disney, though, have a long history with Pooh, and have proved consistently capable of creating interesting, resonant stories around the Hundred Acre Wood and its inhabitants, and it would be a real shame to see them stay away from that. Factor in the fact that, with hand drawn animation at Disney in rapid decline, a traditional-sensibilities Winnie the Pooh film could well be the perfect anecdote to higher stakes computer animated fare.
Honourable mentions go to DreamWorks' Monsters vs. Aliens - a film I thoroughly enjoyed a lot more than I expected to and would actually love to see a sequel to - and The Simpsons Movie - a massive achievement for a hallmark of television that was so well handled I'd love to see another.
It's worth noting, though, that the studios don't always get it wrong, and DreamWorks' continuation of Kung Fu Panda sequels is something I fully endorse. Plus, it just so happens that Pixar's first sequel is my favourite film of all time, so, for all the cries of Pixar going sequel crazy (although recent news may allay that slightly), I'll reserve my panic until they put out a bad one.
Which animated sequels would you love to see? And which could you do with a bit less of?