Let's stop and think about all of this Prometheus sequel business. And while we've stopped, let's ponder about the long-gestating Independence Day sequel that's finally moving forward. Are you thinking? Good. Now, answer this question: do we really need a sequel to either film? More importantly: does anyone want sequels to them?
Let's start with Prometheus, a film that's been the subject of this column so often that it really doesn't need an introduction. We all know it's fascinating but flawed. We all know it's a collection of incredible questions that are simply left to linger and stagnate by the limp conclusion. We all know it's one of the best-looking films of all time but has a tin ear for character development. It's a mixed bag, a film that a few hate, a few love and many are completely ambivalent toward. Although Prometheus ended with a minor cliffhanger, it's tough to imagine a sequel making creative or commercial sense -- does anyone want to play in this half-baked playground? Will the audiences who barely made it a minor hit come back a second time?
A Bloody Disgusting report paints an ugly picture of the Prometheus sequel development, with Fox scrambling to find new writers after screenwriter Damon Lindelof jumped ship, taking his plans for an expansive trilogy (that may or may not have paid off the many dangling threads of the first film) with him. For his part, Lindelof told Slashfilm that the studio had trilogy plans long before he came aboard, so his not writing the sequels isn't the root of its problems. Whatever the case, it's a telling portrait of the modern film industry: Fox is performing a desperate search for someone to rescue a stalled franchise rather than look for new, fresh sci-fi ideas. It's a little sad, not too surprising, and only makes me dread what the inevitable Prometheus 2 will look like when Fox gets desperate enough.
While Fox is in a mad rush to get a Prometheus sequel off the ground, it has taken its sweet time with a follow-up to the 1996 hit Independence Day. Director Roland Emmerich has begun beating the sequel drum during press for the upcoming White House Down, announcing that he's making not one, but two sequels to his alien-invasion blockbuster and that they'll be called ID Forever Part 1 and ID Forever Part 2, which may seriously be two of the worst titles ever conceived. Unlike Prometheus, there's a plan in place: the sequels will take place 20 years after the events of the first film and will follow the children of main characters (because Will Smith is expensive) as they prepare for an alien counterattack by utilizing extraterestrial technology.
At the risk of being Mr. Negativity, I find myself nonplussed for an Independence Day sequel for a completely different reason than a Prometheus sequel. The first Independence Day was made at a time when a smash hit blockbuster wasn't always the start of a franchise. It's no masterpiece -- it's silly and pretty dumb -- but it feels complete in a way that most modern summer movies don't. It doesn't feel like it's the start of a trilogy. It doesn't feel like there are an unanswered questions. Independence Day may be a goofy popcorn movie, but it's a complete package that says everything it wants to say and does everything it wants to do in two and a half hours and calls it a day. It's not that there can't be a sequel... it's that a sequel would feel about as important to the first film as a second belly button.
When these sequels hit (and it's a matter of when, not if), I hope to be pleasantly surprised. I hope Prometheus 2 fixes its damaged and frustrating universe. I hope ID Forever (shudder) finds new and exciting things to blow up. I hope they can be satisfying… but I also think I'd rather watch something fresh and new and not built to be a chapter in a big franchise.