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Home > Film

Sequels that are Ruined by the Involvement of Nauseating Child Actors

By Robin Ince.

8 May 2003

The first two Mad Max films, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Robocop, the first trilogy of Star Wars films - all great movies (oh, except Return of the Jedi) - then what happens? Foul nauseating, streetsmart kids, that's what. Herded into the frame in a desperate bid to find both a new demographic and a bigger percentage in the lucrative - parts that will choke children to horrible blue faced death - toy market.

Mad Max was a low budget Australian road movie that was so good that the US distributors felt inclined to splash out and redub it into American (so we could understand it, like the distributors who liked The Long Good Friday so much they had Bob Hoskins dubbed by an incomprehensible brummie actor, until Bob complained and they returned to his gutteral anger).

Mad Max 2 was bigger, faster gorier and even more exciting, certainly worthy of being considered a Sergei Leone Spaghetti plate on burnt rubber - then, nothing could go wrong, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, faster cars, weirder villains and loads of pig shit reigned over by a dwarf, how could it go wrong? Third reel, Max meets some cute but muddy kids and they go on a journey, and so the rest of the film goes flushed into a desert of sewage.

Robocop is slightly different, number 1 is Paul Verhoeven's finest moment, a sick, dark look into the future with flashy sensibilities and a satirical edge (so satirical that ruddy-faced, corpulent avant garde terror Ken Russell pronounced it his favourite film of the year whilst looking coiffured Melvin Bragg right in the eye), Robocop 2 was frankly useless, but then Robocop 3 added a kid boffin - and so a franchise of cartoons, stickers and lunchboxes was launched on the back of the lame kid character. Robocop's ignominious death as a cult figure and birth as a money spinner was complete.

Everyone knows how useless the kid in Phantom Menace is so there is little need to dwell on that - mind you, I think it is safe to say that George Lucas was busier working out what planets and 'ethnic' aliens he could make with his computer than acting ability. "Was that OK George?" says Liam Neeson. "What?" says George, "I don't know, I've just come up with a new big dragon planet on my huge computer, and who are you anyway? Where's my best mate Dave Prowse and who's just trodden on Kenny Baker?"

So, the lesson is this: once the kids are let out to mix with the psychotics, the film company is making plenty cash. Mind you, Oliver never had a proper sequel, I think I might write to Jack Wild.




Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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