Now as this is a phrase that I first used in my X-Men: The Last Stand review and it is a phrase that I like so I will continue to use, therefore I feel I should probably explain exactly what it means.
I use this term to describe those film series or trilogies that have had well done entries before, indeed there may be series that often had superior sequels to excellent original movies. However, it seems to be the trend that trilogies just run out of steam by their third entry, and whilst this is a common trend it is quite puzzling.
I mean think about it, by a third film, the main cast have often either left the film series because they don’t see any point in continuing or see no purpose to their character reappearing so why make a third film at all. Or alternatively, if the majority of the cast sign up to do multiple films so are contracted to return but you get the feeling that they are just going through the motions because they are contracted to do so again why make another film for the sake of it??
I don’t intend to talk about a single film here but to touch on a few examples instead.
My former point in a previous paragraph about very few of the original actors returning surely means that they either don’t see any reason to return or that their character’s story arc has come to an end so there is no need for another story to be told….Here’s an example of what I am talking about
In Beverly Hills Cop 3 Eddie Murphy and Judge Reinhold are the only two characters to reprise their roles from the previous film whereas in Beverly Hills Cop 2 both of them as well as Ronnie Cox and John Ashton returned from the original film. The story is lacklustre and unlike previous entries in which Axel ends up in Beverly Hills originally to find the murderer of his friend and then to investigate the attempted murder of another close friend, here, he finds a towel in the briefcase of someone who murders his boss and is in Beverly Hills within a few minutes of the film opening. There is almost no build-up, he is in Detroit, and then heads straight to California. Characters that we have grown to care about are reduced to parodies of themselves and Axel Foley goes from being a smooth-talking street cop to something resembling a superhero when he jumps across a ride to rescue two children.
Blade Trinity also adopts this approach, Wesley Snipes returns to portray Blade and whilst Kris Kristofferson is on hand to play Whistler, he gets killed off again for no real reason, other than presumably as he didn’t want to be in the film anymore.
Terminator 3 was meant to star Linda Hamilton as Sarah Conner but she was to get killed off during the film but no time was to be taken dealing with her death so she declined to reprise the role and the character of Sarah Conner was instead killed off between films.
Things can go the other way, with studios so convinced that films will be successful that they sign actors for numerous films which means that by the third instalment you would think that they would be well suited to their character, and would be looking to explore their world even more, but nope, you get half hearted film series in which the actors just seem to be going through the motions. Look at Spiderman 3 it had so much potential to be great, but it was royally screwed by trying to do too much, multiple enemies, none of which get enough screen time. Old ideas are rehashed. Nothing is added to the story, the characters are in the same place they were at the beginning, or alternatively characters are pointlessly killed off just to end story arcs that weren’t really going anywhere anyway.
In the case of both types of films mentioned above you have to ask what is the point of them??
How do they develop the stories of the characters we have seen up to this film and why kill off characters that the audience have become fond of for no reason other than to give our hero a contrived reason to revisit old locations and familiar faces from the past??
There is another option to the two above, and that being that the third film essentially exists to take the piss out of the entire franchise. I know I have mentioned it before but Terminator 3 is sometimes painful, to have the Terminator, one of the most iconic creations in cinema history resorted to well, THIS…
I mean - Why??
Why do this to one of the best characters in cinema history, indeed why do this in the sequel to one of the greatest action films of all time??
Like Blade Trinity which included Ryan Reynolds being Ryan Reynolds which is something I am usually a big fan of. He is very funny in things like the opening sequence of X-Men Origins: Wolverine because he apparently goes on to be Deadpool who is a wise-cracking smart ass or as the tongue-in-cheek superhero Green Lantern. I laughed most of the way through Blade Trinity at his portrayal of vampire hunter Hannibal King, but once I had seen it again and wasn’t laughing I realised how poor an effort the film really was. Wesley Snipes just looks bored to be playing Blade again, and everyone with the exception of Ryan Reynolds and Jessica Biel exist to get killed in order to raise the stakes for the finale.
I think the films at the greatest risk of Tired Trinity Syndrome are the ones that have the most amount of potential, Alien3 could have taken the audience almost anywhere but we got a heap of lazy shit that killed off every decent character from Aliens. Or X-Men The Last Stand that could have been truly epic considering how many mutants exist in that world but fell flat because no-one could be arsed to come up with a descent story that expanded on the established world or returning characters.
These are lazy efforts and seemingly exist just to wring more money out of a fan base that the first two films have built.
Admittedly some films are able to recover from this syndrome and deliver better instalments in later films, X-Men: First Class is an example of this. However, tired and lazy entries to film series are becoming increasingly common and it really makes no sense. So many second films have left the door open for great sequels but it seems to be a rarity that films makers still respect the material by the third film…the actors do it for the pay check not because they love playing the characters that may have made them famous in the first place.
How does the idea of having Venom, fucking Venom, in Spiderman 3 miss the point so much??
Killing off Hicks and Newt at the beginning of Alien3 – when Hicks could have continued the fight against the aliens leaving Ripley to live happily ever after or at least sit out a film or two??
Shrek wanting nothing more to go back to his swamp in Shrek 3 so we get a half-assed story in which he goes off to find King Arthur, and as we go there is none of the colour, the music, or the imagination that made the first 2 Shrek films so enjoyable.
I ask you - How hard is it to make a descent third film??
Why do we get dull, boring, tedious and plots that seem to be all over the place like Spiderman 3, X-Men: The Last Stand, Blade Trinity, Beverly Hills Cop 3, Shrek 3 and Alien3 when other film series do take the time to make their third films great fun and as enjoyable as the first and second instalments??
Back to the Future 3, Ice Age 3, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade are literally the only examples that I can think of that do not drop the ball in the third film.
I am sitting here looking at the human film archive (which I have illegally downloaded) and from where I am sitting at my flight console I can see Pirates of the Caribbean, The Matrix Trilogy, the Hellraiser films, Beverly Hills Cop, the Ice Age films, the Shrek Trilogy and the Naked Gun Trilogy.
Look at this list and ask yourself how many of them delivered a third instalment that was still entertaining, fresh, original, and gave you something that you hadn’t seen before??
I am not saying that every film sequel needs to be ground breaking but all I am asking film makers is to think before you go crashing in to make a third film. Consider the audience, consider the material, think about the worlds that has been created by the first 2 films and ask yourself (or better yet ask fans) where do we want to see these characters going?? How do we want to see these characters evolving?? But most of all ask – what is the point of this film and how is it going to add the world that has already been established???
If these very simple questions cannot be answered then DON'T make a third film
Is Ice Age 3 an epic and ground breaking film?? Hell no, but it gave us the character of Buck (voiced by Simon Pegg) and it is Buck and Buck alone that makes this film for me, and is the reason why this is my favourite of the Ice Age films.
The Nazis in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade are formidable and easily more interesting that the villains we saw in the first film and again it is why the third Indiana Jones film is my personal favourite.
So when I talk about Tired Trinity Syndrome, the above is what I am talking about, I am talking about a third film that basically offers the audience nothing new, nothing original, and essentially just has the same characters doing the same thing or worse previous cast members that don’t even bother to return to the proceedings because even they don’t think the films is a good idea.
I hate that this has become a trend and that I have had to give it a name.