#312. Crossovers

Popular culture has created a lot of memorable characters over the years. Most of the time, these characters exist in their own, unique universes. However, every once in a while these universes are shown to be part of a larger, more complex universe. In combining these universes, the characters are allowed to cross over into the realms of other famous figures. Usually, these crossovers are possible because an overarching company owns the rights to the characters at large. From Marvel and DC’s respective cinematic universes to Disney’s Kingdom Hearts and Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. video game series, fans love to see their favorite characters interacting together. Even the Hannah-Barbara universe (which gave us The Flintstones meet The Jetsons (1987)) knew this back in the day. This week’s two films look at some character crossovers.

Van HelsingVan Helsing
Year: 2004
Rating: PG-13
Length: 131 minutes / 2.18 hours

During the first golden age of cinema in the 1930’s, Universal found success in bringing some of the world’s monsters to life. All the famous Halloween staples like Frankenstein (1931), Dracula (1931), The Mummy (1932), The Invisible Man (1933), and The Wolfman (1941) are part of the Universal Studios repertoire. It’s no wonder that these characters spawned numerous sequels and crossovers back in their time. Even today, films like Hotel Transylvania (2012) capitalize on their shared universe. Of course, while this animated film is more comedic, Universal brought out their monsters almost a decade earlier in the action-packed Van Helsing (2004), tying them all together via the titular character, who himself was based off the vampire hunter found in the Bram Stroker novel, Dracula. Of course, with the current popularity of cinematic universes, look for these monsters to be rebooted in the near future.

After Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) neutralized the threat of Mr. Hyde (Robbie Coltrane) in the bell tower of Notre-Dame Cathedral (likely also a reference to another famous hunchback), he is sent by the Vatican to Transylvania to kill Dracula (Richard Roxburgh). Intel they have received from Igor (Kevin J. O’Connor) informs them that Victor Frankenstein (Samuel West) is collaborating with Dracula to bring a horde of dead vampire children back to life. Upon finding Frankenstein’s monster (Shuler Hensley), Van Helsing learns that the reason Dracula’s experiment failed was due to the missing monster. The werewolf (Will Kemp), one of Dracula’s lackeys, also learns this information and runs off to tell his master where the reanimated monster has been hiding. Unbeknownst to Dracula, the Vatican has just learned how to defeat the immortal vampire and lets Van Helsing know before their final showdown.

The Brothers GrimmThe Brothers Grimm
Year: 2005
Rating: PG-13
Length: 118 minutes / 1.97 hours

Much like Shakespeare in Love (1998) revealed the fictional inspiration for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, The Brothers Grimm (2005) delves into a potential origin story for the famed fairytale founders. Both the TV shows Once Upon a Time and Grimm have taken the numerous Grimm fairytales and combined them into their own shared universes, the former of which did so via their Disney interpretations. Stories like Snow White (1937), Cinderella (1950), Sleeping Beauty (1959), and Rapunzel (via Tangled (2010)) all received their Disney treatment over the years. These films don’t even touch on Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, and Rumpelstiltskin, all of which reside within the same Grimm fairytale universe. With these stories in mind, seeing their potential origins in The Brothers Grimm helps to give an idea of the brothers’ inspirations.

Con artists Wilhelm (Matt Damon) and Jakob (Heath Ledger) Grimm soon find themselves out of their depth when they discover that an actual supernatural threat has been causing the girls of a remote village to disappear. An immortal Queen (Monica Bellucci) has been stealing the girls’ youth via an enchanted mirror. While she cannot leave the tall tower where she lives, a werewolf huntsman (Tomáš Hanák) does her bidding. In helping to rid the huntsman of his werewolf curse, Will becomes entrapped by the Queen’s magic, leaving Jake to shatter the magic mirror and releasing the youthful energy trapped within it. Even with the Queen defeated, the girls of the village remain trapped in a state of slumber. It’s up to Jake to kiss the last of the twelve girls in order to wake them all up and break the last piece of the curse. With the adventure over, the brothers mull over the idea of writing down their adventures.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 conglomerations of characters

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#311. Vampire Hunters

Of all the fictional monsters that have permeated our popular culture, vampires are both the hardest and easiest to kill. Their superhuman abilities already make them a formidable threat to the safety of the populace, but add to this their nigh-invulnerability to traditional weapons and now you have an undead monster that cannot be killed. Much like zombies, though, vampires have a few simple weaknesses that can make them easy to vanquish. Simple things like silver and sunlight can solve a vampire problem, much like fire and headshots clean up a zombie mess. That being said, even with these simple weapons at our disposal, vampires are cunning creatures and have ways to avoid being killed. This week’s two films focus on the vampire hunters who have been trained to dispatch vampires straight to hell.

                                           Abraham Lincoln: Vampire HunterAbraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Year: 2012
Rating: R
Length: 105 minutes / 1.75 hours

The nice thing about history not being all-inclusive is that certain ideas can be implied that help to explain away some of the lesser-known causes of world-changing events. Much like the National Treasure franchise links together moments from American history in an entertaining way, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012) takes the well-known history of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War and puts a vampiric twist on it. After all, if you have a character who has a nickname of “rail splitter,” then what better way to kill vampires than to decapitate them with a silver-bladed axe? It helps to have an understood lore of vampires in order to smoothly integrate it with an alternate view of history. After all, sometimes what we know about history and what we know about vampires can be combined into an interesting “what if” story.

Upon seeking revenge for the death of his mother, Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) discovers that her supposed poisoning was actually the effects of being bitten by a vampire. Said vampire, Jack Barts (Marton Csokas) nearly kills Lincoln, but is stopped by Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper). Sturgess sees potential in Lincoln and soon gives him the tools and skills necessary to dispatch a vampire like Barts. Years later, Lincoln finally kills Barts, but not before learning that Sturgess is also a vampire who was turned into this form by Adam (Rufus Sewell), the first vampire on American soil. Adam has set up his immortal kingdom in the southern states of the country, mostly because of the almost unlimited access to the blood of the slaves. After giving up the life of a vampire hunter, now President Lincoln sees the Civil War for what it really is and can now use it to eradicate vampires from his country.

Van HelsingVan Helsing
Year: 2004
Rating: PG-13
Length: 131 minutes / 2.18 hours

Most of what we know about vampires came from Bram Stoker’s gothic novel, Dracula. Not only did this book cover the powers of these blood-sucking beasts, but it also gave insight into how to kill them. The leading authority on vampire hunting from this book was none other than Abraham Van Helsing. His knowledge of how to take down vampires has made him the de facto and original vampire hunter. Consequently, the name Van Helsing is eponymous with vampire hunting, even if the characters based on him aren’t exactly the same as the one from the novel. Case in point, Gabriel Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) from the 2004 action film, Van Helsing, has a different origin story than Abraham Van Helsing, but still maintains his expert skill at dispatching vampires, as well as any number of paranormal creatures.

Employed by the Catholic church to hunt and kill monsters, Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) would be haunted by the deaths of many of these killings, were it not for his amnesia preventing him from remembering them. Upon his arrival back at the Vatican after dispatching Mr. Hyde (Robbie Coltrane), Van Helsing learns that his next mission is to take out Dracula (Richard Roxburgh), who has already partnered with Victor Frankenstein (Samuel West) to execute a nefarious scheme. Once in Transylvania, the minions of Dracula, including a werewolf and a number of vampire brides, hinder Van Helsing’s progress. Along the way, he finds Frankenstein’s monster (Shuler Hensley) and stays his killing strike once he learns the reanimated corpse isn’t evil. Because of his mercy, he learns of Dracula’s plan to reanimate an army of vampire children. Now it’s up to him to stop the plan and kill Dracula.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 vampire vanquishers

#307. Card Games

If you have a deck of cards, you can have endless hours of fun. There are numerous solitaire games you can play, but if you have a group of friends with you, there are even more games you can play with these 52 cards. Whenever I would go camping with the Boy Scouts, especially on longer trips like summer camp or to Philmont, we found the weight of a deck of cards could entertain us night after night in a variety of ways. Even though there are plenty of games that can be played with a deck of cards, a few have entered into the collective mindset of our popular culture, becoming almost ubiquitous in terms of the general populous immediately knowing the rules of play. Consequently, some of these games easily lend themselves to gambling, which in turn provides room for drama. This week’s two films feature card games as part of their plot.

MaverickMaverick
Year: 1994
Rating: PG
Length: 127 minutes /  2.11 hours

Some card games aren’t necessarily based on the luck of the draw. Take blackjack, for instance. In films like 21 (2008) or Rain Man (1988), we see that an in-depth knowledge of the cards that have been played, combined with a knowledge of which cards remain, can result in some solid outcomes with sizeable winnings. While the drama of these card games comes from trying not to get caught by the casino, the drama in card games like poker come with the people playing the game. While much of poker is determined by the luck of the draw, the human element of reading people’s reactions and being able to bluff effectively are what make this game a little more interesting. Of course, I’m speaking in the strictly theatrical sense of interesting, since most of the professional poker I’ve seen has been pretty boring.

Based on the television show of the same name, Maverick (1994) follows the eponymous Bret Maverick (Mel Gibson) as he sets out to prove that he can play five-card draw poker better than anyone else in the world. Unfortunately, the tournament he plans to enter has a hefty entrance fee, so he sets out to collect on some debts to make up the difference. Since he is not the only person in town who wants to enter the tournament, he soon runs across rival poker players, Angel (Alfred Molina) and Annabelle Bransford (Jodie Foster). While Angel has his reasons for keeping Maverick from playing in the tournament, Annabelle teams up with Maverick to “earn” enough money for both of them to enter via a con involving a Russian Grand Duke. Once the cards are dealt and the hands are played, four players remain, of which three of them are Angel, Bransford, and Maverick. Who will emerge as the victor?

Casino RoyaleCasino Royale
Year: 2006
Rating: PG-13
Length: 144 minutes / 2.4 hours

One of the problems with so many different types of card games is that inevitably there are some which are less well known, and thus much more difficult to find someone to play with. Of course, much of this has to do with the unyielding march of time. In the past, many card games were well known because it was all that people really had for in-home entertainment. With no internet, video games, or smartphones, these people learned how to fully use a deck of cards. This is why, when Casino Royale was first written by Sir Ian Fleming, the card game James Bond played was Baccarat, but when the film was rebooted in 2006, the film version of Casino Royal featured Texas hold ‘em poker, itself a variant of the poker featured in Maverick but used mostly due to its cultural popularity at the time the film was released.

Through a mission in Madagascar, James Bond (Daniel Craig) follows a trail of clues that leads him to the Bahamas and eventually Miami, where he foils a plot to destroy an airliner built by Skyfleet. Since this plot was meant to double the investment of black market financier, Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), Bond’s interference forces Le Chiffre to organize a high-stakes Texas hold ‘em tournament in Montenegro’s Casino Royale. MI6 sees this as an opportunity to capture Le Chiffre and obtain information about his creditors by bankrupting him through the game, which itself requires $10 million to even sit at the table. While Bond takes an early lead, he eventually loses everything and must scramble to find a new financier. Luckily for him, he gets an infusion of funds that he uses to win everything, but at the cost of his immediate safety as the action ramps up to an exciting conclusion.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 poker-based plots

#306. Based on TV

The rallying cry of fans of the TV series, Community was “Six seasons and a movie.” While playing to an established fan-base is a wise move for movie producers, sometimes striking a nostalgic chord with audiences is the better path to success. Sure, there have been plenty of movies based off of TV shows which have also featured the original cast, but sometimes a reinterpretation with modern actors gives the concept a fresh feel. That’s not to say that the movies based off of TV shows that feature the original cast (a la the Star Trek films before 2009) are bad, it’s just that an original take on the themes and motifs of the TV show makes the movie feel more like a standalone story, instead of just an extended TV episode. This week’s two films were based off of television shows but did not feature the shows’ original cast.

The A-TeamThe A-Team
Year: 2010
Rating: PG-13
Length: 117 minutes / 1.95 hours

Clearly, the wave of nostalgia for those people who grew up in the 1960’s and 1970’s is what has inundated Hollywood with the plethora of TV show adaptations. Starting around 2004, the trend to bring these television shows from the golden era of television has only continued. Films like Starsky & Hutch (2004), Bewitched (2005), and The Dukes of Hazzard (2005) all played as standard comedies, albeit updated to the comedic styles and tastes of the new millennium. A couple of years later, we saw these adaptations gain steam again with such films as Get Smart (2008), Land of the Lost (2009), and Dark Shadows (2012) leading the pack. Of course, none of these films were that great. Occasionally audiences would get a treat with such fantastic films like The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015), but these were rare. Most films were campy throwbacks, much like The A-Team (2010).

Acting as an origin story for the eponymous “A-Team”, this film modernizes the original premise behind the television show. “In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum-security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire… the A-Team.” Instead of taking place in 1972, these commandos were shown to be Army Ranger veterans from the Iraq war. Upon being framed for a botched mission involving U.S. Treasury plates, these four men set about to find the man behind their wrongful incarceration and manage to bring him to justice.

MaverickMaverick
Year: 1994
Rating: PG
Length: 127 minutes /  2.11 hours

Even before Hollywood began marketing on the nostalgia of comedic television shows, they had already adapted a few films to prove that the concept worked. What’s interesting about these earlier adaptations from TV was that they almost were able to maintain their own notoriety apart from the source material on which it was based. Films like The Fugitive (1993) earned Oscar nominations for Best Picture, whereas Mission: Impossible (1996) spawned a five-film franchise. Even newer adaptations like Star Trek (2009) have been able to cash in on the popularity of its fan-base, even if most of them don’t particularly care to be pandered to. Of course, there are also the television shows that haven’t remained nearly as relevant in popular culture, so few modern moviegoers will know that these films were even based on TV shows. One such film that would fit this category for me would be Maverick (1994).

Bret Maverick (Mel Gibson) is confident he is the best card player in the world, so in order to have definitive proof of this, he enters in a poker tournament that requires $25,000 as an entry fee. While he’s a little short on the money, he sets out to get the rest of it from some of his contacts. Along the way, he meets two others who want to participate in the tournament: Annabelle Bransford (Jodie Foster) and Angel (Alfred Molina). Bransford and Maverick manage to con a Russian Grand Duke out of some money so they can both enter the tournament, while Angel is on a mission to stop Maverick from playing. Meanwhile, Marshal Zane Cooper (James Garner, who also played Bret Maverick in the original show) is keeping an eye on all the players, hoping to arrest some of them for illegal activities. The tournament comes down to a single card to determine who will win. So, who has luck on their side?

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 TV transitions

#300. Crime in Boston

Cities are known for many things. We associate Paris with art, New York with theater, and Washington D.C. with politics. Unfortunately, sometimes cities can be known for their less-wholesome aspects. Despite Boston’s numerous tourist and cultural attractions, many people associate it with crime. While the Italian-based mafia tended to be based out of New York City, the Irish-based mafia usually congregated in Boston. As a result, there have been a number of films which use the crime-filled underground of Boston as their backdrop and main conflict. That’s not to say that every film about crime in Boston is about the mafia; in fact, Spotlight (2015) highlighted the Boston Globe’s uncovering of a sexual abuse scandal within the Catholic Church. Still, the “exciting” action films tend to focus on the mafia. This week’s two films examine mafia crime in Boston.

The TownThe Town
Year: 2010
Rating: R
Length: 125 minutes / 2.08 hours

Because the mafia is outside the law, sometimes they can perform actions to bring about their own form of justice. Especially with a tight-knit group like the Irish-Americans who control the mafia in Boston, the ties that bind them together are based in their nationality. This notion of an extended family means that members will do whatever it takes to look out for one of their own. Sometimes the legal process is too slow, so they’ll take matters into their own hands. The Boondock Saints (1999) is a prime example of this, as two brothers take on the Russian mafia in order to clean up Boston. Similarly, the friendships built through growing up in some of Boston’s tough neighborhoods, like Charlestown, can lead people to join the mafia as their only means of making a living. In The Town (2010), we find how difficult it can be to escape this life of crime.

Fergus Colm (Pete Postlethwaite) is the leader of an Irish-American crime ring that runs out of the Charlestown section of Boston. Four childhood friends work underneath him, including Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck), Jem Coughlin (Jeremy Renner), Gloansy MacGloan (Slaine), and Dez Elden (Owen Burke). These four rob a bank and take the manager, Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall), hostage, eventually releasing her unharmed. Unfortunately, not only does she live in the same neighborhood and could potentially identify Jem, but Doug develops feelings for her as well. Meanwhile, FBI Agent Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm) is closing in on the group and manages to kill or capture most of them during a heist at Fenway Park. Not wanting to put Claire in danger, Doug flees to Florida to try and find his estranged mother, leaving Claire with the stolen money and the wish to meet up again.

The DepartedThe Departed
Year: 2006
Rating: R
Length: 151 minutes / 2.52 hours

As mentioned earlier, the connections of the Irish-Americans in Boston lead to some strange bedfellows. The famous mobster, Whitey Bulger, was portrayed by Johnny Depp in Black Mass (2015), a film that showed how he was able to evade capture for so long: a South Boston friend involved with the FBI keeping Bulger a few steps ahead of the feds. Similarly, the connections between the Boston mafia and those who are tasked to take them down are often tightly tied together. These familial connections muddle the waters of characters’ moral intentions. Should they remain faithful to the group that gave them their identity and heritage, or should they bring these criminals to justice? This complex and twist-laden plot is best attributed to Martin Scorsese’s only Best Picture win, The Departed (2006). After all, the best director to handle a film about the mafia is none other than Martin Scorsese.

Growing up in South Boston, Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) is brought under the wing of Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson), a mobster who uses Colin to infiltrate the police. Years later, Colin has joined a task force focused on bringing down the very mafia that raised him. Meanwhile, Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) is recruited by the police to go undercover into the mafia because he too has family ties to the seedy world of organized crime. As Billy and Colin interact in their different spheres, their loyalties are questioned as each tries to figure out who the respective moles in their organizations are. The back-and-forth game of cat and mouse (or rat) continues until they eventually learn of the true identities of the other. In a bloody string of murders, both the police and the mafia are left with losses, revealing the harsh reality of crime in Boston: nobody gets out alive.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 mafia movies in Massachusetts

#299. Ben Affleck

Have you ever tried to be something you’re not? Do you know someone who has succeeded at one talent, only to try and capitalize on the success by attempting a different talent? While Hollywood is filled with actors who want to be directors and directors who want to be actors, very few of them can succeed in both realms at the same time. Take Clint Eastwood, for instance. He was a great actor back in his heyday, and now he’s a great director, but there wasn’t much time where he was both. Somewhat similarly, Ben Affleck has shown he is an excellent director as of late, but his early acting efforts were not quite as exemplary. Perhaps Affleck has finally found his niche after being lauded for his writing skills early in his career. Of course, he still enjoys his time in front of the camera as well. This week’s two films look at the directing and acting of Ben Affleck.

ArgoArgo
Year: 2012
Rating: R
Length: 120 minutes / 2.0 hours

At age 25, Ben Affleck (along with his friend, Matt Damon) won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Good Will Hunting (1997). While he had acted in a few films before, including two by director Kevin Smith (Mallrats (1995) and Chasing Amy (1997)), none of his roles could ever be taken seriously. Instead of pursuing his writing, Affleck ended up appearing in numerous films, most of which were forgettable or terrible (most still say Gigli (2003) is the worst film ever made). And yet, when he started directing full-length films, his acting seemed to improve almost overnight. Within five years from his directorial debut, Affleck would win his second Oscar, this time for the Best Picture, Argo (2012). While he also appeared in the leading role of this film, his performance was much better than most of his previous attempts.

Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) is astounded to learn that there are no viable plans to rescue the six escapees of the Iranian hostage crisis. While his exfiltration skills are top notch, he doesn’t have any better ideas. After a phone call with his son while Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973) is playing in the background, he is struck with inspiration. Using the cover of a Canadian film crew performing site surveys for a sci-fi film, Tony heads to Iran to help coach the six individuals through his plan. Even though all the prep work in Hollywood has been done to make the film look like it is real, the hoax only works on the ground if the six diplomats can manage to convince the Iranian security forces that it’s truly what they’re there for. In the moment of truth, the group head to Tehran International Airport and attempt to leave the country the only way they can.

The TownThe Town
Year: 2010
Rating: R
Length: 125 minutes / 2.08 hours

In 2007, Ben Affleck put on his writing cap and wrote the screenplay for Gone Baby Gone. Despite having directed a short film much earlier in his career, Gone Baby Gone was his first feature-length film as a director. While he did not appear in the film, leaving the leading role to his brother, Casey Affleck, when 2010 rolled around, he was back in front of the camera (as well as behind it) for The Town. Once again, audiences could see that Affleck does have talent for writing, as he wrote the screenplay for The Town as well. Despite the uproar of his casting as Bruce Wayne / Batman in the DC cinematic universe, this role, along with Nick Dunne in Gone Girl (2014), have shown that Affleck takes his acting much more seriously now, perhaps as a result of his directing. Time will tell if his most recent writing and directorial effort, Live by Night (2017) will be as well received as Gone Baby Gone and The Town.

Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck) is just one of a group of friends who grew up together and are now partners in crime. Along with Jem Coughlin (Jeremy Renner), Gloansy MacGloan (Slaine), and Dez Elden (Owen Burke), the four friends rob a bank and take the manager, Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall), hostage. After they release her, they realize she lives in their neighborhood and could potentially identify them to the police. In order to find out what she knows, Doug starts following her, but eventually the two of them develop feelings for each other. Unfortunately, since the four friends are still deep in the world of crime, they continue to make robberies. Because these heists still occur, they eventually find that the FBI has figured out who they are. The Feds perform a sting at Fenway based on intelligence they received from a jilted ex, with few of the crew managing to escape.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 deftly directed pieces by Ben Affleck

Bacon #: 2 (Shakespeare in Love / Colin Firth -> Where the Truth Lies / Kevin Bacon)

#274. The Time Travel Sequel

As a writer, I have been told that flashbacks should be used sparingly in order to advance the plot. But what if the entire plot of your story is a flashback? What if your story is a prequel to your original material? The jury is still out on whether or not the “prequel” is the right way to go about establishing the foundational concepts for the first part of a story, but what if the next part of the franchise isn’t as much a “prequel” as it is a “time travel sequel?” Obviously, these time travel sequels will most often be part of a science fiction franchise that could allow for time travel in the first place. Still, in these cases there is character development that builds upon the previous films but also explores the origins of the stories themselves. This week’s two films highlight the effectiveness of a “time travel sequel.”

                                                   Star Trek IV: The Voyage HomeStar Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Year: 1986
Rating: PG
Length: 119 minutes / 1.98 hours

Obviously, the franchises that revolve around time travel will have time travel sequels. The clearest example of this would be Back to the Future Part III (1990). A lot can change in one-hundred years and this film merely hammers home the point (which it does in the previous two parts as well) that the timeline of history can be changed. But what if your story is based in the distant future? For the characters who live in the 23rd century, going back in time by three-hundred years would essentially place them in the timeframe where we currently live. While we couldn’t know the impacts on the future that these 23rd century characters might make to their timeline, the more interesting element to this scenario (as it is in any time travel sequel) is to see the differences between two drastically different eras.

What do you do when a mysterious probe is causing electrical disturbances throughout the universe? If you’re the crew of the USS Enterprise, you identify that the signal the probe is sending out is identical to the call of an extinct animal. Of course, with the animal needed to stop the probe being completely eradicated, the only option is to travel back in time to retrieve one of them while they were still alive. For the crew of the Enterprise, this animal was the humpback whale, thus prompting them to travel back to 1986 and retrieve a few of them from San Francisco. Of course, going back three-hundred years had its challenges, but now modifying the spaceship to take the humpback whales into the future is its own challenge. Finally successful, the crew returns to the future to answer the call of the probe, causing it to cease its destructive march across the universe.

Men in Black 3Men in Black 3
Year: 2012
Rating: PG-13
Length: 106 minutes / 1.76 hours

Sometimes, the time travel sequels can be done in a flashback context. For instance, The Godfather: Part II (1974) is both a prequel and a sequel to The Godfather (1972), splitting half it’s time developing the story of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) in the late 1950’s while also paralleling it with the rise of his father, Vito Corleone (Robert DeNiro), during the turn of the 20th century. In a similar vein, X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) switches between an apocalyptic and dystopian future and the events in the 1970’s that eventually led up to this bleak timeline. Perhaps this is what makes a time travel sequel different from a flashback sequel (like The Godfather: Part II): a time travel sequel attempts to change something or collect something in the past to help save the future. This is certainly the case in the third installment of the Men in Black franchise: Men in Black 3 (2012).

Escaping from his prison on the moon, Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) sets out to take revenge on the agent who sent him there: Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) of the Men in Black. Because the events that led to his capture also prevented his species from invading earth, Boris travels back in time to eliminate the younger K. K’s partner, Agent J (Will Smith), is now the only one who recognizes that something is amiss. He doesn’t understand why everyone has forgotten about K, which leads Agent O (Emma Thompson) to deduce that the timeline has changed. Travelling back to 1969, J teams up with the younger K to stop both past and future Boris from enacting his plan. Not only does J have to prevent K from being killed, but he now has to attach a defense system to Apollo 11 that will protect Earth for decades to come.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 retro sequels