Vin Diesel recently – and depressingly – announced the eighth, ninth and tenth instalments of the Fast and Furious franchise. “I promised the studio I would deliver one last trilogy to end the saga,” he said. It’s a real hackle-raiser: can the narrative arc of any single three Fast and Furious films be described as a trilogy? And how does one final trilogy cap off 7 films? That’s just poor maths. Our real bugbear, though, is that piles of Hollywood cash are being poured into Vin Diesel’s petrolhead fantasy series: that’s money studios could spend on concepts actually worth expanding on. Here are 10 of the best standalone films we’d give a shot at franchises.
This subtle 2009 sci-fi – directed by David Bowie’s son Duncan Jones – was a disarming look at humans’ capacity for exploitation, told through the dizzy eyes of a lone worker on a lunar energy-harvesting outpost. Jones has expressed a wish to return to his compelling universe via a Berlin-set, Blade Runner-type film called Mute. Here’s hoping he can get it made.
Ok, so Leo DiCaprio’s character probably wouldn’t be in this one – he had enough closure last time – but it could only be a good thing to have more of director Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending multi-dream sequences to gawk at. The original was a huge blockbuster; it’d be interesting to see the concepts behind the film explored in a less in-your-face way.
This 2014 sci-fi already feels like it could be a seminal classic. It brings the issues surrounding AI innovation to life with a lowly tech employee (Domhnall Gleeson), an enigmatic inventor (Oscar Isaac) and a humanoid robot played with crystalline cool by Alicia Vikander. The director has ruled out a sequel, but this universe is too immediate and fascinating not to explore further.
The idea of District 10 has been bandied about since the original, and director Neill Blomkamp reportedly still intends to make it. His subsequent films Elysium and Chappie failed to set the world alight in the way District 9 did – the aliens of its alternate Johannesburg were a fascinatingly visceral moral and political conundrum.
Assassination targets in this film are sent back 30 years to 2044, a period where disposing of murdered bodies is, for some reason, easier. Joseph Gordon Levitt is a ‘looper’ – or assassin – asked to close his own loop by killing his older, retired self (Bruce Willis). The fascinating premise, which takes in multiple timelines, is complemented by explosive action. There’s easily scope for more of director Rian Johnson’s world.
Found-footage films such as The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity had nothing on this gripping monster horror set in New York City, and those spawned several sequels – so why not this one?
Clueless is a teen movie classic, the perfect blend of Jane Austen’s serendipitous plotting (it was inspired by Austen’s novel Emma) and mid-’90s LA vernacular. Alicia Silverstone was pretty much born to play Cher, but it’s the overall concept that might work best in a sequel. An iconic, Austen-esque film for Millennials is overdue, for example, er, Snapchat And Sensibility. Heard it here first, m8.
This is found-footage with a difference. The three friends at the centre of Chronicle gained superpowers and slowly drifted apart as their powers changed them. The original cost $12 million to make and grossed $120 million worldwide. The sequel script proposed by its writer Max Landis was titled Martyr, but was deemed too dark by 20th Century Fox, who according to Max’s dad John wanted “the same movie again”. So they’ve now got someone completely new on the case. And it probably won’t be nearly as good as what Landis had in mind.
The world of The Goonies brought us Sean Astin and Josh Brolin. It was as ’80s as you can get. And it was great. Arguably, Steven Spielberg hasn’t produced a story as charming since: this might be the place to start.
There was so much good stuff in Bridesmaids, which was patronisingly dubbed ‘The Hangover for women’ on its release in 2011. We wouldn’t want it to emulate The Hangover in churning out progressively unfunnier sequels, but there’s plenty more mileage in the contrasting characters that we’d like to see.