Which Viewing Order Should I Choose?

OK, it’s been heavy around here lately, so here’s one that hopefully spurs some conversation that isn’t centered around anything but one of my favorite film series.

The question always comes up about the best “viewing order” for any franchise series, whether it’s the tiresome Machete Order which inexplicably ignores the criminally-underrated Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace, or some other mix that is as tiring to debate as anything else.

Darth Funk has a cool costume | kesseljunkie
But does he get good Bluetooth reception in there?

Not What You Think

Oh, but I’m not talking about the Star Wars films. I’m talking about the movie franchise that out-Marvel®™©s Marvel©®™, the Fast & Furious franchise. Sure, the ride at Universal Orlando® is…not great…but I enjoy the movies. I enjoy some of them more than others, and love it as a whole. It’s a vibrant testament to entertainment at all costs.

As I was looking over the collection, though, I realized I’m not sure of the best viewing order! This is an important question with the ninth installment in the saga coming out in 2021. (It was supposed to be 2020, but ugh.)

Fast & Furious, which soft-reboots the series in a way that Lucasfilm should have studied for the sequel trilogy, is a prequel. Though the fourth movie, it takes place before the third.

Fast Five and Furious 6 (since retitled, but forget that noise) are prequels to The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift as well. This creates a small bit of a quandary with some technology questions, but honestly no one cares. It’s about the art!

Of course, when you have prequels, the question of story order and emotional impact gets difficult. I’m going to set aside the Star Wars films again in favor of another example.

You can argue that the emotional weight of any prequel is at least partly informed by the original film(s). I’m speaking in generalities, of course. I’m sure there are people ready to jump all over a statement like that to try to disprove it.

But I think it’s a fair point. While it’s fun and interesting to screw around with story order, would you love Indiana Jones as much in Temple of Doom if you hadn’t gotten to know him first when he was a more-likable and better person in Raiders of the Lost Ark?

Hobbs and Dom in Fast Five screenshot | kesseljunkie
How I greet all my friends now. We hate sleeves in warm climates.

Back to the Question

So I’m left with the essential question of what I should do. If I were to rearrange the order, and put the fourth, fifth, and sixth before the third, what happens to the first two?

The trick is that Fast & Furious does such a good job of soft-rebooting the franchise that the setup of the original film isn’t quite so necessary. So I’d have to find somewhere to place it as a flashback/prequel treatment in viewing order on its own.

Or perhaps the optimal viewing order is 1-4-5-6-3-7-8? In the spirit of the aforementioned Machete Order for Star Wars, I dropped 2 since apparently you’re allowed to do that for some reason.

This doesn’t even bring Fast & Furious Presents Hobbs & Shaw, either. It can drop in after 8 for viewing, but that’s in hopes that something divulged in it ties in to F9.

Curious what others might say, especially after I make it clear right now that I think this series is, indeed, more entertaining and satisfying than the Marvel©®™ movies.

I said good day!

…One More Thing

Of course, none of this addresses the fact that Better Luck Tomorrow is technically part of this series and could be watched instead of 2 Fast 2 Furious without missing a beat. I could also watch BLT first overall. That would be interesting.

More Disappointing Sequel — The Lost World: Jurassic Park or Ocean’s 12?

I was having a discussion with some chums from The Nerd Party recently and the subject of The Lost World: Jurassic Park came up, somehow, while we discussed Ocean’s 12/the Ocean’s movies in general. I don’t entirely understand how, but that’s not the point. There are a lot of things I don’t understand that happen anyway.

Naturally, that got me to thinking about sequels, specifically second movies in a series. There seems to be a big hitch with getting the right mixture for a second in a series. I had a tremendous fondness for Superman II over the years only to find myself far less enamored of it upon a later rewatch, and wishing Richard Donner had completed it. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – both the movie and the book – are really a slightly-warmed rehash of the first in the series.

While I’ve taken a fonder look at it of late, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom certainly still lacks some of the zest of Raiders of the Lost ArkBatman Returns somehow missed the mark. The Exorcist II: The Heretic is a special kind of awful. Highlander 2: The Quickening is…a thing.

Connor and Ramirez from Highlander II
They look as confused as I was during the movie.

I wonder sometimes if the success of a film/book is enough to lead to a sequel, most especially when it’s a surprise hit, the engines of production move too quickly for a calm reassessment of what the next best step is. I wonder what part of it is ego, and what part of it is simply not understanding on a fundamental level what made the first connect so cleanly with the audience in the first place. I wonder how much of it is treading water, to take advantage of the audience’s attention while they’re still willing to spend money.

Certainly it’s a mix of things that can lead to an artistic limpness that makes you wonder why the sequel turned out the way it did.

And to answer the question, The Lost World was more disappointing by far. Ocean’s 11 is great, but while 12 was disappointing, The Lost World “wins” because there was more of an expectation coming off the masterpiece that Jurassic Park is.

Improbable Match-Up: James Bond v. Indiana Jones

It’s been awhile since I’ve done an improbable match-up. I like doing these things, and have a few ideas for some really good ones. This is a decent undercard, though, where the end isn’t really in doubt, though the underdog has a strong puncher’s chance of flipping the odds.

Also, as a note since there are people who have taken these things seriously before, remember it’s all in fun. But also it is 100% authoritative scientifically.

Let’s get ready to Geeeeeeeeek Out.

Factor: Fighting Styles
James Bond: Brawler, Assassin Indy: Brawler, Gunfighter
Advantage: 007.

Indy isn’t the best fighter, he just has a nasty habit of surviving odds. However, Bond is a lot better at taking out people from a distance, or quietly. I have to give Bond the edge.

Factor: Age
007: Regenerative? Indy: Older than Social Security taxes.
Advantage: 007.

Like Doctor Who, James Bond regenerates every decade or so in a state of perpetual reboot. I have to give the edge to someone who can apparently slough off one body for another as each era needs it. He may be a Sith, for all I know. We saw how the years treated Indy by the time Crystal Skull came around. He was lucky to be walking.

Factor: Moral Code
James Bond: Will kill. Indy: Heroic ideals, will kill.
Advantage: 007.

Even in his most debonair incarnations, Bond is a ruthless murderer. He’s such a sociopath he makes jokes in the aftermath of grisly deaths. He not only kills, you realize he wants to kill, whereas Indy only kills as a matter of necessity.

Factor: Weaknesses
James Bond: STDs Indy: The Clap
Advantage: Indy.

Bond most likely has lost some muscle control and mental accuity by the time they meet, possibly removing advantages he held otherwise. He may even have diseases that sap your strength and energy completely. The Clap, according to medical diagnoses, can very painful but will short out neither your brain nor your motor function.

Factor: Transportation
James Bond: Cool car, if he hasn’t destroyed it already. Indy: No personal transportation available.
Advantage: 007.

Indy hijacks transport or hitches rides. Bond’s cars are literal killing machines that only stop when Bond messes them up. So long as Bond gets in the car before mixing it up, Indy’s toast. The only shot Indy has is to hijack it and turn the tables, which is tough since Bond’s cars have anti-theft systems that…uh, explode.

Wild Card
James Bond: Evil in the service of Good. Indy: Divine Assistance.
Advantage: Indy.

Let’s face it. Regardless of your belief system, Indy is looked upon favorably by God. Even millennia-old hyper-dimensional aliens let him off the hook. James Bond, no matter how you slice it, is not a good person; he just happens to work for the good guys.

Winner: Indy

Let’s be honest. That “Wild Card” really swings it.

Go Indy, Go!

Watching Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull with My Kids

Recently I had the good fortune to spend some extra time with the kids. I make no secret of how happy that makes me.

As part of this little getaway, I had asked the oldest (“Roo”) to select a few films to take with us, to compliment the expected Star Wars contingent. She selected, to my heart’s content, the Indiana Jones Blu Ray box set. It made me think, for a moment, that I’m raising these kids all right.

Anyway, as we started to watch movies, the middle child (“Mi-Bo”) got to pick first. Her selection was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Often I feel my age with that one, because I remember seeing it in the theatre and how old I was when I did. Of course, as I’ve gotten older the “dad” stuff has gotten more poignant for me and often gets a very strong emotional reaction.

I get a little weepy when Sean Connery says softly, “Indiana…let it go.” It reminds me of gentler moments with my own dad.

The next day, the kids were asked once more to select a film to watch. They chose Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Fan Hatred

Crystal Skull is, of course, the Indiana Jones adventure mostly reviled by a number of fans. I have several friends who, upon reading even the title of this blog, rolled their eyes and prepared to hurl invective. They do it whenever you mention the movie in person, too.

While not my favorite of the series, it’s certainly not something that ever registered as worthy of hatred. It uses an altered aesthetic and replaces Nazis with an historical villain as maniacally deranged, the Soviets. It has solid observations about the cultural paranoia that defined the era, given the stakes involved. I laugh at the jokes, enjoy the adventure and miss Douglas Slocombe, whose camera work defined the look of the first three.

A part of me strongly thinks that David Tattersall would have been better suited to the situation than Janusz Kaminski, who seems uncomfortable with the massive digital set extensions. The look is certainly evocative of the era and type of film it’s mimicking, but the visual space it occupies is just different enough to persistently remind you of its uniqueness in the series.

The point is, I recognize some short-comings and still enjoy it. It’s a fun adventure that riffs off the Chariots of the Gods-style nonsense that also informed Stargate.

The Mouths of Babes

More to the point, I’m fascinated by how much my kids enjoy it. They are really into it, and it’s fun to watch it with them.

So at the end of this one, I struck up a conversation. As the credits rolled, I decided to try to get to their perspective on it.

Me: “So you know, guys, some of my friends really hate this movie.”

Roo: “Who?” (There was a fair amount of incredulity here.)

Me: “Well, {@craigsorrell} and {@yayshawndorman} both hate it. They say nasty things about it.”

Mi-Bo/Roo: “Like what?”

Me: “Well, that’s not important. Other people don’t like it too, not just them. Why do you think they don’t like it?”

Them: “I don’t know.” (Variants from both.)

Me: “Why do you like it as much as you do?”

Roo: “I like the fight scenes. I like the Amazon part, especially the ants. I mean, why wouldn’t you like it?” (shrugs)

Mi-Bo: “Daddy?”

Me: “Yeah, honey?”

Mi-Bo: “Maybe people need to stop thinking everything needs to be so serious.”

And with that, I realized that my kids already recognize the Achilles heel of all nerds/geeks/dorks. Our collective inability to relax and enjoy the ride.

Improbable Match-Up: Batman v. Indiana Jones

Well, it looks like I’m really on a tear to match up Batman versus a lot of different nemeses lately. And while I was writing my review of The LEGO Movie, I removed a line about matching up these two because I like to keep these under wraps until they’re ready for release.

And I think that this is the best match-up yet for 2014, because both are from series that pride themselves on “keepin’ it real” when it comes to their action. Of course, now that I’ve started down this particular road, the possibilities are endless. Also, it provides a needed respite after all the nights I’m kept awake thinking about what could go wrong with Episode VII.

So let’s get ready to Geeeeeeeeek Out.

Factor: Fighting Styles
Batman: ALL THE STYLES Indy: Brawler, Gunfighter
Advantage: Batman.
Look, I love watching Indy fight. We all do. We can relate to it. But Batman is so clearly-cut the winner in this category that I think this is the final time I’ll use it with him. Otherwise I’m just teasing an easy win out of the gate to him.
Factor: Age
Batman: Technically, ancient. Indy: Technically, more ancient.
Advantage: Batman.
Batman debuted in 1939, and Indy’s first adult adventure (as we know it) started in 1936 (three years before!). Batman, however, has experienced the magic of the reboot and has since been reborn to modern eras. By any measure we have, Indy is probably dead.
Factor: Moral Code
Batman: Heroic ideals, will not kill. Indy: Heroic ideals, will kill.
Advantage: Indy.
When the chips are down, Indy will do anything to survive. Let the Angel of Death melt your face, say an incantation to make you fall down into a crocodile’s mouth, let you drop into an endless abyss when you reach for the Holy Grail. Not to mention all the henchmen he kills along the way.
Factor: Weaknesses
Batman: Brooding Indy: The Ladies
Advantage: Batman.
Indy’s choice of ladies is questionable at best. Of the three big-screen ladies we know, one was his true soul mate and so a useful sidekick in a fight. One was a complete middling buffoon (who was buffing the director’s camera), the other a NAZI spy. Batman might be one for solitary brooding that leads to excessive introspection and self-doubt, but Indy’s like Samson with short hair.
Factor: Transportation
Batman: Bat-{Everytding} Indy: Anything available
Advantage: Indy.
We’ve covered how Batman’s fleet of ships is impressive, repeatedly. But Indy can take a survival raft out of a plummeting plane and not just survive, but find adventure.
Wild Card
Batman: World’s Greatest Detective Indy: Improvisational skills
Advantage: Indy.
Batman is the World’s Greatest Detective. But Indy proves time and again that he’s able to take anything around him and turn it into a survival tool, rolling shield or instrument of death. He’s got a Ph.D. in “winging it” and even keeps his hat on through the whole thing.

Winner: Tie

What the Heck? That actually happened by accident. Perhaps Bane should have enlisted Indy’s help to topple the Dark Knight for once and for all.