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Film Talk: Long-awaited sequels of the past... and future

The wait is nearly over. That’s right folks – after decades of interviewing vampires, showing us the money and taking on risky business and impossible missions all over the globe, the ‘Cruise Missile’ himself is back where he belongs – and he’s lost none of that loving feeling.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Back in 1986, a certain flick that would tell the tale of a gifted but reckless US Navy pilot hit cinemas, and for 36 years it has remained hallowed as a mainstream classic and nothing less than one of the most iconic films of the 20th Century.

Now, Top Gun fans can rejoice, as this week, its long-awaited sequel will go on general release in cinemas across the country.

The crowds were out in force on Thursday evening as the European premiere of Top Gun: Maverick took over London’s Leicester Square, and Tom Cruise and other cast members arrived to dazzle.

There was no doubt about it folks, the buzz of cinema was truly back – given a fantastic kick after two hard years by pure nostalgia, and a reminder of the movie industry’s longevity and enduring ability to give us much needed joy and entertainment even during and in the wake of international crises.

There is nothing like the long-awaited return of beloved film franchises and their characters to truly showcase the power of cinema. With this, in honour of Top Gun: Maverick hitting the big screen, we’re going to take a look at it and some of those other belated sequels that have come along to break both the world and our hearts after many, many years.

Strap yourselves in folks – these are the ones that, even sometimes after decades, couldn’t resist coming back to take us for another incredible ride...

Mary Poppins Returns

Mary Poppins Returns

It’s hard to believe that one of the most iconic and celebrated flicks of all time had to wait for a staggering 54 years for a sequel. Come on guys – spit spot!

Still, when the moment did finally arrive, it was pure joy to see the return of the world’s favourite umbrella-toting, bottomless handbag-wielding nanny.

Naturally, with the time gap, the much-adored role that had been so well occupied by Dame Julie Andrews went to Emily Blunt (thank goodness any ghastly attempt at de-ageing the original star was swerved), who proved more than capable of filling her predecessor’s mighty shoes.

We did get a memorable cameo from Dick Van Dyke (we couldn’t not have had some old pals present to ‘shtep’ in time, of course), but aside from this the cast was fleshed out magnificently by franchise new-comers Emily Mortimer, Ben Wishaw, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Colin Firth.

Overflowing with the spirit of the original, this one may have been belated in the extreme, but it was a triumph nonetheless.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The year was 2005, and die-hard fans mourned the thought that, with Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith, we had seen Star Wars storm the big screen for the final time. Fast-forward to 2015 and a tremor in the Force shook the hearts of the devoted everywhere.

In the form of the often-criticised (in my opinion, harshly so) prequel trilogy, the sacred triumvirate of original Star Wars flicks had already been followed up on the silver screen. What made 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens so special was that finally, after a whopping 32 years of speculation and new hopes (see what I did there?) fans were going to find out what had happened to the heroes they had bid farewell to with the closing moments of Return Of The Jedi. Not only that, original trilogy actors Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill were actual returning to play their respective characters of Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker.

Whatever your opinion of The Force Awakens, the flicks that followed it to complete the sequel trilogy, or the direction these hallowed characters were taken in, one thing cannot be denied. In terms of ‘where are they now?’ anticipation, the hype for a long-awaited sequel has rarely been so high.

Top Gun: Maverick

Top Gun: Maverick

With the original having dropped back in 1986, the world has been waiting a long time for a certain Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell to take its breath away again.

To say that anticipation is high for next week’s return to the cockpit would be a monstrous understatement... I for one have been polishing my aviators since the first whispers of this flick, years ago.

With Val Kilmer also reprising his role from the original of Tom ‘Iceman’ Kazansky, and with Miles Teller joining the cast as the son of Maverick’s fallen flight mate ‘Goose’, nostalgia is set to be the fuel that launches this one to greatness.

Reviews that have come in so far tell of a thrill-ride that will delight fans new and old, and we can only expect the box office takings to shine almost as brightly as leading man Tom Cruise’s pearly whites.

If somehow you’ve never seen the original, find a way to this week. You’ll feel the need... the need for speed...

T2 Trainspotting

T2 Trainspotting

Of all the things you might think the world would crave, it feels strange to think that a return to the worst toilet in Scotland has been one of them.

Choose filmmaking brilliance. Choose a 21-year gap. Choose re-uniting the talent. Choose giving the people the sequel of their dreams...

With Danny Boyle back in the driving seat as director, the long-awaited Trainspotting follow-up dropped in 2017. The result – considering the incredible standard set by its predecessor – was magnificent.

With the core cast of Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Ewen Bremner and Robert Carlyle returning to some of the most iconic roles of their careers, the energy was there, the vibe was right, and the heart was beating.

Loosely based on the written sequel to Irvine Welsh’s novel, this next chapter in the bleak lives of a collective of Scottish drug addicts did its forebear proud and set to rest the nervous fans who were worried that any attempt at a follow-up would be a stain on the original flick.

Choose trust. This one was always going to deliver, and, indeed, picked up three BAFTA Scotland Awards.

Jurassic World: Dominion

Jurassic Park

It was the film franchise that for so many people was the embodiment of cinematic spectacle.

With the release of 1993’s Jurassic Park, cinema was changed forever, and the next landmark step in what could be achieved with visual effects was reached.

Aside from delivering an incredible feast for the eyeballs however, Stephen Spielberg took Michael Crichton’s novel and – true to source material – delivered an exhilarating adventure that also had plot substance and depth of characterisation.

It left us aching for more, and more was delivered with two direct sequels within eight years. But alas, though each would appear in one or the other, neither single entry would feature the original’s core cast trinity of Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum together as one.

Fourteen years later, movie fans rejoiced as the franchise was resurrected, and a marvellous job was indeed done with the first new entry, Jurassic World. Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard et al were excellent, yet hearts broke a little that none of the three amigos had once again stepped into the shoes of doctors Alan Grant, Ellie Sattler and Ian Malcolm.

A drop of pacifying tonic was delivered with a cameo from Goldblum in 2018’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, yet fans were and have remained denied the joy of a full reunion of 1993’s ‘Team Must-Go-Faster’. Until now...

After nearly three decades, this year The Palaeontology Players will finally tread the boards together again in Jurassic World: Dominion.

We may not have had to wait quite as long as we have for Maverick and Iceman to get back together, but this is is sure to be as equally world-breaking a reunion.

Please do the water trick again Jeff... We need this...

Die Hard 4.0

Die Hard 4.0

It had been over a decade and we thought John McClane was done. But not so. Yippee ki-yay…

Twelve years after Die Hard With A Vengeance hit the flicks, Bruce Willis was back to his vest-wearing best with another outing as Mr Wrong-Place-Wrong-Time.

With a story set just over a decade after that of the previous entry in the franchise, good old Bruce was joined in Die Hard 4.0 by Justin Long in the role of ‘circumstantial sidekick’, and Timothy Olyphant taking up the mantle of ‘nemesis extraordinaire’.

Anticipation for the return of one of the greatest action hero characters in movie history was high, and Mr McClane’s fourth outing did not disappoint. Financially, this one stands as the highest-grossing of all the Die Hard films, including the fifth series entry that followed. Yippee ki-yay indeed…

Toy Story 3

Toy Story 3

The biggest heartbreaker of the bunch...

Those of us of a certain generation grew up in sync with Andy and his plastic pals, and so when, 11 years after Toy Story 2 had dropped, the third instalment in the franchise landed, it was a tear-jerker for many a millennial.

With Pixar having stayed true to the passage of time and writing a story in which Andy had grown up, the feeling of belonging to this tale and it mirroring a transition into real adulthood was, for me at least, absolutely overwhelming. But, deep emotional cuts aside, it was a complete joy after such a long wait to see the return of some of the greatest animated characters ever created.

Happily it wasn’t to be their last outing either, as a fourth adventure would follow. Thanks for coming back to us, Woody and co. Your favourite deputies will never forget you.

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