[OPINION] Past imperfect 1

[OPINION] Past imperfect

Dean dela Paz

Posted at Jul 07 2022 07:10 AM

The country is undergoing a political sequel of sorts. It would not be the first. Previously we have had two remakes, and both had attempted to improve on a precedent. One failed and worsened governance standards. Another succeeded. Hollywood often resorts to sequels for a number of reasons. One is greed. In the hopes of replicating a money-making blockbuster or squeezing the last dollar off a precedent, they do remakes or serialize a story.

The other reason is to correct imperfections. Spielberg’s 2021 West Side Story had gotten rid of the distracting filters, the dubbed singing, and the racial miscasting of the original 1961 Oscar winner.

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A third impetus is to flesh out and develop characters where a precedent did not. Star Trek: Picard focuses on the character development of the starship’s captain rather than on the starship Enterprise.

One way to escape the inconvenient reality inflicted on us in the last couple of years was to binge watch re-runs and sequels on Netflix or through any of the movie or TV streaming services available.

The menu runs from pure escapist multiverses of alternate realities, both past and future, to resurrected horrors and kitschy zombie serials on YouTube. Like most forms of entertainment save for the clowning antics of politicians, the fictional universe offers momentary respites from present realities.

Re-runs and sequels likewise offer us a chance to revisit the halcyon days of our youth when we were still largely insulated from the past’s darkest afflictions and its ambient political and economic maelstroms. In the last few weeks, however, three escapist icons from those simpler days were featured as celluloid sequels linking the past to today.

For Trekkies, Trekkers, and fans of Gene Rodenberry’s 1960’s Star Trek universe, from its various streaming reincarnations we learned that a viral affliction and genetic mutation had caused the shell-like, ridged and bony foreheads of the warrior race of Klingons. In the 1960’s they simply appeared with permanent sneers and over-grown facial hair. Canon however dictates that since they were villains in the 1960’s, they remain that today. There was no attempt at historical revisionism.

In last week’s Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, we also learned that Nurse Christine Chapel bore suppressed emotions for Commander Spock long before Communications Officer Ensign Nyota Uhura would develop romantic feelings for the Vulcan Science Officer.

Some sequels deepen our understanding and enhance our appreciation for the character development of heroic albeit fictional icons. Unfortunately, some sequels resurrect rotted cadavers best left buried.

In Top Gun: Maverick, Tom Cruise’s Maverick Mitchell expresses deep guilt for his role in the death of his friend and tries to become a father figure to the latter’s son Rooster Bradshaw. The sequel shows a deeper more introspective side of the character.

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Some sequels simply squeeze more money from a franchise. In Jurassic World: Dominion, the 2022 sequel falls flat as it cheapened the legacy roles of the 1993 originals three most prominent heroes by relegating them to a little more than a cameo reunion absent any depth or development of character. The action however, entertained.

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Expectedly, like other forms of historical revisionism forced on us, these sequels and resurrected fantasies are not about depth. Some are about money and greed. Others, like capstones or finales, serve as eulogies to correct mischaracterizations. Save for the raptor Blue, Jurassic World: Dominion’s paean to reality was limited to update and accurately depict velociraptors with bright plumage and feathers.

Surrendering to this world of make-believe, all we can do now is munch on popcorn and watch the celluloid surreal movie magic unfold. Or unravel.

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(Dean dela Paz is a former investment banker and a managing director of a New Jersey-based power company operating in the Philippines. He is the chairman of the board of a renewable energy company and is a retired Business Policy, Finance and Mathematics professor.)

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.