Hello, friends in time, and welcome to a regular feature on Cinema 52 where I put my weekly viewing of Back to the Future on hold and watch another movie featuring time travel for comparison.
In this special Threequel Weekquel Edition, I’ll be looking at the bizarre tendency of film franchises to feature time travel in the third installment, despite the original containing nothing of the sort. Is it a logical next step for each series, or just an attention-grabbing gimmick to draw audiences back in? Do the filmmakers even understand their own rules? And does introducing time travel help the franchise or hurt it?
Warning: As each film this week is part of a series, it’s going to get extra spoiler-y. You’ve been warned.
ARMY OF DARKNESS (1993)
PREVIOUSLY ON THE EVIL DEAD: Ashley “Ash” Williams (Bruce Campbell) and his companions went up to a cabin in the woods and there was evil stuff. Then there was a sequel, where there was funnier evil stuff. He lost his hand but gained a chainsaw. Then an evil portal opened and he got sucked back in time.
WHAT DOES TIME TRAVEL BRING TO THE TABLE? For starters, it got him out of that goddamned cabin.
Yeah, sure, lots of awesome weird shit has happened so far, but come on, two whole films of random ideas from Satan’s scare playbook isn’t exactly a compelling narrative. Thrusting Ash back to ye olde medieval times elevates the series from something you put on in the background at a Halloween party to a real ass-kicking adventure, while still retaining all the gore and goofiness.
And POV shots.
Ash now has a goal (getting home) and a bunch of royal ugly dudes to bewilder with his modern day technology. Not that any of it needs to make a lick of sense.
What, you didn’t take Wind-Up Robot Hand 101?
DO THE FILMMAKERS EVEN UNDERSTAND TIME TRAVEL? It’s magic. And on top of being magic, they don’t mess with paradoxes, immutable timelines, or any of that junk. Ash is just on a field trip to 1300 A.D.
DOES TIME TRAVEL DESTROY THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE? Do me a favor. Take a look at any of the following images and tell me how time travel would be “too crazy” for this series.
Groovy? Let’s move on.
Army of Darkness is nothing short of insane. It’s Connecticut Yankee, Three Stooges, and Jason and the Argonauts rolled into one and sliced up with a chainsaw. The time travel adds little more than a bitchin’ castle for a backdrop, but it helps Bruce Campbell swash some buckles instead of staying cooped up with a case of cabin fever. Shop smart and buy this movie.
LATER THIS WEEK:
Threequel Weekquel Continues! Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993), Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), Cinderella III: A Twist in Time (2007), Men in Black 3 (2012)
Want more time travel? Head on over to the Time Out archive.