Photo: ‘Knives Out’
Nowadays, it’s all too routine for a popular film to receive a sequel (or a reboot, remake, spin-off, or prequel). The 2019 popular murder mystery film, ‘Knives Out,’ written and directed by Rian Johnson (who also brought the world ‘Looper’ and the controversial ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’), is receiving a sequel entitled: ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,’ which will be released in select theaters in this November and streaming on Netflix on December 23rd. The new film will feature Daniel Craig reprising his detective role as Benoit Blanc, while diving into a new murder mystery case with a new cast of characters.
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The new cast is stacked and star-studded with Edward Norton leading the pack as a tech billionaire who invites his friends to his private island. Icons Janelle Monáe and Kathryn Hahn join the mystery, as well as Broadway sensation, Leslie Odom Jr., who is no stranger to the murder-mystery format, having starred in 2017’s ‘Murder on the Orient Express.’ Kate Hudson will be portraying a fashion designer, while Jessica Henwick plays her assistant. Marvel star Dave Bautista is listed to be a Youtube star, and Madelyn Cline, known for her fun yet heartfelt role on ‘Outer Banks,’ is playing his younger girlfriend. Last, but certainly not least, Ethan Hawke rounds out the cast with his expertise. So far, ‘Glass Onion’ is looking pretty promising.
The Initial Success of ‘Knives Out’
During Thanksgiving of 2019, the world was graced with one of the most inventive whodunit films – ‘Knives Out.’ Rian Johnson was able to capture the murder mystery genre within a modern world, adding nuance while paying homage to the masterpieces in the genre which came before. The screenplay earned him a nomination for Best Original Screenplay at the 2020 Academy Awards. The film was able to alter the structure audiences had become used to, and introduce us to several characters who were eccentric and entertaining. The dialogue allowed us to see the worst in these characters, while giving the whole story a comedic undertone. The performances were outstanding, especially that of Ana de Armas taking on the one genuinely empathetic role, and Chris Evans enjoying his time as a character far from the attitude and mantle of Captain America. Furthermore, the strategic nature of the script shone through each moment. The film found success in the cinema world, having received wonderful reviews, and frequently being listed as one of the best works of 2019.
Considering the success, it’s no wonder an opportunity for similarly-minded sequels was afoot. As a matter of fact, the rights to yet another sequel, after ‘Glass Onion,’ have been purchased in the same deal by Netflix. ‘Knives Out’ was a game-changer for its inventive nature and exploration of character. I remember prompting my family to see it with me in theaters, and I was overjoyed when we all came out of that theater liking and discussing it. There aren’t many films that can please and entertain every family member. So how will the sequel continue such success?
The Danger of Sequels
As mentioned before, it’s common for a successful film to spark a franchise, or at least garner a sequel. It’s almost too common sometimes. With brilliant writing, directing, casting, etc. from the original film, there is plenty of hope for its subsequent sequels, however, no one can ignore the constant problems that can arise. Movies derived from other movies are often greenlit because studios recognize that they are familiar, and thus more likely to bring success from that familiarity. However, more often than not, sequels disappoint because they can’t find the balance of upholding the magic of the original while providing a fresh take. ‘Glass Onion’ in particular is intriguing because it appears to have the same formula – a bunch of wealthy and entitled people become linked to a murder that is investigated by Craig’s character, Blanc. Blanc appears to be the only character returning from the original, which is somewhat sad considering how many diverting performances were given by each actor. The new cast and setting could easily bring the balance required, but there’s fear that the mysterious magic of the first won’t be replicated.
Sequels are dangerous because we see too often the downgrade of a character or a plot point, or they just don’t hold up to the original. There still are well-done sequels out there, such as ‘Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back,’ ‘Shrek 2,’ ‘The Dark Knight,’ and many more. The problem is that a well-done sequel is rarely the case, and can often leave the audience feeling like they are just sitting through a cash-grab scenario. The hope is that ‘Glass Onion’ doesn’t fall prey to any of the traps sequel films can fall into.
Hope for ‘Glass Onion’
The title, cast, and premise are certainly intriguing, and if Rian Johnson was able to craft such a thrilling murder mystery before, why shouldn’t he be able to do it again? Considering we haven’t even gotten a trailer yet, it’s rude to cast judgment so prematurely, yet it doesn’t hurt to be a bit skeptical when it comes to sequels in general. Having so much love and appreciation for ‘Knives Out’ means that there’s a lot of hope for another film in the same style, and there’s a lot going for ‘Glass Onion,’ even from association alone. Hopefully, this sequel can forge its own identity while taking the sharpness and cleverness that came before it.
Johnson himself was ready and hinting at the potential for sequels way back when press for ‘Knives Out’ was taking place, so it’s more than possible he has a few tricks up his sleeve and a few more cards to deal with within the genre. Additionally, the cinematographer, editor, and composer (Johnson’s cousin, Nathan Johnson) are all returning from ‘Knives Out,’ and there’s a lot of faith in this new ensemble cast. For now, we’ll just have to wait until November (or December) to see how this sequel turns out, and to see if the hope for it is fulfilled.
By Rachel Beltowski
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Rachel Beltowski is a screenwriter and film critic, with a passion for character-driven stories and thought-provoking themes. From adventure to horror, Rachel enjoys stories which take the audience on an emotional rollercoaster and allow for personal expression that would otherwise go silent. Rachel was drawn to The Hollywood Insider’s dedication to individual perspectives and positive world impacts. The Hollywood Insider has provided a foundation for Rachel to share her insights and leap into the center of the entertainment industry. Rachel hopes to bring a fresh voice into the world of film and television, and share her love of stories with others.