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The Curse Of The Over-Elaborate Title: Requiem And Salvation Origins - Part One

Posted on Tuesday February 26, 2008, 14:56 by Helen O'Hara in Empire States
The Curse Of The Over-Elaborate Title: Requiem And Salvation Origins - Part One

So set to hit our screens next year are X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins and A Night At The Museum 2: Escape From The Smithsonian. This year we have Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian - which I perhaps should excuse here, because at least it's less unwieldy than The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe. Thing is, do we really need all these fripperies? Aren't these films actually just Wolverine, T4, Museum 2, Indy IV and Prince Caspian?

Perhaps we should blame LotR - or rather the threesome comprised of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Followed, as they were, by Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. Try listing those in a hurry.

Now perhaps I'm being unfair here - I have no problems with long titles, per se. The poetry of a To Wong Foo Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar is not lost on me (however much I long for an extra comma), and I warmly embrace The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (well, I don't embrace it because I don't approve of assassination, generally speaking, but you get my point). A title such as The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!? would make a film almost essential viewing in my eyes, and there's nothing wrong with the title of The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover.

It's just as it pertains to these neverending franchises. What's wrong with just calling a sequel a sequel? Or, heck, call it a spade, I don't care. For my money, an honest-to-god moniker like Spider-Man 2 is infinitely preferable to any number of X-Men: The Last Stands (on several levels, in fact), and I'll take the mighty T2 over Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins even if the latter does turn out well. Indy I can excuse, given that that's always been the model for his titles (although I could wish that this one were a little more wieldy) but Wolverine, A Night At The Museum and Terminator really don't need the help. And don't get me started on the shorter-but-equally-dumb Alien Vs Predator: Requiem. The prospect of AvP2 was bad enough.

People, these are big, silly pictures, but that doesn't mean we need to give them big, silly names. These films should have names that are small, fun and easy to throw around in conversation - the nomeclature equivalent of hacky sacks, if you will. They don't have to be acronyms, but they should be short and sweet. Instead, some of these are like those Zorb spheres - a lot of fun, perhaps, but not portable and not for everyday.

Perhaps I am alone on this one, but I doubt it - and if necessary, my one-woman crusade shall continue. Come next May, I will be queuing up to defiantly request a ticket to Wolverine, come what may. I may bring a pitchfork or a burning torch to the cinema just in case the cinema denies all knowledge and offers me a ticket to X-Men Origins: Wolverine instead. So who's with me?

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1 Noelg25
Posted on Wednesday February 27, 2008, 15:14
Helen, Helen, Helen. I understand your frustration and feel your pain. I do hate it when you have such elongated titles for films that really dont need it. However, that being said, I will say that the likes of Indy 4 should have their full title. Purely because that's how it's been done since Spielberg and Lucas first together on the project. As with the likes of Terminator yes, I agree with you there Terminator 4 or T4 (not to be confused with a certain sunday morning tv program kids) would be so much better. Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines was bad enough. They should have left it at Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

Wolverine's spin-off, again, just leave it at Wolverine. We dont need to know about the X-Men Origins (I hope Marvel and Fox are not planning on doing this with other possible spin-offs from X-Men. Can you imagine X-Men Origins: Juggernaut? Heaven forbid!). The film is about Wolverine and how he became the claw-weilding menace that he is today. Nothing to do with X-Men at all.

But I will say this, you have hit the nail on the head with this blog. If only the directors, distributors and producers take note and realise that long titles (Indy can be excused here) are not big and certainly not clever. And I will gladly join you in the queue to protest. It will be a one-woman plus one-man crusade! "They may take our lives, but they may never take our freedom" (I tried to think of something more interesting sorry lol).

2 mjscarface
Posted on Wednesday February 27, 2008, 15:37
This is why I liked 'Rambo' - no bullshit, just straight to the point. Much like the film!

3 willchadwick
Posted on Wednesday February 27, 2008, 15:44
Surely the film which started this is:

Doctor Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

4 The Todge
Posted on Wednesday February 27, 2008, 15:54
I hatre these really elaborate titles too.

So I book tickets online and thus am spared embarassment saying them, Problem solved!

5 Glass3005
Posted on Wednesday February 27, 2008, 19:13
You've missed:

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan


6 Old_Pyrate
Posted on Wednesday February 27, 2008, 19:33
It's because marketing people don't think we're clever enough to make the link. In a reverse of this title madness, remember when The Madness of George III, had it's title changed to The Madness of King George so that American's wouldn't wonder why they hadn't seen parts one and two.

Just let's not get started on Live Free or Die Hard. Dumb title to start with, but we got it as Die Hard 4.0 - why the .0, why?!

7 Ricorodrigeuz
Posted on Wednesday February 27, 2008, 21:40
The reason why its got a 4.0 intsead of four is because the film is about hacking, computers etc.

I agree with Helen that film titles are becoming too long. The assassination of... I'll let off because that title seems to work for me but when someone asks you film what film you last saw, you don't want to bore them and come out with something stupidly wrong. Why don't sequels go back to the old days and just have a 2 next to it like with Die Hard, Predator etc.

8 Juliette
Posted on Thursday February 28, 2008, 00:14
The titles with colons are easy enough to shorten. If the sequels are based on books already known and loved (or amybe if they're really really good), they go by the second part - 'ROTK', 'Prince Caspian', 'Half-Blood Prince' etc. If the sequels are a bit rubbish and everyone prefers the first film anyway, they go by the first part, or even just one word from the first part, with the appropriate number, because no one cared enough to learn the full title - e.g. 'Pirates 3', 'Matrix 2', 'X-Men 2' etc (OK, X-Men 2 wasn't that bad, but you get the point). So I guess it helps to have the whole long title - you can just pick the bit you remember best and use that.

It's the films with long title for no reason that baffle me a bit. I always forget that 'Dr Strangelove' has more words in the title...

9 monkeygiles
Posted on Thursday February 28, 2008, 13:58
Re: Ricorodrigeuz
Wasn't is Die Hard 2: Die Harder?

10 Dirty Hartigan
Posted on Thursday February 28, 2008, 14:56
Some good points made, but I actually like asking for the full title of the film at the cinema, at least for comedies like Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.

11 Richy T
Posted on Thursday February 28, 2008, 17:14
I remember a monologue at the BAFTAs by Stephen Fry a few years ago where he heaped praise upon the semi colon and the magnificent year it had at the box office (I believe it was 2003 but I am not sure) which seems along the same lines.

Long titles are a complete nuisance, maybe its thought that these elaborate titles give some sort of recommendation of the quality of the film. if bigger is better then perhaps its thought that the ability to condense a movie into a 1 or 2 word title shows that it has depth and complexity (I don't think this, I'm just thinking out loud). Apart from that I guess that a simple numerical designation could be psychologically considered as designating an inferiority and with the increasing (justified) cynicism about the quality of sequels there is a desire among marketing men to avoid it. Also possible is that the long title acts as a kind of in built plot description/tag line.

However, I prefer sort snappy titles and when I go to the cinema I don't indulge in the stupidity of titles. I go to see Bond, not The Quantum of solace!

PS: Qudos to The Dark Night for being just that and not employing the Batman: The Dark Night mantle.

12 Mad Dog Tannen
Posted on Thursday February 28, 2008, 17:20
Personally, I despise inconsistent sequel titles, the worst offender being the Rambo movies. Just look at these titles:

First Blood
Rambo: First Blood Part II
Rambo III

It's stupid and ugly!

13 britesparc
Posted on Thursday February 28, 2008, 17:28
I've thought it was ridiculous ever since T3. "Rise of the Machines" sounds like a mediocre videogame or a Doctor Who episode. I can only surmise that it is down to Hollywood films drawing more and more from comics and videogames, which tend to have more verbose titles (obvious exception here being classic RTS "Z"). But it's just silly: no one calls it Halo: Combat Evolved, they just call it Halo (or if they don't, they bloody should, the daft gets).

Like most people, I think Kingdom of the Crystal Skull because it's harking back to something old-fashioned, like the Star Wars titles do (my favourite title is Attack of the Clones, even if the repeated use of "of the" in Star Wars titles gets a bit boring). But these ridiculously convoluted colon-centric titles just make movies look niche and reflect their true nature as spin-off franchise extensions or sequels. We're never gonna call them by their "full" title, so why bother?

14 jonogage
Posted on Thursday February 28, 2008, 18:52
Terminator 2: Judgement Day is just the right length for a movie title. it can be shorterned (T2) and it can be said full length if you want to be an uber geek.

I also think indiana jones and the kingdom of the crystal skull is a great title, maybe not as catchy as raiders of the lost ark, but still has an air of mystery about it. as well as including the name of an artefact. The same goes for the star wars movies, in my opinion excellent titles.

you are also correct with x men origins etc, who isnt gonna call it wolverine?
on the ticket stubs im not gonna be happy to see X-MEN ORI.

IF this is going to be an ongoing habit, i hope studios decide to use imagination. As a another commenter said, X-men origins- Juggernaut, will not be a happy prospect.

However, unlike some people, i think quantum of solace is a great title, and it shows that the big guns in the movie business arent afraid to use a complicated title, that uses imagination, that might scare aware possible lazy american punters

15 J_BUltimatum
Posted on Thursday February 28, 2008, 19:27
Erm... You are just getting nit picky now!! You have to remember that the majority of titles now adays are taken from books (e.g. Prince Caspian), plus it's up to the backers of the project on what it should be called. It doesn't mean everytime in conversation you have to reel out the full whack! A perfect example is that you mentioned "T2" in your blog... the title however, correct me if I am wrong, was "Terminator 2: Judgement Day". In the end who cares what a film is long as it's half decent!

16 Mute
Posted on Thursday February 28, 2008, 19:28
You also missed:

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

I know that it was Sondheim's original title, but wouldn't it have been easier just to call it Sweeney Todd?

17 XenonXylophone
Posted on Thursday February 28, 2008, 21:13
Surely 'Another Night at the Museum' is a better title on every level?

18 doberdog
Posted on Friday February 29, 2008, 06:16
"Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" could've been worse. It could've ended up as "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: The String of Pearls: A Romance".

19 Kat113
Posted on Friday February 29, 2008, 15:10
I am with you! Wolverine it is!

20 sideshowjim
Posted on Friday February 29, 2008, 16:07
"The englishman who went up a hill but came down a mountain"

After reading the title, why bother watching the film? Got a pretty good idea what's gonna happen now...

21 Concise_Statement
Posted on Friday February 29, 2008, 17:32
Okay, I can't exactly consider myself a Rings fan, but I do like the films and one must appreciate just how offensive ANY comparison between that fantasy trilogy and the Pirates fluff can be.

Hundreds of people slaved over every detail in the Rings trilogy, making it a labour of love for all concerned. The pirates movies are shallow and vacuous in the extreme - which was fun in the first instance, and really, really not in the latter two cases.

The only thing these two share is perhaps the genre label of fanasy and a bunch of colons : the first is a masterclass in adventure filmmaking, the second is a masterclass in a marketing adventure. That is all.

22 Zilla101
Posted on Friday February 29, 2008, 17:35
Christie Malry's Own Double Entry

Relativley short title but a completley weird one. You'd not be in the minority to ask..."Erm.. what is this all about, is it some kind of dutch film?". Then your mate tells you it's actually about accountacy and all interest is lost. Pity, cos its a craking film.

23 Adrian
Posted on Friday February 29, 2008, 17:59
yes... 3 whole words in the title. how on earth will we remember it? it's called that because 1. they're doing a bunch of origins movies (it seems) and it seems want to tie them together with the titles. 2. it's about Wolverine's origin. there'll be people not in the know who - if it was just called Wolverine - would go expecting it to revolve around the character at the point of the 3 main films. 3. when it's out on DVD, where you wanna put it? on its own under W, or with the other X-Men DVDs under X-Men?

and I think point 3 could be largely why a lot of films do get these [title]: [subtitle] titles. not so much for sligtly autistic folks like me who insist on alphabetising their DVD collection, but also for any alphabetical film list to help keep multiple releases together.

that said, this point WOULD make such a title pointless and therefore stupid with a standalone movie.

24 Louise123
Posted on Saturday March 1, 2008, 15:38
I think some of the long titles are because the movie industry doesnt give the movie-going public enough credit for knowing what a films about, e.g. Sweeney Todd, if it was'nt for the Demon Barber bit they might be worried that the Jeremy-Kyle-Fern-and-Phil watching generation would be thinking "Sweeney Who"?

Also I think there's a definite relationship between movie title length and how good the film is...

25 rumblefish1976
Posted on Monday March 3, 2008, 01:05
just be thankful the big release of the week doesn't try to compete with "Night of the Day of the Dawn of the Son of the Bride of the Return of the Revenge of the Terror of the Attack of the Evil, Mutant, Hellbound, Flesh-Eating Subhumanoid Zombified Living Dead, Part 3" in the name stakes. Now that's a title !!!

26 Mr Grizzly
Posted on Monday March 3, 2008, 23:07
I think it really depends - some are just the dumb view assuming the everyday public have no recollection of the previous films - Hey Johnny Depp's in another pirate movie! Wait? Its a sequel? No way? I must have missed the bombardment of marketing...

I always wind up/ amuse my mates with useless film knowledge of pointless titles. Today for example,

my mate, "I reckon the first movie I saw at the cinema was Home Alone 2."

me "Surely you mean, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York?"

Or the other week...."Turtles 2? You mean Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze? No, never heard of it?"

Remember the Vanilla Ice "cameo" ? (What's my point again?)

Oh yeah and I never saw that terrible Fried Tomatoes film because I was put off by the title...

27 iainjames
Posted on Monday March 3, 2008, 23:10
I say let the studios have their fun. The only people seriously affected by the trend are the movie journalists who have to type these long-winded names out - nursing their poor fingertips while cursing the protracted film titles.

As for us proles queuing up for tickets or discussing the merits of these films in pubs, we can simply shorten accordingly... "Two tickets for Jesse James, please" or "Have you seen the new Indy film yet?". As with most things in Hollywood, I reckon this is just a passing phase; the execs must have heard the masses grumbling about all the sequels these days. What easier way to disguise a film that repeats and reheats its previous incarnation than by calling it by a different name? And as mentioned in other comments there have been plenty of recent 'sequels' that justifiably owe their supersize titles to their literary sources.

Sub-titling franchise films is nothing new - Police Academy, anyone? - and it seems they're doing it to give the film more appeal in some cases by describing the plot arc for the more cautious viewer (Transformers: The One With Huge Robots Kicking The Pants Off Each Other) but I don't think the roman numeral's days are numbered quite yet. So for now you cinema scribes will just have to bear the callouses - and you charade-lovers will just have to bare your feet so you can count off the words you're miming.

And, Miss O'Hara, let's face it - it's better than searching for the damn 'heart' symbol for that Huckabees film....

28 sowasred2012
Posted on Monday March 3, 2008, 23:32
I kinda like the long winded titles - in Wolverine's case, from what I've heard there's gonna be a whole series of X-Men Origins movies with Magneto being one of the others (and I'm gonna throw a vote in for a Joss Whedon penned Cyclops entry, ol' one eye got shafted in all three movies and no-one has written him better than Joss).

As for the Terminator Salvation title - again, I'm onboard since it sounds more like the film makers have recognised that the franchise needs to be rescued, and have both admitted that and promised said salvation right there on the tin. I remember when T3 came out, there was some godawful video game tie in that followed and was pretty much recieved as such. The guys who made that actually went back to the drawing board and later came up with T3: The Redemption - which, by no means a perfect or even classic game, was damn good fun and far better than a way-after-the-fact movie tie in had any right to even hope to be, my point being that those guys did the same thing as the Salvation guys - admitted the problem and promised the solution all in the title.

29 Kev@CTU
Posted on Wednesday March 5, 2008, 11:33
Mmm I think it's very harsh to put the blame on the LOTR movies (after all, they are the titles taken from the books)

Am I on my own thinking that I'm not actually that bothered about what a movie is called as long as the ACTUAL movie is good?

Methinks, Helen, that you are ranting for the sake of ranting.

Now get back to your otherwise excellent blogs


30 Helen OHara
Posted on Wednesday March 5, 2008, 16:19
Ranting for the sake of ranting? Me? Surely not!

But seriously, that Wolverine one in particular really does irritate me.

31 C.C.C.P.
Posted on Thursday March 6, 2008, 13:27
Next up: X Men Origins: Cyclops and his Space-Pirate Father

32 Paxton
Posted on Friday March 7, 2008, 13:34
The studios only use such unwieldy titles in an attempt to imbue otherwise meritless movies with a semblance of significance. "Salvation", "Requiem", "Resurrection", "Atonement"... oops, Freudian slip...

33 Blunderbuss
Posted on Friday March 7, 2008, 17:26
I pity the studios. Seriously I do. I remember back in the late eighties and early nineties they were constantly lambasted for having lazy titles for sequels like Lethal Weapon 2, Predator 2, Rocky IV etc (Die Hard 2 doesn't count because they called it 'Die Harder'. D'ya see what they did there?). I remember lots of critics asking why they couldn't come up with more original sequel titles rather than simply sticking a number after the name of the original movie. In response they started trying to do just that, and now the backlash has come full circle, with nostalgia for the old roman numerals to indicate a sequel. I admit that some of the titles on offer have just got CRRAZZZY (the PoTC series being classic examples of title inflation), but if producers did go back to the old 1, 2, 3 or I, II, III system you can bet than in a few years time someone would be ranting about how boring it is. Seems the poor bastards just can't win.

34 Kev@CTU
Posted on Monday March 10, 2008, 09:14
Ok Helen, I'll give you the Wolverine one; that title is annoying.
How about?
"Wolverine: AKA How I learned to stop worrying and love the adamantium claws"


35 C.C.C.P.
Posted on Monday March 10, 2008, 10:28
Meh don't complain about Strangelove's title people. It's a comedy, it was tongue in cheek.

36 Evil_Bob
Posted on Thursday March 13, 2008, 00:13
The one that really bothered me was Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. I really wanted that movie to be a flop and for people to scream in the streets "I would have gone to see it if it wasn't for that ridiculously long name. You should have just called it Master and Commander". To this day I have not seen it. No specifically because of the title. Mainly cause I'm not arsed.

37 jascott
Posted on Thursday March 13, 2008, 11:49
What is this all about!?! You would rather it have been Lord of the Rings 1, 2 and 3?? Maybe POTC could just be Pirates 1, 2 and 3? That is so dull I have to say, I much rather titles were creative, even if they do become rather long, we abreviate them in conversation anyway. OK some may go too far, like Master and Commander... but I really cringe when sequels just have another number added. And to add to the Die Hard 4.0 comments, if someone had just told me that it was called that cos it was about hacking before I went to see it may have just avoided it altogether. Whats next Die Hard 101??

38 samthemanc
Posted on Thursday April 10, 2008, 09:25
If film titles have to be straight and to the point does that make 'Snakes on a Plane' the best film title ever?

I think it does.

I'm not sure the extra titles actually make a difference, the only films i call by the individual ones are Lotr and Indy. I always call 'Dead Man's Chest' 'Pirates 3' even Star wars gets the 'Star wars 3' treatment from me, which gets confusing as that's technically Star Wars 6.
The only films i have a problem with are Bond films as they don't have the prefix, 'James Bond 21: Casino Royale' for me would be better than it's actual title as i can't alphabetise my bond collection. But maybe i'm an anally retentive nutter, who knows.

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