The Third Curse


We all know bands can suffer from "Difficult Second Album Syndrome" – most famously, The Stone Roses came a cropper, as did The Strokes and I'm hoping Hard-Fi won't go the same way when they release the follow-up to their genius debut. The DSA is the fear of all bands, but it strikes hardest at the hearts of those that produce so perfect a first album that fans and critics alike wonder if the same dizzy heights can ever be attained again without actually achieving spiritual ascension of some kind. Who wouldn't cave under that kind of pressure? But some have lived to tell the tale.

Similarly to DSA comes the trick of tying up a trilogy. When it comes to movies, three is a difficult number and a similar syndrome (Difficult Third Movie) can be applied. Few films have managed the perfect triumvirate. The first that springs to mind of course is Star Wars – the original three. Lord of the Rings succeeded where many hadn't even dared to venture. And here endeth the list.

It doesn't take much head scratching to come up with a list of trilogies marred by the last in their party. The Last Crusade brought Indy to a standstill, although the fourth could bring him back from the brink (I'm not holding my breath), similarly The God Father III, not a patch on the first two. More recently we have X3: The Last Stand, a sad victim of the let's throw more money at it than the others with lots of explosions school of thought. Terminator 3 unforgivably tainted the previous two with its shameless cash-in, although some would say this had already happened by T2 (not I).

The most recent movie suffering from DTMS is of course Spider-man 3. As much as I love the previous two, Sam Rami couldn't quite keep it together to complete the trilogy. Bogged down with not two, but three villains, Spidey 3 is a sprawling, over-blown mess.

Don't get me wrong dear play chums, there is much to like in the movie. Sandman was great, played with a weighty, world-weary sadness and his origin scene was fantastic. The chase scene down the alley with the Green Goblin was also a standout moment and so near the beginning too. In keeping with the previous two, Rami balanced comic light relief with pathos beautifully. This could be seen in the comedic restaurant moment and the heartbreaking scene on the bridge between MJ and Peter.

However, the absolute wealth of villains proved more of a distraction than a boon to the patchy plot. While Peter was dealing with his disintegrating relationship with MJ and a whole load of superhero angst, Harry Osborn was still whining about his dad. Having said that he was the only villain displaying any true menace. Sandman was lumbering around being all, sad, angry and mixed up about his crippled daughter (sigh) and to top it all, Peter gets up-close and personal with an alien symbiote which as we all know leads to the eventual creation of Venom.

Venom is totally underused and should have been saved for his own movie. And as if that's not enough, Rami had to shoe-horn Gwen Stacey into the plot, leading to more confusion, complication and coincidence, when she turns out to be dating Eddie Brock, Peter's rival at the Bugle and the man later destined to become Venom – yeesh!

On the whole, Spidey 3 didn't quite disappoint, but it didn't leave me with the warm giddy feeling of the other two either.

This, my friends is the fate that could befall Halo 3. "Ah," I hear you say, "She's finally getting to the point." On the week that Microsoft announced the launch of the third and final Halo (if the "Finish the Fight" strap line is anything to go by) our thoughts are tossed between elation and anxiety.

Not many have said it, but Halo 2 wasn't really a patch on Halo. It was a great game, but it was the DSG (Difficult Second Game) and it showed. Although some of the environments were varied, they weren't really varied enough and once again we were plunged into the bowels of alien ships that looked like a hall of mirrors after five minutes.

Although I loved the moment we switched from playing Master Chief and became the Arbiter, many saw it as a betrayal on par with Raiden and Snake in MGS2. Plot twists a-go-go Halo 2 gave us more of the stuff we loved about Halo, but without great levels like The Silent Cartographer and The Library.

All I'm asking is that Bungie doesn't just throw extra features, vehicles, aliens and weapons into the game in a vain attempt to make it seem bigger and better than Halo. Chances are it's never going to be bigger and better than Halo, so take a leaf out of Tomb Raider's most recent book and find the essence of what made the original so great, pare it down and keep it simple stupid.

Most played: Tomb Raider: Legend

Most wanted: Assassin's Creed

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