When I went to see the first Sex and the City film in my local cinema, which, that evening, was heavily perfumed with popcorn and musk, an inefficient projectionist lined the print up badly, meaning the boom mic hung low, visible in most interior scenes - Carrie Bradshaw's tasteful dove-grey apartment was ceilingless; in the Mexican hotel room, where she slept and wept through the grief of being stood up at the altar, a microphone hovered like the promise of death. It was a sign, I see now, that it was the end for Sex and the City. The roof had been ripped away, and, like its size-six stars, the building's bones were showing. The brand had fallen in on itself like a collapsed but glittering lung.
The trailer for Sex and the City 2 was released this week, and it's not good. In fact, it's bad. It's set in Abu Dhabi. It's set in a time when the idea of a holiday in Abu Dhabi is met with gasps of excitement rather than raised eyebrows. The question asked this time, in Sarah Jessica Parker's knowing sing-song growl, is "What happens after you say 'I do'?"
You ride camels, it seems, in nipple-tasselled leotards, and you cheat on your husband with the carpenter who left you in season four. There is much fast striding in a line of four, five-inch stilettos stomping by swimming pools, much running away, before tearfully looking back. There's a lot of sand. One of the posters features Parker walking through the desert in a gown that appears to be sewn from the hides of slain mermaids. She looks part risen-again messiah, part CGI alien, eyes black holes, skin a glowing shade of tangerine.
In a recent interview, the film's writer and producer, Michael Patrick King, discussed his search for a location to film this sequel. He was looking for a place, he said, "where there's a lot of money with no shame attached". They settled on the United Arab Emirates, where billion-dollar hotels are built by slaves, and marble malls sell £20,000 (NZ$42,000) dresses, as seen, this May, on Carrie Bradshaw. Originally King tried filming in Dubai, but was banned, so mocked up a photogenic Abu Dhabi down the road in Marrakesh.
The message of consumerism that was criticised in film one (originally in the HBO series a loose idea of liberation through financial independence) is overwhelming in the sequel's desert-set trailer - sick, bad, weird even, those fetishised heels sinking only slightly into the clean white sand. And the characters, now three-quarters married - do they have any more searing truths to tell us about sex and relationships? Or will they, as the trailer suggests, offer only cliches - loud sex heard through thin walls, jokes about swallowing.
I'll see it, of course - there's a cameo from Liza Minnelli. Plus for every five painful outfits (paisley jumpsuits, gold embroidery, £1000 shoes) there'll be a covetable, discussable, rip-off-able "look". For every flock of cliches ("Being a mother is hard," says Miranda), there'll be a hint of the cynical humour we saw on TV. And besides, I'll try to watch with my mind turned down low - I'll enjoy the glossiness, the extravagance, the tans. It's beyond fantasy - it's Avatar, but set in the just-gone past. I'll go in memory of the telly double-bills, as it's almost certain - isn't it? - to be the brand's last breath.
And, however disappointed I was by the traditional turn their fairytales took, I want to see where the characters, in their parodies of princess dresses and their swiftly built castles, finally end up. I can't help it. I'm a Carrie: I'm weak.
Eva Wiseman is commissioning editor on the British Observer magazine
Frankly, why shouldn't we allow ourselves a little escapism? We've had a crappy time economically and a bloody awful winter in Britain, so why can't we simply enjoy the Manolos trotting across the screen for a couple of hours? I watched the trailer and immediately found myself getting excited - it's so colourful and happy. I think I'll go with some of the girls from the office and we can hide behind the spurious veil of it being a research trip.
I'll concede that it is unfortunate that they filmed it in Abu Dhabi. That does feel a bit two years ago - it's a setting that belongs to a pre-recession era when we were ready to applaud vulgar wealth and the ostentatious spending of money far more than we possibly can now. That said, the high fashion in the film will be undeniably fun. Of course, there are younger shows, like Gossip Girl, that are fashion-forward in a similar way, but they just don't have the international reach that Sex and the City had - and still has - it's window-shopping on a big screen.
It's clear that the film-makers feel a certain pressure to scale new sartorial heights, because the clothes get more and more outlandish, but even so, in the first film there were a good few of Carrie's dresses that I was desperate to own, and I am sure it will be the same this time. Essentially, a film like this is playing Barbies for grownups. It's fashion that one wants to see and to judge, and, in fact, it doesn't matter whether you like it or not - it's the voyeurism which is appealing. In truth, when they're all sitting around in the desert with their turbans and sequinned swimsuits, they do look like a Jordan tribute band. But who cares?! Why is there such a problem with enjoying fashion if it's fun?
It's true the films are not as groundbreaking as the original TV series, but the TV show did so much boundary-pushing that it would be very surprising if there was anywhere new for them to go now. I remember watching a couple of the TV shows while my father was in the room and it didn't make for comfortable viewing - the cunnilingus episode, for example. But even though it wasn't as edgy, the first film was still incredibly enjoyable, although admittedly not as clever as my favourite of the TV episodes.
However, its stock is still high with me and so I let that go because I have such fond memories of its beginnings. The show took off at the same time as we were launching Glamour, and I saw it as a spirit guide for the magazine. It was incredibly exciting to watch something that showed you were allowed to be both powerful and feminine, and that you could love very serious things and very frivolous things with equal validity.
I'm still undecided as to whether the characters have reached the end of their stories. That Aidan is back suggests to me that maybe they are retreading old and somewhat tired ground - where can they go with that plotline? However, the first film really surprised me with its capacity to bring out new elements in the characters and to twist the story, so I'm hopeful. Unbelievably, I found myself crying when Miranda and Steve reunited in the first film. So even though I came away very annoyed that Carrie had gone back to Big, and with Big for being Big, I loved it, and fully expect to love this one as well.
Jo Elvin is editor of British Glamour
* Sex and the City 2 is out in local cinemas at the beginning of June.