Friday, March 31, 2006

Attack of the Sequels

Aside from adaptations of popular comic books, sequels are the security blanket of the movie business. If a movie is successful (sometimes even mildly so), the likelihood of a sequel is very strong. If such a movie had a relatively small budget and stars without huge salaries, then the sequel chances grow exponentially. But how many sequels out there are really necessary? With the possible exception of sequels based on multiple books in a series, the number is undeniably low. Horror movies are probably the biggest offender, as they're relatively cheap to produce, rarely have big name stars attached and the scripts are, let's just say less than Oscar-worthy.

That said, Entertainment Weekly recently released its list of the 25 worst sequels ever made. Its list used criteria that measured the sequels' drop-off in quality from the original, but left off movies that were deemed "so bad they're good." Not really sure what that means, but you'll find only three horror movie sequels on the list – a rather shocking outcome. Heck, you could make a 25 worst list in that genre alone.

So here's the list, accompanied by my brief comments on them. Admittedly, a number of them I've never seen – and I'm sure my life is all the better for it. Feel free to interject your comments too, including any you might think are missing from the list.

25. "The Matrix Reloaded" - OK, so this is clearly inferior to the 1999 original, but I thought it was still pretty good overall. Plus, it's not even the weakest movie of the trilogy, as "The Matrix Revolutions" seems to run out of creativity about halfway through, going into special effects overload.

24. "The Next Karate Kid" - Once I heard Ralph Macchio wasn't returning for the third "Karate Kid" movie, I was outta there. So I've never seen this alleged hunk of junk starring some nobody named Hilary Swank. I wonder whatever happened to her?

23. "Porky's II: The Next Day" - I've seen this, but would have a difficult time distinguishing it from the first one. As I recall, the first one pretty much stunk too. Somehow, this sequel would somehow spawn another with "Porky's Revenge."

22. "Teen Wolf Too" - The original one, starring Michael J. Fox, was barely passable as far as teen comedies went, but at least was cleaner than "Porky's." But without Fox returning for a sequel, did the filmmakers really think they had a potential hit on their hands? Pity poor Jason Bateman for getting involved with this, as well as any viewers who actually watched it.

21. "Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde" - Reese Witherspoon proved her ability to carry a film with the first "Legally Blonde," as she was clearly the best part of what was a likable, but slight film. Critics and audiences weren't too kind on the sequel, however, meaning all concerned would probably have been better off leaving well enough alone.

20. "The Godfather Part III" - The only reason I can think this film is on here is that the first two films in the series won best picture Oscars and the third is a fair drop off. But it also got nominated for best picture and should not be on this list. Did they really think Sofia Coppola's acting was that bad? Granted, she was definitely the weakest acting link in the film, but I guess this is seen as a failure due to its lofty aspirations and expectations.

19. "Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise" - I'm sure "The Godfather" is thrilled to be in company with those lovable nerds, making their unnecessary return to the big screen. I mean, they already had their revenge at the end of the first film. How much more did they need? I've actually lost count of how many sequels this series has spawned, with the last one a made-for-TV one, if memory serves. Then again, it's probably best I don't remember.

18. "Battle for the Planet of the Apes" - Damn you! Damn you all to hell for making this sequel! Actually, Charlton Heston had nothing to do with this, the fifth film in what had become a tired franchise by this point.

17. "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier" - If you've ever desired to see Kirk, Spock and "Bones" McCoy sing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" around a campfire, then you're in luck. For the rest of us, it's a painful sight indeed. And that's not even counting the barely competent directing job done by William Shatner, his first and only foray into movie directing. This one makes the first "Star Trek" movie look like an Oscar-winner. And I hated the first movie.

16. "Ocean's Twelve" - Frankly, I don't believe this one belongs here either, as it was fairly entertaining, in my opinion. Sure, it's a bit too pleased with itself and just isn't as fun as the first one. But you can do a whole lot worse than this. Maybe some people think that a cast this talented shouldn't be allowed to have more fun than the audience.

15. "Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd" - So, you've got no Jim Carrey and no Jeff Daniels, or any of the original cast, for that matter in this movie. No problem, just move them to high school and cast younger actors in the roles. Does that work for you? No, me neither.

14. "Conan the Destroyer" - Cast Arnold Schwarzenegger, Grace Jones and Wilt Chamberlain in a film together and you have comic gold. Of course, this wasn't a comedy, so that's kind of a problem. And with that trio, Schwarzenegger is clearly the closest to a seasoned thespian and that spells trouble.

13. "The Sting II" - Substitute Paul Newman and Robert Redford with Jackie Gleason and Mac Davis for the sequel to the 1973 best picture winner and you just know something stinks. Plus, this movie is 10 years after the original. Was there an audience clamoring for it? If so, why?

12. "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" - Yes, Jar Jar Binks was a horrible idea and one that George Lucas may never live down. But this film is not that bad. It just happens to be the one forced to introduce most of the characters and wade through a lot of exposition. Still, it had some great light saber duels and a great looking villain in Darth Maul. And little Jake Lloyd (who played young Anakin) has never been heard from again ...

11. "Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights" - I thought the first film was stupid, so imagine my complete indifference to its sequel. This one was filmed about 17 years after the original and has really no connection other than the catering. Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure that isn't even the same. Patrick Swayze does have a brief cameo and if you look hard enough, you'll see him reach for his paycheck before the scene's conclusion.

10. "Jaws: The Revenge" - Michael Caine actually missed picking up his Oscar for "Hannah and Her Sisters" to film this piece of crap. This one makes "Jaws 3" (actually filmed in 3-D) look decent in comparison. You'll be rooting for the shark this time around.

9. "Speed 2: Cruise Control" - Keanu Reeves opted out of the movie, leaving "Speed" co-star Sandra Bullock to sink on her own in this waterlogged sequel. It quickly flopped at the box office, leaving the future of "Speed 3: Deaf Children at Play" in serious jeopardy.

8. "Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan" - Having stopped watching the "Friday the 13th" movies around Part III, I'd have to imagine this must really suck to be the lone film in the series to make the list. It amazes me that there was still a demand for this series to even reach Part VIII, since there was barely an original idea in all the films that preceded it.

7. "The Fly II" - What was Eric Stoltz doing in this way inferior sequel to the Jeff Goldblum - Geena Davis 1986 remake? This film has the distinction of having even more gross out sequences than the first one. And with David Cronenberg having directed the original, that's really saying something.

6. "Weekend at Bernie's II" - This guy died in the first film and should be stiff as a board and stink something awful by the time of the sequel. This time, the two morons (Jonathan Silverman and Andrew McCarthy) bring their dead boss to the Virgin Islands. So it's not really a weekend or at Bernie's this time. If only that was the lone thing to fault with this unfunny movie.

5. "Batman & Robin" - Star George Clooney seems to joke about this movie at every opportunity and director Joel Schumacher actually apologized for it in his commentary on the DVD. So that should say it all about this movie that almost ended the franchise.

4. "Blues Brothers 2000" - A "Blues Brothers" sequel without John Belushi and nearly 20 years after the original? Where do I sign up? For that matter, I hardly think the flawed original was even deserving of a sequel. Belushi would probably be spinning in his grave, but is probably too busy partying to care.

3. "Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha' Hood" - Having never seen any of the "Leprechaun" movies, I'd have to think, judging by the title alone, that this one has got offensively God-awful written all over it. This is actually the sixth in the series. The sixth?! Who out there can actually admit to having seen the previous five?

2. "Caddyshack II" - Casting Jackie Mason as your lead actor is trouble sign number one. The fact that from the original cast, only Chevy Chase reappears (in a cameo), and you've got trouble sign number two. Plus, this movie actually seems to have less of a plot than the original – a true dubious accomplishment.

1. "Staying Alive" - For future reference, if you're a film producer and you have Sylvester Stallone and Frank Stallone signed on to direct and provide music for your movie, run away. Quickly. And no matter what you do, don't look back. I thought "Saturday Night Fever" was great, with its opening sequence of John Travolta walking the street to the Bee Gees' "Staying Alive." You get to relive that moment in the sequel. Unfortunately, you have to suffer through a veritable cinematic hell to get there, as it takes place in the last scene. I'm pretty sure you can't put Travolta and Stallone together in a room together anymore, as it would certainly be hazardous to the health of anyone else in there.

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