Coulda Woulda Shoulda

Sometimes when watching a film, I can't help but wish that I had the power to revise film history a bit. If only to make filmmakers understand the value of "NO TOUCHING!" Or in other words, when you've got a good thing going, just leave it alone. Far too many films became franchises when they should have been one and done. Here's a list of the ten worst offenders, and I have plenty more in the honorable mentions. Also, before we begin, a huge THANK YOU to Courtney once again for her fabulous graphics.

Welcome to the movie that inspired the whole list. You could not have a wider spread of quality between the first movie in this series to the last. Over time, the series has become a complete mockery because it lost its way and completely forgot the type of film the first one was trying to be. John McClane starts as an everyman. Sure he's an above average everyman who is extremely, clever and resourceful....but we do know he is vulnerable. When you get to films 4 and 5, McClane is no longer a man, but an invincible god. Sure he's fun to watch and the action is completely over the top, but all of his charm and relateability is completely gone.

I'm sure this series more than any other on this list wishes it didn't have a sequel either! The lesson to be learned here? If the main star of the first film doesn't return for the sequel, it's probably not the best idea to center a second film around his former love interest, who you then will inform the audience that things never worked out between the two. This makes it seem like Keanu Reeves was a throwaway character in the crazy love life of Sandra Bullock. Is THAT what Speed was supposed to be about?? It also might not help to give the film a ridiculous plot or set it on a cruise ship either...

Now, I'll admit films 3 and 4 are entertaining enough to argue this film's shouldn't be included here, but the 2nd film in this series is so unbelievably awful I had to put it anyway. The first film feels so unlike all the other films in this series, and while the latter films are fine...they still lack the urgency, cleverness or seriousness of the first film. You get the sense from the first one that there are real mysteries to be solved, and the latter films are nothing more than popcorn epics with side characters throwing out silly one-liners. There's just something about the first film that seems more sophisticated than the rest, and I would have been fine if this was the only adventure I ever saw Ethan Hunt embark on.

Sometimes sequels are so awful that you just have to basically forget they even exist for the sake of the first film's legacy. Certain classics take an amount of suspending belief for the audience to even buy one premise....let alone the same event happening over and over. One killer shark is frightening, but several that keep attacking the same people over and over and over? It's a little implausible to say the least, and it seems to undermine the threat of the shark in the first film. He's just one in a million, who cares about him when there's just gonna be a bigger, badder one in a few years time?

When will people learn to leave the Alfred Hitchcock classics alone? And what's wrong with a little mystery regarding iconic characters? Why must everything be sought to explained in other films? Prequels, sequels, side-quels (okay, I made that one up...) but seriously! Can't we leave things unknown, and better yet up to the imaginations of the viewer? These may perhaps be some of the most unnecessary sequels in all of film history!

This first Matrix film achieved the rare combination of being trippy, mysterious and cool, all in one. It was just enough of everything. But, of course, hungry audiences wanted more of that world, more of that story. What they got were some cool actions scenes, but also a whole convoluted mess that just more than anything else was unnecessary. Complication and confusion for the purpose of nothing really. Trying to set up a mythology that was its own, when the first one had done a fine enough job of that without being TOO head scratching.

The first film back in 2003 was a simple, fun summer movie. Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow was fresh, and his adventure was fun. And thennnnn they ran into the ground. One good character does not a movie make, even though the sequels seemed to all think so. The more you have to rely on said character, the more overused and tiresome he gets. It's too bad this couldn't have been a fun one-off adventure that we all could fondly remember....without shuddering about the existence of At Worlds End. As with The Matrix, the desire to create this film's own mythology made it extremely convoluted and clunky. Just...no one cares. Keep it simple and fun.

This is truly a film that should not have been a franchise. I can see the temptation in making it one and why they did....but a silly kitschy premise really can only work so many times. In fact, they were lucky it actually worked fine enough the first time! Don't push your luck! This is the type too that though I find the first film entertaining and fun enough, as a franchise it basically made me ambivalent about the whole thing. Not only that, but there's just something incredibly dated about this one. It really screams 90's film...not something that should be made today.
The first film was a masterpiece. The sequels? Popcorn tragedies. Okay, The Lost World isn't THAT bad (or is it?) But it definitely isn't THAT good. And for the standard set by Jurassic Park, it's simply unacceptable. It suffers from the fact that while Ian Malcolm was a great character in the first film, he was definitely better as a side character. And the side characters they brought in to support him were simply awful. Sure it's fun to see dinosaurs in the modern world and not just on the island....but there's also something a little Godzilla-y about it too.

This movie is harmless enough, and it's definitely nice to see the Ghostbusters again....but it definitely doesn't come close to achieving the par set by its predecessor. And if there's one thing I really hate in these sequels, it's undoing the progress made by the first film. Peter Venkman worked hard to get Dana in the original film! Sure, it's more believable he'd screw it up and they wouldn't STAY together, but who cares? We want our hero to be happy! Then the other thing I just don't care for is the complete 180 of Annie Potts character just so Rick Moranis can have a love interest. It's a fun enough movie and one of the lesser offenders on the list to be sure, but it could and should have been better.



Johanna said...

I always wondered about the Annie Potts switch, too. What would have been wrong developing Harold Ramis and her?

But I was thinking about the hungering for more. It's so true, but just as it is in real life; the first bite is the best and if you eat the whole cake, the memory of the first bite is obliterated by the sore guts you feel for a week. So it is with movies, leave 'em hungry!

Sarah said...

Miss Congeniality is one of the biggest offenders in my opinion. The first movie is so great...the second one is just terrible! I didn't mind The Lost World (though I agree with your assessment of it), but the third movie was awful. Now, I loved both Bill & Ted movies, but I've heard rumors that a third might be in consideration. That sounds like a baaad idea to me. I enjoyed the second Ghostbusters, though is wasn't as great as the first. However, I have no idea what good will come of another one (isn't a third movie in the works?). I pretty much agree with all of these...though the second Jaws movie wasn't too bad (not genius like the first though). The third and fourth are soooooooo bad though. When an interviewer asked Dennis Quaid about being in Jaws 3D, his response was, "I did a Jaws movie?" Ha ha! I think he would like to forget that and would hope that everyone else would forget it too!

Brittany said...

I feel like Free Willy toats needs to be on here, and almost ANY animated Disney movie I've ever seen! Oh, and the Land Before Time... don't even get me started.