It’s very rare that a sequel can match the quality of the original. It’s even more rare when the sequel actually surpasses the original. However, for the most part, moviegoers know through experience that sequels usually aren’t very good. More often than not, the movie is made for financial reasons and not creative ones. It’s easy to shrug off those pieces of garbage. But what about those sequels that you really got your hopes up? There’s nothing worse than seeing a once proud franchise taint its legacy with an unforgivable sequel. Let’s get into the best examples:
Star Wars Episode 1-3: I am not a huge Star Wars fan. In fact, I haven’t even Episodes 1-3. I do know this though, for the Star Wars fanboys, these films were a huge letdown. Star Wars fans, feel free to sound off.
5. Lethal Weapon 3
There is a clear difference between both the overall quality and overall tone of the first two Lethal Weapon’s compared to the third and fourth films. The first two had many dark elements to it, with the character of Martin Riggs dealing with his inner demons. Both films should be considered amongst the best action films of all-time. Lethal Weapon 3 and 4 took a much more lighthearted approach. There was an added emphasis on the comedy. This worked much better in the 4th film with the addition of Chris Rock’s character. Also, the 4th film, while not up to par with the first two, did have a great villain in Jet Li. He was a formidable opponent to Riggs.
My main beef with Lethal Weapon 3 is the fact that you can barely remember the villain. You don’t forget Jet Li. And you sure as heck don’t forget diplomatic immunity and the fight with Mr. Joshua. I remember Joe Pesci’s annoying “okay okay okay” more than I do the villain. I think it was some ex-cop. Someone refresh my memory, I am too old for this shit.
4. Rocky V
Rocky goes from single-handedly ending the Cold War with his epic beatdown of a roided out of his mind Ivan Drago in Russia, to fighting some young nobody in the streets of Philadelphia. Talk about a drop off. I know that Rocky IV is a tough act to follow, but certainly they could have come up with a better storyline for Rocky V. The story features a bumbling Stallone (even more than normal) past his prime challenging a young hotshot boxer. There isn’t even a fight in the ring. The two idiots just duke it out in the streets of Philly. You can see that movie for free every Sunday in the fall at Eagles tailgates. I still haven’t seen Rocky VI (Rocky Balboa) or Rocky VII Adrian’s revenge, so someone is going to have to let me know if either are worthwhile.
3. The Godfather Part III
The Godfather Part II is arguably the best sequel of all-time. Which is why expectations were sky high for Part III. However, the main problem with this film, and a problem with a lot of sequels, is the fact that there was just too much time between the sequels. Godfather Part II was released in 1974. Godfather III came out 16 years later in 1990. Having this big of a gap between sequels is just about the kiss of death. Despite this, many of the key players were back, most notably Francis Ford Coppola and Al Pacino. These two alone should have inspired confidence in the audience.
One of the most common criticisms of the third film was Coppola casting his daughter Sofia as one of the female leads. Is this criticism fair? YES! No Deniro, Brando, or James Caan hurt. Andy Garcia was not believable as the heir apparent to Al Pacino. But the most criminal of all of this was the terribly annoying performance of Sofia Coppola. Those who remember her shrieking on the steps at the end will know what I am talking about. I go to movies to get away from girls hysterically screaming. It was truly a moment where the audience would’ve rather been sleeping with the fishes.
2. Live Free or Die Hard
At one point in this movie John McClane takes a helicopter out with a flying car and a fire hydrant. He also jumped off a freeway that was falling apart onto a flying plane. Now, I am of the belief that one should be willing to suspend disbelief when attending an action film. However, Die Hard 4 just took things too far. There were some unrealistic parts of the first Die Hard, but for the most part the plot was in the realm of possibility.
None of the sequels could measure up to the original Die Hard. It’s hard to follow up the greatest action movie of all-time. But the 2nd and 3rd films certainly had their moments. Die Hard with a Vengeance had a magnificent sidekick in Samuel L. Jackson. And who was the sidekick in Die Hard 4? That’s right, the guy from the Mac computer commercials. I hear he wasn’t even the first choice. The Dude you’re getting a Dell guy turned down the part. Even he knew that script was garbage.
1. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
There is no movie in my lifetime that I looked forward to seeing in theaters more than Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The first three Indy films are among my favorite movies of all-time. However, I was never able to experience an Indiana Jones movie in theaters. I know the people who saw Raiders in theaters talk about it being almost a religious experience. So, when I found out there was going to be another Indy film, I was ecstatic. Not only that, Spielberg and Lucas were on board. Spielberg is one of the most remarkably consistent directors in history. I even went to the amazing Uptown theater in Washington DC for the opening night. And what was I rewarded with?
CGI chipmunks, Indy surviving an Atomic bomb blast in a fridge, Shia Labeouf swinging on some vines with some CGI fake monkeys, a dumb plot involving aliens, a forgettable villain. Heck, everything about the movie was terrible. My only fear going in was that Harrison Ford’s age was going to be a problem. Ford turned out to be the lone bright spot, as he showed that he could play the role of Indy in his sleep.
I should have seen it coming. There really was no creative reason to make the film. The ending of Last Crusade was just about perfect. Like Godfather III though, there was a huge time gap between these two movies that doomed the film. There have been rumors that Ford is interested in possibly doing a 5th film, which would be a tragedy. This film was bad, but not bad enough to taint the legacy of the Indiana Jones franchise. Like many others, I just pretend this film doesn’t exist. Another film as bad as Crystal Skull could really hurt the franchise though.
In the end, I have never walked out of a theater so disappointed. Sound off in comments about some of your most disappointing sequels.