2016 is an outstandingly chaotic year for sequels. Recently, the deplorable Alvin & the Chipmunks 4 was released, Batman V Superman is out now, Ghostbusters, The Purge and Jason Bourne are all getting sequels this year to name but a few in a very crowded market. We have put some thoughts on some of the worst sequels made to date, let us know if you agree!
Quite why anyone thought it was necessary to follow up Grease with a sequel featuring completely new characters and actors, is an interesting question. Starring Michelle Pfieffer, Maxwell Caulfield and Didi Conn (the original Frenchy), Grease 2 rips off the original plot line of the sexual tension and rivalry between the T-Birds and the Pink Ladies, with the familiar story line of the lead female falling in love with the lead male. Stephanie (Pfieffer), has grown sick of her relationship with the lead T-Bird, so starts chasing after a mysterious newcomer, who, in order to impress her, buys himself a bike to reinvent himself (sound familiar?). Ironically, the newcomer, Michael is the original Sandy’s cousin, and eventually manages to impress everyone enough to be welcomed into the T-Birds and win Stephanie’s heart. Everything ends happily, albeit no flying car, and the travesty that is Grease 2 ends finally. Hilariously, Caulfield said in an interview after its release that “Before Grease 2 came out, I was being hailed as the next Richard Gere or John Travolta. However, when Grease 2 flopped, nobody would touch me. It felt like a bucket of cold water had been thrown in my face. It took me 10 years to get over Grease 2.”
If you want to watch something which makes you laugh at how ridiculous it is, then I wholeheartedly recommend this film, otherwise, do yourself a favour and watch Grease again.
The Dark Knight Rises
Ask someone what they think the cardinal crime is for filming a sequel and you are likely to get as many responses as there are James Bond films. It would therefore be fair to say that taste is a subjective thing and, thus, so is what constitutes a “bad” sequel. At the same time, it is safe to say that consistency and established continuity need to be adhered to if you want a film to work as a follow-up to its predecessors, and that is precisely what is wrong with The Dark Knight Rises.
Gone is the logic of previous Christopher Nolan forays into Batman’s mythos. When a hero who loathes to kill, shoots missiles at a nuclear bomb in a packed city, the shark has well and truly been jumped. It is not just the nitpicking of a geek though – the film’s internal logic fails abysmally. Having established Bruce Wayne as requiring special machinery to recover from an 8-year knee injury, it is a bit insulting to fan intelligence when his broken back is fixed with a punch and a few day’s rest. The same baffling dramatics ruin moments like Wayne’s blazing return to Gotham, Bane’s unusual generosity with the timing of a bomb, and Gordon’s trigger-happy decision to nullify the police force.
All the goodwill from Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman was negated by Marion Cotillard’s “we-swear-it-isn’t-her” turn as Talia, which really makes Khan and Blofeld’s recent reveals more tolerable. Sorry Nolan. You may have redefined the superhero genre for DC – and not necessarily for the better – but you finished your contribution with a bitter taste in our mouths.
The Princess Diaries 2
You’ll remember in the first Princess Diaries, Anne Hathaway’s Mia is an awkward pre-teen raised in San Francisco, living through the usual tragedies that come with the pre-teen years. Of course all this changes when Julie Andrew’s Queen Clarise of Genovia rocks up on her doorstep, letting her know she’s next in line to the throne. The first Princess Diaries movie, although a completely different animal to the much loved book, was the perfect feel-good movie. By Princess Diaries 2, the magic is gone.
The director essentially takes all the tired, clichéd tropes of fluffy chick-lit films and throws them at this movie. To assume the throne, Princess Mia needs to get married and chooses the incredibly boring looking brit Andrew Jacoby. Meanwhile the evil Viscount schemes to ruin Mia’s chances of marriage in order that the crown is passed on to his nephew, played by Chris Pine. Of course Pine just so happens to be an incredibly handsome, nuisance to Mia. Whatever will she do? Said no one above the age of 10 watching this film.
Given the klutziness of this princess, we know her inevitable decision to rebel, not get married and assume the throne alone will come right at the end of the movie. So for the duration of the film, we’re left with arguably charming actors whose talents are wasted on contrived gimmicks and slapstick humour. With nothing to work with, the film falls flat, tainting the legacy of its predecessor.
The problem with making a sequel of a movie that feels very self-contained in and of itself is always attempting to make the new project seem new, removed from the original and still make it feel necessary. Anchorman 2’s attempts at being original are certainly there with the humor being far more ridiculous than its predecessor. However are these attempts always funny? Certainly this is debatable, but personally, much of the humor in Anchorman 2 seems weak when you compare it to the original. In more than one instance, the comedy seems childish and ridiculous, especially towards the end. The worst part is definitely when the jokes simply rely on the sheer personality of the characters because it is in these moments that the originality of the film is lost, as we get the same characters doing silly, even outlandish interpretations of themselves, often blatantly replicating some of their clichés from the previous movie. Anchorman 2 does outshine its predecessor, in the spirit of parody, being clearly more critical of the news-world than previous, but this again is not always as funny as the movie clearly intends it to be.
The plot is not always cohesive, with different subplots being shoehorned. The life crisis that Ron Burgandy supposedly goes through in the movie is quickly resolved in the second half, and the character seems to go through an emotional growth almost out of nowhere. There is definitely not enough to deem the sequel a necessary addition.
So while Anchorman 2 tries to be separate from the original, many times it falls back on the same humor that the first installment was reliant on, often dumbed down. The shimmering moments of hilarity are unfortunately shadowed by the overall feeling of an unnecessary sequel.
There are a lot of unnecessary sequels out there. The Empire Strikes Back, Toy Story 2, The Dark Knight are all unnecessary sequels. But the difference between these examples and Terminator 3, is that they are good.
Even Terminator 2 was an unnecessary sequel but it was good. Terminator 3 re-treads an awful lot of plot beats that that previous film hit. Schwarzenegger is a worthy terminator once more, protecting John Connor from an evil terminator. They were just done very poorly.
The conclusion of Terminator 2 seemed to have prevented judgement day but disappointedly this forced sequel tarnishes that ending in a plot that unashamedly exists to cash in on the previous instalment’s success.
It’s a trap that many sequels fall into, but this particular one takes too many step backs to be enjoyable. Despite being a staggering 12 years since the last instalment, Terminator 3 somehow suffers from worse visuals. This isn’t your incredible prosthetic and practical effect work championed by James Cameron, these are lazy special effects. Combine that with a tired terminator performance from Schwarzenegger and the film doesn’t warrant the effort to watch.
Image sourced from Anchorman 2, Dreamworks Studios