Saturday, November 7, 2020

The 50 Most Disappointing Movies Of All Time - Sequel Stumble


The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man upside down on the side of the OsCorp tower with the film's title, credits and release date below.

I truly enjoyed The Amazing Spider-Man.  It wasn't perfect, but it had the potential to start taking the character in some very interesting directions.  I thought it could be the equivalent of Batman Begins for this franchise, so that the 2nd one would be Spider-Man's The Dark Knight.  And if you look at the set up, all of the elements are there.  You had at least classic villains in the Electro and the Green Goblin.  You a deepening mythology involving Peter's parents.  And you incorporated the most tragic story arc in the hero's comic book lore.  This should have been the best Spider-Man film

Boy was I wrong.

First of all, Electro was a terrible villain.  Jamie Foxx's performance was shockingly bad.  The Green Goblin was shoe-horned in awkwardly.  The parent storyline really went nowhere.  And the Gwen Stacy arc happens too close to the end to allow for any resolution.  Think about what happens with Rachel in The Dark Knight and how it occurs with at least a third of the movie left, so we can see how it affects our hero's thoughts and actions.

The real shame of it is that there are some genuinely fantastic moments in this film.  But it is buried under a mountain of mediocrity.

Batman and Robin

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No joke, when I saw this in the theater I began hitting myself in the head because I could not believe that I was actually witnessing the utter stupidity on screen.  Tim Burton's Batman is a fantastic film that is still a joy to watch.  When Schumacher took over with Batman Forever, it was horribly campy, but there was enough visual spectacle to keep me entertained.  But he went into overdrive with Batman and Robin.  

Not only was this a franchise killer, but this killed comic book films for a few years until X-Men revived the genre.

The Crow: City of Angels

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I was a huge fan of Brandon Lee.  The original Crow is very much a film of its time: dark, emotional, and grungy.  I saw it multiple times when I was in high school.  The sequel makes a big mistake in not bringing back the character from the first: Eric Draven.  Instead, the identity of "The Crow" becomes like a mantle passed to different people.  The also cast a French actor whose accent made him difficult to follow.

On top of this, the film has such an odd sense of pretention while the cinematography bathes everything in a distasteful yellow light that makes it feel like the illumination was filtered through urine.

Escape from LA

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Escape From New York is a classic.  

Escape From LA is like a poor remake/imitation.  It is all the more shocking because John Carpenter directed both.  Whereas the first had a raw and gritty energy, the sequel felt like a shiny, soulless cash grab.  What makes it more infuriating is that it felt like Carpenters main purpose in making this film was to continue his odd and specific attack on Christianity.

Look Who's Talking Too


I thought the first Look Who's Talking was great.  Granted I was very young, but even then, I understood that this movie worked because they didn't just rely on the gimmick of hear a baby's thoughts.  While that is a huge part of the movie, it is set in a story of real and funny interpersonal relationships.  Watch John Travolta and Kristie Alley in that movie and you can see some of the better comedic performances and I think they have excellent chemistry together.

The sequel took all of that goodness and boiled it down to its most simplistic parts.  In the first movie, the baby's lines weren't just cute, a lot of them were actually funny.  But the sequel took the lazy road of assuming we would find the baby's thoughts funny simply because we could hear them.  I don't think I laughed once.  Travolta and Alley left their more grounded performances and became caricatures.  Such a disappointment.

The Hangover 2


The fist Hangover is a raunchy epic that I couldn't help but enjoy.  So naturally I was there opening night for the sequel.  To paraphrase Seth MacFarlane, the second one basically re-did the first but set it in Bangkok.  

That would be disappointing, but I could have lived with it if the movie didn't push the raunch factor over the line.  I think most people who have seen the movie will understand what I'm talking about.  There is a moment in the story when we learn about something that has happened to Stu the night before.  At that point, the movie actually moves from funny to horrific.  

Quantum of Solace

Empire Design's poster for Quantum of Solace

A lot of Bond fans might take issue with this, but Casino Royale is my favorite film in the franchise.  I was not expecting it to be as good as it was.  True, it was a bit long, but the action was phenomenal and it took Bond in a different direction than we had seen in awhile.

The follow-up was one of the worst Bond movies ever.  The director was completely out of his depths in trying to craft an action epic.  His shaky-cam cinematography and hyperactive editing make this film a complete mess, while also giving us a story that is, at its core, completely uninteresting.  

The Lost World: Jurassic Park

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Jurassic Park is a incredibly tough act to follow.  If the second one was not as good as the first, I would completely understand.  But it wasn't just a matter of having a slightly worse sequel.  The Lost World is dark in a way that the original was not.  Sure, people got torn apart and eaten, with some incredibly scary moments in the first.  But Lost World lacked a lot of the humanity that we had in Jurassic Park.

One of the things that the first movie did very well was that it reduced the cast at the crucial time.  Instead of the island populated with a lot of nameless extras, the mayhem occurs around people you know and mostly care about.  We even feel fear for the villainous Dennis Nedry.

But Lost World fills the story will people we never get a chance to care about.  These people are dinosaur fodder waiting to be killed in interesting ways.

The movie lacks a sense of moral balance.  The Vince Vaughn character is an eco-terrorist who gets nearly everyone on the island killed.  And yet he is never given his comeuppance or even forced to understand the horror of his actions.  

True, there are some genuine thrills, but there is no heart.

Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey

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There are defenders of this film who will rally to it on the basis that it took the story in a radically different direction.  And I have no problem with that.  But there was a special kind of magic to Excellent Adventure that was lost in Bogus Journey.  Something about the sequel feels much more artificial.  I cannot quite put my finger on why there is such a large qualitative difference between them, but there definitely is.

Highlander: Endgame

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The Highlander franchise is one that consistently shoots itself in the foot.  Every time they try to improve the series, they make it worse.  Highlander 2 and 3, were not good movies.  However, the syndicated TV show was very enjoyable.  The show followed the adventures of Connor MacCloud's cousin Duncan and it explored many different aspects of the Highlander mythology.  Highlander Endgame was to introduce Duncan into the film franchise to give it new life.

Everything about this movie was terrible.

The story made no sense, the acting was bad, and the characters did things that were incomprehensibly stupid.  The worst was a scene where the bad guy began decapitating the other immortals around him, where most just sat there placidly waiting for the sword.  I actually turned to to my friend in the theater and said, "Are they thinking: 'If I don't move, he can't see me?'"

Awful film.

Ted 2

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I love Ted.  On its surface it is raunchy comedy about a living teddy bear.  And you can enjoy completely at that level.  But the movie is actually surprisingly rich in its exploration of theme and character.  Like Shaun of the Dead, it examines the extended adolescence of adult men and how their male friendships can inhibit them from growing up and finding a fulfilling romantic partners.  Ted doesn't make things too simplistic.  It recognizes that while Ted is holding Johnny back, losing Ted would mean losing an important part of what makes Johnny's life magic.  The original film did all this great story work while being incredibly funny.

Ted 2 threw all of that out the window.  It is like how Alien 3 gave the finger to the characters and relationships we had come to invest in simply because it didn't know how to keep telling that story.  Not only does this sequel ruin all of the progress of the first, it regresses the characters badly.  Sure, there are some funny moments, but Ted himself never becomes redeemable in any way.  In the end, they should have left the first one alone.

Tron Legacy

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After nearly 30 years, if you are going to return to the mythical Grid, you had better have a story worth telling.  The original Tron is actually an incredibly fun story with a very imaginative look at the hidden world of computer programs.  I especially like the analogy of belief in the users to belief in God.  

But Tron Legacy, while looking gorgeous, is not a good film.  The main actor has none of the charisma of the original cast.  On top of that, for a movie titled Tron Legacy, it has a conspicuous lack of the character Tron through most of the film.  This movie is another example of a time where the filmmakers think spectacle will trump story and character.


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