We’re in the age of the sequel, the reboot and the remake. The film industry has this annoying habit of trying to serialise everything whether the original needs it or doesn’t. Even more annoyingly, audiences are always taken in by flashy trailers, famous actors reprising their roles and empty promises of fulfilled nostalgia.
The original was based on one book? Doesn’t matter, make it anyway. Does it spoil the story of the first by retconning crucial elements of the ending? Who cares, we need to make that money. Rather than descend into a pit of my own bitterness and anguish, I’ll share it with you this week by looking at some of the least necessary sequels ever.
The Hangover (2009)
The sequels: The Hangover Part II (2011) & The Hangover Part III (2013)
The question I ask myself throughout this list isn't always going to be “why did this get made?” it's sometimes “why do people keep going to see these?” Part II was exactly the same premise, just in Bangkok, then they realised it wasn't working but there was still (bizarrely) a demand for more, so they took it back to Las Vegas to try and recapture the success of the original.
My conspiracy theory is that Part III was funded by the Las Vegas tourism board.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
The sequels: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006), Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017)
How they managed to pull off a decent movie based on a ride at Disney I'll never know.
These films are huge, it’s the 10th highest grossing series of all time, with 2 of its instalments grossing over US $1 billion worldwide despite the sequels getting steadily worse at each outing.
From At World’s End onwards, the series crosses from swashbuckling action adventure to more elements of fantasy epic. Despite more characters getting thrown around, it seems that more pressure is placed on Johnny Depp’s once hilarious and novel portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow, which now seems tired and one-dimensional, focusing ever more on his zany, drunken character traits than ever.
Ice Age (2002)
The sequels: Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006), Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009), Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012), Ice Age: Collision Course (2016)
Characters that are pretty novel and entertaining the first time around begin to grate pretty damn quick, here.
They know it's going to make bank because it doesn't matter if it's unoriginal and derivative, kids - and more importantly, the parents who buy the tickets - don't really consider the reviews when it comes to these sequels. That's why Disney can get away with so many lacklustre sequels and that's why 20th Century Fox still think we care remotely about a gang of Paleolithic nobodies and their nuts.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
The sequel: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
This franchise is a classic: Harrison Ford’s gritty yet endearing portrayal of Spielberg's reimagined 1930s action stars is always a crowd pleaser. That was until Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull came out.
I guess with this, Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) And Bladerunner 2049 (2017), for better or in this case, for worse, Harrison Ford just keeps getting sucked into those reboots!
The sequels: Taken 2 (2012), Taken 3 (2014), Taken (2007 TV series)
We love Taken. It's such an indulgent rush of an action flick with Liam Neeson at his best: brutal yet efficient. Don't try and tell me you don't know the “I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you” quote. Chills.
With a sequel focussing on the taking of Neeson's character's wife, you get to thinking: just many easily abducted family members does this guy have in him before he just goes and lives on a desert island?
The sequels: Shrek 2 (2004), Shrek the Third (2007), Shrek Forever After (2010), and a spin-off Puss in Boots (2011)
Okay, so Shrek did need a sequel, the hilarious Shrek 2. Beyond that? Leave it alone please, you're pushing your luck.
Apparently, Shrek’s Adventure in London is actually pretty cool, I'm not going to take that away from the franchise but was it really worth it by churning out 3 and 4? I think it might have been if you consider that the tagline “It ain’t ogre ‘til it’s ogre” wouldn’t exist if the 4th movie hadn't come out.
The sequels: Jaws 2 (1978), Jaws 3-D (1983), Jaws: The Revenge (1987)
“Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water” was such a great strapline that it's often mistakenly attributed to the original. Turns out it was the most memorable thing about the sequel.
The idea of a killer shark with a taste for human flesh is incredibly evocative. It appeals to an ancient fear of an apex predator.
You just can't repackage this. Spielberg quote. Why do you keep making them then Steven?!
Whilst Jaws 2 was just an unimaginative flop 'meh’ that Hollywood just squeezed out, not doing anything the original hadn't already done, beyond that it gets really silly.
Jaws 3-D with the tagline: The Third Dimension is Terror (I wish I had made that up), sees Chief Body's kids battle another great white and it's Mum inside a water park with the help of some dolphin friends.
Jaws: The Revenge finally sees a movie from the franchise achieve a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. What's not to like? A globetrotting shark stalks a now ‘shark-psychic’ Ellen Brody to the Bahamas for a final, underwhelming showdown.
Home Alone (1990)
The sequels: Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992), Home Alone 3 (1997), Home Alone 4 (2002), Home Alone: The Holiday Heist (2012)
Oh my God there are 5 of these? Home Alone 2 is actually okay and notable nowadays because of a cameo by President-to-be, Donald Trump.
At least by the time 3 rolls around, they've stopped leaving Macaulay Culkin around and given the abandoned kid part to a different actor.
During my research, I stumbled upon this great video of medical professionals analysing the injuries sustained by the Wet Bandits in the movie, definitely worth a watch.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
The sequels: The Desolation of Smaug (2013), The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
These sequels are the embodiment of dragging out a story it out. You ruined a classic book by stretching a short story over 3 long movies. The source material is begging for mercy.
They try to make a story about Bilbo finding his courage despite having adventure thrust upon him into some good vs evil, heroic war movie. Even after hijacking the movie's premise, the main guy, Thorin Oakenshield (yeah I had to look that name up) is so forgettable, has no personality and doesn't inspire you to give a damn about his motivations.
The Matrix (1999)
The sequels: The Matrix: Reloaded (2003) The Matrix: Revolutions (2003)
The Matrix was a progressive, stylish, sci-fi film that actually flirted with philosophical ideas and dystopic futurism successfully.
Don't get me wrong: Reloaded is a decent action movie, but that's not the point of the series. It dumbed down and wasted such a novel, enthralling premise by just leaning into the ‘chosen one’ angle way too hard.
As for Revolutions? Gee, I hope you like robot fights...
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