Sequels I Pretend Don’t Exist

Posted on 30 September 2011 by Charles B. French

For my first column, I’d like to talk about sequels. I like sequels. When done right (Spiderman 2) they can expand upon the universe, explore the characters in greater depth than the original allowed, and resolve dangling plot threads from the previous film. When not done well, and sadly this is often the case, they not only are a terrible movie, they retroactively ruin the previous film. (On the plus side, they do allow a lot of actors to pay back what I assume are massive gambling debts.)

Thus, to preserve my sanity and continued enjoyment of the first installment(s), there are sequels I just pretend don’t exist. As far as I’m concerned, these movies were never green-lighted, scripted, cast, financed, catered, filmed, produced, and released. They didn’t happen, and a pox on anyone who tries to shatter my precious illusion. (And yes, I am aware of the irony that writing about movies I pretend don’t exist violates my own rule. I’m sure we can move past it.)

So let’s take a look at some sequels that, after this writing, I will go back to pretending that they didn’t happen. They can rejoin all my other repressed memories. They’re having a party and want these memories to bring Jenga.

This, I think, is the movie that taught me that sequels aren’t as good as the original. I was expecting the movie to open up with the boys on a case chasing a ghost. Instead, they are dancing at a Birthday party because they aren’t Ghostbusters anymore. That was the point I knew I’d never love this movie. It caused me pain.

Yes, they eventually got the band back together, but I liked that movie better when it was called Blues Brothers. In the first movie we got Gozer. This film gave us a guy in a painting and dancing slime.

Fortunately for me, I had a Ghostbusters fallback – The Real Ghostbusters, the cartoon based on the show. It was pretty good (for a kid in the 80′s) and it gave me all the ghost busting adventures I could want. Until they gave Slimer his own spin-off, and then it kind of spiraled into badness, but that’s a whole different thing I pretend doesn’t exist.

There’s also the Ghostbusters video game that came out a few years ago that was pretty good. And there’s a possibility of a new Ghostbusters film happening soon. Now, there’s a school of thought that if the sequel to a great movie is bad, the third one is excellent. However, sometimes the third one is the worst of all, which take us to…

There was so much that could have gone right with this film, but this is when Sam Raimi ran out of his magic Spider Dust. Not even the awesome Bruce Campbell could save this one, and it suffered from the same issues that the Batman franchise found itself with in the 90′s. Too many characters.

Plus, emo-Parker was not enjoyable one bit. It’s not like the symbiote storyline hasn’t been tackled in other shows. In fact, I’ve seen it addressed in two separate Spiderman cartoons, both of them superior to this film. There’s a particular sequence in mind that most everyone remembers all to well because we all pulled facial muscles cringing. Instead of watching Spiderman battle his worst nemesis, he does a niftly little tap number to annoy Mary Jane. Really? That’s how you spent over 100 million dollars?

This movie, like Batman and Robin before it, killed the franchise. Yes, it made a lot of money (some of it was mine I’m sorry to say) but as a result, they scrapped this universe and are starting over with a whole new Spiderman movie/franchise. (Oh, and the reason Batman and Robin isn’t on this list is because it’s my go-to worst movie ever. I need a yardstick for bad comic-book movies, and there’s none better.) Of course, Spiderman 3 isn’t the only third act in a trilogy I pretend didn’t happen. Let’s move on to…

Not only do I not acknowledge this film, it seems that X-Men first class did its best to ignore it as well, and if Marvel wants to just excise X3 from canon, I’m fine with that. Besides, a little time travel jiggery-pokery and we can have a literal do-over and completely erase this stain from the canon. (Seriously, someone should get on that…besides the fanfiction writers.)

What especially galls me was that this was the film Singer was teasing us with all through X2, and then he jumped ship to make a Superman film, thus ruining two franchises that year. (And yes, Cyclops’ death was because he played a pointless character in Superman Returns.) I understand wanting to direct Superman, but could he have at least gotten the script right first?

Instead, we got a solid mess that provided so little payoff to the awesome buildup of the first two movies that it just wasn’t worth it. Characters were killed or “cured” left and right, so much so that we just didn’t care. The action scenes were uninspired, and the less said about their version of the Phoenix saga, the better.

And speaking of anticipated sequels we are now trying to forget…

While ‘nuked the fridge’ didn’t quite reach critical mass the way ‘jumped the shark’ did, it’s still the moment that a lot of people realized that we were fine with 3 Indiana Jones movies. Before Skull, we were all forgetting Temple of Doom, but since this one is the worst of the films, Doom’s back in. (There’s also a short-lived tv series that’s actually pretty good, so we have that as well.)

This movie began with such promise. Gone are the Nazis, because now we’ve got the Reds. However, what could have been an epic return to form was undone by one thing: aliens.

All in all, it was a disappointing turn for a series that was the definition of epic pulp adventure in the 80′s. Perhaps they waited too long. I’ve heard rumors about Lucas ignoring a far superior script in favor of this one. Whatever the reason, anticipation for any more installments is pretty muted now. (Which means only one thing – reboot.)

 

 

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