The 411 TV/Movies Top 10 08.29.12: The Top 10 Worst Movie Sequels
Posted by Jack McGee on 08.29.2012
From The Godfather Part III and Jaws: The Revenge to Blues Brothers 2000, Speed 2: Cruise Control and more, 411’s Jack McGee breaks down his top 10 worst movie sequels!
Welcome one and all to my little corner of 411. I am Jack McGee, you may remember me from such columns as the Hollywood 5&1. I have had a blast writing here for 411, and with my love of movies, I wanted to present a column on just movies. Sorry, no pics of hot chicks in this column. Now no disrespect to Mike Gorman, who does a great job with the "Ten Deep," which is 411's traditional top 10 column in the movies, or Jeremy Thomas, who does the "8-Ball," but today I wanted to discuss sequels. Bad sequels. Sequels at one time seemed like such a special thing, and while many get a bad wrap (and rightfully so), there have been very good ones. But in this day and age when re-booting, re-making and the like are all of the rage, I think that we can all agree that many films and franchises get watered down. So lets look at some of the worst offenders…
Movies that were selected were considered because they were (in my opinion) a poor departure from the original (or franchise), were bad films, showed a poor financial return or simply were not wanted. There will be no honorable mentions, just the top 10.
10. Jaws: The Revenge
In 1975, Steven Spielberg adapted the Peter Benchley novel and brought Jaws to the big screen. The film was iconic, thanks to the imagery and the music, and while there were major production issues (going over budget, delays, shark malfunctions) the film became the highest-grossing film in history at the time and won several awards. Jaws 2 was also a big success, and while many people Jaws 3-D would make the list, and it could have, Jaws: The Revenge is the one that will take one for the team. This falls under the categories of "sequel no one wanted, bad writing, and poor box office return." Some examples are that in Jaws 3D, Michael is an engineer for SeaWorld, in this one; he is a marine research scientist. Ad din the fact that they seemed to make the shark into a homicidal maniac, killing Sean (who had become a police officer) and following Ellen Brody to the Bahamas to try and kill her and Michael. Michael Caine couldn't even save this, although he does help prove the Caine-Hackman theory.
9. Teen Wolf Too
Teen Wolf was by no means a classic, but it came at a time when Michael J. Fox was the man. The film actually opened the same weekend as Back to the Future, opening #2 behind the classic time traveling adventure. In the original, Fox stars as Scott Howard, a high school student who discovers that his family has an unusual pedigree, which is that they turn into werewolves. But why does Teen Wolf Too make the list? First of all, it was universally panned. People hated the film; I mean really hated the film. The big problem is that it is a sequel that comes back with out the main star. In this one, the film stars Jason Bateman as Todd Howard, a relation, but obviously not Michael J. Fox. It simply comes off as a cash grab, with little star power and the cousin of Scott Howard as your main character. No one cared, and moviegoers let the studio know it. Teen Wolf made $33 million in 1985, while the sequel made just about $8 million. At the end of the day, the film gives "horror comedy" a bad name.
8. Weekend at Bernie's 2
Weekend at Bernie's is one of those films that is the same gag over Andover again, but when you originally watch it, it is an enjoyable film. The gag is good, the story is fine, and if you watch the film for what it is, your good. The 1989 film made $30 million, and since it was a commercial success, and fans liked it, they went to the well once again. Andrew McCarthy, Jonathan Silverman and Terry Kiser must have needed the money because they agreed to come back. As I said, the first time around the gag is great, but in the sequel, Bernie is partially revived in a botched voodoo ceremony and made to walk toward the hidden treasure whenever he hears music. It is as bad as it sounds. Once again, moviegoers let the studio know that they didn't want the film, as it brought in a poor $12 million. Sometimes one is just enough.
7. Speed 2: Cruise Control
In 1994, Speed was a movie that was all the rage. The film, starring Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper, Sandra Bullock and Jeff Daniels, was made for $30 million and pulled in $350 million worldwide. It was seen as a critical and commercial success, and Sandra Bullock's performance was highly praised at the time. With the praise she received and the money it made, they went along with the sequel. Of note, Bullock agreed to star in the sequel to get financial backing for Hope Floats, and was paid $12.5 million. Reeves was offered $12 million to reprise his role as Jack Traven, but turned it down as he did not like the script, which really pissed off the studio. Matthew McConaughey, Jon Bon Jovi, Patrick Muldoon, and Christian Slater were all considered as replacements, but they settled on Jason Patric. And that is the first issue, when you re-cast a main role with someone that no one really wants, bad things generally happen. The film was a critical disaster, was voted at the time "worst sequel/re-make" and the box office was not good. The film made $164 million worldwide, from a budget of $160 million. Remember, a studio recoups 55% of a film's grosses on average, meaning it needs to approximately double its budget to be profitable during its theatrical run.
6. Blues Brothers 2000
The Blues brothers came out in 1980, and it was an instant hit and also became a cult classic as the film is still loved to this day. The story of the redemption for two brothers, Jake and Elwood, is out main theme. While some had criticized the film for a simple plot and wild car chases, the awesome musical score along with the appearances of John Candy, Carrie Fisher, James Brown, Cab Calloway, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and John Lee Hooker all make the film something special. The box office reflects that with $115 million made worldwide. In 1998 it was decided to make a sequel, and is dedicated to John Belushi, Cab Calloway, and John Candy. While the film has a great musical score, it just wasn't The Blues Brothers. With John Belushi dead, so was the Jake character, who was vital to the original. While there are good callbacks to the original, it just never feels like a Blues Brothers movie. With James Belushi not being able to take over for his brother in the role of Zee Blues (he had an already existing television deal and could not do the film), the addition of annoying child "Buster Blues" and lack of bite the first had, the film falls completely flat. And not only did it feel flat, but it was flat at the box office, making a poor $14 million.
5. The Next Karate Kid
When I was a younger lad, I like many loved The Karate Kid. Not only is the film a great story, and the follow up anther good one, but it also made me want to learn karate. I remember after the original that the local karate dojo was filled with tons of my friends, and we were all doing the crane technique and getting yelled at for doing so. I loved the movie, and while the third film isn't the best, much like the Jaws series, they went one step too far with a fourth. The first two films did well ($90million and $115 million) with the third taking a drop down to $39 million. Again, like the Jawsfranchise, you could make a case for the third film making the list. But The Next Karate Kid takes the spot. To say the film struggled at the box office is an understatement, making a sad $15 million at the box office. Pat Morita is the only thing holding the film together as Miyagi, but he can only do so much. Hilary Swank's character is generally unlikable, which is such a departure from the Daniel Larusso character from the first two films. Without Ralph Macchio in the film, and without John G. Avildsen serving as director, it was doomed for failure. The film tries to cash in on the Karate Kid name with a thin plot, and just a completely silly feel. While Swank got praised for her performance, this is simply a film that did not need to exist.
4. Rocky 5
The Rocky franchise is simply iconic, and not just as boxing films. They are stories of perseverance, redemption and the thought that if you fight hard enough, that you can accomplish anything. Rocky 5 has great callbacks to the original two films (the pullback from the mural of Jesus over the boxing ring in Tommy's first fight, Adrian working at the pet shop, Mickey's gym), it suffers from many problems. First of all, Sage Stallone was a bad young actor, and was a completely unlikable character. Secondly, while casting a real life boxer to play the new young boxer, Tommy Morrison is simply poor at his role most of the time. But the biggest issue is the story of the film. I respect that Stallone anted to shine a light on brain damage as well as athletes losing their millions one way or another. Those were admirable goals. Unfortunately for Stallone and returning director John G. Avildsen, people simply did not want to see the Rocky character in that way. They didn't want to see a sickly Rocky, or a broke on his ass Rocky with a spoiled ass kid. They wanted to see the Rocky that they fell in love with in the first four films. If I were to do a Rocky marathon, the fifth film would be left out, even if they did do a good job with the ending street fight. Rocky 5 didn't perform as badly as many of the sequels on the list, making $119 million overall. Rocky made $117 million, Rocky 2 made $85 million, Rocky 3 made $124 million and Rocky 4 made $127 million. Rocky Balboa thankfully came along, medical storyline issues aside, and did well making $155 million. Rocky 5 is better left forgotten, as it is the dark mark on the franchise.
3. Staying Alive
Saturday Night Fever is a classic 1977 film, featuring John Travolta as Tony Manero. He hates general life working for his father, and loves dancing at the discothèque. Life sucked for Manero unless he was dancing. The film is just not about dancing or the iconic Bee Gees soundtrack, it is a film of clashing with your parents, loyalty to friends and racial tensions in the local community. It feels raw and real, and people responded. The soundtrack was one of the highest selling ones of all time, the film made $237 million worldwide, and John Travolta was a star. Of course a sequel was coming, and Staying Alive was born. Sylvester Stallone wrote the film, and at the time it was a success at the box office, making $64 million. But the issue is that the sequel, while containing dancing, left out everything that made Saturday Night Fever a success. Stallone used the Rocky style formula, a kid that wasn't classically trained looking to make his break on Broadway. But the issue is that it lacks the interesting characters, real feeling, heart and grittiness of the original. It is all stripped away for a more cosmetic film. Some have gone as far as to call the film the worst sequel ever. Not quite for me, but compared to the original, it stays far from everything that made it what it was. Not even the sweet sounds of Frank Stallone and "Far From Over" save things. Although I would be lying if I didn't say that the closing scene of Travolta strutting out to "Staying Alive" isn't great.
2. The Godfather Part 3
While not as bad as some make it out to be (some claim that watching the film causes eye to melt and kittens to die), The Godfather Part 3 does have to make my list. Maybe the first two films were so damn good that this one appears even worse, which I can agree with, but quite honestly, I did not need to see a third installment of the franchise. The first film is amazing ad a must watch film, the second ups the quality and moves into iconic status, and there is something to say about stopping while your ahead. But they didn't. Some feel that part three is an epilogue to the first two films, but I feel that it was simply made to feature the horrible acting of Sofia Copola. While continuity is always appreciated, this film goes almost too deep into that, making it hard for some to follow. That isn't always a movie's fault, but it comes off as way too convoluted, working too hard to tie everything to the first two films instead of letting it happen organically. Again, while the film does stay true to the first two films, almost to a fault, I simply feel that so much feels forced. Sofia's Mary Corleone comes off unlikable and annoying, what could have been I guess; Julia Roberts was originally cast for the role, and Winona Ryder dropped out of the role at the last moment. Add in the Vincent Mancini character (played by Andy Garcia) being introduced in a clever way as the illegitimate son of Michael's late brother Sonny, and that is another issue. You are essentially trying to make him the "new Michael Corleone," but unfortunately Andy Garcia is not, nor will he ever be Al Paccino. The first two films were so amazing that maybe no matter what they did for the third it would have been looked down upon, but there is also something said for stopping while you are ahead. I know I did not ask for The Godfather Part 3, but we got it anyway.
1. Caddyshack 2
Caddyshack was an important film in the early years of my life. The film is crude, it is juvenile, it is inappropriate at times, and I love it. Some claim that the film is too loose, that the cast was allowed too many liberties, and that Harold Ramis never seems to have control of his product, but that is what makes the film what it is. The Ty Webb character mentoring young Danny is a main story, but the film is stolen by the battle between Bill Murray's Carl Spackler and a gopher. It is a film that I grew up on, that I loved and that has gained a cult following. So of course they had to make a sequel to the 1980 film. In 1988 Caddyshack II came out, and it was a shell of its predecessor. Rodney Dangerfield is replaced (he got into a fight with the studio and backed out) by Jackie Mason as someone the club doesn't want, Chase's Ty Webb seems to be mailed in, and Bill Murray is replaced (Dan Aykroyd as Captain Tom Everett. Caddyshack made $39 million in 1980, and the sequel could only pull in around $12 million. It simply feels second rate, with Jackie Mason, Robert Stack, Dan Aykroyd and Jonathan Silverman playing new versions of characters played by Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight, Bill Murray, and Michael O'Keefe. Dangerfield backed out, Chase regretted doing the film, and while Harold Ramis worked on the screenplay, he has stated that he didn't want any part of a second film. But once said that if he didn't do it, someone else would. They worked with Dangerfield in mind for the sequel, which all went to shit. The only good thing about this film, and this may be stretching it, is Randy Quaid as Peter Blunt. He has a few scenes that are about the only thing worth watching. People always talk about re-makes and re-boots "ruining their childhood," well, this is that film for me. I like to pretend that it did not exist.
So there you have my top 10 WORST movie sequels. I know that the list is not perfect; it is simply a reflection of my opinion. But now I ask you the fine readers of 411, what are some of YOUR worst sequels? Is there something on the list that doesn't belong? Please let me know if you disagree, we can still be friends.