By Amanda Whitaker
I’m not talking about the obvious sequel failures, such as “Leprechaun 2: Back to Tha Hood” or “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.” I’m talking about the sequels everybody anticipated, but let us down, the sequels that followed greatness, yet completely destroyed all hopes and dreams for a movie that wasn’t a complete drop-off in quality from the original. These are the greatest offenders within the long list of proof that sequels rarely work:
“The Matrix Reloaded”—Interminable and mystically absurd, the scene in which Morpheus gives an uninspired speech and then leads the inhabitants of Zion in a giant rave—complete with sweat and hemp clothing—was enough to turn me away. Where “The Matrix” was innovative and revolutionary in the world of sci-fi cinema, its sequel was self-indulgent and incredibly confusing.
“The Next Karate Kid”—This was the fourth film in the series, made—no, sloppily thrown together—a decade after the original. It follows the same exact formula of the first three films with only one major change: instead of an underdog Ralph Maccio fighting bullies, a bratty Hilary Swank whines. The simple fact is that nobody wants to watch Mr. Miyagi teach Julie-san how to beat someone up for ruining prom night. There’s just a point in a franchise when filmmakers have to learn to let it go. That point in the Karate Kid movies was right after the second movie.
“Grease 2”—Because we all want to see a sequel to “Grease” in the exact same time period, at the exact same high school, with the exact same cliques, with someone other than John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in the lead roles, right? Wrong. It’s not even about Sandy and Danny; it’s about Stephanie and Michael. I’m already bored.
“Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights”—Okay, “Dirty Dancing” was cheesy. It was naïve and visually less-than-stunning. But it’s a classic. Its remake, however, is not. The whole film is nothing but a fast forward version of “Dirty Dancing,” and simply relies on the framework of the original film to fill in any emotional details. Then, Patrick Swayze, the star of “Dirty Dancing,” has an odd two-minute cameo in which he is unidentified. He’s just some random dude off the street giving a few pointers. Awkward.
“Speed 2”—“Speed” was the perfect summer blockbuster. Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock vs. Dennis Hopper and a bomb on a bus is a lovely good vs. evil scenario. But did they really make a movie in which a cruise ship with a top speed of 20 mph is hijacked—and name it “Speed 2?” Yes, I am sorry to say that they did. Not even Reeves jumped on board (pun intended) for that sequel.
“Staying Alive”—In the third act of this sequel to “Saturday Night Fever,” John Travolta’s character is starring in a musical called “Satan’s Alley.” The music, choreography, acting, and dialogue of the fictional production are so laughably terrible it feels as if Satan himself actually wrote this part of the script. There seems to have been no effort on the filmmakers’ part to make this musical believable, but the whole movie is about the protagonist’s desire to obtain the lead role. I guess the sequel wouldn’t be so bad if they had passed it off as a comedy and named it “Springtime for John Travolta,” but that’s already been done.
“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”—Everybody wanted these movies to be awesome. Everybody thought these movies would be awesome. But, alas, not even a bottle o’rum could help—these movies were not awesome. They were awful. I actually couldn’t tell you what they are even about; I don’t remember them—that’s how forgettable they are.
“The Godfather: Part III”—Sofia Coppola is a horrifying actress. But there are two redeeming factors for her: one, she wrote and directed “Lost in Translation,” and two, she was the least offensive component to “The Godfather: Part III.” With no sense of narrative pace, no development of character, and a rather silly ending, this is very clearly the worst of “The Godfather” trilogy—by far.