One of the unfortunate truths about the film industry is that any decent
movie gets a sequel, so the really good movies are sequelled to death. Is
sequelled a word? It is now.
We see it all the time. A great movie gets two or more sequels, which are
so horrible that they would have been better off leaving it at one movie
and not bothering with the sequels.
So I’m here today to recognize and honor some of the best movies that
spawned the worst franchises. As a side note, I’d like to mention that
I’m leaving out some obvious examples (Jaws, Jurassic Park, etc.). This
isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list, I’m just mentioning some of the
examples that meant the most to me.
Pirates of the Carribean
The first Pirates of the Carribean was so much fun. It had humor and
swashbuckling action, but was really a character driven story. Johnny
Depp turned Jack Sparrow into a genuinely interesting person. He does an
excellent job of balancing the dishonest pirate with some underlying
honor, while making him a lovable character. Orlando Bloom and Keira
Knightley are also very engaging, and their budding romance despite
separate social classes is a familiar and comfortable story which is
handled well. The promise of love is enough to overcome the stiffest of
The next two movies were actually made simultaneously, which explains why
they both equally suck. Everything number 1 did well, the next two
screwed up. Jack Sparrow was no longer a lovable rogue, but rather a
self-interested jerk with no redeeming qualities. Which wouldn’t be so
bad were it not for the fact that most of the story of the latter two
movies was wrapped up in everybody sticking their neck out for Sparrow,
despite the fact that he gives them no reason to do so. That’s a very
basic part of the plot that just comes apart at the seams. Similarly,
with the drama of them eventually getting to make out gone, Bloom and
Knightley are no longer interesting. They’re just flat out dull. And the
movies just aren’t fun. They’re just overlong, overdone and stupid.
This is the quintessential Clint Eastwood movie for me. Harry is a tough
as nails cop who doesn’t play by the rules. He pretty much defined that
stereotype in this movie. He is pitted against a psychopath serial killer
in San Francisco. He also carries a .44 Magnum. Which is AWESOME! This
film has a few flaws, but the basic premise of watching Clint Eastwood try
to outwit the bad guy works, because of how much you like Clint and how
much you hate the bad guy. Also, it has probably the single best
monologue of the 70s.
Dirty Harry was popular, so he got four sequels. Four. Groan. I watched
the second movie, Magnum Force. It wasn’t a bad movie, but it really felt
like the entire point behind the movie was an attempt to morally justify
the first one. Some critics of the first Dirty Harry claimed that it
glorified vigilante justice. As if to respond to those critics, Magnum
Force pits Harry against some rogue police officers who go around killing
anybody they deem to be a bad guy. While I appreciate the intelligence
and self-awareness that Magnum Force offered, it just was not nearly as
much fun to watch.
I didn’t see the next two, but I did watch the first 15 minutes of Dead
Pool, the fifth Dirty Harry movie. Liam Neeson was sleepwalking his way
through a villain role, Jim Carrey had a painful five minute cameo and it
was pretty obvious that even Clint didn’t care anymore at this point. I
turned it off in favor of cleaning my apartment.
I was hesitant to include this movie on the list, but I feel like
mentioning it, given that it too deals with vigilante justice, and the
sequel should not have been made.
The first Boondock Saints was the very definition of the word AWESOME.
Raw justice, gratuitous violence, quirky Irish main characters, plenty of
humor and the final scene is every definition of epic. If you can handle
extreme violence and 246 f-words (I counted) check it out.
The film became a cult favorite on DVD, and the sequel came out last year.
Ugh. It was bad. It suffered from the same issues as Temple of Doom.
It didn’t bring anything new to the table, it just did the same thing over
again and brought in a couple annoying characters. On an unrelated side
note, Indiana Jones was one awesome movie away from making the list. This
proves the point that if your franchise is in peril, bring in Sean
Connery. I digress.
The main problem with Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day is this: The
female lead. She is the detective brought in to investigate the murders.
I wanted her to get hit by a bus. She was so annoying, so uninteresting
and such a buzzkill that every time she was on screen everything came to a
screeching halt. And since she was a main character, that was a third of
the $#&@ing movie.
This is probably one of my favorite movies ever. The premise is
compelling, the villain is excellent, Sean Connery is present, every other
scene is a sword fight and it has a bitchin’ soundtrack done by Queen.
What’s a white guy not to love about that? The premise is that Connor
Macleod is a Scot born in the 1500s who turns out to be immortal. It
turns out that he is one of many immortal swordsman who must battle each
other to the death to gain “The Prize” (the only way to kill them is
decapitation). Part of the appeal of this movie for me is that many of
the mystical elements are not fully explained. What exactly is “The
Prize”? Where did they come from? Why is Sean Connery playing a
Spaniard? And so on. This “less is more” approach to the mystical
elements really works better than explaining it to death. Don’t believe
me? Star Wars defined “Less is more”. The Force was so much cooler when
it wasn’t fully explained (in the original trilogy) and had an intangible,
mystical element to it. As soon as the prequels said “The Force is
actually something called Midi-chlorians, which is in your blood. It’s
genetic. Like red hair.” everything fell apart.
Where was I?
Highlander spawned three sequels and two TV shows. Every single review
about the movies that I’ve read has been horrible. They’re all rated
lower than 5 on IMDb. So I decided something. I’m not going to watch
them. I like the first Highlander movie too much to soil its premise and
characters with the (apparent) shlock that has been made since.
To be fair, I can’t exactly form an opinion on the sequels, having not
seen them, but it’s not worth the risk to me.
For Attebiz Movie Reviews, I’m the J-man.