It’s true that some sequels are worthy successors to the original, adding to the story in a meaningful way that deepens it and keeps audiences interested.
But more often than not, sequels tend to either be a bland, insubstantial shadow to the original, or even worse, ruin its legacy and impact altogether, with bad plots which almost scream at you that they are a desperate ploy to milk more money out of the “franchise”.
It is on this latter scenario that the focus will be placed on below, by presenting 5 sequels that ruined it for everyone, just when audiences were expecting something at least as good as the original.
1. Highlander 2: The Quickening (1991)
The acclaimed film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert had an opinion regarding this follow up to the successful and cult “Highlander” of 1991. It was: “Highlander 2: The Quickening is the most hilariously incomprehensible movie I’ve seen in many a long day”. You might be inclined to think that he was exaggerating. But watch the movie and decide for yourself. Perhaps it would help to mention that the whole plot revolves around a future Earth (2024) in which there is no more ozone and the last survivors are alive due to a shield that Macleod has built before aging into an old man as yes, becoming the last Immortal in the previous movie made him… no longer so. There’s more of the above reasoning and writing genius throughout the movie.
2. Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997)
The original Speed earned hundreds of millions of dollars and was a pretty big deal (for an action movie) in 1994. It still has a relatively high rating on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB and the tension it managed to create at the time has probably stuck in the memory of its viewers who probably held their breaths as the protagonists struggled to find a solution to their predicament, while not dropping behind the imposed speed limit.
In comparison, Speed 2’s only connection to its predecessor is the presence of Sandra Bullock. Apart from that, no Keanu Reeves, no tension, no convincing (or even interesting) plot line, a questionable supporting actor and villain and hence, no success or positive reactions from fans and critics, despite the four times bigger production costs. Hey, maybe it’s because a boat doesn’t go as fast as a bus, eh?
3. S. Darko (2009)
You might think it’s hard to make a bad sequel to an original movie that was “out there” enough that it gained cult status for its psychedelic plot line and twists and turns (among other things). You’d think that gives you a certain amount of creative liberty with the sequel that would be welcome for a producer, the worst case scenario being that you could ruin it by being too creative and wild.
Well that was exactly not the case with S. Darko, the sequel to the iconic Donnie Darko of 2001. But it’s blandness, despite Daveigh Chase reprising her role as Samantha Darko, miht be explained by the 8 years passed between the movies and most importantly, the fact that the sequel is not produced by Richard Kelly who made the original, who insisted on publicly stating that he had nothing to do with it.
4. Alien 3 (1992)
Possibly one of the most disappointing sequels of all time, Alien 3 manages to take the surprising winning streak of the first 2 movies which are both awesome, while being markedly different in style, pacing, plot etc., and dissolve it into a choking gas of disappointment, paralysis due to boredom and inner tears that enveloped practically every Alien fan at the time from the most casual to the die-hard. It might even be said that the Alien series never recovered after Alien 3, though Alien: Resurrection is considered ok by some (and hated by others), as is the more recent Prometheus.
Alien 3 is an emblem for how things started going wrong with the series, especially from a conceptual point of view, because that is it’s biggest problem. Alien 3 has no clear idea of what it wants to say (probably due to the 5 different scripts which resulted in the final version!) and ends up saying almost an identical story to the one in Alien 1, except Ripley is no longer alone and it’s now a prison planet. Wow.
5. Terminator 3: Rise of The Machines (2003)
Just like Alien 3 before, this sequel buried 2 great first movies that should’ve just been left alone to gracefully age well like wine, into legends. But, of course, if there’s money to be had out of pushing a series further, despite obvious alarm signs, studios will do it. The alarm signs in question are as follows: an aged Arnold (not very robot-y of him, I know); Edward Furlong’s at the time addiction problems, as in, the guy who plays the character that the whole movie focuses on!; 20 years between the last Terminator movie and your would be sequel; and possibly most important of all, the refusal of James Cameron, the director behind the first two movies, to be involved.
The result of all these problems even before filming started is now well known. Unfortunately. As Terminator 3 is a blatant reminder of what happens when certain sequels shouldn’t happen. Heed the signs, people. Heed the signs.