Movie Sequels: Good or Bad?

May 18, 2013 6:12 pm

Everyone in the movie industry jumps for joy when their film gets a second installment. The trouble is that many of these installments should never have happened. In this article I will be looking at film sequels that probably shouldn’t have happened, but at the same time, are worth a watch. The problem with movie sequels is that a lot of them are made because the first film was so successful, not because a second film is needed, or even wanted, by the movie’s fan base. It’s about the movie makers exploiting an opportunity to make more money with something they already have success with. Then who knows, maybe it will turn into a franchise and even more movies will come from it.

Here are the sequels I feel shouldn’t have happened, but are nonetheless worth watching:

S. Darko (2009) S Darko sequel donnie darko

‘S. Darko picks up seven years after the original Donnie Darko (2001) following the youngest of the Darko children Samantha. She and her best friend Corey are now 18 and on a road trip to Los Angeles when they are plagued by disturbing visions.’

There was never a need for a sequel to Donnie Darko. It stands alone as a cult classic and the sequel gave nothing to the original story. The only connection is that it’s Donnie’s sister who has the same visions. The intrigue of the first movie is lost because you can’t do the same things again. It feels like they realised the actress playing Samantha in Donnie Darko would be the same age as Donnie now, so they could make another Darko movie. There was nothing original or different about it, which is what made the first film so good.

Saying this, they did put together a very good cast of young, up and coming actors including; Daveigh Chase (Donnie Darko), Briana Evigan (Step Up 2), Jackson Rathbone (Twilight), James Rafferty (One Tree Hill), and Ed Westwick (Gossip Girl). However, this was still not enough to justify a sequel.

The film itself is slow paced, much like the first, but without the mystery that kept everyone involved in Donnie Darko. It doesn’t have the same feel to it as the original and it has no real antagonist. Frank the Rabbit was a strange and unnerving character in the first film, who plagued Donnie throughout the movie, but there is no one like that in S. Darko. It is a hard watch because of this and the lack of drive the movie has. Why is Samantha going on this road trip? Why does she decide to stay in this strange town? Why does she make most of the choices she does in the film? None of these questions are answered and nothing is resolved.

I enjoyed watching this movie because it helped me understand what made the first one so much better. This was made purely because the first one was such a cult classic and unfortunately failed on every level except in its casting.

Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007) wrong turn 2 dead end sequel

‘Six contestants assemble in the woodlands of West Virginia to take part in a US Reality Show. Over the next few days they battle against the elements and the terrain to become the ultimate survivor and walk away with a large cash prize. They soon find themselves fighting for their lives after meeting a family of flesh eating mutants intent on having them for dinner.’

I really enjoyed the first Wrong Turn. It had a great cast and a solid story with incredibly messed up antagonists living in the woods. There was a real connection between the protagonists which made us root for them and want to survive. Also, it was scary. Dead End feels like it was written in a few days and the only real thought went into how each of the characters was going to die.

There is no character development and hardly any story except for a ‘reality show gone wrong.’ I like a good slasher movie as much as the next horror fan but this film seemed so far from the original it was almost a different movie. Sequels are supposed to have some connection to the first but I’m not sure this is even set in the same location.

Erica Leerhsen (Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows) does a good job as the lead and I was hoping for her survival but I couldn’t have cared less about the other characters. Texas Battle (Final Destination 3) is also among the cast but his character is too flat and one-dimensional to engage with.

Even the mutant family didn’t resemble the first film. There were more of them and they were less frightening. There must have been a different designer and photographer because the feel of the entire movie was off. It seemed brighter and lighter than the original. The gritty darkness of the woods was dwarfed by the theme of a reality TV show.

For fans of the first film I wouldn’t recommend this movie, but if you’re going into it without seeing the first then you may find it okay to watch. It’s gory and twisted but there is little development in character and plot. (And I’m not even going to start on the Wrong Turn movies that follow the second one.)

The Butterfly Effect 2 (2006) butterfly effect 2 movie sequel

‘After his girlfriend and two best friends are killed in a car accident, Nick struggles to cope with the loss and his grief. Struggling from migraine like seizures, Nick soon discovers that he has the power to change the past via his memories. However, his attempts to change the past have dire and unexpected consequences in the present.’

When I saw The Butterfly Effect I thought it was one of the best films I’d seen in a while. It was original and unique in story and theme. It had levels of character development that constantly changed and actually allowed Ashton Kutcher to do some real acting. This attempt at a sequel had nowhere near the same complexity and depth of issue as the first which made it fall flat and therefore unenjoyable to watch.

It had a different feel to it, brighter and softer than the harsh reality of the first film. This took away from the mood and lifted the jeopardy. Eric Lively (The Breed) takes the lead character with Erica Durance (TV’s Smallville) as his girlfriend. The acting is bearable because the film is quite short but a lack of connection between the two makes their relationship unbelievable.

Something changed from the first film was the jumping back in time. I loved listening to Ashton Kutcher’s voice-overs as he read from childhood journals whereas in this movie, all Eric Lively has to do is look at a picture. This makes it feel less personal and I was therefore not as engaged with the character.

I really liked Erica Durance as Lois Lane on Smallville and I loved the first movie which is why I saw this one. If you have seen the original give this one a miss as it will definitely disappoint. If you haven’t seen the first film, watch this one and then go back to it – then you will see the difference in quality.

Vacancy 2: The First Cut (2008) vacancy 2 the first cut sequel

‘Caleb, his new fiancé and his best friend, check into the Meadow View Inn. They have no idea that it is actually a horrific trap where guests are brutally tortured and murdered whilst being filmed. Caught in this deadly game, the three friends must fight to survive.’

The only connection this film has to Vacancy is that the motive of our antagonists is the same; to make snuff films with the guests in the motel. This is actually a sequel I didn’t mind because it doesn’t require any connection to the first. Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson survived the first Vacancy and escaped, end of story. This film is a group of guys doing the exact same thing in a different part of the country, which I suppose is plausible.

It combines claustrophobia and panic nicely to build the tension regarding whether our protagonists will survive. We root for them because they are a newly engaged couple with the charming, if not slightly annoying, best friend, and they are genuinely trying to make something of their lives.

The cast includes Trevor Wright (Shelter), Arjay Smith (The Day After Tomorrow) and Agnes Brucker (The Pact) as the three youths fighting for survival, with David Moscow (Honey) as the sadistic antagonist.

Overall it is close enough in theme to the original to be classed as a sequel but can be watched as a standalone movie with no background information on the first. I liked the movie a lot and would recommend it for a night in with the curtains closed and a bowl of popcorn on your lap.

 

These are just four movie sequels of many. Some work and some don’t. Overall most sequel opportunities are snatched up by the movie makers just because they can make a sequel but there are a few that stand on their own two feet.

Other sequels worth a watch include:
Saw II (2005)
The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
28 Weeks Later (2008)
Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)

 

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