This week, a third ‘Hangover’ movie and a sixth ‘Fast & Furious’ grace cinema screens. Why? Seriously, why must every remotely popular movie be turned into a never-ending franchise of sequels, prequels, remakes and reboots, each new entry inferior to the last? Is there no originality left in Hollywood? (That’s a rhetorical question. Of course there isn’t.) In today’s Roundtable, we talk about movie franchises that have needlessly dragged on for too long and need to be put out of their (and our) misery.
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
They keep churning out ‘Underworld‘ sequels, and for some reason, I keep watching ’em. I guess I just have a weakness for Kate Beckinsale and those painted-on latex catsuits of hers. I definitely want to like a franchise that swirls around vampires and werewolves fighting tooth and nail (and machine gun and…) against one another. It’s just that these movies are so slow, dreary and self-serious. You have werewolves shooting sun-bullets at vampires – have some fun with it, for crying out loud!
Some franchises benefit immensely from the building of a rich, dense mythology, but the ‘Underworld’ mythology is instead a woefully uninvolving distraction. Drenching everything in the same cold, blue filter is visually exhausting, to the point where the ‘Underworld’ movies can literally be difficult to watch. The most recent installment in the series, ‘Underworld: Awakening’, addressed a bunch of my complaints but wound up mutating into what amounts to a ‘Resident Evil’ sequel. Taking its cues from an even more insufferable action/horror franchise isn’t really much of a step-up.
When I glanced at this year’s upcoming movie releases and saw ‘Paranormal Activity 5′ was on the way, I knew it would be a perfect response to this week’s topic. Not only are the ‘Paranormal Activity‘ films just awful, but I honestly have no recollection of ‘Paranormal Activity 4′ being released. That’s when you know a movie series needs to die… when you can’t even remember how many movies have been released. I confess to only watching the first two of these, which are basically poor man’s versions of ‘The Blair Witch Project’, minus anything scary. The only reason they continue to be made is because they’re so cheap. The first movie only cost $15,000 (that’s right, THOUSAND) and the last couple have only cost somewhere around $5 million. ‘Paranormal Activity 4′ was the lowest grossing of the films so far, but it still pulled in $140 million worldwide, which means moviegoers may have to put up with these films for at least another half dozen or so entries. That’s true horror, my friends.
‘Resident Evil‘! For the love of God! ‘RESIDENT EVIL!!! I’m not a fan of this series. At all. And as far as I can tell, no one I know has ever really enjoyed any of the movies in the franchise. The most excitement I’ve seen has been from my gamer friend, Matt, who sort of half shrugged his shoulders 11 years ago when the first one came out, And yet, the films continue every one to two years, along with yet another Blu-ray boxset with every installment. Why?! Make it end!
I am completely burned out on sequels and remakes. I’m ready to return to original content. My new burnout is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As fun as these movies are, I’m ready to see ‘Iron Man’ fly away for good. The franchise will never get any better and I’d like to see Robert Downey, Jr. return to real acting gigs, not just playing modified versions of his own persona. With multiple theatrical releases each year and now a television series, Marvel needs to apply the brakes. Between these and the many other competing comic book movies, there are way too many. Marvel isn’t helping matters by cranking them out as quickly as they have. The result of a hasty ‘Iron Man 3′ shows that Disney/Marvel cares more about quantity than quality. I wish that they’d stop while they’re ahead. Sadly, with a billion-dollar threequel, that won’t be the case.
I’m going to lump two franchises together by their common thread, not because I hate them, but because they are not only done, but they are beyond done. By that, I mean ‘Rambo‘ and ‘Rocky‘. While neither of the latest installments of these franchises was as bad as the last ‘Die Hard’, they shouldn’t need to get that bad before quitting. Stallone wanted them made, and they were full of nostalgia and old characters. We’ve had the heyday and we’ve had the revival sequels. Now please, Stallone, let Rambo and Rocky rest.
‘The Expendables‘ seemed like a great idea, especially after Stallone’s astonishing one-two punch comeback of ‘Rocky Balboa’ and ‘Rambo’. But the end product was trite and boring. Yet it was a masterpiece compared to its sequel, which managed to be both incomprehensible and simultaneously embarrassing for everyone involved. Despite this parade of mediocrity, somehow a third film is in production. This needs to stop. Sabotage the film, sue the producers, do anything to prevent ‘The Expendables 3′ from getting made. And if it does come out, for the love of all that is good in action cinema, don’t see it.
End all things ‘Twilight‘ immediately. Sure, the franchise supposedly ended with ‘Breaking Dawn Part 2′, but you know that won’t stop the studio execs from developing another film and/or TV series in the future. These movies are deplorable on every level imaginable. The only way one of these future projects would be decent is if Wesley Snipes reprised his role as Blade and killed off all the characters within the first three minutes.
I have to pick one of the franchises that spawned this Roundtable. ‘Fast & Furious‘ (I’m not even sure what the actual official title for the franchise is, because it’s been different every movie) seriously needs to drive off a cliff. I had fun with the fifth installment, mostly because Dwayne Johnson made the ridiculousness fun to watch. This sixth movie, however, is just sooo dumb. It’s a fairy tale land of fast cars, aging action heroes and phony talk-heavy scenes with unmemorable characters.
The entire sixth movie culminates in one of the stupidest climaxes ever constructed for film. This is the point where you wonder if director Justin Lin is really stupid or a diabolical genius. Either he has no idea how long a real airport runway is, or he understands that the type of people who love these movies won’t care that a car chase involving speeding sports cars and a cargo plane about to take off apparently takes place on the World’s Longest Runway. Ugh.
I kind of liked the first ‘Pirates of the Caribbean‘ movie. It may have been far too long for its own good and seemed to have about six or seven endings before the credits finally came up, but it was a fun action romp that infused some life into a genre that had been dormant for decades. Of course, it turned out to be so popular that a sequel was a foregone conclusion. Unfortunately, the second movie, ‘Dead Man’s Chest’, was a tedious slog that drained all the fun out of the concept and reminded us (well, me at least) why pirate movies fell out of favor in the first place. You’d think that would have been the end of it, but no, the sequel made even more money than the first. So then ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ had to be a trilogy. And then that trilogy had to extend to a fourth film, which somehow raked in over a billion dollars even though no one who saw it seems to have liked it in the slightest. A fifth film is in development, and Johnny Depp has commented that he’s prepared to keep making them until he dies.
I like Johnny Depp, I really do, but it’s time for Captain Jack Sparrow to walk the plank.
We’ve barely hit the tip of the iceberg here in terms of movie franchises that have outlived their usefulness. Tell us in the Comments about the franchises you wish would just die already.
The blog will be closed on Monday for the Memorial Day holiday. Have a great long weekend, everybody!