5 Trash Sequels That Failed Beloved Films
We all know Hollywood loves nothing more than milking every last dollar out of a franchise or series. It's why Disney has no shame in pumping out over a dozen Marvel-related television shows and movies in the next two years, or why Blumhouse Productions has released enough Purge movies that the current population of their fictional America is 15 people total.
Of course, these studio execs don't intentionally aim to produce bad sequels. I'm sure they're looking to strike gold with the next The Dark Knight or Toy Story 2 that will set the stage for a lucrative franchise. But even when this doesn't happen, entertainment moguls aren't too pressed. That's because even the most critically rebuked sequels still tend to make more money than the original, so, of course, they would take a shot at pumping out a second version of an already successful film ...
American Psycho 2 - Worse Than An Ax To The Face
The original American Psycho, while it was generally well-received upon its 2000 release, really took off by way of a video cult following and entering the meme-zeitgeist with eggshell-colored business cards and reservations at Dorsia. When viewers said goodbye to the titular psycho, Patrick Bateman, few would have expected a sequel to emerge years later.
Enter American Psycho 2, a slasher sequel that left audiences wishing someone would just put them out of their misery. Following the events of the first film, American Psycho 2 follows the story of a young girl who murders Patrick Bateman and then goes on to try to join the FBI with a very misguided strategy of killing any classmate who gets in her way. Unfortunately, even the talents of Mila Kunis ...
... and shats of William Shatner ...
... weren't enough to pump some life into this film.
The fatal flaw for this sequel was that it didn't take a page out of American Psycho's book -- literally. While the original film was based directly on the 1991 Bret Easton Ellis novel of the same name, American Psycho 2 was based on a completely different script called The Girl Who Wouldn't Die. The sequel was pitched as a movie completely independent of the original, and it wasn't until production kicked off that the producers decide to rework the script with a loose connection to the first film. Even Mila Kunis was unprepared for this movie to be an American Psycho sequel. In 2005, Kunis spoke out about the movie, saying, "When I did the second one, I didn't know it would be American Psycho II. It was supposed to be a different project, and it was re-edited, but, ooh ... I don't know. Bad."
Easton Ellis went so far as to denounce any attempt to turn his novel into an entire franchise, saying, "If they're not careful, they could end up with something like the Pink Panther movies. I've even heard that they were thinking about doing American Psycho In LA, American Psycho In Las Vegas, and making a whole franchise out of it."
Mean Girls 2 - Copies The First One's Homework. Fails.
For one of the most quotable movies of all time, I guarantee no one can quote the sequel to Mean Girls. This 2011 direct-to-ABC-Family film follows nearly the exact same plotline as the first movie, but instead of break-out talents like Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Amanda Seyfried, and Lacey Chabert ...
... we get second-rate Disney Channel stars Meghan Martin, Kaylee Sunder, Jennifer Stone, and Robyn Sparrow. (Two of those names are made up; not going to tell you which.) And I'm not kidding when I say this movie is a clone of the original -- Mean Girls 2 recycles plot devices like "The Plastics," the prank war against the main antagonist, and even the ending scene focused on the school's Homecoming dance.
While Mean Girls 2 producers claim that this movie doesn't try to connect to the original, the movie's plot says otherwise.
All-in-all, critics agree that this film is just a "low budget remake" of the original. This is an important lesson for Hollywood to learn: if you're going to make a sequel, you have to at least try to mix up the plot from its predecessor.
Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 - Ditches Found Footage For Found Trash
Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 is another sequel that tried to follow a boundary-breaking original. With a sense of meta-analysis and self-reflection, Blair Witch 2 actually incorporates the success of the first Blair Witch film into the plot ...
... except that plot sucks. Rather than mimicking the original's point-of-view, found-footage style, the sequel instead is a studio-style filmed meta-movie about a group of shitty teens who are actually fans of the original film.
Director Joe Berlinger uses the first Blair Witch as a film-inside-a-film plot device in an attempt to make a commentary on mass hysteria and how media can influence people into believing things that aren't real.
However, in practice, Blair Witch 2 falls flat as it ditches everything that worked in the original.
While it tried its best to tell a story that forces audiences to think critically about what they consume, it really just ends up making fans wonder why this movie was greenlit in the first place. The Rotten Tomatoes consensus is that the sequel "to Blair Witch Project is all formula and no creativity, mechanically borrowing elements from the original and other horror movies." Which is to be expected--when a film's main plot device is an entirely different movie, it's not going to stand on its own.
Grease 2 - The Musical That Forgot To Include Good Songs
Grease 2 shared its opening weekend in 1982 with a few other big-name sequels, including Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan and Rocky III. And it fared pretty well then, earning $15 million upon its release. Yet, time hasn't exactly been favorable to the musical sequel. Although the film tried to use the formula that brought the original such success, like with bubbly dance numbers and the flirtatious rivalry between the T-Birds and Pink Ladies, it had one glaring and unforgivable fault: the music itself.
While the original Grease left audiences singing along to classics "Summer Nights" and "Greased Lightnin,'" ...
... Grease 2 made them wonder why the cast would bother breaking out into song and dance about a topic as boring as bowling. The musical power was just not present in the sequel, crippling any chance the movie had to hit the same notes as the first. The New York Times put it best when it said, "This time the story can't even masquerade as an excuse for stringing the songs together. Songs? What songs?"
Choreographed motorcycle tricks have never been so boring.
Two additional Grease sequels were announced to be in development in 2003 and 2008. Thankfully, these never saw the light of day, probably because people remembered how poorly Grease 2 has withstood the test of time. Sorry, Grease 2, you're the one that no one wants.
2010: The Year We Make Contact - A Space Mediocrity
Sometimes, the main issue with a sequel's ability to achieve success is that the bar has just been set way too high by the original. That's what happened with 2010: The Year We Make Contact, the "Is Pepsi Okay?" sequel to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The 2010 film was true to the source material, as it's based on Arthur C Clarke's 1982 novel 2010: Odyssey Two, which is a sequel in itself to the original story that inspired 2001: A Space Odyssey. The second film continues the story after the Discovery One ship disappears into another dimension, leaving the United States and the Soviet Union in a race to unravel the truth behind the ship's disappearance, why HAL 9000 malfunctioned, and whether there is intelligent life beyond Earth.
Though, let's be honest, the real mystery it's trying to solve is "WTF was going on in the last 20 minutes of 2001?"
Stanley Kubrick was initially offered to direct this sequel, but he turned it down. Peter Hyams later took the helm as director after receiving Kubrick's blessing to continue the story. And all-in-all, Hyams did a pretty decent job of picking up the mantle from a legend like Kubrick. It received generally positive reviews, but the main consistent critique 2010 received was that it was just incomparable to the original film.
2001: A Space Odyssey has consistently been lauded as one of the best science fiction films of all time. It set a precedent for space films for decades to come and had special effects that were years ahead of its time. With a standard this high, it's nearly impossible for a sequel to measure up. While critics say that 2010 helps fill in the gaps here and there in Kubrick's original, it's clear that these two movies are in completely different leagues. Movie critic Roger Ebert captured this best when saying, "Once we've drawn our lines, once we've made it absolutely clear that 2001 continues to stand absolutely alone as one of the greatest movies ever made, once we have freed 2010 of the comparisons with Kubrick's masterpiece, what we are left with is a good-looking, sharp-edged, entertaining, exciting space opera."
Essentially, if 2001 is the MLB World Series, then 2010 is the winner of the tee-ball league.
Top image: Lionsgate Home Entertainment, MGM/UA