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Franchises That Should Have Ended and Didn't
Making a series of films is tough. Many have tried, and precious few have succeeded without any slip-ups. Hollywood has a tendency to take franchising too far, they make sequels for films that don’t require sequels, and they follow-up great films with unspeakably bad films. On this list, I’ll be citing just half a dozen trilogies, franchises, sequels, and/or prequels that forever tarnished the accomplishments of their predecessors and never should have been made in the first place.
Alien (Alien 3/Alien Resurrection)
I’m breaking a personal precedent right now, as a general rule, I don’t even talk about these two films – that’s how bad they are compared to the first two. The first two Alien films were absolutely fantastic, two of the best monster movies ever. Alien 3, for those of you who aren’t aware of the full story, had many production problems, including a truncated pre-production – principal photography began before the script was even complete – a revolving door of directors and a hack editing job. The studio exerted an enormous amount of pressure on those that were working on the film, giving them next to no breathing room, and the result is an utter mess of a film that ruined all the continuity of the previous installments. As for Alien Resurrection, there is no real complicated story behind it; it was just a bad film, an attempt to reboot the ailing franchise that fell flat on its face.
The kicker is, the ending of Aliens could very well have served as an end to the series. And far as I’m concerned, it does.
Terminator (Terminator: Rise of the Machines/Terminator Salvation)
OK, here’s the thing, I won’t deny the terminator sequels were fun, but neither of them were as good as the first two films. The franchise continued with a short-lived TV series – that might have amounted to something special if it had been allowed to continue – and a fifth film is now in the works. The Terminator franchise is slowly dying, Rise of the Machines bordered on self-parody in places, and Terminator Salvation turned out to be far too insubstantial for the first Terminator film to take place post-Judgment day.
Terminator 2 was written by James Cameron to serve as the end of the series. My opinion is that we should have left it that way, because nothing that’s followed the first two films has been nearly as good.
Indiana Jones (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull)
Now, I love Indiana Jones as much as the next Spielberg fan, I also love UFOs, so a movie about Indiana Jones fighting off Russians and going after UFOs should have been right up my alley, right? WRONG!! I can now categorically say that Indiana Jones and UFO’s do not mix. The news wasn’t ALL bad for the fourth Indy outing. I liked that they brought Karen Allen back as Marion Ravenwood (she was always the best of the three Indy girls) and there were some pretty decent action sequences, although the bit with the monkeys was sorta lame. Still, mixing Indiana Jones and UFO’s… I don’t know what they were thinking (smoking)!This is a tragic case, the forth Indiana Jones film could’ve been very cool given the right idea, but they ran with a ridiculously bad idea. It sucks; The Last Crusade was a great conclusion to the series.
Star Wars – The Prequel Trilogy
Well this had to be on this list, didn’t it? I could write pages on pages illustrating how poorly written and executed the prequel trilogy was – those that know me have heard me rant and rave countless times on that very subject – so I’ll make this as quick and concise as I possibly can.
When I was a kid, I thought Star Wars was the coolest thing ever, of course, when I was a kid it was the mid-nineties, and to a 10 year old boy in the mid-nineties, Star Wars was the coolest thing ever. I looked forward to the prequels for years before they finally came out. With everything I know about movies, it’s impossible not to see the numerous shortcomings. I’ve come to the conclusion that whatever magic Lucas might have had when he made the original Star Wars films; he lost in the intervening years. To add insult to injury, after the fiasco of the prequel trilogy, Lucas is now fiddling around with the original trilogy, adding CGI, changing dialogue; he even digitally inserted Hayden Christiansen into Return of the Jedi. The original Star Wars films are revered classics of filmmaking; he disrespects the legacy of the original films and their place in the history of filmmaking by altering them this way.
The prequel films never should have been made, and Lucas shouldn’t be messing around with the original films either. Time to let it go.
Jurassic Park (The Lost World/Jurassic Park 3)
What? A T-Rex gets loose in San Diego? What? Dr. Grant actually goes back to Isla Sorna for an encore? Say it ain't so!!In all seriousness though, the first Jurassic Park movie was brilliant. The Best monster movie made after Aliens, and it has yet to be topped, even after 18 years. The sequels were completely buried under their own implausibility and idiocy. What else can I say? They should have left this one alone.
The Godfather (Part 3)
Let’s face it, no one liked The Godfather part 3. Maybe it’s Sofia Coppola, maybe it’s any number of other elements that makes Godfather part 3 a lackluster follow-up to the first two. Give the devil his due, I sort-of enjoyed Andy Garcia’s performance, but the rest of the film fell flat. The first two films were sublime, critically acclaimed, must-see classics, which need no defending from the likes of me. I think it’s important, when looking at Part III, that we keep in mind the near 20 year gap between part II and III. It’s the George Lucas effect all over again, whatever filmmaking magic Francis Ford Coppola might have had making the first 2 Godfather films; he lost in the intervening years. It’s really a shame, but that’s the way it goes. For the record, I’m just glad Dances with Wolves won the Oscar that year.