Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tuesday Talkback: Biggest sequel letdowns

Anticipation is at its peak for The Dark Knight Rises, opening later this week.  In fact, I'd say that expectations are so high that there's no way the movie could possibly live up to them.  The first wave of positive reviews are encouraging, but I hope that none of that comes from a place of the reviewers WANTING this film to be so good that they're bending over backwards to be fair to it.

But this got me thinking about major let-downs in the past.  I think the biggest letdown in recent memory was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.  I went in willing to accept that it wouldn't be as good as Raiders or Last Crusade, but I hoped they'd at least reach the quality of Temple of Doom.

Unfortunately, the film proved you can't go home again.  From moment one, Ford's performance felt off, too gruff, too "get off my lawn."  The warehouse chase was decent, and the Harvard action sequence was good enough that I almost convinced myself that this could be a decent movie.  Yes, there was the "nuking the fridge" scene, but I didn't find that much more abusive of real-world logic than the idea that would could bail out of a plane in a life rafts and survive a several thousand foot fall.

Then came the fact that Indy and his annoying-sidekick-who-is-clearly-his-son found the skull barely a half-hour into the film.  That worried me.  Marion's return felt clumsy, and her confirming Mutt's parentage also felt like a fumble in the execution.  But on a first viewing, my denial was still strong enough.

Then came the monkey army.  And that was when I knew there was no saving this film.  Little did I realize the film still had further to fall.

So what are your biggest letdowns?


  1. Probably several thousand feet, not thousand mile.

  2. I'll be first to trot out the obvious ones: Star Wars Prequels, Spider-Man 3, Indy IV...

    I don't get the general dislike for BTTF 2. And I'll go in to bat for The Matrix Reloaded, which I know *someone* will bring up. It's definitely too long, too smart for its own good, has too much unconvincing CGI...
    It suffered for the Wachowskis being given carte blanche, but there's a lot of good stuff in there.

    1. There's a general dislike of BTTF part II? Since when? That shocks me more than finding out there are people who think BATMAN RETURNS is a good movie.

    2. BATMAN RETURNS is a good movie! Michelle Fieffer is the best catwoman.

      And I didn't like BTTF 2.

  3. I seem to stumble over tons of people who HATE BTTF2. They seem to think it ill-thought out. I like it.

    Ah, the Batman Returns issue... ;)

    1. If nothing else, BTTF 2 deserves credit for mainstreaming the concept of an alternate timeline, which was such an abstract concept for viewers at the time that the writers actually stop the film dead so that Doc can give a blackboard lecture about what must have gone wrong. I can't think of a time-travel film since then that required that bold-faced a lecture of exposition.

  4. Do prequels count? If so, PHANTOM MENACE has got to be number one.

    Otherwise, for pure sequel disappointment, it's hard to beat THE MATRIX RELOADED.

    Honorable mentions: BATMAN RETURNS, SPEED 2 and PROMETHEUS.

  5. Agreed about BTTF2.

    The screening of Reloaded I was at exploded in outrage at the ending. I'm still not sure if that was a sign of disappointment or the fact they were hooked enough to want to know how things turned out right there and then.

    I can't be disappointed by Batman Returns because I never really loved Batman '89.

    X-Men: The Last Stand? Remember being baffled at just how... *meh* it was after they'd set everything up so well.

    1. Yeah, X3 might have almost pissed me off more than INDY 4. I remember dissecting it with a friend on the way out of the theatre and by the time we reached our car, we'd solved most of the biggest scripting issues without making any changes that would have upped the budget. I don't think it ever could have been a great movie, but it easily could have been decent.

      If I had cared much about the PIRATES sequel, DEAD MAN'S CHEST would have been a major letdown. I liked the first film, but had no real hopes about the second one.

    2. I thought Pirates 4 was better than 2 and 3. The first was a cool action adventure (just 40 minutes too long) but the 2/3 ones were ridiculous. By the fourth I'd given up on them so I liked that it satisfied my curiosity.

  6. I rewatched Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 recently. They weren't as good as I remember them. Then I saw The Amazing Spider-Man and it hit home just how well Raimi had done with those two, despite the odd kitschy moments that ended up blooming like cancers in the third.

    1. What's the popular opinion on Amazing Spider-Man? I felt it was a great idea let down by a director who can't do the kind of movie that required. The reveals are all wrong, the pacing is off, the central romance doesn't click...

    2. I thought it was better than I expected, but not as good as Rami's first two by any stretch. I think the chemistry between Garfield and Stone saved an otherwise so-so script.

      The Lizard's motivation and overall plan might be dumber than anything in Spider-Man III and I can't say I cared for all the changes to Peter's parents' backstory.

      P.S. Everyone seems to think they can only name sequels here. Bring up ANY movie you were really anticipating, only to be let down by.

    3. I generally agree about TASM. It would probably all have been acceptable if they hadn't done it 10 years ago, better. By the final act I was rolling my eyes. They should have done an Incredible Hulk and just quasi-rebooted during the opening credits.

  7. Sadly more sequels are letdowns than disappointments, and that seems to have been true of cinema for as long as I've been watching movies. Just going off the truly poor ones:

    I never got into the Raimi Spider-Man movies, but even without that Spider-Man III is a shockingly bad, sprawling mess of a thing. We all point to THAT dancing in the street freeze frame, but it's just crap overall even without that.

    Matrix Reloaded has its moments so I can tolerate that, but Matrix Revolutions is one of the most abominable splurges of trash I've ever had the misfortune to pay for.

    Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones - both balls of the highest, dangliest order. You know it, I know it, everybody knows it.

    X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Cliched script and poor acting aside, it's the scene where Hugh Jackman fights a guy in a fat suit that the bubble well and truly burst for me (thank the gods for First Class).

    And yes, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. What the EFF was the entirety of the third act all about? LINDELOF!!!

    (I know he didn't write it, but whenever I encounter poorly-written endings to movies/TV that make no sense, I shake a fist and roar 'LINDELOF!' these days)

  8. The Highlander sequels were pretty atrocious...

  9. I was disappointed with The Matrix Reloaded's ending at first. But the rest of it is so good that I think it's a solid follow up to a great movie. Beyond the ending, I think people were confused with the architect scene. No one was told there was going to be math.

    Not that I thought The Hangover was all that good. But I at least expected the sequel to give me something different. It didn't. And it didn't even seem to try.

  10. Both Austin Powers sequels, the 2nd Matrix movie (never saw the third one) and I refuse to watch either of the Back to the Future sequels.

  11. I generally dislike all sequels, because they are pretty much never as good. (Aside from the standard exceptions of Aliens and T2, there's not much else...)

    Terrible ones that haven't been mentioned yet:
    Tremors 2 (and all others which I haven't seen), Ghostbusters 2, and yes, Babe 2: Pig in the City. The first Babe is a tremendous film, unique, original, funny, and very profound. Why even attempt a second? There's no way it will be as good.

    I have learned to avoid most sequels without seeing them and so avoid the inevitable letdown, anger, and annoyance that occurs. Spiderman 3 is a great example. I think I would put that in my all time top 10 Hate List.

    I also think there is an important distinction between a sequel and a continuous story, which usually comes in the form of a trilogy. Lord of the Rings does not have any sequels; it's one continuous, interconnected story spread over three films. Same with Star Wars. Very different from sequels that have little relation to each other.

    Finally, no one has mentioned it, but Star Trek: Generations is the worst of all the Trek films, in my opinion. Terrible logic, horrible ending, and baffling actions by the villain because of course we can't have a villain ever win.

    1. Ghostbusters 2? Are you kidding me? I thought it was better than the first one.

  12. A movie I was anticipating, only to be horribly, horribly let down by? That's easy.

    Sucker Punch.


  13. The second Matrix was okay, and I was more than willing to see where it was going. The third one was so terrible that it made me retroactively hate the second, and soured my feelings on the phenomenal first installment.

    I don't know about a fourth Indiana Jones movie. They only made three.

  14. Prometheus the movie equivalent of a bimbo.
    alien 3 one of the sadest moments in my teenage life.
    alien 4 : next time let Tarantino direct number 5 maybe he can add some of his style. Maybe the alien get vocal cords and deliver some killer lines.
    Transformers 2: I mean number one was stupid (with a capital S) fun number 2 was probably worse than a mock buster from the asylum.
    Pirates sequels. I feel sorry for Jhonny Depp he has reduced himself to a sitcom character. I think the character Joey from friends has more depth.
    Iron man 2 not even Robert Downey junior could save this one.
    Dark knight: there should be a law against fanboys on imdb. I don't think its bad it is just not the same quality as the movies it shares place with on the imdb top list .
    Scream 4: Maybe I'm just getting old but what was all that about.
    Matrix 3 It makes you sad when you realize that when something you thought were intelligent strings wanting to be tied together just was random s##t that a monkey could make playing scramble.
    The Avengers: I felt absolutely nothing. There was absolutely no character development. I don't think five superheroes bickering over if they should come together and save the world and themselves is great drama. It is as stupid as watching five millionaires fighting over who should pay the cab fair. Everyone can do it and the consequence that you should be picked up by the police for not doing it is a stupid as the superheroes not coming together saving the world. But Kudos for not making it the turkey it could have been.
    Act of valor: Oh boy this reminds me of Doom somehow, both in visual style and movie quality.
    Sherlock Holmes 2: I don't know what I was expecting, maybe even a small plot would suffice.
    Crank 2: I actually found the first one amusing. after the second one I felt abused and dirty. When on the topic lets thank the brothers for making ghost rider 2.
    I like this complaining a little to much so lets end here :)

    1. I don't think I mind the two Crank movies because there seems to be a noise or something during the closing credits which wipes my memory. Seen 'em a couple times each - no idea what happens.

  15. This is old, but so what. Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome really let me down. I LOVED the Road Warrior beyond belief...but Thunderdome was just a big disappointment. It wasn't the hard-edge Max. They let him get soft. NO!

    I also hated The Black Stallion Returns. It was nothing compared to the first Black Stallion. It felt absolutely fake.