So, there’s a movie coming out this week called The Last Exorcism Part II (the sequel to The Last Exorcism). Now, one would think that a movie called The Last Exorcism would not have a sequel—presumably because that exorcism was the last one (still, a movie called The Second-to-Last Exorcism might not have had the same box office draw). In any event, apparently the ability to do a back bend is synonymous with demonic possession and we have another last case. A last, last exorcism, if you will. Of course, if Weekend at Bernie’s II taught us anything, it’s that Hollywood can make a sequel out of anything.
Now there are great movies with great sequels—The Godfather, Alien, The Terminator, even Toy Story. In some instances you could argue the sequels are better that the original films. There also are terrible movies with terrible sequels. Hey, if you bought a ticket to Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo or Daddy Day Camp, you’re on your own.
The ones I can’t really wrap my brain around, however, are the great movies with terrible sequels. Sure, the obvious explanation is good, old-fashioned greed. You could phone in a sequel to Avatar or The Avengers and gross a billion dollars. But it seems to me that when you have a great movie as a springboard, there would be a level of ease, as well as a modicum of pride, involved. So, I look at some of the greatest movies of all time and their sequels, and I wonder: Where did it all go so terribly wrong?
The Sting II
Almost a decade after the original (a film easily on my top 10 list), some dim bulb in Hollywood decides a great plot for a sequel would be for Lonnegan to seek revenge (after being duped by Gondorff and Hooker in the original). The main problem here is that the brilliant actor who played Lonnegan, Robert Shaw, had since passed away. Well who better to fill his shoes than the ominous and malevolent Jackie Gleason? Enough said.
OK. Robert Shaw’s character dies in the first one, so they can’t bring him back for this one, either. Nevertheless, how hard could it be to make a second scary shark-attack movie? At least Dennis Quaid takes his shirt off in the third one…
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
The title alone speaks volumes. Again, the potential here was monumental. Gordon Gekko gets released from prison in the era of 'Occupy' protests and financial bailouts, and the best the screenwriters can come up with is an ill-conceived, unintelligent conspiracy-laced flop.
Blues Brothers 2000
Once again, death darkens the door of a sequel. You can’t reboot the Blues Brothers without John Belushi. That’s Movie 101. I want to fire the guy who came up with this idea, rehire him, kick him in the shin and fire him again.
I could go on and on: Speed 2: Cruise Control, The Hangover Part II, The Fly II. I guess as long as there is money to be made, there are sequels to be made—some good, some not so much. In the meantime, I’m just going to sit back and watch them try to come up with a plot for Titanic 2: Beneath the Surface.