Five and Five: Sequels
In honor of Taken 2 opening this week I thought it was time to take a look at a few other films that tried to make magic happen twice. I haven’t seen Taken 2 yet but from what I’ve gathered it doesn’t seem to hit it’s mark the second time around. I liked Taken and found it not only food for thought for traveling young ladies but also a wake-up call in terms of Liam Neeson kicking some serious ass. I was quickly put back to sleep upon watching Unknown a few years later but that’s another issue entirely, one involving the so-called acting of January Jones. That sort of behavior somehow works out fine on Mad Men but the silver screen has not been kind.
Moving on, all of Neeson’s ass kicking in Taken has led to Maggie Grace needing saving once again (was this not the same character she played in Lockout?) and also the kidnapping of Famke Janssen. Although, she really looks like she can handle herself if you catch my meaning. I can’t make a final judgment call on the film until I see it, which may not be until Netflix snatches it up, but until then here are five sequels that impressed and five that totally deflated my party balloons.
BACK TO THE FUTURE II
Hoverboards. That’s all you need to know. We have just shy of three years to figure out how to make this dream a reality. That’s right, Marty McFly travels to 2015 to help his future son while Biff goes back to 1955 to completely mess everything up. I still think Back to the Future is the best of the series but the second film still has plenty to offer and does not disappoint. The old Shue-ster takes over the role of Jennifer Parker and doesn’t make you think twice about what’s her name from the first one.
Any film that presents the idea of coming into contact with your future self has me sold. One of the things that was so intriguing about Back to the Future was that you got to see many of the characters play older and younger versions of themselves, highlighting their true talent. Back to the Future Part II does the same all while bringing into play the magic of hydrating a mini pizza into an entire meal. The future McFlys get crazy and make 2015 a year to remember.
At the end of Before Sunrise you’ve gone on what seems like such a long meaningful journey with Celine and Jesse that you don’t want to let them go. With almost a decade between Before Sunrise and Before Sunset there was endless amounts of time to ponder what happened to this dynamic duo when they parted ways. The idea of fussing with that question and possibly ruining all that the first film had going for it was dangerous. Yet somehow Richard Linklater (the director), Julie Delpy (Celine) and Ethan Hawke (Jesse) teamed up again and gave another ending leaving you with that same pondering thought.
The ending of Before Sunset still remains one of my favorites in cinema history as you watch Delpy dance to “Just in Time” by Nina Simone. With the production of the third installment, Before Midnight wrapped we are again left to find out if they can pull this level of quality off for a third time. This set of films is a prime example of how great the payoff can be when you take time in between sequels to wait for just the right moment, audience members will wait for something good.
KILL BILL: VOLUME 2
Even though Volume 1 and 2 were released within months of each other I still count this as a sequel suitable for this list. Trying to imagine sitting through both films as a whole makes me squirm and I appreciate the choice to separate the two. While Kill Bill: Volume 1 set the story and offered a plenty of kills it’s really with Volume 2 that Tarantino picked up the pace and took audiences for a ride.
Having already been teased of what was to come everything is ramped up and you’re ready for the final meeting between Bill and “The Bride.” This story of revenge makes you think twice about every crossing somebody and with over the top gore and plenty of WTF? moments, Volume 2 proved to be a successful sequel. You can find all your favorite Tarantino-isms whether it be women’s feet, quirky music or wordy monologues. The first volume left you pining for more and Kill Bill: Volume 2 fulfills that desire.
THE BOURNE SUPREMACY
Matt Damon really started to become a household name after he made the wise decision of taking on the Bourne series. He was impressive in The Bourne Identity but it wasn’t until the second film that you realized this guy is just awesome. After seeing what this guy could do with a flipping pen in a one-on-one fight I was prepared for greatness with Supremacy. No longer was Damon messing around and when the powers that be kill his beloved Marie things get crazy.
Damon yanks around smushy face Julia Stiles and ultimately comes out on top. In the final scene you’re ready for the movie to end but can sense Bourne has something else up his sleeve. Anybody who has ever realized somebody was watching you without you realizing knows how this feels. It’s one of the better BOOM moments I’ve seen put to film.
THE DARK KNIGHT
You had to see this one coming; a list about great sequels would feel incomplete without it. Even with the crazy raspy voice and one too many story lines Christopher Nolan was able live up to what Batman Begins promised. The final scene in Batman Begins where Batman flips over the card to reveal his next target is the Joker was unlike any other theater experience I have had. People went insane.
Heath Ledger created one of the best villains to date and made him at times likeable. There are so many genius moments in the film and most of them revolve around Ledger. His pencil trick, the multiple stories of his scars and that crazy nurse outfit all exemplify why this character is so dynamic. Ledger and the entire film is so good that you actually forget about the permanent cheesecake face Maggie Gyllenhaal has plastered to her mug. With the arguably disappointing third installment of the franchise The Dark Knight can stand alone in film history as one of the best movies in recent years.
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE II
What the hell was going on with all that Chimera bullshit? And why did Tom Cruise need to have long hair? Was this some sort of statement to show just how cool he can be? While Ghost Protocol was rather amazing I have a theory that the films of this franchise reach their full potential when Cruise cuts his locks. The second installment in the franchise relies on hot bodies and sultry looks. Not even a score by Hans Zimmer could save this mess.
By the end I didn’t care if Ethan Hunt saved the world or not and Thandie Newton certainly didn’t help one bit. Their witty banter never sat well with me and her idiotic driving skills were worthy of eye rolls. By the end of it I wanted to give myself the Chimera virus and had no hope for the future of the Mission: Impossible franchise…but then came J.J. Abrams to the rescue.
THE HANGOVER PART II
These kinds of comedies are the ones that make me very concerned for the future of our society. People actually found this funny even though it was literally a carbon copy of the first one. Instead of coming up with original jokes the writers created almost identical situations that lead to the same dumb punchlines.The Hangover Part II is why any mere mention of comedy sequels scares me. I don’t need to see a sequel to Bridesmaids where it’s now a different girl getting married that gets food poisoning and poops in the middle of the street only this time it’s with Italian food. Let’s start being original people!
Everything is so much the same that even Justin Bartha is kept off the side just like he was in the first one. Why not incorporate him this time around? Now raise your hand if you’re excited to see the warmed over shit they have in store for us with The Hangover Part III (aka The Hangover.)
I can speak freely about this travesty because unfortunately I have in fact seen it. This sort of sequel falls under the “why does this exist?” umbrella. Luckily Richard Kelly, the man behind Donnie Darko had nothing to do with S. Darko. The story picks up with Donnie’s little sister (you know the one that wanted to know what a f*** ass was) and somehow they got the same actress back. Hardcore fans would have been terribly confused with a new face for a story that picks up seven years later.
The two films have absolutely nothing in common and the acting is more than difficult to watch. James Lafferty of One Tree Hill fame tries to impress as a mysterious soldier named Justin but is ultimately laughable. S.Darko is a lame attempt to capitalize on a familiar name and makes a feeble attempt at destroying all that was great wit hDonnie Darko. The film is not a substantial enough threat as most people don’t even know it exists and if they do the film is easy to miss as it’s so transparent.
TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN
The first Transformers was actually enjoyable and while it relies on being in your face and oozes with Michael Bay-isms it’s worth watching. It’s with the second film in the franchise that things took a terrible turn. Revenge of the Fallen is an example of Michael Bay and his inability to listen to any criticism. Bigwigs will continue to hand him over money, girls will continue to sleep with him boosting that already giant ego and this endless cycle will become exactly that, something that never ends. Bay needs people around him that are going to tell him to STOP. It’s a simple matter of reeling things in a bit.
I’ll admit I genuinely like Armageddon and I can handle when his movies simply show his style but don’t hammer it home to a point where it’s like a raging headache. Revenge of the Fallen is all confusing fighting and Megan Fox’s toe thumbs. Not to mention a boatload of screaming from Shia LaBeouf. Not only was this sequel just absolutely terrible but also it meant a third chapter, which of course everybody saw…including myself. But I stick strong to my rule that I will only talk shit about a movie if I have seen it so unfortunately I had to give money to the problem. Creating yet another endless cycle. GAH!
JEEPERS CREEPERS 2
I’ll admit that for some strange reason I seriously enjoyed Jeepers Creepers. At the time it felt refreshing and like a great horror should do it let the suspense build without having to start shoving things in your face twenty minutes in. However the sequel made the list mainly for one reason.
The trailer and billing for Jeepers Creepers 2 suggested that Justin Long was in the film. Technically that’s true but it’s for the better part of mere seconds. Why you gotta tease me about Justin Long? That’s just not right. Jeepers Creepers was where I fell in love with him as an actor and they just yanked him away from me. I went to theaters to see this hot mess and I couldn’t believe what they had done with it. Any suspense building was gone and while I could handle his annoying sister from the first one there was now a bus full of little shits to deal with. Needless to say I felt like a damn fool.