The fact that Hollywood has gone sequel-mad is well-covered territory by now. So long as it delivers decently at the box office, a movie will have a sequel and it will be announced instantly after a movie’s release, if not before. But what’s the deal with the recent spate of high-profile sequels that come decades after the last installation? Nostalgia has its limits, and it wasn’t enough to carry the movies that follow.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Where to start? For some reason, the writers thought that updating Indy (Harrison Ford)’s enemies from Nazis to Communists would make the movie more timely, which would have been brilliant… had it been 1988. And watching an aging Ford valiantly attempt to pass himself off as an action star, while painful, isn’t nearly as bad as the attempt to pass off Shia LaBeouf as his greaser successor. No thanks.
When First Blood (1982) was released, the story of a Vietnam vet unable to adjust to civilian life had serious resonance. How about more than two decades later, by the time of the belated fourth flick, Rambo? Eh, not so much. This time Rambo lives near the Burmese border and becomes embroiled in the nation’s civil unrest, which didn’t exactly pique the nation’s 2008 mood, over-extended as it was. The only good news? Stallone had, somehow, barely aged since the ’70s. A mystery for the ages
Live Free or Die Hard (2007)
The first Die Hard flicks were action pioneers, starring Bruce Willis as an ordinary cop battling terrorists and coining catch-phrases. He lacked rippling muscles, machine guns, and karate skills, but he took out dozens of bad guys with sheer guts. Nearly twelve years after the most recent Die Hard, Willis was turned into your typical action hero, using cars as missiles and recruiting Mac salesman Justin Long as a side kick. He ought to have held his head high and passed.
Rocky Balboa (2006)
Perhaps Stallone thinks he’s conducting his franchises in a timely manner. While this loooong-delayed boxing flick ends the franchise on a much better note than did the ridiculous Rocky V (1990), the movie still falls into the category of too little too late, and engages in groan-worthy ploys, including making Marie (Geraldine Hughes), a child with three lines in Rocky (1976), Stallone’s late-in-life love interest. Huh?
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)
Terminator (1984) is a classic, and Terminator 2 (1991) is arguably the greatest action flick ever. So why wait twelve years for Terminator 3, allowing Arnold to age past his prime and for countless imitators to take their shots at rip-offs with more modern special effects? While the reasons are murky, the results are telling. The massively-budgeted actioner clocked in at the box office behind the likes of such timeless movies as Bruce Almighty and Elf.
Alien Resurrection (1997)
If your big star must be brought back from the dead in order to show up in the sequel, odds are things aren’t going to end well. Alien Resurrection does just that, cheapening the shocking ending to Alien 3 in which Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) commits suicide. Alas, eighteen years after Alien, the teenagers who loved being scared by the original were adults and Weaver was no longer a star. The movie debuted at the box office behind, of all movies, Flubber!
The Godfather: Part III (1990)
Reviled for its nonsensical, incestuous plot, which sees first cousins sleeping together and the Corleone family involved in a Papal assassination — not to mention Sofia Coppolla’s performance — The Godfather: Part III is a blemish on the franchise. The biggest issue? By the time of its release, eighteen years after the original, the heydays of the Italian mafia, mafia movies and their greatest star (Al Pacino) had all passed.