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10 Movie Sequels That Ruined the Original

Watching movie sequels can be an amazing experience. You get to reunite with familiar characters, and you know that the story will continue in exciting ways. However, there are some movies where sequels just don’t live up to expectations. These are ten movie sequels that ruined the original!

American Psycho II: All American Girl

Whereas its gritty predecessor rocked audiences with an in-depth dive into the 90’s Wall Street psyche of materialism and antisocial behavior, its sequel, American Psycho II: All American Girl, is its grossly unequal counterpart. As the name suggests, it’s a poorly designed horror flick casting the impressive Milas Kunis as a half-baked and uninspired psychopath who’s desire to become a FBI agent drives her to serial murder. Clearly the premise alone presents some logical plot holes which only deepen as the story progresses, ultimately leaving Milas Kunis’ character shallow and unremarkable – a poor comparison to Bret Easton Ellis’ chilling Patrick Bateman. Released only two years after the original, American Psycho II is a sad, Hollywood money-grab that Patrick Bateman would eagerly dispose of. 

God’s Not Dead II

On the heels of a riveting philosophical debate which put “God on Trial” in the courtroom of a university classroom, the sequel of God’s Not Dead presents a considerably less inspiring argument. After answering a question about Jesus in her AP History class, teacher Grace Wesley is thrown into a controversial court case against a prosecutor who’s opening remarks immediately blow the entire debate out of context. Seeking to prove via this lawsuit “that God is dead” while arguing that the foundational principles of American society demand a guilty verdict, the prosecutor – portrayed by Ray Wise – contends with a defense arguing in favor of Jesus’ historical likelihood. Of course, Grace’s legal team achieves an unsurprising victory to much fanfare. While its predecessor was based on Rice Broocks’ God’s Not Dead: Evidence for God in an Age of Uncertainty, Pure Flix’s uninspired onslaught of “God’s Not Dead” films cater to an audience looking for a satisfying, easy win rather than a thought-provoking debate. 

Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil

Released six years after the independent original, Hoodwinked Too! clearly had every opportunity to improve on its predecessor’s decidedly rudimentary animation style. Yet it so obviously failed in this. If this was the only mark it had missed it may have been forgivable – after all fans of the original had endured the unnatural, rigid animation style before – but from its start the sequel clearly lacked its namesake’s charm. Once upon a time these characters were a humorous entourage of fairy-tale spoofs who’s clever singing and dialogue carried an otherwise simple plot. But reunited again through the Happily Ever After Agency, the character’s overplayed one-liners and pop-culture riffs served as annoyances rather than hilarious anecdotes. Without Boingo – voiced by Andy Dick – as the diabolical, creative villain, the story felt tepid and slow as the story’s new villains failed to bring the hilarious energy characteristic of the original. These criticisms aside, the sequel was doomed from the start as most audiences  felt no need for a continuation of the original’s truly one-off success. 

MIB: International 

A star-studded cast, a beloved franchise, and a production value of  $94–110 million; what could possibly go wrong for the MIB series sequel? Evidently a lot. Despite its many assets, MIB: International proves that fancy CGI and big-name actors cannot make up for creative wit.

While the original had the unique artistry of Barry Sonnenfeld – director of the Addams Family – the newest addition bore the obvious marks of director F. Gary Gray, director of The Fate of the Furious. Relying instead on shiny new gadgets and over the top fight scenes, the amiable humor of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones was impossible to replace with Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson’s less natural portrayal of cult-classic MIB agents. 

Doctor Sleep:

The confidence it takes to follow a cult-classic of The Shining’s unabashed notoriety would suggest an enticing plot and well-developed characters to say the least. However, Doctor Sleep presented no such promise despite casting Ewan McGregor as the now grownup, alcoholic, Danny Torrance. In almost every way, Doctor Sleep is the antithesis to The Shining.

While the latter built-up incredible suspense through Stanley Kubrick’s cinematography (and possible confession to faking the moon landing), the former indulges in needless gore throughout its 2 ½ hours of plodding plot. The story’s villains, a group of pseudo-vampiric creatures called True Knot, torture children gifted with the ‘shining’ to draw out their energy before killing them and feeding on this lifegiving power. Recycling motifs and settings from the original, Doctor Sleep is a poor follow-up to a seminal movie which required no such sequel. 

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull:

As the saying goes, ‘Be careful what you wish for…’ and for Indiana Jones fans the world over this time-honored saying proved true yet again. Reveling in the original three films starring Harrison Ford in his prime may make one nostalgic enough to wish for just one more, but Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is hardly an answer to our prayers.

Mixing UFOs with Mayan artifacts, this Cold War era tale has all the hallmarks of a classic Indiana Jones film – including a wizened Harrison Ford. However, the punchy humor and action of the originals has dissipated with age and movie effects. The unrealistic jettison into a world beyond the realms of physical reality may have been a sufficient follow up if the originals were not so beloved. Yet credit is due to Harrison Ford who broke new movie safety rules by refusing to exchange Indy’s iconic whip for a CGI replica.  

Staying Alive: 

It seems impossible for the follow up to John Travolta’s hilariously emblematic film, Saturday Night Fever to fall short of its intended glory, yet Staying Alive did. Where the original explored – with questionable grace – the gritty issues of the discotheque era such as exploitation, homophobia, and the harrowing brutality of rape, its follow-up takes an unexpectedly light-hearted turn. Our man, Tony Manero, has decided to pursue Broadway fame as a dancer having honed his skills in the nightclubs of Brooklyn.

While what follows is a tremendous testament to Travolta’s dance skills and “strut”, the plot lacks the passion and realism which rocketed Saturday Night Fever into the hearts and minds of a generation. Touching briefly on the changing times which have forced Tony’s character development, the film is ultimately an tribute to John Travolta at his physical best but not at his brightest. [“I tell you I used to be pretty incredible myself when I lived in Brooklyn.” “Really? What happened?” “I moved to Manhattan.”]

Grease 2: Back to School Again

While it’s impossible to have missed the indelible mark Grease has made on the fabric of American musicals, its sequel likely escaped your bad movie sequels radar. The plot will immediately sound familiar as bad-girl Michelle Pfiefer is pursued by a square English-exchange student, played by Maxwell Caulfield, who takes on the alter-ego of the “Cool Rider” to win her love.

The recycled plot, one-dimensional-characters, and strained musical numbers do little to endear fans of the first film to the second. Perhaps the charm of Rydell High and its cast of characters was enough for only one blockbuster film, or Grease 2 was merely an uninventive, second-rate stab at the former’s glory. 

S.Darko: A Donnie Darko Tale

Released in 2001, Donnie Darko is a puzzling look into the youthful, twisted mind of Donnie, who’s strange dreams and chronic sleepwalking culminate in an unforgettable, end-of-the-world sequence that has left audiences contemplating its deeper meaning ever since. Its sequel picks up with Donnie’s traumatized sister, Samantha, who’s life starts following a similar course when she becomes stranded in Utah with her friend Correy.

Emulating the original, but with enough differences to make the continuation a useful clue to devout fans, S. Darko explores time travel and her brother’s mysterious demise with the foreboding undercurrent characteristic of the original. However, following a film renowned for its unanswered questions with another unanswerable storyline did little to garner success for the sequel or the Darko franchise overall. 

Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World

Can you imagine the surprise of US historians, barely recovered from Disney’s woefully inaccurate Pocahontas, when Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World was released? Creative license galore – Disney attempts to patch up the historical inaccuracy of Pocahontas’ romance with John Smith through a slap-dash plot that throws her together with John Rolfe, Pocahontas’ historically accurate love interest.

Set in London, the new cast of characters deal with treachery and confounding forces conspiring to prevent peace between the Powhatan Nation and English settlers. Lacking in creativity and musical charm as much as historical accuracy, the sequel was yet another unnecessary sequel to one of Disney’s Renaissance films.

Movie Sequels, Yay or Nay?

The worst movie sequels are those that completely change the tone of their predecessor. Whether they’re dark and gritty, or goofy and slapsticky – these movies just don’t live up to the original’s success. We’ve put together a list of 10 great film franchises with disappointing movie sequels in order for you to avoid making this mistake yourself! What other bad sequel would you add?

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