Monday, July 09, 2001

The Sequel To End All Sequels

The news made Hollywood tremble with excitement.

Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas have all agreed to a plan for a fourth "Indiana Jones" movie. They may even bring back Sean Connery as Indy’s dad. Although they still don’t have a script, it’s smiles all around – especially on Ford’s face, since he’ll get a paycheck of at least $25,000,000.

But do we really want another "Indiana Jones" movie?

The original, "Raiders Of The Lost Ark," was brilliant movie-making, one of the most exciting adventures ever filmed, hands down.

The sequel, "Temple of Doom," was mediocre at best, weighed down by gory scenes designed purely to shock, not to mention the nearly constant screaming of Kate Capshaw, who attempted the simultaneous feat of replacing Karen Allen onscreen and Amy Irving offscreen.

They were back in form with the third installment, "The Last Crusade," which returned to the original’s formula of Evil Nazis plus Good Religious Icon times Truck & Tank Stunts equals Mega Entertainment.

The pattern indicates that the odd-numbered "Indiana Jones" movies are better than the even-numbered ones, but since the next sequel will be Number Four, there’s not much reason to be hopeful. This is known among movie afficionados as the "Star Trek Sequel Theory" -- though in that series, it was the odd-numbered movies that sucked.

What’s also bothersome is that there’s very little new ground to cover in another Indiana Jones adventure, not that this small point stopped other movie sequels from being made, of course.

Take, for example, another big box office Spielberg series. Are you expecting to see a new creative direction in the third "Jurassic Park" movie when it opens in a couple of weeks? I’m just guessing that the plot consists of some humans (who are naturally fearful of computer-generated creatures) trapped on an island with The Dinosaurs That Time Forgot, who begin chasing their biped visitors until everyone but Sam Neill and two cute kids is dead and mankind finally catches on to Michael Crichton’s decades-old message, "don’t mess with technology, you fools!"

Wait! Imagine what Indiana Jones could do to a T. Rex with his whip!

Face it, most sequels are nothing more than cheap attempts to bring in a few more dollars by making the same movie again and hoping the audience doesn’t notice too much. For every "Terminator 2," there’s a "Predator 2." For every "Toy Story 2," there’s a "Smokey & The Bandit 3" (they couldn’t even convince Burt Reynolds to do that one!).

"Godfather 2" may be the all-time high-water mark of sequel-dom, but even it spawned a piece of drek in "Godfather 3." Still, both of them stand head and shoulders above so many others that Hollywood has foisted upon the movie-going public. Herewith, a small sample:

"Jaws." First one, phenomenal. Second one, not so phenomenal. By the third one, they had resorted to lame 3-D effects. But that didn’t stop them from making "Jaws 4," in which the shark actually followed Lorraine Gary to the Bahamas, where it climbed up on land and finally persuaded the studio to knock it off.

"Rocky." Perfect example of the downward spiral of multiple sequels. When your movies hopes lie with Dolph Lundgren and Brigitte Nielsen trying to be as appealing as Mr. T, you know you’ve sucked the franchise dry. What to do? Make number five! [Incidentally, there are rumors that Sly Stallone is seriously considering converting "Rocky" into a Broadway musical -- thus proving that he learned absolutely nothing from directing Travolta in "Staying Alive," the humiliating sequel to "Saturday Night Fever."]

"Rambo." By my count, this makes Sly’s combined total six sequels, unless there’s a "Tango & Cash 2" that I missed somehow. Did you know that in "Rambo 2," his dialogue times out at less than two minutes for the whole movie?

"Karate Kid." Follow this sequence to oblivion. Make Ralph Macchio a champ in one month. Then have him defend the title. Then have him go to Japan to play up Pat Morita’s story. And in the fourth and final chapter, just as the schlocky well runs dry, turn him into a teenage girl!

"Alien." Sigourney Weaver’s "Jaws In Space" scared the stomach out of more than just John Hurt. But by the third sequel, they had to bring Ripley back from the dead to prop up the horribly miscast Winona Ryder in "Resurrection." Should have let her battle it out with Lorraine Gary.

Let’s browse the comedy section, too, for more of the worst sequel ideas ever.

"Caddyshack." Recipe for the sequel: replace Rodney Dangerfield with Jackie Mason, replace Ted Knight with Robert Stack, replace Bill Murray with Dan Aykroyd (!), let loose the never-hilarious Randy Quaid and Dyan Cannon, and you’ve got yourself an all-time stinker!

In case they don’t get the message, repeat the recipe for "Blues Brothers 2000" and "Meatballs 2." Or "Grease 2," which was so bad Michelle Pfeiffer couldn’t save it, even with the assistance of the legendary Mr. Adrian Zmed!

Don’t make me bring up seven – seven! – "Police Academy" movies. Or the two followups to "Back To The Future." Or "Superman" three through five! The list goes on.

Movies that stunk to begin with kept rolling: "Porky’s 2." "Cannonball Run 2." "Weekend At Bernie’s 2." "Mannequin 2."

Scary classics that had their legacy ruined: "Exorcist 2." "Psycho 2." "Poltergeist 2." "Carrie 2."

How about the ones without a number in the title? "Terms of Endearment" begat "Evening Star." "Romancing The Stone" begat "Jewel Of The Nile." Look what Tim Burton begat when he started with Michael Keaton in a cape and cowl. Holy Bat Crap, George Clooney!

Lastly, let’s not forget the one that may have started this mania in the first place: "Planet Of The Apes." Below, Return, Beyond, Escape -- and now, Remade. Somewhere, Roddy McDowell’s estate is laughing.

Get your dirty paws off me, you damn dirty dinosaur!