When the original Independence Day ended – and yes, we’re about to spoiler a 20 year old film – with the super-advanced alien race defeated by a simple man-made computer virus (have they not heard of Norton Anti-Virus?), it seemed unlikely there could be a sequel. But for years director Roland Emmerich maintained his pitch to studios not just for one sequel, but a continuing franchise. He eventually found backing and here we are, with Independence Day: Resurgence now hitting the screens. And dear God, we all wish he’d left it well enough alone. Familiarity breeds ker-ching in Hollywood though and while some films may not seem like they are made for sequels, life finds a way. We haven’t seen a sequel to Reservoir Dogs yet, but give it time and we’ll get that three hour epic continuation of the story of Steve Buscemi’s Mr. Pink one day, because the film studio accounting gods will demand it.
With that sickening thought of future crimes against cinema lingering in our head, let us now delve into 5 more film sequels or prequels that blindsided us and slapped us in the face when we least expected it:
The Fly 2
Jeff Goldblum, despite experiencing somewhat of a career Goldblum-issance at the moment, inexplicably made a decision to return to the Independence Day franchise in the awful Resurgence. But back in the 80s, he was perhaps a little wiser. After the body-horror excellence of David Cronenberg’s The Fly (itself a loose re-make), he stayed away for any second outings. The studio wanted to cash in on the first film’s success and make a sequel, but no-one from the first film wanted in and so, they ended up with Eric Stoltz in the lead and the rest, is history. Or it would be, if anyone had watched it.
The Fly 2 is a hideous mess of a film, much like our dear Brundle-Fly himself at the end of The Fly. It takes all the goodwill garnered from the first film and throws out the window, in favour of basic C-movie horror scares, terrible effects and an incoherent story that bares no connection to the original.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
He said he’ll be back and this time, you have to talk to his hand or something equally hilariously modern like that. Because Arnie is here as the killer-cyborg-turned-hero cyborg-turned-kitsch-piss-take-of-himself-cyborg, in this utterly pointless third entry to the Terminator franchise. After Terminator 2: Judgment Day became one of the greatest summer blockbuster films of all-time, there was an inevitable appetite to continue the franchise. James Cameron was having none of it though, but a decade later, Schwarzenegger was on board. But he’d regret coming back. Terminator 3 was basically the new cyborg model of T2, lacking in any humanity as it soullessly plows through it’s turgid story, until nearly everyone and everything in it is dead. Literally.
Easy Rider 2: The Ride Back
Born to be wilder was unfortunately not the tag-line, for this 2012 prequel to Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper’s counter-culture 1969 classic. It would not be wilder, or wild, it would just be a case of, why? Because why, after 43 years, make an entirely different film, with an entirely different ideology – this prequel is far more right-wing – that would fail to pique the interest any of the original film’s fans? That surely defeats the entire purpose here, which is surely to attract the original audience back to a story they liked in the first place? Obviously, none of the original Easy Rider crew were involved in the sequel (death being a problem for some, but even then they would have turned this sequel down), so really, this can only be considered a prequel because of it’s blasphemous name.
The Lawnmower Man 2
Here we have an unexpected sequel, where the original had absolutely no credibility or integrity in the first place. The first Lawnmower Man was a Pierce Brosnan/Jeff Fahey starring vehicle (whoever thought you could say those combination of words into a sentence?), that was very, very, loosely based on a Stephen King short story. The premise of it made it an unintentionally laughable, virtual reality themed horror film. It definitely didn’t deserve a sequel, either for artistic, or for financial reasons (the original tanked at the box-office). But somehow it got one, in what we can only describe as some kind of possible tax write-off situation perhaps? Who knows, but one thing we do know is that it’s not only as bad as the original, but much worse. Which is actually pretty damn impressive.
Back To The Future: Part 2
So far, the films featured here have been unexpectedly unpleasant, like someone throwing ice cold water in your face. Except with piranhas hiding in the water. But now we have a case, where the result was far more pleasant. Like having a milkshake being thrown in your face. Except with puppies hiding in the milkshake.
The fact is, that when Robert Zemeckis finished directing the first Back To The Future, neither he nor anyone else expected to return to it. The film was fraught with problems, not least because they replaced their original lead actor, Eric Stoltz (yes, him again) midway through filming, with Michael J Fox. Zemeckis also had a studio behind him, that simply didn’t have enough faith in his wacky, high-concept project. So much so, that the much fabled ending with the forever quotable: “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!” wasn’t supposed to set-up a sequel at all. It was intended as a gag ending and in the original cinema runs, there were no ‘To be continued…’ titles after it, which were added in later for video and TV releases. We’re glad they did continue, as the sequels are a prime example of how to creatively expand upon a original film’s mythology in a smart way, and not in a cynical cash-grab way. Great Scott, indeed.