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In Honor Of 'Riddick:' 10 Of The Most Unnecessary Sequels Ever

Photo of Drew Taylor By Drew Taylor | The Playlist September 5, 2013 at 2:11PM

If popcorn cinema in 2013 has been defined by one thing, it's been "Sharknado." But if cinema in 2013 has been defined by two things, it's "Sharknado" and... a glut of unnecessary and unwanted sequels. Think about it: "A Good Day to Die Hard," "G.I. Joe: Retaliation," "RED 2," "Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters" "Despicable Me 2," "Kick-Ass 2," "Planes," "The Smurfs 2," "Grown Ups 2." These aren't just movies that are creatively unnecessary, they are movies that it's hard to imagine anyone wanting (though in the Sandler movie's case people bizarrely did actually show up, to humanity's shame). Even "Monsters University," arguably the year's best sequel/prequel/spin-off, wasn't one that seemed that creatively in demand—it was better than expected, but hardly essential. This week sees yet another sequel few were clamoring to hit theaters: "Riddick," the third movie in the series started by 2000's "Pitch Black" and continued with 2004's "The Chronicles of Riddick.". And it got us thinking about other egregious examples through the years.
15
“Son Of The Mask”

Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd” (2003) and “Son of The Mask” (2005)
Wait, What? We couldn’t include just one past-due, unnecessary Jim Carrey-free sequel to a Jim Carrey movie on our list, we had to include two (quite frankly “Evan Almighty” is lucky it squeaked by without inclusion). Even more baffling than the movies being made at all is the fact that they were made by the same studio: New Line Cinema (is it any wonder that it’s now a production shingle at Warner Bros?). 'Dumb' was originally developed for the “South Park” creative team of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, they wisely passed the buck along to “Mr. Show” principle Troy Miller, who for some reason decided to replace the original movie’s childlike goofiness with a mean-spirited insensitivity. The Jim Carrey/Jeff Daniels stand-ins (Derek Richardson and Eric Christian Olsen) do an admirable job of appropriating the stars’ mannerisms, but the plot barely registers (it involves the two dummies creating a “Special Needs Class of 1986”) and the magic is all but gone. The fact that The Farrelly Brothers are making a “real” sequel, with both original stars (this one is called “Dumb and Dumber To”) seems to be, at the very least, tempting fate. However one would-be franchise that will probably be left alone for a lot longer (until someone gets the idea to make a “gritty” reboot more akin to its splashy, hyper-violent Dark Horse Comics source material) is “Son of The Mask,” the wrongheaded sequel to the Jim Carrey comic book movie from more than a decade earlier. There is little connection to the first movie; Jamie Kennedy plays a wacky man-child but not the same wacky man-child essayed by Carrey in the first film. Kennedy doesn’t want to have a child, much to the chagrin of his girlfriend (Traylor Howard—who?), and when he comes in touch with the first movie’s magical wooden mask (retrieved by another adorable Jack Russell terrier), all hell breaks loose. As directed by once-promising animator-turned-director Lawrence Guterman, it is embellished with an endless array of visual effect-laden weirdness including but not limited to Bob Hoskins and Alan Cumming (proving that he’s never said no to anything) as Norse gods Odin and Loki, a gag where former Nixon speechwriter Ben Stein’s face is sliced off and Kennedy breaking a world record for the number of times the word “crap” is used in a single sentence. Like a lot of unnecessary sequels, it’s unclear who, exactly, “Son of the Mask” is meant for: those who favorably remember the Carrey comedy or young kids, who may appreciate the movie’s humor and visual aesthetic. When a rap number by Kennedy is the movie’s highlight you know things are seriously fucked up.
Is It Worth Watching, Like, At All? “Dumb and Dumberer” is an unmitigated disaster; you’re best left wondering how horrible it is instead of finding out for yourself. On the other hand, “Son of the Mask” is so much of a catastrophe that it kind of begs for at least one viewing; occasionally the visual effects overload turns the movie into a live action Tex Avery cartoon, oftentimes bordering on the hallucinogenic (try getting through that Halloween party sequence without at least smirking). 

Highlander II

"Highlander II: The Quickening" (1991)
Wait, What? The tagline for the first "Highlander" (1986) was "There can be only one," which makes the sequel entirely unnecessary right off the bat. The fact that it weirdly retconned virtually everything that was charming and easy to understand about the first movie, a beguiling fantasy film backed by, of all things, a Queen soundtrack, is just infuriating. How Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) could go from a swashbuckling immortal to a scientist in charge of an electromagnetic shield protecting earth from damaged done by depleted ozone layers is literally the least bizarre question  "Highlander 2: The Quickening" poses. The magical race of immortals? Yeah well turns out they are aliens from the planet Zeist. And it turns out that you can summon dead Highlanders back by yelling really loudly, which is the excuse the filmmakers use to get Sean Connery back for this go-round (and yet he wouldn't show up for "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull"). There's also something called "The Prize," which allows Highlanders to either grow old and die on Earth or return to Zeist to, presumably, luxuriate in the finest amenities Zeist has to offer—it's a device that is, through clumsy exposition, inserted somehow into the narrative of the first film. (What is happening?) More troubling than the mythological mumbo-jumbo, though, is the sex scene between Lambert and Virginia Madsen, which can conservatively be described as "alleyway rape." Don't worry folks, at the end of the movie they embrace and shoot off into outer space together, presumably for more consensual rough stuff out in the cosmos. Director Russell Mulcahy, who also directed the original film, squawked loudly about his vision being compromised and years later released "The Renegade Cut" on DVD (note: if it's officially sanctioned and released by the studio, it makes it a lot less "renegade") in an attempt to clarify certain story beats and moments that he felt were poorly conveyed in the original film. Shockingly, this version is just as muddled and incomprehensible as the theatrical version (he revisited it a third time to add additional visual effects, no joke). "Highlander II: The Quickening" might achieve the rarified status of being both the most unnecessary sequel ever and the most infuriating. Also, please keep in mind that this was followed by two more theatrical 'Highlander' movies ("Highlander: The Final Dimension" and "Highlander: Endgame"), a television series, and a TV movie ("Highlander: The Source"). Never before has "there can be only one" meant so little.
Is It Worth Watching, Like, At All? Fuck no. Oh, sorry, maybe you didn't hear that: fuck no.

Speed 2: Cruise Control

"Speed 2: Cruise Control" (1997)
Wait, What? When "Speed" (1994) became an unexpected runaway success, all parties (including stars Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock and cinematographer-turned-director Jan de Bont) swore up and down that it was a one-off and a done deal; there would be no sequel. At least Keanu kept his word. While ideas were floated by original screenwriter Graham Yost that attempted to replicate the feeling of intensity and dread that the original captured, including a pitch that involved an airplane flying through the Andes mountains that would explode if it fell below a certain altitude, de Bont insisted on the cruise ship idea. While the director claims this idea as his own (not sure why: it's awful), it was very similar to one of two parallel "Die Hard" sequels being developed by director John McTiernan and producer Mark Gordon (the other one ended up being "Die Hard with a Vengeance"). In fact, the entire finale with the cruise ship crashing into the island, which was largely cited as the one fun thing about "Speed 2: Cruise Control," even if it's so badly shot that it makes it seem as though anyone involved could literally stroll away from the terror? That was all McTiernan. 'Speed 2' suffers largely from the fact that cruise ships don't go all that fast; they're lumbering oceanic monoliths that just kind of hang out in water. What's hilarious about the script, too, is that the filmmakers did nothing to change the male lead after Keanu Reeves left the project last minute: basically Jason Patric is playing the Keanu Reeves character from the first movie with few (if any) alterations. He's another handsome, thrill-seeking cop who Sandra Bullock's character falls in love with. This time they're doing battle against Willem Dafoe, playing an irate computer technician who is unfairly fired from the cruise company. Also he's sick and carries around leeches. While the movie admirably tries to capture the kind of low-rent luxury of cruise living, and de Bont manages to photograph a few sequences nicely, this is the very definition of an unnecessary sequel: a bloated, overly complicated bore that attempts to wrangle in elements of an entirely different genre (in this case the "Poseidon Adventure"-like disaster movie) to diminishing effect.
Is It Worth Watching, Like, At All? No. Not at all. We really can't be any more clear than that. All of the things that were fun and zippy about the original are not at all apparent here. Don't do it. 

I Still Know What You Did Last Summer

"I Still Know What You Did Last Summer" (1998)
Wait, What? Barely a year after "I Know What You Did Last Summer" (1997) was released, its fast-tracked sequel came out. Gone was first movie's secret weapon, screenwriter Kevin Williamson, writer of "Scream" and creator of "Dawson's Creek," with the entire production feeling like a cheapo slasher movie sequel from the genre's heyday, except without the throwaway charm and copious amounts of nudity. This time the ghostly, murderous fisherman is talking nubile young people on a tropical island (returning star Jennifer Love Hewitt, whose breasts were a focal point of the movie's ad campaign, is notified of the fisherman's presence during a karaoke sing-along of "I Will Survive," when the words on the screen ominously change to "I know…"). The sequel's cast is uncharacteristically strong, and includes a young, almost painfully adorable Jennifer Esposito as a hotel employee, genre legend Jeffrey Combs from "Re-Animator" and "The Frighteners" as the owner of the hotel, Jack Black in an uncredited role as a white Rastafarian drug dealer, and a young John Hawkes as Freddie Prinze Jr.'s coworker and confidant (young Mr. Hawkes dies by having a hook shoved through his mouth). But, lads, the "I still know" gag at the end of the first film was just that: a gag, like Carrie's hand coming out of the grave at the end of that film. It was not the basis of another movie, and should never have gotten this far. 'I Still Know…' is largely humorless and that glumness extends to the suspense set pieces, which have a joyless restlessness despite being captured with some style by original "Judge Dredd" director Danny Cannon. The fruitlessness of "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer" is encapsulated by its final scare, which has the fisherman surviving and dragging Jennifer Love Hewitt and her spectacular breasts underneath a bed. Presumably he makes her into chum, but it couldn't keep the franchise down, which was rebooted somehow with a 2006 direct-to-DVD sequel entitled (wait for it) "I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer." Always and forever, baby.
Is It Worth Watching, Like, At All? While there's absolutely no reason for "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer" to exist, that doesn't mean that it couldn't have been worse. There are minor pleasures sprinkled throughout the film, most notably the aforementioned cast. But that's by no means an endorsement to sit down and watch the movie; if you're flipping through the channels and are wondering what movie Jeffrey Combs is in that requires him to have a flattop haircut and stand behind a desk—this is it!

This article is related to: Features, Feature, RED 2, Riddick, A Good Day To Die Hard, Despicable Me 2, Monsters University , G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters, The Smurfs 2, Kick-Ass 2


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