Movie sequels stink … except when they don’t


Good things often come in twos. Popsicles, dice, and chopsticks all come in twos. Some things that come in twos, however, can be bad. There have been two world wars, which don’t exactly fit under the “good” category. Also, many athletes dread those two-a-day practices. Movie sequels can fall under either category, depending on the quality of the sequel.

Many bored movie-goers bemoan the slew of sequels and ask why so many come out. There’s more than one possible answer to this question. Movie producers could be running out of story ideas, or maybe they want to rake in gobs of money from the huge fan base of the original movie. Or maybe sequels are a response to the huge amount of fan feedback calling for a sequel. From what I’ve observed, it’s a mix of all of these reasons.

With so many movies produced each year, it’s extremely challenging to come up with a completely original idea that isn’t similar to another movie or full of the standard movie plot clichés. This makes the movie producers turn to sequels, which take away the work on their part of developing the characters because it has already been done for them. The plot must still be original in ways, but some of the pieces have already been prepackaged for the producers.

Let’s face it, not all sequels live up to the standards set by their predecessors. Usually after a sequel to a popular movie comes out, fans are either extremely disappointed or ecstatic. In many cases if the original movie is good, then the chances are far greater that the sequel will be bad and vice versa. This is generally true because if an original movie hits a home run with audiences, then the sequel will have to be fantastic to impress the demanding crowd.

An example of this is the original Pirates of the Caribbean, which is to this day one of my favorite movies. It combined witty humor, action and a solid plot line. On the other hand, Dead Man’s Chest, the sequel, did nothing for me. It was decent and held my interest for the whole movie, but it didn’t live up to the original nearly as much as I hoped it would. Following Dead Man’s Chest was At World’s End, which also didn’t impress me. I was even more disappointed with it than I was with Dead Man’s Chest. With some movie series, the quality starts out at the beginning and can only go down from there.

However, this isn’t always true and some good movies can rise up even further with sequels. As a child, I grew up watching the animated cartoon version of Transformers on VHS tapes, so it thrilled me when Michael Bay released a movie version in 2007 with my favorite Transformers characters and crazy special effects. I was a little skeptical of Revenge of the Fallen at first because I didn’t want to be disappointed with it. After seeing it, though, I can say Revenge of the Fallen lived up to the first Transformers and may have even surpassed it. Both movies, even four and two years later, are still great to watch and can be watched multiple times, proving a sequel doesn’t always have to be bad.

But the folks in Hollywood know that fans hate an unfinished story, so they purposefully leave us hanging at the end of some movies to guarantee an audience for the sequel. And I have to admit, it works on me. Personally, I’d rather be disappointed with a movie sequel than be disappointed that one never came out and having to wonder how it would have been.

I would much rather see a bad sequel than have that thought lingering in my head.