5 Disappointing Entries in Otherwise Reasonable Film Franchises
"You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain".
It's an apt quote to start this article. This time, we're looking at five disappointing entries in otherwise reasonably decent film franchises. Personal opinions only. I could regurgitate lists that exist on the internet already and leave you with something that resembles the 50/50 thoughts of IGN and Empire magazine, but I've assumed you would prefer to read something unique and new. That said, we will be seeing some familiar offenders. There will be more of these to follow so this is not a "top" list, just a taster. The films here are also not necessarily flops and you may find they in fact made their money back, but that doesn't stop them being disappointing. Check out the table at the end of the article for more details on that. Reboots won't count here.
As always, there may be spoilers coming up although I may be doing you a favour.
1. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
The Mummy 3 was a sequel no-one actually asked for. I love the "original" 1999 film (Hammer horror fans are going to hate me for that comment) and the 2001 follow-up which introduced the Rock to the franchise. They are perfect popcorn flicks, not intended to be anything other than fun, ninety-odd minutes spectacles and they pulled them off well. The two first entries were a perfectly acceptable pair of films to watch, which didn't take up too much time and commitment to finish. Along came the spin-off "The Scorpion King" and although it was just a dumb action film, it never pretended it was more. It also didn't hurt to have the charisma of The Rock carrying it.
Then a mere six years later, we got the "Mummy 3: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor". Gone is the beautiful Rachel Weisz, replaced by the "Not ugly but not Rachel Weisz" Maria Bello. She is joined by the franchise regulars Brendan Fraser and John Hannah, while the son has grown up to become a towering American dude with delusions of Chris Pratt-ness, minus the charm. The Egyptian setting has made way for everyone's stereotypical vision of China, which is visually more dull and dingy than the bright yellow and oranges of the desert. The CGI is also somehow worse considering that there were 5-6 extra years of computer technology to hand by the time this film hit cinemas.
The story is a rehash of the original film but with less intelligent writing, dropping wit and humour for action. Some of the jokes land so flat they make pancakes look like tower blocks.
The reason this film is so disappointing is that it does nothing new and everything it borrows from previous entries it does worse and with less energy. Losing Weisz really did put the final bandage on the mummy. Hopefully there isn't a book to bring this one back...
...Tom Cruise did what? Oh FFS.
2. Blade Trinity
"Blade" is often forgotten as arguably being the genesis point for the now rampant Superhero genre, possibly due to it's less than family-friendly setting. Before "Blade", superhero films were not taken seriously and were made cheaply with no real interest in the source materials. "Blade 2" came along roughly 4 years later and arguably upped the ante (personal opinion alert). I found the second film to be much more sinister with a scarier villain to the first.
In what seems like a rushed attempt to make a trilogy before Snipes went to jail, "Blade Trinity" came out only two years after Blade 2. The film itself is a tonal mess, not able to decide if it is horror, action or comedy. It has Ryan Reynold's along for the ride who is clearly practicing his Deadpool routine for later on in his career. Everything out of his mouth is a witty snark or biting comment except they aren't funny or clever. His inability to react to the dangers around him cause the audience to also lose interest. Plus... there's a vampire Chihuahua. Whatever.
The story is, Dracula (played by Prison Break and Legends of Tomorrow actor Dominic Purcell) arises to take over the world and only an incredibly bored Blade can stop him. Well, only Blade and a group of vampire hunters which include the aforementioned Reynolds and Jessica Biel playing... someone else.
Spoiler. Whistler dies for no reason too. Clearly Kristofferson sensibly wanted out I guess!
This is a film to forget and had Snipes not been sent to lockup, probably would have ended the series anyway.
3. Evan Almighty
Remember that hilarious newscaster played by Steve Carell in "Bruce Almighty"? When you saw that, didn't you say "Gee. I wish there was a whole film about that one guy."
Neither did I, but we got it anyway.
First off, Carell is hilarious in "The Office" and is generally good money in anything he is in (see Anchorman and 40 Year Old Virgin for evidence) but the script for this film was God awful, pun intended. Carell plays Evan Baxter, the former newsreader now elected to Congress for reasons. Evan prays to God (Morgan Freeman) for the power to be able to change the world. Shortly after, lots of odd and biblically resonant occurrences happen, leading to Evan building an Ark. That's literally it. There's some hi-jinks with pooping animals and other mishaps but overall it's instantly forgettable. If I didn't have access to Wikipedia, I wouldn't have been able to tell you any of the above!
Sure, there are only technically two of these films, but the first one was so great that the mere presence of this sequels lessens it.
4. Batman Forever
Two things before we get started here. Number 1 is there was no point putting "Batman and Robin" on this list. It's too obvious and better people than I have torn it to shreds already. Number 2... I... actually like "Batman and Robin". Yep. I like it. I love nearly everything Schwarzenegger is in and I find the campy crapness to be entertaining in a way that the real choice for #4 isn't.
Of course, I am referring to "Batman Forever". I hate this film with a passion. It's not even because of it's supreme cheese-factor; it's just a bad film. Val Kilmer plays Bruce Wayne as some kind of brain-damaged cabbage, unable to emote or even speak coherently half the time. He's joined by Tommy Lee Jones who clearly has never heard of restraint and Jim Carrey, who is so painfully annoying here that I would have welcomed a gruesome death the get away from him. Nicole Kidman plays "Chase Meridian", a name clearly chosen by throwing darts at a dictionary, who tries to seduce our charmless hero for reasons known only to her and succeeds in getting caught, forcing our hero to choose between her and Robin. Tough choice really, the woman you met two days ago versus the man that has fought beside you, is part of your team and whose parents, by proxy, you got killed.
The casting in this film is just the worst and to top it off, it has a U2 soundtrack. Bono, no-one likes you man. Go away.
"Batman Forever" is a gaudy, ugly film with performances that fail on every possible level. I find nothing redeeming with at all and with "Batman and Robin" at least giving me some Arnie, it has to be on the list.
5. Star Trek: Insurrection
What do you do when your actors start getting a bit too old for their franchise? Carry on and hope no-one notices! The cast of "Star Trek: Insurrection" look old, bored and tired with the whole shtick at this point, which is worrying, because there's still "Nemesis" to film yet.
The premise behind "Insurrection" revolves around a planet somewhere in a wibbly-wobbly part of space called "The Briar Patch". It homes a thought-to-be indigenous group of humanoids called the Baku who seem to either not age, or do so at a significantly slower rate. Starfleet has been watching them for a while, teaming up with a (totally not evil) group called the "Son'a". Starfleet, due to recent losses to the Borg and increasing Romulan threats, want to throw the Prime Directive out the airlock and relocate these people so they can harvest the planet's delicious magic energy for themselves; their consent be damned.
The main problem with this film is that not only is it a complete copy the "Next Generation" episode "Who Watches the Watchers", but it actually portrays Picard in the opposite way to how he reacted previously when this situation came up in TNG. In one of the least memorable episodes ever, Starfleet is trying to move a group of Space Native Indians (yep, they went there) to another planet. The Indians would prefer not to go, so Starfleet comes up with a way to forcibly remove them, something Picard is 100% behind. Wesley then whines a bit and Picard gets angry at him. Cut to "Insurrection" where Picard does EXACTLY what Wesley was trying to do in that episode!. It's a complete about-face for the Picard character and shows that no-one on the writing team had done their research. Sorry Wes, you were actually right. My bad.
Add to this the abysmally plastic and Styrofoam sets, the beige inhabitants, a love story between Picard and some woman whose name you will not remember and the Enterprise having a Gravis Joystick to manually fly it and you're left with a really underwhelming entry in the series. Star Trek has always had it's off moments but this one is just so generic and boring that it's hard to be entertained by it. My theory is that the studio knew they couldn't outdo the Borg-centric "First Contact" and simply said "Why bother?". If they sank $200m dollars into it, audiences would still say it wasn't as good as the film proceeding it, so I think they made a scapegoat film. It's as good a theory as any. No-one would ever admit to it because it would show contempt for the franchise as a whole, but I think it was a business decision. Make this film bad to make the next film look better in comparison. Knowing "Nemesis" was the last outing, it would seem to make sense to want to go out on a high. Unfortunately, "Nemesis" was also a little bit naff. The plan failed. It would be seven years before the series returned to cinemas in the simply named and divisive "Star Trek", directed by lens flare enthusiast J.J Abrams. We'll leave that floating in space for a future article.
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Some bad movies still make profit:
Box Office Takings (As shown by Wikipedia)
The Mummy 3
Star Trek: Insurrection