Lackluster sequels plague summer cinemas

By Kevin Romani

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Unfortunately, not every release this summer was as enjoyable as the films on our summer “best of” list. Several of the disappointments from this summer came in the form of sequels. Most, such as “The Hangover: Part II” and “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” were released just two years after their predecessors. Two years does not seem to be a sufficient amount of time for the development of a new story that is worthy of the original or previous film. With pre-production, filming and post-production, making a movie can be a daunting and lengthy task. The screenplays for these two films felt rushed, and if so, the quality of the stories inevitably suffered. These sequels felt like incomplete attempts to match what made earlier installments so enjoyable.

5. The Hangover: Part II
Two years ago, “The Hangover” became one of the most quotable and original comedies in recent memory. It also became the highest-grossing “R” rated comedy of all time. So naturally, the studio wanted to make a sequel to rake in as much as possible, and they wanted a sequel quickly. So quickly, in fact, that director Todd Phillips had to rush through his previous film “Due Date” as well as “The Hangover: Part II” in order to release the film for Memorial Day weekend. As a result, the film was just more of the same. The movie uses an almost identical premise for the story, resulting in one of the most formulaic sequels in movie history. The jokes are the same, and many reference gags from the first film. The audience has laughed at those already. It was an incredible disappointment for those who loved the original. Sure, laughs are to be had from this film, but they are no where near as memorable as those from “The Hangover.”

4. Cars 2

The animation studio Pixar has enjoyed countless successes since the release of its first film, “Toy Story,” in 1995. One series, however, has been the only flaw in the company’s history: the “Cars: franchise. The first “Cars” was an enjoyable film, but was unable to match the humor and emotional depth of previous Pixar installments. “Cars 2” is even further from the quality that Pixar is accustomed to producing. This series seems to be focused more on the merchandising and financial side of the industry than it is in telling a compelling story. Cars that drive fast and talk? What more could a kid ask for in a toy? “Cars 2” will be the first Pixar film not to win the Best Animated film category at the Academy Awards since the first “Cars” film lost in 2006. This should be a sign to the studio to leave this franchise on the side of the road.

3. The Green Lantern

Warner Brothers and D.C. Comics, seeing the recent success Marvel Studios has been enjoying, wanted to expand their superhero lineup to more than just Batman and Superman. Their first attempt was “The Green Lantern,” and it was a poor one at that. The film features a final act that has yet to be written, far too many computer generated special effects and the poor casting decision of Ryan Reynolds as the title character. It’s not that Reynolds is a bad actor, but this is not his type of film. Reynolds is great as the funny guy with a mildly caustic side, but not a superhero. An unknown actor should have been sought for the role, as audiences could have focused more on the story and the film itself instead of the leading actor. But as mentioned earlier, the story itself is the major issue of this movie. Warner Brothers should know better, as their own picture “The Dark Knight” recently proved a superhero film can be both thought-provoking and exciting at the same time. The “Green Lantern” was neither of those things, just another loud and silly superhero production.

2. The Change Up

Ryan Reynolds had quite the summer. If losing Scarlet Johansson was not enough, Reynolds also had to deal with two stinkers at the box office. “The Change Up” was a completely unoriginal premise that has been played to death in film over the years. Two characters switch lives – literally – by magically switching bodies overnight. Think “Freaky Friday,” but with men. The jokes are predictable and lame, and the actors seem bored with the material. This story idea should be forgotten in the future, and Ryan Reynolds needs to start looking for better scripts, and quickly. He is about to become irrelevant.

1. Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Where would a “Worst of” list be without a Michael Bay film? The worst movie of the summer was far and away “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” the third and hopefully final installment of the franchise. The first “Transformers” was an enjoyable enough film. It featured crisp action sequences and good humor, but both of these positives were abandoned in the past two films. “Dark of the Moon” is incomprehensible, loud and long. There are very few action films that are compelling enough to be two and a half hours long, and this is certainly not one of them. The final battle alone is forty five minutes long and features robots fighting that are indistinguishable from each other. With cheesy dialogue, countless continuity errors and attempts at humor that try so hard and fail, director Michael Bay has found himself back where he belongs: headlining the basement of summer movies.

If this summer did not seem to be packed enough, next summer may prove to be even bigger. The summer of 2012 will feature Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated finale to his Batman trilogy “The Dark Knight Rises,” all of Marvel Studio’s characters assembled together in “The Avengers” and “The Amazing Spider Man” franchise reboot, just to name the three biggest. It looks to be another “bloodbath” and another expensive summer for movie buffs. Hopefully, these projects will receive the attention they deserve and will improve the quality that was displayed in the summer of 2011.


Kevin Romani can be reached at [email protected]