We’ve explored The Good.
Now it’s time to look at The Contentious: the top 5 sequels for inspiring shocked looks and cries of “What?!” when hearing someone else’s opinion about it.
5. Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
Why people hate it: The original Terminator was a water-tight science-fiction action movie. The sequel throws out the central premise of the original with a cavalier, “Skynet sent two terminators back through time…” Really? Because that’s the opposite of what the original film said. Why not send 50 then? 10,000? And the end: “I know now why you cry.” Oh my God, the terminator who learned how to love? Seriously? Terminate me now.
Why people love it: Superior in every way to the original in action, effects and scale. Groundbreaking special-effects that are thrilling 20 years later. Also more complex in role examination – the terminator becomes the parent, and the parent becomes the killing machine.
4. Batman Returns
Why people hate it: Too dark, too weird, too atmospheric. Penguin is bizarre, the plot is waffly, a lot of sexual innuendo for a kids’ draw, and brooding, brooding, brooding.
Why people love it: So dark! So weird! So atmospheric! Eschewing the commercial requirements of the first that led to the weakest elements, the follow-up heightened everything interesting about the idea, including masterful interplay between the central characters, Batman, Penguin and Catwoman. And of course, ahem, Michelle Pfeiffer…
Why people hate it: The original was a dark, atmospheric nightmare. A psychological horror film in space. The sequel was all guns and “go get ‘em!” music and “Get away from her, you bitch!” A total betrayal of the original film for the sake of character-free, shoot-em-up action. If it were its own movie, it’d be a fun action movie, but you don’t get to throw away Alien.
Why people love it: It’s AWESOME. Insanely exciting from start to finish. Ratchets up everything from the original, for a movie that is fun, intense and – by the finale – so engaging it’s practically unbearable. (Alien 3 is equally divisive for the exact opposite reasons)
2. The Matrix Reloaded/Revolutions. (Note: I’m including 2 & 3 together because, narratively, they’re one film)
Why people hate it: Ugh, preachy much? The original made you want to know more, but this? A plot that sloshes around and on the ground like an over-filled bucket, irrelevant threads, incomprehensible speeches… The second was way too sexual (without purpose), the third not enough. And, um, Neo has Matrix powers in the real world now because they “crossed over”? Come on.
Why people love it: Sure, the plot gets kind of sprawling, but the action pieces are massive, and there are some compelling philosophical extensions from the original. It’s flawed, but manages to broaden both the mental scope of the story and the kung fu. And more kung fu is never a bad thing.
1. Grease 2.
Why people hate it: Grease without the stars? Without the original songs? Without the rose-colored reflection of the 50’s? With a plot that seems made up as it goes along? Terrible. The people who hate this movie would call it one of the worst sequels ever made. An embarrassment against the cultural icon of the original. People who hate this movie hate it with wide-eyed, head-trembling intensity.
Why people love it: People who love this movie say there are two kinds of people in this world – people who get Grease 2, and people who don’t. They love it because it’s Grease, liberated from the burdensome sappiness of the original. It doesn’t suffer under the weight of its own self-awareness. It is just a fun, funny, silly movie – everything Grease is in your memories, but often not in reality. Funnier than the original, and unafraid to just have a ball being what it is: a musical about a high-school romance that never happened in a time that never existed. People who love this movie love it with a swooning, stare at-the-clouds-as-you-talk-about-it devotion. And of course… Michelle Pfeiffer…
So… what say you?