The Most Contentious Sequels Of All Time

September 12, 2012


We’ve explored The Good.

The Bad.

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

“The terminator has been sent back through time to kill you, and I was sent to protect you. We smashed the time-displacement equipment, so no one goes home, no one else comes through. It’s just him, and me… unless, of course, they also sent other terminators and protectors through and thought it’d be funny to not tell me.”

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…


3. Aliens.

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)

Oh my God, what was all that crap about cause & effect and the cake-induced orgasm and– oooooh, anti-gravity kung fu… what was I saying…?

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?

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About The Byronic Man

Recently voted "The Best Humor Site in America That I, Personally, Write," The Byronic Man is sometimes fiction, but sometimes autobiography. And sometimes cultural criticism. Oh, and occasionally reviews. Okay, it's all those different things, but always humorous. Except on the occasions that it's not. Ah, geez. Look, it's a lot of things, okay? You might like it, is the point.

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54 Comments on “The Most Contentious Sequels Of All Time”

  1. Hippie Cahier Says:

    I don’t recall intentionally sitting to watch any of these in their entirety, but I have happened upon them on FX or TNT while scanning channels. That line from Aliens 2 sounds familiar, but I might be mistaking that with something I saw on Bravo.


  2. prttynpnk Says:

    I have been waiting anxiously to see if the Zmed would get his moment- Grease 2 has to be one of the worst musicals of all time- do those actors even list it on their resumes? Does Michelle Pfeiffer mention voicing Josie and the Pussycats before this movie??


  3. becomingcliche Says:

    How sad is it that i could sing along with the video? My sister asked for the Grease soundtrack for Christmas. My grandma bought her this one. “Reproduction.” Now there’s a tune you want your 6th grader to listen to.

    I did check Planet B-boy out of the library. It was stunning! Except for that little blonde French kid. I wanted to ground him for his sassy little mouth.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Oh, good, I’m glad you liked it. Yeah, the French kid’s a brat, but they way they hurl him around and pinwheel him during the dance routines? Amazing. (Plus, how awful would it be to get put on film at that age at all, much less as you’re trying soooooo hard to fit in with muscular, grown men.


  4. Go Jules Go Says:

    Oh shiz. What do they call people who don’t get the original “Grease”? I know this may come as a shock to you. But I haaaate Grease. Always have. Don’t even like the music.

    In other news, I really liked how you set this up. Because just when I might have thought, “Yeah! Why the heck would ANYONE like this?” I had an answer. I think you should make Cliff’s Notes for film, and call them… Huh. I’ll have to get back to you on that.


  5. Blogdramedy Says:

    Michelle Pfeiffer…my opinion of you only goes up. 😉


  6. skippingstones Says:

    I loved this one especially. I’m mostly in the “loved it” column, and you’ve given me great reasons not to be ashamed anymore! I need to print this and carry it with me for when people exclaim, “You liked that movie?!”


  7. Michelle Gillies Says:

    I don’t know how I could have missed Grease 2. Come on! Michelle Pfeffer! That is all.


  8. mistyslaws Says:

    I think you have pretty much demonstrated that any addition of Michelle Pfeiffer will immediately take the quality of a movie down about a hundred notches.

    In case you were confused, I am in the HATED IT camp on both Grease 2 and Batman Returns. They were both just so dumb. And not that there isn’t a place for dumb movies, but they were also lazy. Just taking the original premise and throwing some other actors in to do goofy shit. No, just no.

    I never realized how devisive Grease 2 was. I am surprised that it is number 1.


  9. susielindau Says:

    I loved all of the Matrix movies, but agree that they didn’t make the sexual tension between Trinity and Neo “hot” enough!


  10. shermangerherd Says:

    I must agree on “Matrix”. Follow up was suckie.


  11. Adrea Says:

    I’m going to have Cool Rider stuck in my head all day now…lol.


  12. Anastasia Says:

    Michelle Pfeiffer singing…? Tha fq did I just see?


  13. She's a Maineiac Says:

    I agree about the Matrix. I will still watch the second one if it’s on TV though.

    All of the other movies were just so ‘eh’ for me, overall.

    Didn’t like Grease, the first or second.

    I have never seen a single minute of any of the Alien movies. I refuse. I know they’re probably good movies, but I can’t get past the alien concept. Not a fan of that kinda thing, I guess. Creeps me out too much.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      I love the Matrix so much that I give the sequel a lot of leeway. And I really like some of the concepts they play with in there. Especially in the end of the “third” film they do something interesting with the idea of divine-trinity that’s really cool.


  14. benzeknees Says:

    I’m very thankful I have only seen one of these sequels – the one with Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman. I saw it only because I came in during the movie while my husband was watching it. I didn’t like it – it was way too dark & moody. Not my type of film!


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      See, I loved it. It was written by Daniel Waters, a brilliant screenwriter who, unfortunately, wrote a couple of big time flops and never really got the credit and acclaim he deserved.


      • Paul G. Eberlein Says:

        I have been a Catwoman Connoisseur for a long time. My humble opinion:

        Halle Berry: Barf!
        Michelle Pfeiffer: Drool…
        Lee Meriwether: Meh!
        Julie Newmar: Classic!


        • The Byronic Man Says:

          And Eartha Kitt?

          I would concur with the rest – although Halle Berry in a catwoman suit: how do you mess that up?


          • Paul G. Eberlein Says:

            For my money, Halle Berry was at her sexiest in “Monster Ball” which is why her “Catwoman” was such a let-down. Maybe you could add a second trilogy: Best, worst and most contentious “re-tellings” of an existing movie franchise for the devoted cinephiles out there…


  15. Jill Says:

    I believe I was 14 when Grease 2 pierced my eye and ear holes. I thought we all agreed to pretend it never existed. Is it worth a second look??


  16. Carrie Rubin Says:

    “I want a coool rider; a coool rider.” A musical movie great, especially considering Michelle Pfeiffer still got acting gigs after it.


  17. angeliquejamail Says:

    I liked the first Matrix so much, and then I really liked the second one, too. But then the third one came out, and it was too much guns and not enough martial arts for me, and the story seemed so convoluted and esoteric — and believe me, I can handle a very high degree of that stuff — and it felt like it made the second movie worse.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      That was my thought first time seeing Revolutions, too. They’re still really, deeply flawed, but if you watch the third immediately after the second – thinking of it as a matrix sequel, parts 1 & 2, Revolutions is a lot, lot better.


  18. Angie Z. Says:

    Fantastic post, B Man. I am weird in that I only ever saw the second Terminator and the second Aliens, and both of them BLEW MY MIND. Although, I was in a theater and was only about 14 and probably shouldn’t have been there without an adult and had incredibly low expectations because I lived in a small town.

    The lead women in both Terminator 2 and Aliens kicked serious butt. That sets them apart. Linda Hamilton had rockin’ pipes! Let’s not forget about those pipes.

    I like Grease 2. I hate Grease 1. I don’t know that I legitimately like Grease 2 or if I like it just to spite Grease 1. This is similar to the reasoning behind why I became a Democrat.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      I also saw Aliens before I saw Alien, so the first time I saw Alien I thought it was BOOOOOO-RIIIIING! Then my uncle who was among those people who first saw Alien in the theater and had no idea what was coming, explained that I was an idiot. I came back to it later and saw it anew and understood, then, both people’s problems with Aliens (though I still love it), and the motivation for making Alien 3 the way it is.

      I also prefer Grease 2, but don’t know if it’s just because my wife is in the starry-eyed adoration cult.


  19. Sandy Sue Says:

    I loved Aliens for Ripley’s arc. Of course she was a mess when she finally got home, and of course the Corporation used her, and of course she kicked ass. The only thing I didn’t like about it was how they made the aliens in to puppies. Except for the Queen, the rest of these horrifying creatures were dumbed down, fawning puppets. Not cool.

    I *would* have loved Batman Returns except for the black goo oozing out of the Penguin’s mouth. Revolting. Get the bird a drool bucket.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      I agree about the Ripley arc – it gets a bit over the top by the end (why is she suddenly a weapons expert? She learned how to shoot in 45 seconds while flirting with Hicks), but I like that she evolves past survivor to SURVIVOR.


  20. sj Says:

    Love T2, love Aliens, HATE ALL THE MATRIX MOVIES. Hate them.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Even the original??!! Oh, SJ… sometimes I don’t even know you…

      Well, should we ever wed, and then divorce (you never know – life is crazy), you can keep the Blu-Ray copy of Highlander II, I’ll keep the copy of The Matrix.


      • sj Says:

        Works for me.

        Honestly, by the time that movie came out, I’d already read so much good sf that it felt like the most derivative thing I’d ever seen. Plus, Keanu.


  21. Deborah the Closet Monster Says:

    What I say is that it’s extremely bizarre revisiting the Terminator movies as an adult. All I remember from the movies is that Terminator 2 was a HUGE adrenaline rush. Also there were robots, and Edward Furlong was dreamy to my preteen/early teen self. It occurs to me I might be due a rewatch of one/both these movies.

    The thought of anyone who doesn’t mind being scared disliking Aliens boggles my mind. I was able to see from their perspective for a half-second thanks to you, but I just can’t keep the sensation in my brain for very long.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      I enjoy T2, but love the purity (if that’s the word I want) of the original so much that I have to think of it as more of an indulgence.

      Oh, I also hate when Arnie-Terminator puts on sunglasses for no reason and “Bad to the Bone” plays toward the beginning. Oh, God I’d forgotten about that. I’m adding it to the post. Instead of the Terminator being focused death, he’s suddenly fashion oriented and being cute?

      Nothing bad to the bone has ever happened in a movie while “Bad to the Bone” played on the soundtrack.


  22. anecdotaltales Says:

    The Matrix’s effects redeem it. Whenever I wish there was a well-made Superman movie, I think of that great Neo-Agent fight scene. It’s pretty dang perfect if you just think of it as Zod-Supes.

    That being said, I loathe Batman Returns. I’d rather see Batman & Robin than Returns. I want the Dark Knight, not the Gothic, Oozing in grossness-Knight.

    All 5 are reasonable debates, though.


  23. The World Is My Cuttlefish Says:

    Once again, I haven’t seen any of these – first or subsequent – but thought Michelle was a hoot in the clip.


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