We have all been let down by a bad movie before. Usually we just shake it off, chalk it up to a low budget and some bad actors and go home dissatisfied and somewhat regretful at the wasted ticket price. It is somehow much more galling, however, when the terrible movie appears in a series of otherwise excellent films. It goes to show that characters we have come to love and story lines we yearn to hear more of suddenly can suddenly go south, taking all value the series had worked so hard to establish with it. As the catastrophe takes screen we are helpless to watch as the actors we love defile the often long-awaited sequel, igniting an anger inside of us that threatens to explode upon everyone responsible for the disgraceful retort of what we once considered a classic series. Many times a new director is at fault for the debacle. Taking on the project, he shoots the latest addition adding in his “take” on the beloved series. His is a film debased and bastardized, bearing no resemblance to the original and dragging the franchise’s good reputation through the mud. Below are nine cases of great series that have been ruined by bad directors.
Ruining what was, until 2003, an epic franchise of classic action movies, Terminator III: Rise of the Machines hit the screens and disappointed series fans who had waited since twelve long years to hear this story. Terminator and its wildly successful sequel Terminator II were directed by influential director James Cameron, a man who has worked on such legendary action movies as Rambo: First Blood II, Alien and True Lies. Suffice it to say that Cameron knows how to make a great action flick. Unfortunately for the viewers, the Terminator III project was not directed by Cameron, and was instead turned over to Jonathan Mostow, director of Beverly Hills Body Snatchers and U571. Exactly what qualified this man to direct the third edition to one of the most wildly successful action franchises of all time, we may never know. What we do have is a rather lackluster edition to the series that is essentially a parody of the prior two movies and lacks very much original content. The attempts at comedy seemed rather lame, and although the action was alright the movie was not really worth a second viewing.
Friday the 13th V: A New Beginning
Friday The Thirteenth IV: The Final Chapter was the last movie in the series worth watching, and A New Beginning marked the beginning of the long and painful death of this franchise. The movie was full of rehashed story lines, horrible acting and a killer who isn’t even Jason, but a totally new bad guy. ‘Friday’ fans who were used to quality slasher movies were given the old bait and switch when they came out to see this crock of a half-mystery-half-comedy phony which delivers the distinct feeling of watching a blooper reel from the first four movies. Director Danny Steinmann is responsible for such a series-destroying train wreck, and its little surprise when you consider that this is the same man who brought us such completely forgettable films as Zombie Brigade and The Unseen. A New Beginning was, ironically, Steinmann’s last film, and we can only surmise that its dismal performance drove him out him out of Hollywood on a rail.
Jurassic Park III
The first two Jurassic Park movies stood for awe inspiring action and adventure, delivering an odyssey of unbelievable special effects, gripping suspense and eye-popping visuals. Directed by the legendary Steven Spielberg, its no surprise that Jurassic Park was a runaway success that brought dinosaurs to the screen in a way that the world had never seen. Sadly, the third edition to the series was a serious let down. Decent special effects simply could not make up for the bad acting or the predictable story plot, and at the end of the 90-minute feature, you’re left wondering why they just couldn’t leave the series alone after the second movie. Why on earth the movie was directed by Joe Johnston and not Spielberg is beyond us, but the difference is striking. As director of the disastrous Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Spring Break Adventure, and family comedy Honey I Shrunk The Kids, it isn’t very shocking that his contributions to the Jurassic Park franchise was not too notable.
The Aliens series was originally intended as a trilogy, and the first two movies succeeded, delivering some of the best horror action of all time. Straight from the minds of Ridley Scott and James Cameron, the first two movies were instant classics, satisfying fans of both horror and action movies by delivering terrifying looking monsters and gun-slinging scenes on one reel. The first movie was filled with style and class that seemed to set it aside from other horror movies of the era. The sequel was done exactly as a sequel should be, expanding on the main character’s story and upping the action while keeping with the look and feel that made the first movie so excellent. With two blockbusters down, how could anyone have expected anything less from the third movie, entitled Alien 3? Sadly, this product of director David Fincher, a man who, prior to this endeavor, made only of Madonna music videos. The film ended up a colossal let down and thoroughly disappointed fans of the series. Characters you don’t care about meet a vapid story line riddled with more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese, and before you know it you are witnessing the end of the reputation the first two movies worked so hard to set.
Nightmare on Elm Street V: The Dream Child
From horror master Wes Craven to average director Stephen Hopkins (director of what many consider to be the completely unnecessary Predator 2), its no wonder the series took a series dive with the addition of The Dream Child. The original few movies were classic horror movies that terrified audiences by playing on their basic human fears. The thought of death by dream had never occurred to American audiences, yet after watching kids stick to the ground as they tried to run away, we simply couldn’t shake the terrifying idea as we tried to nod off at night. The series began winding out around the fourth installment, and reached an all time low at number five. While the special effects were at an all time high, this fifth movie in the series proves that effects alone don’t make a good movie, and the abysmal story line gave the film the look and feel of a TV soap opera. On top of that, few people die and the plot drags by at a snails pace. Aside from some cool one-liners from Freddy, it is safe to say that Hopkins put a pretty sizable nail in the coffin that would very soon bury the Nightmare franchise.
Batman and Robin
Batman and Robin was an appalling movie that made a mockery out of a comic legend and respectable movie series. The franchise started out strong, directed by Tim Burton and did some justice to the superhero’s comic book genesis. However by the third installment, known as Batman Forever, production was changed up a bit and along came came director Joel Schumacher — a man who will be forever hated by every fan of DC comics. Batman Forever was quite awful, and Schumacher was lucky enough to have Jim Carry’s at least generate some cheap laughs. Schumacher continued to butcher the series with the bottom-sucking fourth film, Batman and Robin. Featuring the worst performances of all of the Batman movies, one struggles to understand how this one made it past initial screenings. Big name actors completely ham it up in Batman and Robin giving performances that are painfully superficial and give any fan of the caped crusader a headache just watching it. Thankfully the series has recently been revived with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. In the humble opinion of this writer, Schumacher should again never be allowed near the franchise.
Planet of the Apes
Planet of the Apes, though now a stereotyped bad film, was once a box office smash in 1968. For a time, the film even had a large cult following, and was widely considered a great American movie with much social commentary. The book-turned-movie was an accomplishment in many regards. Director Franklin J. Schaffner inspired some truly amazing performances from lead actors Roddy McDowall and Kim Hunter, and the monkey make-up was, at that time, considered something to behold. The movie could have stood on its own, without sequels, as deep movie to be enjoyed by those willing to look past the somewhat hackneyed plot. The problem came when hammy sequels began coming out, the absolute worst of which was J. Lee Thompson’s Battle for the Planet of the Apes. If ever there was a movie that need not be made, this was it. All philosophical substance had been blunted by this point, and although the make-up still looked pretty good, the movie was essentially a flop. The series never truly recovered, and even the 2000′s remake of the original saw a pretty lousy turnout.
Jaws is one of the most legendary suspense films of all time and has no doubt changed the way many adults view swimming in the ocean. Owing its wild success almost entirely to the masterful storytelling of Stephen Spielberg, the film struck a nerve with almost everyone who has ever so much as swam at a beach. This was accomplished through slow build up and the revealing of the monster only at the very end of the film. Jaws 2 contrasted greatly with the original in many substantive ways, foremost among them was the new director’s total failure at building suspense. Jeannot Szwarc decided it would be best to show the shark right from the get-go, and although his monster looked pretty amazing for its era, the fear of the unknown was totally gone. In addition to the lack of nail-biting, viewers were also fed an all too obvious re-hash of the original plot. The characters were less likable and aside from the special effects, there simply wasn’t much substance to this sequel and the Jaws franchise began to take a sudden dive into the vast pool of cheesy horror-flicks.
More than a classic “coming of age” film, The Karate Kid is a classic movie of personal strength and dedication to oneself. The film was an overnight classic, and today one can find many adults and children alike who still note the movie as one of their favorites. Laden with tales of adolescent angst, issues of prejudice, and battles hard-fought for personal betterment, The Karate Kid is the sort of movie that inspires and touches those who watch it. The proceeding two sequels were not all bad either, ending of course with Karate Kid 3, which many feel was an inadequate conclusion to a great under-dog tale. The rock bottom for the Karate Kid line, however, was when a fourth movie was released entitled “The Next Karate Kid.” With the main character no longer in the series, Mr. Miyagi needs to train another kid, and the lame re-hashed story line unfolds. The total lack of gusto and can-do spirit that defined the original trilogy might be attributable the new director, Christopher Cain, who had no role to play in the first three movies. As has been seen time and time again, the introduction of a new director midstream often spells disaster. The look, feel and energy of The Next Karate Kid simply didn’t measure up, and not surprisingly this movie represented the lid on the franchise.