Life isn’t fair. We exist in a movie world where our most desired sequels fester in obscurity for years before seeing the light of day (sometimes never at all) and where cookie-cutter schlock is pumped out ad nauseam. But don’t call me naïve; it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out why this is. To quote Wall Street’s Gordon Gekko “what’s worth doing is worth doing for money.”
Blue Sky Studios’ long-stagnant (but monetarily potent) Ice Age franchise churns out its fourth instalment this week with Ice Age: Continental Drift, which sails into theaters this Friday. In the spirit of that now-soulless series, let’s take a look at 10 movie franchises that need to die.
Are you ready? Let’s begin.
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10. Pirates of the Caribbean
Why it was good: Any time an actor receives awards recognition for their work in a big budget blockbuster, it’s safe to call that feature something special. While overlong, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was immeasurably raised by the now-iconic performance by Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. Stunning production values and an equally potent performance from Geoffrey Rush as the devilish Barbossa resulted in nothing short of a phenomenon for Disney. Not bad for an adaptation of a theme park ride.
The turning point: The loss of Rush as the central antagonist, a swelling running length – 143 minutes to 151 minutes to an obscene 169-minute marathon of plundering for “At World’s End” – and the death (?) of Jack Sparrow really had the series walking the plank, even though two instalments pulled in north of $1 billion dollars worldwide.
Why it needs to die: The majority of its stars have already abandoned ship (no pun intended) and ironically it’s only Depp – the heart of the franchise to begin with – that’s keeping this series afloat (no pun intended). Not to mention, between Tim Burton and the “Pirates” films, Depp is being suffocated with presumed commitment and hasn’t chosen an interesting role in quite some time. If anything, for the liberation of a fantastic actor, this franchise needs a quick visit to Davy Jones’ Locker.Previous Next
9. Paranormal Activity
Why it was good: Single-handedly setting a fire under the found footage genre that oddly never took off with the mammoth success of The Blair Witch Project in 1999, Oren Peli turned his minimalist, $15,000 indie attempt at the haunted house flick into a $200 million global smash. The “request a screening in your town” marketing ploy was nearly as entertaining as the finished product (in a good way) and while its detractors eventually arose, Paranormal Activity was all anyone could talk about for months.
The turning point: Despite the lack of resources needed to spit out a $3 million, no-star sequel, the turnaround time for between the original and Paranormal Activity 2 set off more than a few warning signals. Thankfully, the follow-up was more a bland rehash than an outright disaster, but that’s hardly call for celebration either.
Why it needs to die: Against all odds, Paranormal Activity 3 turned out to be pretty damn frightening (if not lasting in its potency) and certainly made me twitch more than any other film has (and I don’t scare easy, let me tell you). Though practically every time I turn around I bump into someone who thought the series was shit from the get-go, I’m all for ending things on a relative high note.Previous Next
Why it was good: Well, in this case I don’t think it ever was. If Tyler Perry’s scores for the series on Rotten Tomatoes are any indicator (which peaked at 38 percent with Madea’s Big Happy Family), it seems like folks go see his films more out of habit than due to an actual burning desire.
The turning point: I’m not going to sit here and pretend I’ve been fully exposed to Perry’s full “Madea” cannon. What is safe to say though is that the point at which the former stage actor decided to churn out one of his drag comedies every year is a pretty solid gauge that the well is running dry.
Why it needs to die: Like any director tied inexplicably to a stagnant franchise, they are doing themselves a disservice. I’d think it unfair to call Perry a hack, some of his non-Madea films have been decently received, if not praised. Essentially, I would like to see how the man would fare behind the camera and outside of his comfort zone. This Fall we’ll at least be able to see how he does as an action star in the adaptation of Alex Cross, though that generic-seeming, likely-flop looks to do little more than turn him back to his past ways.Previous Next
7. Ice Age
Why it was good: 2002’s Ice Age started things off on a high point for Fox’s fledging animation division Blue Sky Studios – frankly, a relative “high” it has never been able to match. Though Ice Age never aimed to be anything more than kid-friendly entertainment, it countered its lack of ambition was some hilarious slapstick, likeable characters with great voice actors and made Scrat the squirrel an instant favourite.
The turning point: As far as animation houses go, Blue Sky has never been a heavy hitter at yearly animation awards, but what it lacks in claims to prestige fare, it has made up for in box office returns. Hence, three sequels were spawned which hit its apogee with Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, which raked in an astonishing $886.7 million. And within that title lies the argument for termination. When we’re talking about the latest glacial period (roughly 20,000 years ago) and you need to throw dinosaurs into the mix to keep things fresh, it’s pretty clear the creative DNA of the series is deteriorating.
Why it needs to die: For a less-then-stellar series to begin with, to stretch past a trilogy is pretty substantive proof of the creative bankruptcy of Hollywood. The inspiration for the characters may be extinct but their on-screen counterparts just won’t die. If you can honestly say, with a straight face, that woolly mammoths and sabre tooth tigers battling giant apes on ice pirate ships is a substantive enough plot to keep this series going, then I will retract my dissent.Previous Next
Why it was good: The original Transformers was never high art, but what it lacked in subtlety it made up for in nostalgia, cutting-edge CGI and director Michael Bay’s sure hand when it came to unleashing a spectacle. Add in Shia LaBeouf before he became overexposed, some amusing segments as Optimus Prime and pals reveal themselves to humans (and of course plenty of transforming), and it’s pretty clear why it spawned sequels.
The turning point: “Punk-ass Decepticons” – that line mechanically uttered during one of the numerous, lifeless, metal-crunching set pieces was one of many tipping points during the 149-minutes of bloat that was Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Though I seem to be one of the first to spring to Bay’s defence when confronted with criticism, the man is clearly in desperate need of a strict editor.
Why it needs to die: Talk of a reboot of sorts, adding Jason Statham to the mix and courting a new director does little to quell the rising bile that stems from the thought of sitting through another Transformers instalment. That being said, what little spark the series possessed is now gone (along with its main villain) – replaced by monotony and indistinguishable smackdowns. I fear these robots won’t stay in disguise until every major city on Earth has been levelled, they run out of robots to kill off or Bumblebee accidently steps on Sam.Previous Next
5. Final Destination
Why it was good: Final Destination was one of the most unique teen slasher films to hit theaters last decade, if only for its premise and eerie execution. Speaking of execution, the gory deaths delivered up by director James Wong can still induce shivers today and the main set piece offered up in its solid sequel, to this day, makes me incapable of driving behind a log truck without fear of being impaled.
The turning point: Final my ass. A fiery plane crash and horrific car crash are one to escape but a rollercoaster derailment? In addition to mounting silliness, this series became more about staging elaborate deaths than actually constructing tense scenarios for our teens to find themselves within. Stripped away was any semblance of connection to the characters on screen, with our stock horror stereotypes merely turning into fodder for malfunctioning nail guns.
Why it needs to die: In 2009 we were treated to the cleverly titled The Final Destination which after inexplicably becoming the highest grossing in the series, gave us a fifth entry. For Final Destination 5, even a scarier setup, more proactive characters and an attempt at a thrilling twist only served to remind us how bad the series had become; even infusing the material with some zest could do nothing to elevate it beyond been-there-done-that territory. Want to play the toughest game ever? It’s called “Place That Death in the Correct Movie.” You’ll either have to guess wildly or watch all five to refresh your memory. Either way, you lose.Previous Next
Why it was good: For a movie about warring vampires and werewolves – sorry, Death Dealers and Lycans – director Len Wiseman was able to craft a memorably stylish and surprisingly complex tale of supernatural lore. Kate Beckinsale was sexy as hell as Seline and Michael Sheen and Bill Nigh chewed the scenery with glee as Lucian and Viktor, the respective leaders of their clans. The scope was broadened for Underworld: Evolution but the gothic aesthetics remained and the action was as crisp as ever, hinting that there may be more of the story to tell – or maybe not.
The turning point: Note to Hollywood big-wigs: every time you need to turn to prequel territory to extend your franchise it means you’re just distilling your own urine and calling it spring water. Add in the fact that your lead abandoned the production and things aren’t looking quite so put together. As glad as I was to have Sheen and Nigh back for Rise of the Lycans, the “Underworld” series was clearly running on fumes.
Why it needs to die: The return of Beckinsale to this year’s Underworld: Awakening seemed like wonderful news – our spandex-clad heroine has returned and with it the spark that made the original worth noticing! Or such was my feeling until I struggled through the unholy, cheap-looking mess that was “Awakening.” A glimmer of interesting ideas only served to showcase how totally inept the rest of the film was and nearly made me embarrassed I had ever defended the franchise to begin with. But look out, this most recent entry made a pretty penny so if we see a continuation, I wouldn’t be surprised.Previous Next
3. Alvin and the Chipmunks
Why it was good: The only redeeming quality of the “Chipmunks” trilogy is that it can allow you to plop a young child in front of the TV for 90 minutes while you go play Angry Birds on your smart phone. Fox seemed to have purposely extracted whatever charm was latent in the television series and replaced it with soulless CGI and a cringe-educing Jason Lee who I pray every night will give Kevin Smith a call.
The turning point: The turning point for this franchise should have been in the board room when someone first pitched the idea to studio heads, but alas we got not one, not two, but three instances of embarrassing adventures for Alvin, Simon and Theodore (makes me want to change my name out of shame).
Why it needs to die: If we’re ever going to get fun, intelligent fare for young children outside of Disney – films that don’t include CGI rodents, Chihuahuas, Smurfs or other bastardizations of beloved television shows – a line needs to be drawn. When you discover you have an infestation of vermin you root out the source, and right now this franchise is the chief contributor to the outbreak.Previous Next
2. Scary Movie
Why it was good: The Zucker/Abrahams spoof brand had its heyday in the 80’s with classics like Airplane! and The Naked Gun, though 2000’s Scary Movie gave a new generation a decent taste of how horror comedies could work outside of Gremlins or Ghostbusters, it was never meant for sustained flight. If Scary Movie should be lauded for anything, it should be for brining underrated comedienne Anna Faris to the forefront (though unfortunately she was branded with a typecast she’s had difficulty shedding).
The turning point: Inherently, spoofs are supposed to make fun of bad movies and in the process craft a good movie out of those jabs, but when it gets to the point where your spoof is worse than films you’re spoofing, the joke is on you. Though by the time Scary Movie 3 came along the series was obviously poking fun at a different slate of movies than its predecessors, the things it had to say about them remained entirely the same.
Why it needs to die: Despite any laughs that were had over the duration of four films (soon five), all those involved should be ritualistically sacrificed to the movie gods for inadvertently unleashing the hell on earth that are Date Movie, Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans, Disaster Movie and Vampires Suck. As long as this style of spoof exists (and makes money), the hack duo of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer will be allowed to operate with impunity. For the sake of our children’s souls, this franchise must end.Previous Next
1. Resident Evil
Why it was good: As far as video game adaptations go, the original Resident Evil is sadly one of the better ones – shame on you Hollywood! Its follow-up Resident Evil: Apocalypse also has its enjoyably campy moments and fun action set pieces, (being a sucker for zombie flicks myself didn’t help either). Also not helping to abate my admitted approval of the first two movies is the presence of Mila Jovovich, who puts the sexy in sexy-as-hell-mutant.
The turning point: The “Resident Evil” saga was never very loyal to the games, merely opting to toss in familiar characters rather than actually attempting to adapt the mood and style of the game. The scope of the setting continued to balloon (moving from a house, to a city, to a desert, to the entire world), the subplots multiplied and the scripts grew from increasingly convoluted to borderline incoherent. By number three, even Jovovich was proving unable to instil excitement in me at the thought of another entry.
Why it needs to die: Sharp 3D in Resident Evil: Afterlife did little to cushion the thud that was the sound of Paul W.S. Anderson dropping the ball story-wise. The lack of giddiness brought on by the addition of fan-favourite villain Albert Wesker just proved to show how little the franchise had to offer. We don’t get very many action heroines these days and sadly I have two of the most popular ones on this list. So let’s extricate these badass ladies from these lifeless franchises and give them foes worth fighting. Plus, I’m frankly tired of having to look up which subtitle goes with which instalment of this series.
So, there you have it, 10 franchises that need to die. If for some odd reason you’re still hoping to see Ice Age: Continental Drift in theatres this weekend, the trailer below may have you re-thinking that decision.
As always, head down to the comments below and let us know what you think of our choices.Previous