Anyone who is a fan of film and television has surely heard the term “jump the shark,” named after how in an episode of the sitcom “Happy Days” when Fonzie jet skied over a shark on water skis. This phenomenon is when a television or film series becomes so silly that it has killed all of the series’ credibility and officially ruined it. Although “Happy Days” ended many years ago, it seems Hollywood never learned the moral of the story by making sequels that tried to top the previous films, only to fall flat on their face.
Film series have had to start from scratch with reboots, which are becoming more and more common these days. Sometimes it’s because too much time has passed since the previous film in the series, but it is often because the previous film was terrible and irredeemable to fans. Fans can have an intense hatred for an entry in a series they love for being a cinematic insult to its beloved predecessors.
Below are 15 films that tarnished the reputations and the box office success of the series to which they belong. It just goes to show that it really does only take one bad apple to spoil the whole bunch.
15. Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (McG, 2003)
The “Charlie’s Angels” TV series in the 1970s was very successful, and Hollywood being Hollywood, wanted to recapture its success by remaking it as a film series. The first film was released in 2000; it was an over-the-top action/comedy and was a big hit. Naturally, they made a sequel, but it went too over the top to the point of being nauseating.
With all of its three very popular leading ladies returning, this sequel should have been a big hit as well. However, “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” seemed more concerned with adding pop culture references, celebrity cameos, and sexual innuendos from the female leads than having a cohesive plot. While the film was not necessarily a flop, it did not make as much money as the first film. That fact, combined with the film’s generally mixed reception, ensured that a third Charlie’s Angels film was not made.
14. Halloween 2 (Rob Zombie, 2009)
The original “Halloween” made in 1978 is considered to be a milestone in horror films, and is credited as creating the slasher genre. It also launched the career of its director John Carpenter, something movie buffs should be thankful for. When news hit that rock star Rob Zombie wanted to write and direct a remake of “Halloween”, many people were skeptical about doing a remake to such a beloved film.
Although Rob Zombie’s first Halloween film was not well received by everyone, especially purists who insist the original should not have been remade, it was a commercially successful film. The second film takes a more mystical approach and does not have Michael Myers in his iconic burnt William Shatner mask.
Many fans considered the lack of the famous mask to be sacrilege, as this film forgoes the main factor that made the Halloween series stand out from other slasher films. Both of Zombie’s Halloween films have more focus on the warped psychology behind Michael Myers’ bloodlust and how it tore the Myers family apart, whereas fans simply did not want this.
13. Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (Pete Hewitt, 1991)
“Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” was indeed excellent; its goofy but loveable lead actors were a delight to watch as they traveled through time in a phone booth to collect historical figures to pass their history class. It is quite simply one of the most entertaining movies of the 1980s. Unfortunately, its 1991 sequel “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey” does not have the same appeal.
This was not necessarily a bad film, and it has some interesting ideas with having evil robot versions of Bill and Ted, and having the boys experience the afterlife. But the fact is this sequel was not that funny and it had a forgettable plot. It also contradicts the first film’s premise, in that world peace was said to have been achieved in the utopian society set up in the first film, but there is a villain in this film who wants to wreak havoc.
There has been talk over the years about Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter reuniting for a third Bill & Ted film, but with so much time having passed since its so-so sequel, that is unlikely to ever happen.
12. Speed 2: Cruise Control (Jan de Bont, 1997)
“Speed” was one of the biggest action films of the 1990s and launched Sandra Bullock’s career, so naturally a sequel starring Bullock once again was in order. However, the only thing that the sequel did was speed up the series’ use by date.
This sequel tried to top the original film’s premise of a bus with a bomb on it by having a huge cruise ship with a bomb instead. In theory, as a cruise ship is obviously much bigger than a bus, that there would be more at stake. But because cruise ships naturally go so much slower than buses do, the thrills were minimal at best.
The overall plot was criticized for being bland and too similar to the first film. Although the acting was decent, and Jason Patric and Willem Dafoe were great substitutes for Keanu Reeves’ and Dennis Hopper’s characters, respectively, their time with Bullock and a vehicle rigged with explosives did not go out with a bang.
11. The Next Karate Kid (Christopher Cain, 1994)
The Karate Kid series was huge in the 1980s, but the idea simply did not work in the 1990s. Its titular kid Ralph Macchio was well and truly an adult by then, and did not appear in the fourth film, “The Next Karate Kid”. Its other star Pat Morita returned as the wise teacher Mr. Miyagi, but this time he has a female student, played by Hilary Swank.
Although the film basically has the same plot as the previous films, in that Mr. Miyagi teaches karate to a teenager and passes on his wisdom, it is simply a boring film. The subplot regarding the school security fraternity is just plain silly, as they take their role way too seriously, and their leader even instructs one of them to kill someone. It is a very ridiculous movie.
As this was one of Hilary Swank’s earlier films, it makes sense that an up-and-coming actress would want to star in the latest entry of a successful film franchise. However, now it is just another one of her early films that she would surely rather forget about.
10. RoboCop 3 (Fred Dekker, 1993)
The original RoboCop film, and to a lesser extent its first sequel “RoboCop 2”, are known for their gory violence and brilliant social satire. While those films still pack a wallop today, the same could never be said for “RoboCop 3”, neither in 1993 or now.
Since “RoboCop 3” was co-written by Frank Miller of “Sin City” fame, in theory this should have been a dark and edgy film. However, the film was also co-written and directed by Fred Dekker.
“RoboCop 3” was more family friendly, as opposed to the previous two films being aimed purely at adults for its bloody violence, stark nudity, and for being a dark satire on capitalism and consumerism. The film also suffered from poorer special effects due to a smaller budget than its predecessors, and also silly plot devices such as the samurai robots.
The film’s lack of critical and commercial success ended the series. The 2014 reboot received mixed reviews, and its incarnation of RoboCop bears no resemblance to the classic design of the original series, which is a shame.
9. Grease 2 (Patricia Burch, 1982)
Nearly 40 years after its release, the original “Grease” is still one of the most popular musicals ever made. Its storyline and characters are very likeable, and who could possibly forget its catchy songs? The same cannot be said for “Grease 2”, its unsuccessful sequel.
“Grease 2” is considered by many to be a poor imitation of the first film. The songs are lame, the characters are not memorable, and more than often it is simply a boring film. The “plot” is simply a repeat of the first film, except the gender roles are reversed.
There were plans to have more Grease sequels and even a television series, but the poor reception for “Grease 2” ruined those plans. “Grease 2” was the first and only feature film Patricia Burch ever directed, and it is clear why that is the case.