Opinion

6 Movie Franchises That Went On Too Long

DailyWire.com

We’ll never get tired of watching Bond, James Bond, save the world.

That’s assuming, of course, the next Bond won’t fret over the right pronouns or mansplain to future Bond Girls — sorry, Bond Birthing People.

Some movie franchises maintain our affection for years, if not decades. The “Harry Potter” series, for example, started out solid and ended with a bang with the eighth and final installment.

The “Mission: Impossible” series hit its current formula during part four (“Ghost Protocol”) and remains as good as ever. The “Rocky” saga sputtered with the fifth story, but “Rocky Balboa” and the “Creed” films found it rising from the canvas.

Other sagas show their age, though. The following six franchises typify this cinematic decline. We may have loved them long ago, but they overstayed their welcome.

Indiana Jones

Imagine being the actor who brought Han Solo and “Blade Runner’s” Rick Deckard to life and still having a third iconic character in your hip pocket. Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones starred in three of the most beloved action films of all time. The 1981 gem “Raiders of the Lost Ark” kicked off the franchise, delivering near-perfect thrills in an ode to cliffhanger serials of yore.

“The Temple of Doom” and “The Last Crusade” proved “Raiders” was no fluke, but the franchise went into cold storage for 19 years before Ford snapped his whip once again. Sadly, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” proved as ghastly as its title. And no, we didn’t want Shia LaBeouf to take over for his cinematic pappy.

Three out of four ain’t bad, but Team Indy decided Ford should bring the character back for one more round. The problems with that plan are plentiful. The great Steven Spielberg is no longer behind the camera for part five, and while director James Mangold of “Ford v. Ferrari” fame is a solid replacement, he’s no Spielberg.

Who is?

Even more depressing? Ford is in his late 70s, and while he looks heartier than most septuagenarians it’s hard to square Father Time with the Indy of his youth. The film already suffered a delay due to a Ford injury, and audiences won’t be able to see the results until 2023 at the earliest.

The whole fifth installment feels like a feeble attempt to extend a franchise without having an organic reason for doing so. Can great art spring from such a scenario? It’s possible, but would you bet on it?

Fast & Furious

It might be the most unlikely franchise of all. The first film in the series, 2001’s “The Fast and the Furious” delivered B-movie thrills, but it was hard to spot the saga embedded within. By the third entry, “Tokyo Drift,” we had new main characters and franchise star Vin Diesel makes but a cameo appearance.

Part 4 reunited Diesel’s Dom and ex-cop Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), and the “F&F” magic kicked in big time. Like “Mission: Impossible,” the series creators snagged a can’t miss formula of insane stunts, larger-than-life personalities, and a dash of family.

Except “Fate of the Furious,” AKA part 8, showed that formula wearing thin. The most recent entry, the economically titled “F9,” found the franchise in full meta mode. The crazy stunts now defy every molecule of logic, our heroes head off into outer space like a Looney Tunes cartoon and the “family” sentiment feels manufactured, not relatable. This franchise is running on fumes, but we’re about to get two more installments in the years to come.

Die Hard

Bruce Willis wasn’t always a VOD star for hire. Sure, today he’s famous for walking through a half dozen B-to-C movies a year, but in the 1980s he was the dashing half of ABC’s “Moonlighting.” That all changed when he took a role originally considered for Frank Sinatra (really), the feisty New York Cop John McClane in 1988’s “Die Hard.”

The film changed Willis’ career forever and delivered one of the decade’s best action films. Naturally, Hollywood handed Willis as many sequels as he could handle. The first two, “Die Hard 2” and “Die Hard with a Vengeance,” couldn’t replicate the original but showed we’d follow this rogue cop anywhere.

And then the generic machinery kicked in.

“Live Free or Die Hard” and “A Good Day to Die Hard” offered more panache in their titles than the actual films.

Hollywood suits have spent years trying to remake/rebrand/re-imagine “Die Hard” and/or its iconic hero with no luck … yet. To paraphrase Richard Crenna in “First Blood” … “It’s over Johnny … it’s OVER.”

Saw

You could argue the franchise offers one bona fide treat, and the rest were glorified torture porn features. Director James Wan, who would later deliver superior scares with “The Conjuring” and “Insidious,” served up a can’t miss story of two men trapped in a near-impossible puzzle. The film introduced us to Jigsaw, brilliantly played by Tobin Bell, along with his puppet doppelganger.

Gory? You bet. It also grabbed us by the throat and wouldn’t let go.

Subsequent stories killed off Jigsaw, a terrible move the franchise attempted to erase with clumsy results. The franchise formula now spent, the saga spat out a cash grab 3D installment before taking a seven-year break.

“Jigsaw” tried to recapture the franchise’s early glory, but fewer moviegoers seemed to care. 

Horror franchises, like their respective monsters, never truly die. So we got “Spiral,” an attempt to revive the story courtesy of Chris Rock. Because … when you think horror, the first actor who springs to mind is the comedian who took a satirical knee when President Barack Obama took the oath of office.

“Spiral” offered little save a few sparks generated by the great Samuel L. Jackson. Please … let this franchise die.

Alien

Is there a better origin story and sequel combo than “Alien” and “Aliens?” That’s rhetorical, of course, although “Aliens” director James Cameron came close with “Terminator” and “Terminator: Judgment Day.”

Those aforementioned hits ensured the franchise would live on for years, but what we’ve seen since then has been a mix of dispiriting and disappointing. “Alien3” is a curiosity, with a young David Fincher flexing his muscles with its grim storytelling and occasional highlights. “Alien: Resurrection” brought a campy tone to the saga, one that no one asked for at the time (or since). 

“Alien” director Ridley Scott returned to the scene of the crime with “Prometheus” and “Alien: Covenant.” Both offered some new ideas but weak new characters who couldn’t compete with Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley. And, by the final scenes of “Covenant,” it was clear Scott had little ability to push the story in fresh directions.

The less said about the repugnant “Alien vs. Predator” films, the better.

Star Wars

George Lucas created three space adventures in the late 70s, early 80s that drew near-universal acclaim. Sure, those Ewoks had their detractors, but the “Star Wars” trilogy transformed pop culture, period.

So when Lucas brought the saga back with 1999’s “The Phantom Menace,” fans worldwide cheered the news. And then they saw the actual film. Yeesh. The second “Star Wars” trilogy got progressively better, but hope returned when Lucas sold the saga to Disney and the Mouse House prepared a third and final trilogy.

Luke! Leia! Han! All together again. Not so fast.

“The Force Awakens” killed off Han Solo and kept Luke Skywalker off-screen until the very last moments. “The Last Jedi” offed Luke, and by the time “The Rise of Skywalker” hit theaters Carrie Fisher had passed, leaving only scenes she shot prior to her death.

That only scratches at the trilogy’s problems, the lot of which turned many fans against the IP. Yes, Disney+’s “The Mandalorian” lured a few fans back to the fold, and the prequel film “Rogue One” proved superior to all the recent trilogy.

Still, this is one comatose franchise, and news that “Rogue Squadron” just got delayed means it won’t have the chance to win fans back for a few more years. Stick a fork in cinematic “Star Wars.” It’s done.

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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