Everybody loves a movie sequel. They’re just loathe to admit it.
It’s why Hollywood banks on our nostalgia again, and again, even if the results often come up short. For every “Godfather Part II” or “Fast & Furious 5” there’s a “Speed 2” or, gasp, “Caddyshack II.”
It also explains why the industry reboots blockbuster TV shows, hoping to capture lightning in a bottle … again.
A new problem plagues Hollywood’s impulse for sequels, reboots and never-ending shows, one that extends beyond casting changes and a dearth of imagination. Too often the modern material goes woke, all but crushing the joys found in the originals.
The following examples reveal just that, turning properties into buzz kills that snuffed out their respective franchises …or make the thought of more sequels a nightmare.
“And Just Like That …”
“Sex and the City” made Sarah Jessica Parker a star and spawned two feature-length films. The second, 2010’s “Sex and the City 2,” drew so much disdain it looked like the property was down for the count.
Enter HBO Max, which saw a chance to reunite the gal pals and tell stories about their lives as glamorous, 50-something women. That, on paper, sounded promising. Hollywood too often neglects older women on screen, and it could be fun to see this vivacious foursome take on middle age in style.
Except Kim Cattrall, who played Samantha on the series, wanted no part of a reunion. More troubling? HBO Max saw fit to apologize for the original show’s “thought crimes” (too white, too much privilege) with the new show, “And Just Like That…”
By all accounts the show’s first few episodes teem with woke flourishes. Parker’s character is now a podcast co-host alongside a queer, nonbinary partner who rants for a good five minutes about all things woke in the early going.
Miranda also apologies for not being woke enough, an embarrassing sequence that must have been a chore for actress Cynthia Nixon to shoot. At least we hope that was the case.
Worst of all, a show once known for bawdy humor and outrageous shtick is now serious, sober and full of self doubt. Where’s the fun in that, let alone the “Sex?”
It’s the reboot no one asked for, which became clear when no one showed up to see it. Yes, that $17 million box office haul proved embarrassing to all involved, but it’s not as ghastly as the film itself.
The 2000 “Charlie’s Angels” film, based on the kitschy TV series of yore, earned $125 million at the U.S. box office. That film featured a trio of beautiful stars who leaned into the franchise’s glamour, action and fun.
The 2019 remake/reboot literally started on a woke note. Progressive actress Kristen Stewart tells a would-be lover, “I believe women can do anything…”
It only got worse from there, with director Elizabeth Banks leaning harder into the film’s feminism over bikinis and boffo action.
The ninth and final film in the original “Star Wars” saga, 2019’s “The Rise of Skywalker,” earned $515 million at the U.S. box office. That doesn’t sound like a get woke, go broke horror story, does it?
Except “The Force Awakens,” the first film in the most recent “Star Wars” trilogy, scored $936 million four years earlier.
That’s a precipitous drop, in part, because Disney turned a cherished film saga into a virtue signaling parade. The new trilogy introduced us to several Mary Sue figures – think Rose Tico and Rey, the main character in the revived series. We also endured a pansexual Lando Calrissian, a meaningless class warfare plot in “The Last Jedi” and the emasculation of the one character ready to take the rogue baton from Han Solo – Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron.
Now, the “Star Wars” film series is in drydock, and the franchise’s savior is Baby Yoda, a creature at the heart of Disney+’s “Mandalorian.” That series may return to a diminished audience, though, after Disney cruelly, unfairly sacked co-star Gina Carano for speaking her mind, without hate, on social media.
Disney ponied up $4 billion to George Lucas in 2012 to buy the rights to all things “Star Wars.” Now, the Mouse House can’t get a new “Star Wars” film off the ground. The most promising title, “Rogue Squadron,” just got shelved, and a deal to let the “Game of Thrones” team create their own “Star Wars” trilogy never got off the ground.
“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”
On some level, Sacha Baron Cohen knew this was a bad idea. It’s why he waited 14 years to bring Borat back to (virtual) theaters. Only he wasn’t driven by any divine inspiration or creative spark. He wanted to weaponize the clueless character against all things Trump.
Did it matter that “Subsequent Moviefilm” is virtually laugh free for its final 45 minutes? Not to Cohen, who used the film and its publicity push to share his talking points on President Trump, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and generic GOP foes.
Had Cohen concocted fresh, funny bits about his ideological foes we’d welcome Borat back unconditionally. Instead, the film uncorks stale one-liners that made us miss the 2006 original even more.
He wasn’t done destroying a potential franchise, though. The sequel doubles as a female empowerment tale, as Borat’s daughter (the overrated Maria Bakalova) comes of age under her daddy’s bizarre tutelage.
The woke messaging, capped by the film’s political propaganda, delivers a one-two punch that flattens the sequel.
“Terminator: Dark Fate”
This flop is a major improvement over the previously listed sequels. It boasts some terrific action sequences, the return of a still-feisty Linda Hamilton and some tender moments from co-star Arnold Schwarzenegger.
It still leans heavily on woke talking points, which likely played a role in its abysmal box office haul – $62 million. (That’s less than even the disappointing 2016 film “Terminator: Genisys” which earned $89 million).
The story stalls mid-movie for a painful plea for open borders. The film centers on Natalia Reyes, cast as a pivotal player in the series. Only the character is a dud, unable to replicate the memorable moments Hamilton and Schwarzenegger delivered in earlier installments.
Mackenzie Davis is better as the half woman/half robot heroine, but the film’s reliance on grrrl power theatrics is as obvious as the film’s sad marketing campaign.
The first promotional shot for the sequel featured the movie’s three female characters strutting toward the camera. Here’s a tip: If you’re pushing a “Terminator” project you might want to make Schwarzenegger more than an afterthought.
“Coming 2 America”
“Dolemite Is My Name” announced Eddie Murphy was back and ready to reclaim his comedy crown. This sequel, 32 years in the making, reminded us Murphy once starred in “Norbit, “Meet Dave” and “The Adventures of Pluto Nash.”
Now, “Coming 2 America” isn’t as bad as those clunkers, but it’s clear Murphy’s inability to sniff out stinkers is why his career flatlined in the first place.
There’s no reason for a sequel to the 1988 charmer to exist beyond giving Murphy, Arsenio Hall and the film’s large cast extra work. The spark that sets the plot in motion finds Murphy’s Prince Akeem having sex after taking too many drugs.
What truly bogs the film down, though, is its oppressive woke flourishes. The regal aides who bathe Prince Akeem now offer those services to Leslie Jones’ character. The prince’s oldest daughter wants to inherit the throne, angry that her father’s “bastard” son gets first crack at it.
All of Murphy’s daughters are gifted martial artists, able to take down grown men as needed.
Even the jovial barbershop banter, a flat recreation of the first film’s memorable bit, spits out politically correct blather.
Sequels are meant to extend the smiles delivered by the source material, not make us feel guilty about laughing in the first place.
You could say the film’s woke bona fides are in this movie’s DNA. Director Paul Feig opted to gender swap the original movie’s all-male ‘busters to give women everywhere a blast of empowerment.
Or something like that.
The results? One of the most despised comedy trailers in recent memory and a finished product that couldn’t replicate the source material’s humor and heart.
The film itself didn’t bog itself down with woke lectures, despite a scene where our heroines clap back against Internet trolls. What’s more empowering than letting perfect strangers creep under your skin?
The film’s marketing campaign, and the biased press’ attempt to call critics misogynist for questioning the film’s existence, completed the woke packaging.
“Ghostbusters” earned a seemingly solid $128 million, but given the hefty price tag the film cost Sony a cool $70 million.
The fallout crushed the franchise, albeit temporarily. Sony handed the property over to director Jason Reitman, son of original “Ghostbusters” director Ivan Reitman. Young Reitman jettisoned the woke reboot entirely, concocting a new story that tied directly to the original film.
“Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” teeming with fan service and appearances by the 1984 comedy’s surviving members, is a certified hit despite the pandemic.
The beloved British series has survived rinky-dink FX, a steady rotation of stars and nearly 60 years in the brutal TV trenches. The sci-fi series reached new heights when David Tennant took over the title character in 2005, sparking a true “Doctor Who” renaissance, with the ratings to match.
Then, in 2017, a new creative team took over. “Broadchurch” creator Chris Chibnall lured that show’s co-star, Jodie Whittaker, to play the first female Doctor. That wasn’t the only change Chibnall had in mind.
The venerable “Doctor” went woke. The press, right on cue, hailed every new progressive element of the series. Audiences, however, abandoned the franchise in droves while the series attacked men, a Donald Trump stand-in and hailed a gent getting knocked up.
Whittaker’s ill-fated reign is over, now, and the showrunner behind the “Doctor Who” rebirth, Russell T. Davies, is taking the helm once more. Let’s see if he’ll continue down the woke path or give passionate fans a reason to reclaim the show.
“Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising”
The box office disparity between the original film and its sequel says most, but not all, of the story.
The 2014 comedy “Neighbors” gave us the last truly funny Seth Rogen performance, along with another killer turn from Rose Byrne. Their characters’ attempt to ignore their fraternity neighbors’ “toxic masculinity” drew a sizable $150 box office haul.
So a sequel seemed inevitable.
The team behind the franchise didn’t trust the story’s DNA, though. Instead, they hired a pair of female screenwriters to oversee the sequel and make sure it wasn’t just funny but … empowering. What can kill comedy faster than that?
Audiences, sensing the franchise took a turn for the woke, stayed mostly away. The box office shrank accordingly, with “Sorority Rising” earning a sad $55 million.
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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