Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Speed 2 and The Formula for a Pseudo-Sequel

I know that criticizing Speed 2, Cruise Control is like shooting fish in a barrel, but I remember as an impressionable youngster going to watch it at a theatre with a sense of excitement. Sure, it would be silly, but it would at least be fun, right? Right? Sadly, the movie was not fun at all. Not only did it begin an irrational and deep-seated resentment of Sandra Bullock that lingers with me to this day, it reinforced that I should be wary of anything calling itself a "sequel." 

If you're not familiar with it, Speed 2 is the story of a flaky but fun lady (Bullock) and her sensible police offer boyfriend (Jason Patric) who go on a cruise and get more adventure than they bargained for. Little do they know that a disgruntled former cruise ship employee (Willem Defoe) is planning to redirect the ship and its cargo of vacationers into an oil tanker. 

While I don't think Speed 2 is a good movie, I do think that it accurately represents a species of movie sequels that are not true sequels. For me, a sequel should be the next step in a story (e.g. the Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings series) instead of the same story being retold with a few details changed. Speed 2 isn't the next step in a story, but a sillier version of Speed that takes place on a boat instead of a bus. Think of Hangover 2 - same story; different location. 

Another problem with calling Speed 2 a sequel is that the whole tone of the movie is different. Speed was over the top, but it was also a bit dark. Speed 2 is a full-blown Saturday morning cartoon on a cruise ship. Imagine if in The Godfather II Michael Corleone was a bumbling mob boss with a heart of gold (in other words, The Godfather Part III). 

I realize this is subjective, but here are a few other sequels that I've seen that aren't true sequels to me. This isn't to say they are necessarily bad but more that they just fail the sequel test. 

* Slasher sequels with interchangeable villains/victims - the Saw series, Scream series, etc.
* The Police Academy series
* Teen Wolf Too
* Pet Sematary II
* Airplane II
* Live Free or Die Hard 

What do you think? Are there any pseudo-sequels that you particularly enjoy?


  1. Interesting post! Aren't pretty much all superhero films then? Same shit, different villain?

    Actually I also really enjoyed Under Siege 2 which just replaced a ship with a train. But don't tell anyone!

    1. Very true. I like the third Naked Gun as much as the first one.

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  3. This is where the idea of episodic films comes into play. At times it can be horrendous but it also has the same advantages of TV sitcoms. If this week didn't make you like us maybe next week we'll do better. Which is something I like about those kind of sequels to be honest. Which is why I'm still mumbling whether I'm going to risk going to see MIB3, it's obvious that the film won't try to be part 2, and has the opportunity to be a fun episode in the nameless black suited alien rights movement police that happen to only care about NY.

    1. The term "episodic film" is new to me and it makes sense. It brings to mind the Star Trek movies of the Next Generation vintage.

  4. While I don't really enjoy it, Evan Almighty is probably the best/weirdest pseudo sequel I can think of.

    I guess straight up sequels ala Back to the Future are the truest forms of sequels, but they can be risky (The Matrix sequels, Pirates of the Caribbean sequels).

    Great post!

    1. Sequels are definitely risky, especially if the story drags on artifically.

      This also makes me think about obvious sequels that were never made, like Golden Compass or Apollo 14. Well, maybe not that last one.

  5. What about Predators?

    I dig what you're saying, though - I'm much more inclined to enjoy a sequel if its a continuation rather than a rehash.

    Kinda reminds me - any thoughts on This Is 40? It's more or less a spin-off, but might qualify as a straight(er) sequel since it's a continuation of at least a couple of the characters.

    1. Interesting...I wonder if the carried-over characters in "This is 40" will really the same characters or shallow husks of the originals.

      I'm also curious to see if it suffers from the same problem as many tv sequels - the original characters work well in their original setting, but not so well on their own.


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