There are more than a handful of sequels and franchise movies that came out amongst tons of hype only to fail or disappoint fans that waited far too long to finally see them. Sometimes, its this anticipation that makes a movie seem less than its sum. We, as lovers of pop culture, have spent far too much time cultivated our own ideas about them. In many instances we have years, even decades, to build the movie for ourself inside our brain. So, of course, more often than not…There’s going to be a disconnect. We never return to these movies again. Our tainted memories remain firmly in place. But sometimes, its these bloated expectations that devour us, killing any enjoyment or fun we might otherwise have with any given installment of the latest blockbuster. Sometimes, we just take these things too seriously. And a perfectly decent movie gets lost in that ‘expectation translation’. Today, we are looking back at five such movies that we all waited a long time to see, only to walk away frustrated and indifferent. Have the years washed away these first thoughts of lameness? Or are these movies just as bad as we remember? We decided to revisit five otherwise disappointing, yet highly anticipated at the time, movies to see if they deserve a second chance. Or if they deserve to be flushed down the cinematic toilet of history.
Tenacious D fans waited a long time for this movie, only to find an origin story that was a little too well known, and jokes that fell flat. It was all a little too familiar, and too much like their short lived TV show. While the opening and closing musical numbers were instant classics, the middle was weighted down by soggy jams that seemed tired and uninspired. Had the band reached their Zenith too soon? Fans wanted something new from the duo, and this was just too much of the same old thing. We’d seen it. We’d heard it. Why were we being asked to pay for a repeat. They’re not superheroes. Was an origin story even needed? We didn’t think so. And the movie bombed! The characters here have an all-too-familiar goal: To become the greatest rock band the world has ever seen. To achieve this, they must steal a magical guitar pick that rests in a Rock ‘n’ Roll museum many miles away from their home in California. Its a road movie that takes forever to get on the road. And when it finally does, it goes nowhere. Literally. Its easy to see why fans turned their back on the great ones. But time has a way of making us reconsider our position. Over time, having grown away from Tenacious D and their music, revisiting Pick of Destiny brings a much different reaction. Jack Black and Kyle Gass have created a weird little movie that is actually quite fun. The pressure for the ‘greatest movie in the world’ is no longer in play. And the movie stands as a tiny cult classic that defines the band and what it has come to mean. In the long run,Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny isn’t nearly as bad as we originally thought it was. Here, in 2013, 7 years after its release, it almost feels fresh. But again, that’s because we stopped watching and listening toTenacious D 7 years ago. When this just felt like a capsulated retread of their history up till that point.
2Blues Brothers 2000
We wanted a The Blues Brotherssequel in the early 80s. We didn’t get one until 1998. That’s far too long to wait for any movie, and it tried our patience. This follow-up had too many strikes going against it to ever really be taken seriously. First of all, the big elephant in the room was John Belushi’s death. There’s no way any actor could fill those shoes. Also, the humor that worked for The Blues Brothers twenty years prior, is the same humor that is on display in Blues Brothers 2000. At the time of its release, it seemed dated in a very bad way. The thing we have to remember is that, sans Belushi, this was the same team who brought us the original. Same director, same actors, same musicians. Reboots were not yet in fashion, so Dan Aykroyd returns as Elwood Blues, not some young handsome actor trying to replace him. Frank Oz is back as the Warden,Aretha Franklin is back too, and they even added blues legends B.B. King and Wilson Pickett to the mix. The story is basically the same. Elwood gets out of prison and goes on a “Mission From God” to raise funds for a children’s hospital. As you can guess, Elwood has to “get the band back together” in order to travel to New Orleans in the hopes of winning loads of cash in a battle of the bands. That made it even more hated. Back in the late 90s, the idea of this movie existing seemed sacrilegious. It only made $14 million at the box office, bombing big time. But now that almost as much time has passed between the sequel’s release and 2013, as the original and the sequel, the whole thing has a nostalgia vibe that is hard to shake. Its aged very well, and suddenly plays like a true sequel, not some desperate rip-off. Its definitely not as good as the original, but we can forgive it for being lame upon its release, and enjoy it as a timeless classic here some twenty years removed. The music is great, and the car chases recall a more authentic time, before CGI came in and ruined everything.
Dan Aykroyd might just be the king of disappointing sequels. Every year, we hear of aGhostbusters 3 getting off the ground. We get excited, and then we go back and watch this sequel from 1989, and we don’t care any more. We actually pray thatGhostbusters 3 doesn’t get made. This is a weird movie in that, after a little time passes, we forget how truly painful it is to sit through. We think we might be wrong. That we need to see it again. I mean, come on. Its a sequel to one of the greatest 80s classics ever made. How could it not be any good? And it brings back the original cast, including Bill Murray. Maybe we we’re messed up last time we watched it. Maybe we missed something. Its us, not the movie. And then we revisit it, and realize, its not us, it IS the movie. Though, we can’t quite put our finger on what went wrong. It just falls flat, like a warm soda that has been sitting on a park bench for days. Its not funny, its not exciting, and the Statue of Liberty is a very weak attempt at trying to recreate the magic of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Its not the worst sequel ever made. But it certainly is the most disappointing. We hadn’t watched it in nearly seven years. Just enough time to pass, allowing for another, “Gee, maybe we should give it another try.” And guess what? Its still a bad movie. Its unexplainable. We don’t just want to like it. We want to love it. And maybe that’s the problem. It can never be loved, no matter how long it sits on the shelf. Its own mediocrity has done itself in. But we’re including it here, because we know, it will eternally deserve another chance. When enough time has passed, we’ll once again think we need to watch it again. The sad thing is, it just never gets better.
4 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
This film is an anomaly because it’s a huge blockbuster. Having grossed close to $800 million dollars, it seems like viewers gave this movie many chances. Yet, people still call it an abomination. We actually liked it in theaters. And five years later, we still like it. But a huge number of you didn’t. In fact, you hated it. If you saw Raiders of the Lost Ark in theaters back in 1981, then you no doubt were given the warm fuzzies when Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull opened with a shot of the famous Paramount logo. At that point, the logo turned into a mound of dirt, an animated rodent popped out of it and suddenly all that goodwill was drained from the film. What followed for a lot of us were moments of our youth recalled, only to have them vanquished by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas’ attempts to attract a younger audience. The cherry on top was the sci-fi angle at the end, where a space-ship bursts out of the earth and essentially puts the final nail in the coffin for us older fans. This says nothing of the Crystal Skull itself which looked, to be kind, like little more than a large piece of illuminated plastic. So what changed? Well, it seems with the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney, thatIndiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull might be the last vestige of the old George Lucas that we will ever know. Considering that Disney has plans to release three more Star Wars films, and the fact thatLucas isn’t really involved, signals to all of us older people that time has really moved on. Suddenly, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull doesn’t look so bad because at least it came from the people who brought us the original. On top of that, consideringHarrison Ford’s willingness to do another movie, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is about all we have left of the Blockbusters from the 1980s melding into the new world of the 2000s. This tale of Indiana Jones getting involved with the Russians as they battle for the Crystal Skull may be flawed. But in the case of Hollywood, it is better the devil you know than the one you don’t. Plus, again, we’ve always over looked its flaws and considered it a worthy sequel. Even if you don’t.
5 The Haunted Mansion
I know what you’re thinking. But here’s the thing…Disneyland fanatics had dreamed about this movie for years. It was to be based on their most beloved attraction. There was a real, palpable hunger for it back in the early 2000s. And then Pirates of The Caribbean: The Curse of The Black Pearl came out, blew the roof off the joint, and suddenly people thought movies based on theme park attractions could actually be good. They we’re eagerly anticipating another surprise hit that brought the same kind of joy and nostalgia. Instead, they were faced with Eddie Murphy in another by-the-numbers comedy that seemed to waist his talents. But looking at the film on its ten year anniversary, its clear that the film was misunderstood, and definitely deserves a second chance for the weird message contained within. At the time of its release, two years after the Twin Towers fell, America was still reeling from the effects of 9/11. And this film strangely mirrors what our nation was going through. Sadly, America wasn’t yet ready to see themselves on screen, and while the movie opened strong, it quickly drifted into the dustbin of cinematic history. The story follows a family summoned to a new home, only to find it haunted. This helps Murphy’s character realize that he needs to pay more attention to his family. The cynical among us might just see this movie as Disney trying to make money off a ride of the same name. However, what drives demand for giving this film a second look is hindsight. In the Murphy character we have America. A country still trying to understand how and why something as tragic as 9/11 could happen. At the same time, the ghosts in the film represent the Taliban and our enemies. They are the people who were a threat, yet somehow that threat was ignored. Evil was allowed to fester and spread throughout the world, just like it spreads throughout the home that Murphy’s character inhabits with his family. His wife and kids represent America’s allies. Those voices that stood with America no matter what, yet didn’t always understand its actions. Seen in this light,The Haunted Mansion becomes an important film. It is one that demands the attention of viewers. I feel that in 2013, ten years removed from when this movie was released, we are now at a point where we can see this film for what it is…One of the most important films to engage viewers in world politics since Tora! Tora! Tora!. The Haunted Mansion definitely deserves a second chance and now is the time for it to be granted.