The 5 Weirdest Types Of Movie Sequels

The 5 Weirdest Types Of Movie Sequels

Why some sequels work, and others don't.
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It’s been commonly noted that Hollywood is dominated by sequels, and more so with each passing years. They’re often lazy cash grabs, but they can be worthy successors with the right approach. We’ve gotten so used to movie sequels that I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the weirder kinds of sequels out there.

1. Second Verse, Same as the First

Name this movie: An off-duty cop goes to meet his wife when he’s caught in the middle of a hostage situation on Christmas Eve. The authorities fail to be of any help, and the cop has to step in and defeat the terrorists to save his wife. If you guessed ‘Die Hard,’ you’re correct! However, if you guessed ‘Die Hard 2,’ you’re also correct. The sequel replaces German terrorist/thief Hans Gruber with a rogue army officer/nude kung fu aficionado, and changes the location from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. Otherwise, they’re basically the same movie.

Hollywood logic dictates that the best way to replicate a movie’s success is to replicate the movie itself. The results can be reasonably entertaining (any movie wherein Bruce Willis stabs someone in the eye with an icicle is at least watchable), but these sequels are always trapped under the shadow of the first film. The audience goes to see what happens to their favorite characters, only to find them implausibly trapped in the same situation as before. As Bruce Willis’ John McClane so eloquently asks, “How can the same s--t happen to the same guy twice?”

2. Bigger and Better

Sometimes, an obscure indie movie manages to make it big, enabling the director to break into larger budget filmmaking. One of the earliest examples of this phenomenon comes from George Miller, who directed the low budget Australian action movie ‘Mad Max’ in 1979. It was a surprising success and launched Mel Gibson’s Hollywood career. When Miller made a more expensive sequel in 1981, Warner Bros. was willing to distribute it in America. Due to the bigger budget, Miller was able to make a much more impressive, engaging film while retaining the elements that worked in the original.

A similar thing happened to director Robert Rodriguez, who made the Spanish language action film ‘El Mariachi’ on a $7000 budget. When he got a larger budget for the sequel ‘Desperado,’ he replaced the amatuer star with Antonio Banderas and released it in English. As opposed to the gritty, down-to-earth feel of the original, ‘Desperado’ was an eccentric, over-the-top action movie filled with explosions and gunfights. That’s not to say this sort of sequel is always a success. There’s always a danger of a franchise straying too far from its charmingly humble origins, as happened with both the ‘Mad Max’ and ‘El Mariachi’ series in ‘Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome’ and ‘One Upon a Time in Mexico.’ Thankfully, 'Mad Max' bounced back with last year's incredible 'Fury Road.'

3. Long-Awaited

If a movie is successful, we can usually expect a sequel in just a few years. Sometimes, however, it looks like the series is really over. A decade or two might pass, but legions of fans hold are still nostalgic for the original. It’s only a matter of time before someone has the bright idea of resurrecting the series. The original filmmakers and stars agree to come back, and the hype grows to epic proportions. What happens next can go either one of two ways.

If you’re lucky, you get a movie like ‘The Force Awakens.’ It’s something new, but it feels a lot like the old movies. It makes a ton of money, and most of the fans are satisfied. However, it’s more likely that we get something like “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” It’s full of call-backs and in-jokes, but it’s just a modern blockbuster dressed up to remind us of the original. The problem is that people are so emotionally invested and have extraordinary expectations. A mediocre sequel to a classic franchise inspires frustration and talk of ruined childhoods. Typically, if a franchise came to a satisfying conclusion, it’s best to leave it at that.

4. Genre Swap

One way to make a unique sequel is to take the plot elements of the original film and drop them into a different genre. Sometimes this keeps the franchise fresh, but it can obviously be a disaster as well. The best example of this is ‘Aliens,’ James Cameron’s sequel to Ridley Scott’s horror film “Alien.” Rather than a betrayal of the original film, it feels like a natural progression of the story. While ‘Alien’ was the small-scale story of a vicious alien aboard a claustrophobic space ship, ’Aliens’ follows a team of marines sent in to deal with a larger outbreak of aliens on a distant space colony. While both features sci-fi themes like space travel, androids, and extraterrestrial life, the original is clearly horror whereas the sequel is action. It’s actually hard to compare the two, because each has such unique strengths.

One less successful attempt comes from the ‘Return of the Living Dead’ series. The original is a cult classic horror-comedy with absurd characters and excessive gore. While the first sequel was a relatively tame comedy in comparison, the real departure came with ‘Return of the Living Dead 3,’ which was a darkly romantic horror film. It follows a rebellious teenager who reanimates his dead girlfriend with a chemical the military is testing. The couple go on the run as she attempts to control her cravings for human flesh (which she does by inflicting pain on herself). The original is campy comedy inspired by ‘Night of the Living Dead,’ whereas the sequel is a goth retelling of Romeo and Juliet complete with self-mutilation. While not a totally horrible concept, it shouldn’t have been billed as a ‘Return of the Living Dead’ sequel.

5. Meta

Of all the types of sequels out there, this is one of the rarest. The sequel continues the events of the original, while acknowledging that both the original and itself are fictional. It’s hard enough to explain that it’s better if I just use an example. Wes Craven’s ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ led to a long string of largely forgotten sequels. One of the few highlights of the series came when Craven returned with the bizarre “New Nightmare.” The original film’s star, Heather Langenkamp, returned to play herself, rather than her character. In the movie, she is approached to star in a sequel of “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” However, she discovers that the series’ dream-invading killer Freddy Krueger has somehow crossed over into the real world, intent on tormenting her. At one point, she even discovers the movie’s screenplay.

One of the few other movies to try this is ‘Gremlins 2.’ Apparently, direction Joe Dante didn’t like the idea of a sequel, but ended up agreeing to direct if he got full creative control. He chose to make a parody of the original film, and Hollywood sequels in general. It even features a scene wherein film critic Leonard Maltin gives a harsh review of the original movie, only to be attacked by a horde of gremlins.This kind of sequel only works when the original film was fairly bizarre to start with. However, if the filmmakers pull it off, it can be funny, mind bending, and incredibly creative.

Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros.

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...

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"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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