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Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder: A Look at Movies and Their Sequels Years Later.
Article by: Greg Roberts

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In 1844, a writer named Thomas Haynes Bayly wrote a poem titled, “Isle of Beauty” where the following words were found: “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

True? Well, when it comes to movies, it is a mixed bag indeed. This week Tron: Legacy, the sequel to the 1982 Disney bomb Tron is released in theatres. The wait between the original and the sequel totals a staggering 28 years. The public seems interested and the marketing campaign for the big budget follow up is through the roof, but what can we honestly expect a quarter of a century later? Killerreviews spent some time looking back on film franchises with extended time separating a movie from its sequel. As you can see, the results don’t favor a good return on entertainment value for Tron: Legacy.

Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi (1983)
Sequel: Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999)

Difference: 16 Years

The Return of the Jedi was the third film of the highly profitably Star Wars trilogy. It concluded the story of the defeat of the evil Empire and gave closure to the characters of Luke Skywalker and his Rebel gang. It took 16 years for George Lucas to go back in time and present audiences with the first of another trilogy that leads into the Star Wars: A New Hope (1977).

The result: A massive disappointment. Audiences lined up around the block and advance ticket sales for The Phantom Menace was breaking records. But critics and audiences alike failed to connect with the child Skywalker and his journey to the dark side. The film was the box office winner of 1999, but the film has grown in reputation as being an incredible misstep by the Lucas camp and Jar Jar Binks has become a character that will long be parodied and reviled in the Star Wars mythos.

Carrie (1976)
The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999)

Difference: 23 Years

The original Carrie, based on a Stephen King novel, was a classic. John Travolta, Sissy Spacek, Nancy Allen and Amy Irving all contributed to bringing King’s pages to life in gruesome fashion. Spacek was even nominated for an Academy Award for her role as the troubled teen with a supernatural fury. It took 23 years for horror fans to get another taste of a high school girl who discovers she has the power to kill with her mind.

The result: Awfulness. True Awfulness. Sissy Spacek wasn’t back (although Amy Irving did reprise her role) and neither was the magic. The film bombed at the box office and is hardly a worthy companion piece to the original work. Stephen King didn’t write the sequel and it shares nothing with the originality and the horror of its predecessor.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Sequel: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

Difference: 19 Years

Poor Harrison Ford. He shows up twice on our list. The Indiana Jones trilogy was one of the best things to come out of the 1980 theatres. Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom were thrill rides that made the character a Smithsonian protected hero. Rumors abounded for 19 years of an eventual sequel before Spielberg, Lucas and Ford agreed on a script and came back with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

The result: Disaster! Shia LaBeouf playing Tarzan, killer ants, an atomic blast and aliens were all thrown into a script that cheapened the franchise and was one of the worst films of 2008. Ford looked tired and on auto-pilot and bad special effects and uninspired action choreography assisted in the fourth film being one of the worst films on each of the participants resumes.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Sequel: Return to Oz (1985)

Difference: 46 Years

46 years. 46 years!! Surely if you wait that long you are making sure you get it right. Right? The original is one of the best films ever made and transported audiences in 1939 (and thanks to TV and DVD, every year since) to a wonderful world of Oz where Lions can talk and Scarecrows come to life. Almost half a century later, Walter Murch directed the sequel which centered on the Dorothy character going back to world with a yellow brick road.

The result: Mass vomiting. The magic was truly gone. And Faruiza Balk was no Judy Garland. Return to Oz was much darker and creepier than the original film and although it doesn’t cheapen the wonderment of the original, it does nothing to make you want to return to the place over the rainbow ever again.

The Hustler (1961)
Sequel: The Color of Money (1986)

Difference: 25 Years

Hell, it took so long between sequels in this mini-franchise that the original wasn’t even in color. Paul Newman played a pool hustler in the original film which also starred a wonderfully robust Jackie Gleason. A quarter of a century later, director Martin Scorsese dusted off Newman and brought him back as Eddie Felson in a sequel that also starred a hair raised Tom Cruise.

The result: A mild victory. The Color of Money won’t go down as one of Scorsese’s best films, but it showcased Cruise and Newman in an interesting story of master and protégé. Newman was superb as the elder Eddie and won an Oscar for Best Actor.

Wall Street (1987)
Sequel: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)

Difference: 23 Years

Oliver Stone’s Wall Street was made when Stone was in his prime. Michael Douglas played a corrupt stock market player and a young Charlie Sheen played the broker looking to land the ‘elephant’ that was Gordon Gekko. Douglas took home an Oscar for his role as the greedy Gordon and the film solidified Stone as being one of the best directors the decade had to offer. Flash forward 23 years and Stone and Douglas reteamed for Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. The timing seemed impeccable due to the present day economics of the corrupt banking world and trailers for the film reminded us of how much we missed the man who coined “Greed is good”.

The result: Two and a half hours of boredom. Shia LaBeouf makes our list for the second time as he plays a young Wall Street trader that happens to be dating the recently paroled Gekko’s daughter. With greed still at the forefront of the script lines, he and Gekko try and manipulate the system to their benefit and survive in a world that is forced to receive hand-outs from Federal governments. But the film was too smart for its own good and way too long for a film that is shoving derivatives and leveraging terms down our throats. All might have been forgiven if the film ended 15 minutes before the actual credits. But Stone and Douglas beat our powerhouse Gekko down to an emotional softy and audiences left the theatre feeling betrayed by a character they thought they knew.

Psycho (1960)
Sequel: Psycho II (1983)

Difference: 23 Years

Alfred Hitchcock made us fear motels with his incredibly scary Psycho in 1960. Anthony Perkins played Norman Bates, a psychopath that happens to run the secluded Bates Motel. The original film was in black and white and is still considered to be one of the best horror films of all-time. Twenty three years later, Perkins was back in Psycho II playing the Bates character after having been released from prison.

The result: A mixed bag. When released in 1983, Psycho II was uniformly panned by critics and audiences didn’t exactly flock to the Richard Franklin directed sequel. But as time has separated fans from the release year, Psycho II has picked up a few fans along the way and is hardly the travesty that is some other titles on the list. Still not a great follow-up to a masterful original, but definitely worth a rental to give some closure to one of the great cinematic characters of all-time.

 

 
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