The worst sequels to some good films
Original: super. Follow-up: terrible
- Published 24.03.20, 7:27 PM
- Updated 24.03.20, 7:44 PM
- 7 mins read
Rock On 2
When it released in 2008, Rock On!! became the story of everyone who has ever dared to dream. The tale of four friends pursuing their passion for making music till life happened to them and flung them in different directions, was not only engaging but hit high when it came to the relatability factor. Director Abhishek Kapoor, in what was Farhan Akhtar’s acting debut, scripted a feel-good film that was at once a friendship story, an underdog tale and an inspirational anthem, giving us strong acts, memorable moments and some consistently hummable music. Rock On!! has remained a watch for the ages.
Rock On 2 is anything but. Released eight years after the first film, there was a lot — despite the change of hands, with debutant Shujaat Saudagar taking over from Abhishek Kapoor — that was going for Rock On 2. The original cast of Farhan, Arjun Rampal and Purab Kohli came back, with Shraddha Kapoor lending more star power. Plus, the scene shifted to Shillong, the ‘rock capital’ of India. But Rock On 2 — all 143 minutes of it — was a slog. The plot was wafer-thin, the performances half-baked and the music largely pedestrian. A mish-mash of lost family ties, altruism and
friendships gone sour, Rock On 2 was so unwatchable that it almost undid the good work of the first film. But ironically, it was a repeat watch of Rock On!! that acted as an antidote to the agony brought on by its sequel.
Bheja Fry 2
Long before Ayushmann Khurrana made the simple man a money-spinning Bolly staple, Vinay Pathak won hearts with his portrayal of the simpleton delivering a few laughs and driving much of the drama in Bheja Fry. Though a faithful copy of the French film The Dinner Game, debutant director Sagar Ballary reset the film in a desi milieu, mining humour from both the everyday and the extraordinary. Bheja Fry became a sleeper hit and Vinay Pathak the face of the small-budget multiplex film, delivering both in terms of content and box office.
Four years later, Ballary tried to cash in on the success of the first film, but Bheja Fry 2 — which had Vinay Pathak reprising the role of Bharat Bhushan — was a recycled version of the first film, simply illustrating that the format may be the same, but the formula needs to be given a fresh spin every time. Set on a ship, Bheja Fry 2 sank from the get-go, with even the otherwise dependable Pathak struggling to rise above the mediocre material. The only thing that resonated with us was the film’s title… two times over!
How can a sequel be such a drastic come-down from its predecessor?! Double Dhamaal was as painful as a nail driven slowly into one’s brain, lacking in everything — humour to heart, moments to mood — that the first film had delivered. Dhamaal, released in 2007, was a fun film that may have been predictable, but consistently brought on the laughs, aided by a ragtag team of four friends and a cop on their tail, all of them engaged in a race-against-time template to get their hands on a stash of cash. Double Dhamaal — that upped the star quotient and stakes, but dialled down everything else — featured actor Ashish Chowdhry in drag and had Riteish Deshmukh — sporting an Afro — ‘conversing’ with a gorilla. And then, of course, was Mallika Sherawat gyrating to Jalebi bai. Not our idea of a fun watch! And yes, Total Dhamaal— released last year — is even worse.
Granted, Force 2 isn’t as unwatchable as some of the other names on this list, but the sequel was a perfect example of how one shouldn’t stretch a formula just because it has worked the first time. Force, released in 2011 and directed by Nishikant Kamat, worked on the strength of its action sequences and the delicious wickedness that Vidyut Jammwal brought to his part of the film’s antagonist. Added to that was John Abraham’s macho presence, a fairly engaging plot and Genelia D’Souza’s freshness to a formulaic part, and Force ticked off enough boxes to draw in crowds.
Force 2, arriving five years later and with Abhinay Deo directing, shifted scene from Mumbai to Budapest, brought in Sonakshi Sinha as a badass secret agent to fashion a 007-like story and pitted John’s Yashvardhan Singh against the smooth-talking Shiv, played by Mardaani baddie Tahir Raj Bhasin. The action was slick, but the rest was same ol’-same ol’.
Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai Dobaara!
In Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai, Milan Luthria used typical ’80s templates to fashion a ‘filmi film’ that worked on the strength of formula told with freshness, a gripping central turn from Ajay Devgn and Pritam’s chartbusting music. It was the moments — mostly those between Devgn’s Sultan Mirza and Shoaib, played by Emraan Hashmi, powered by Rajat Arora’s zingy one-liners — along with the vintage look and feel that made Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai a largely compelling watch.
The film ended on a note that screamed out ‘sequel’, but Luthria failed to capitalise on the captive audience guaranteed by the success of the first film. Three years later, he returned ‘dobaara’ with a new cast — Akshay Kumar, Sonakshi Sinha and Imran Khan in a love triangle of sorts — that had none of the magnetism of the first film, with Akshay’s act of a mafia boss — he mostly spoke in aphoristic couplets and changed sunglasses in almost every scene — coming off as more comical than creepy.
Welcome wasn’t a great film by any standards, but it delivered what it promised — consistent laughs. An in-form Akshay Kumar, aided by a deadpan Nana Patekar and a fun Anil Kapoor, guaranteed enough bang for our buck, with many of us rewatching the 2007 film even today… the funeral scene is an instant classic that has endured through the years.
We wish we could say the same about Welcome Back. Coming in eight years later, the sequel, again directed by Anees Bazmee, rehashed the same formula, clearly overstaying its welcome. Even buffoonery comes with an expiry date, and John Abraham delivering cluelessness in the name of comedy, was no match for Akshay’s straight-faced humour. Welcome Back was rendered mildly watchable by the Nana-Anil jugalbandi, but the lazily repurposed gags were enough to make one gag. And then some more.
Exorcist II: The Heretic
The Exorcist is a seminal horror film that defines the genre. The 1973 film, that had Linda Blair bringing to life a 12-year-old girl as a victim of demonic possession, is considered a cinematic achievement that scored both with its chilling premise and its strong emotional depth. For horror fans, The Exorcist not only topped the horror genre, but also transcended it in many ways.
No such luck, however, for the follow-up that came in three years later. Exorcist II: The Heretic, that saw Blair reprise her role of the young Regan in the aftermath of the horrifying events of the film, was so bad that it’s not only considered one of the worst sequels ever, but also consistently makes it to most ‘unwatchable’ lists. ‘Incomprehensible’, ‘stupid’ and ‘useless’ are some of the terms, among many others, used to describe The Heretic, which also starred Richard Burton.
The Ring Two
Speaking of landmark horror, The Ring — a 2002 film based on the 1998 Japanese scarefest Ringu — is right at the top of the list, every new watch still eliciting goosebumps by the dozen. With its haunting atmospherics and a sense of foreboding that gets under the skin, The Ring managed to creep out even bonafide fans of the genre. Even today, that image of Samara ‘crawling’ out of the TV set is enough to give us sleepless nights.
The Ring Two, arriving three years later, was filled with horror cliches and even some scary tropes — the bathtub scene still springs to mind — couldn’t save a film that relied too much on absurdities. Sloppy in style and substance, this is a glaring example of why one doesn’t need an addition to what is a seminal original. Naomi Watts or no Naomi Watts.
Dumb and Dumber To
Let’s admit it: Dumb and Dumber was relentlessly stupid, but that’s what worked for it (it’s even there in the title, sillies!) The screwball comedy from the Farrelly Brothers was elevated by top-notch acts from Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, the two playing off each other’s comic strengths and, at least in terms of punch-line dispensers, became a cult watch of sorts.
The sequel took a long time coming — it released 20 years after the first film —and though it featured almost the same team — Carrey and Daniels came back, with Peter and Bobby Farrelly directing, Dumb and Dumber To was a pale shadow of the original. Not only stupid and unfunny, but also horribly outdated, Dumb and Dumber To traded freshness and likeability for weariness in plot and treatment, failing to cash in on the fan base of the original.
Son of the Mask
Mention The Mask and you will invariably think of a green-faced Jim Carrey bringing the house down with his manic bombastic act. The 1994 film, still popular today, had an unstoppable Carrey revelling in familiar territory, acing both physical humour and those zingy one-liners. The relatability of theme — a ‘loser’ waking up to the fact that he’s capable of doing anything resonates across demographics — even in a film as fantastical as this worked in favour of The Mask.
Son of the Mask — which sorely missed Carrey’s presence — was a different story altogether, both painfully unfunny and irritatingly grating, and just the kind of questionable, low-budget sequel/spin-off that a film like The Mask didn’t need.
Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2
What’s with watchable horror originals giving rise to terrible and unnecessary sequels? The Blair Witch Project, a genuinely terrifying film based on the found-footage format, constantly played with the audience’s minds and relied more on psychological horror than gore to deliver a creepy watch. The 1999 film was considered an achievement in storytelling, cinematography and marketing, its claustrophobic narrative contributing to the chills. Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, released just a year later, was a poor follow-up, lacking not only in creativity and vision, but also failing to engage even after borrowing heavily from the original. ‘Really bad slasher sequel,” read one of the many reviews of the film.
Batman & Robin
This is a film that should have never been made. If not for anything else, then just for that eyesore-inducing sight of George Clooney in a tight suit showing off those ‘Bat nipples’. Considered one of the low points of the Batman franchise, Batman & Robin, released in 1997 with Chris O’Donnell doing duty as Robin, seemed more of a spoof than a franchise film, translating into what was a long, loud and pointless spectacle.
Since then, director Joel Schumacher has apologised for the film, with even Clooney voicing regret, over the film and the Bat nipples. “I wasn’t thrilled with the nipples on the batsuit. You know that’s not something you really think about when you’re putting it on ... Batman was just constantly cold I guess.” He managed to see the humorous side. The audience clearly didn’t.