In Batman Begins Alfred asks a young Bruce Wayne why people fall. “To get up again” is the answer. Young master Bruce learned in that movie what the movie studio Warner Brothers are learning the hard way by now in real life: that you should learn from your mistakes. Sadly, they appear to be somewhat stubborn as their latest “D.C. Extended Universe” movie tends to prove. The name is Suicide Squad and it was the movie that was to turn the critical skepticism surrounding its predecessors Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman around. You know, third time’s the charm and what not. As you can probably guess by the sombre tone of my words, they failed again. Oh, how they have failed again.
As a franchise I never liked the Halloween series that much. Compared to other well-known franchises like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Child’s Play and of course Friday The 13th, the Halloween series has more weaker entries than good ones. It even has a 3rd installment that isn’t connected to the previous entries in any way. It was a daring choice at the time, but in hindsight Halloween III feels like the odd duck. When looking at this franchise it only has 4 movies that are (slightly) above average. I always saw Halloween 1, 2 and 4 as a decent trilogy until Halloween H2O came along. That movie capitalized on the success of Scream and was a decent entry as well reanimating a dying franchise. Sadly its successor put the final nail in the coffin in a movie that starred none other than Busta Rhymes. It was the notorious director Rob Zombie who rebooted the series with a remake of the original proving that he absolutely had no idea what made the original movie good. He even made a sequel that I consider to be one of the worst horror movies ever made as you can read in my review. When you ignore the legacy of Halloween one thing is clear: it’s a great movie.
If you were in your teens during the early 90’s chances are you probably watched Saved By The Bell. The main reason almost everybody from that generation has watched this show is simple: there was simply nothing else. I don’t mean that in a negative way actually. Saved By The Bell was simply the first live-action TV series aimed at teenagers on Saturday mornings. All of the other shows were mostly aimed at kids and often solely created to sell toys. Saved By The Bell filled a void and paved the way for every live action TV shows aimed at young teenagers today like iCarly and Kenan & Kel. There are probably dozens of others, but as you can probably imagine, I’m not really the target audience anymore and therefor not really familiar with what is out there today. After watching the Life-Time movie “The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story” I decided to re-watch the entire original series. After 86 episodes and the Hawaiian Style TV-movie it’s time for me to look back on Saved By The Bell.
I’ll never forget the tagline for the (supposedly) final Nightmare On Elm Street movie, Freddy’s Dead, which was “They saved the best for last”. Anyone who has seen that movie, knows it couldn’t be further away from the truth. The average thing coming from Donald Trump’s mouth is probably closer to the truth than that tagline is to that movie. I can’t quite recall other sequels using a similar tagline, but often the people behind a movie claim that the latest installment is even better than the previous one. Not really a surprise there, since seats have to be filled at the cinemas. No matter what claims are made at the time of the release, to quote X-men: Apocalypse: “at least we can all agree the third one’s always the worst”. A movie which ironically was the weakest film itself in the X-Men reboot trilogy. The same goes for another Marvel property in its third outing: Blade: Trinity.
Blade: the Marvel Comic book hero who takes Corey Hart’s synth-pop hit “Sunglasses At Night” a bit too serious. The daywalker returns in this sequel, simply titled “Blade 2”, to take on an advanced species of vampire named Reapers. To do this he forms an uneasy alliance with the vampire council and teams up with a group of vampires named the Bloodpack. They were originally trained to take on Blade himself, but since Reapers feed on vampires, it’s in their best interest to work with Blade instead of killing him. It should come to you as no surprise that there will be a lot of tension during their time together and as Blade himself at one point mentions: They’re gonna fuck us the first chance they get.
Vampire movies: the genre of which the majority of movies released suck as hard as the average vampire does. Apparently it’s very hard to make a decent vampire flick. For every “Interview With The Vampire” there is a Twilight. To keep Vampires fresh, their characteristics vary with each movie. Sometimes they can turn into bats and can’t stand the sunlight, in other cases they’re merely immortal and sparkle when exposed to sunlight. Therefor one thing almost all vampire movies have in common is that one scene where their abilities are being explained. In Blade, the vampires have rather traditional features and limitations: Blood-thirst, fangs, immortal, allergic to sunlight, garlic and silver. The things they lack: they can’t turn into bats, do have a reflection and are perfectly capable of handling crosses. That last thing is pone of the attributes that are always so stupid: There is an undead creature coming after me, but if I just hold these two stakes like this it will destroy them.
Over the years Blade has become somewhat of a cult classic and a movie with a relatively large legacy and I’m not talking about just sequels.
Few people will call the original Kickboxer a good movie. It was a low budget action movie capitalizing on the surprise success of Bloodsport and could best be described as an adult version of the Karate Kid: a young Caucasian man is trained by an elder Asian man using unorthodox training methods in order to take on the movie’s nemesis during a fight in the ring. Throw in some female nudity here and there, a couple of bloody fights and a rape and you have got yourself a typical 80’s tournament movie. And yet, Kickboxer became somewhat of a classic in its genre. This can be attributed mostly to its lead, Jean-Claude van Damme, as this was one of his earliest movies and one that helped to build his career. At the time it was released kickboxing was a relatively unknown sport, but it turned out to be a great subject for a movie, especially since it allowed Van Damme to display his abilities. Sadly, they hardly make movies like that any more, but after 17 years someone decided it was time for a remake: Kickboxer: Vengeance.
Making a direct sequel to a movie that was made multiple decades ago is nothing new. 23 years after the original Psycho was released it was followed up by Psycho 2 which, surprisingly, brought back Anthony Hopkins as Norman Bates. Over the past few years making long overdue sequels seems be a way for studios to make a quick buck, by capitalizing on an existing property. Not taking reboots into account. Earlier this year we got a sequel to the 26 year old Kindergarten Cop. Then starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and this time Dolph Lundgren. Now it’s up to Scott Adkins to fill in for Jean-Claude van Damme in the sequel to one of his better movies: Hard Target. A movie that was released 23 years ago. The same time span between Psycho 1 and 2, but unlike Psycho 2, Hard Target 2 has no ties to the Van Damme movie, other than a plot about rich men hunting people for sport.
“TV movie”: the label that guarantees you your next two hours will be wasted time. There are hardly any good TV movies out there, especially since that genre is almost synonymous for Lifetime movies. There are exceptions to this rule of course: Stephen King’s IT has become somewhat of a classic and so have both Duel (by Steven Spielberg) and The Day After. A movie is definitely not an exception to this rule is the third installment in the Stepfather-franchise. A franchise that actually should have never been a franchise as it contains only one good movie. Since the third one was made for TV that automatically means no nudity and a longer running time as a two hour time slot has to be filled. The result: a movie in which the mentally ill stepfather now woos not just one, but two single women with a kid.
The insane asylum: the classic plot-device in sequels to justify the return of somebody supposedly killed off at the end of the previous movie. Remember when Michael Meyers was killed in Halloween 2? He was shot multiple times in the head. In the eyes even! That guy was dead, there is no way he could have survived that. Cut to Halloween 4 where he’s alive and well in an insane asylum, because he apparently magically survived all of that. Guess who’s also back in Stepfather 2; Jerry Blake, the maniacal stepfather hellbent on killing his family once they seemed to be unable to live up to his expectations of a perfect family. This guy apparently survived a stab wound directly into heart as well as several gunshot wounds and is now stuck in an insane asylum at the beginning of Stepfather 2. Which really begs the question: shouldn’t he be sitting in death row, or at least some high security prison? This is a guy who killed multiple women and children with premeditation. Not the kind of guy you should put in some insane asylum with the hope of him one day getting well.