Ask JKM a Question: #11: What sequels would I want to see?


A reader named Laurence asks:

“What movies would you like to see sequels for?”

Another great reader question, Laurence.  Thank you for asking it. 

In general, I believe that a movie should be a complete work of art in-and-of itself, needing no further “editions” or creative embellishment.

Yet there have been so many wonderful occasions over the decades in which sequels have enriched and deepened the universe of the original film.  Without sequels, we wouldn’t have The Godfather II, The Empire Strikes Back, The Road Warrior, Aliens, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Superman II and many other authentically terrific films.

The sequels I am most interested in seeing are those ones, I guess you could say, that feature memorable and magnetic lead characters, ones who would benefit from additional cinematic “adventures.”  These characters are usually larger-than-life (and a little funny…) and deserve a second bite at the apple.

I have the same caveat here that I did last week when discussing which cult TV series to un-cancel.  Some of my “sequel” choices make more sense in 1979 or 1986 rather than 2012, because new lead actors would need to be cast.

At the moment, I am looking forward to Ridley Scott helmed sequels to Prometheus (2012) and his classic Blade Runner (1982) but we’re likely already getting those.  This list should be devoted, instead, to the sequels we are unlikely to see.

Without further ado, I would like to see sequels to:

Big Trouble in Little China (1986). This wickedly funny and thrilling John Carpenter movie written by W.D. Richter introduced the world to a great (and highly-amusing) hero in Kurt Russell’s Jack Burton.  Channeling John Wayne, Russell delivered a swaggering, brilliant performance, and the humorous (yet innately heroic) nature of Jack’s “character” made for some trenchant East vs. West comparisons, thematically.  I would love the opportunity to see Jack in action again, swaggering and blundering his way to victory in another supernatural adventure that challenges Western mythology and action tropes.

Buckaroo Banzai (1984). Well, here’s another W.D. Richter-inspired choice.  The original 1984 film promised a sequel involving rocker/doctor/hero Buckaroo Banzai (Peter Weller) and his troupe of colorful sidekicks/band mates, and I’d like to see that on-screen promise delivered, even belatedly.  Much like Big Trouble in Little China, there’s a tongue in cheek joy to Buckaroo Banzai that, if recaptured in a sequel, would make for a hell of an entertaining return “gig.”

Army of Darkness (1992). See a pattern emerging here?  Another larger-than-life, somewhat tongue-in-cheek hero, Ash (Bruce Campbell), stars in Army of Darkness from Sam Raimi. Army of Darkness’s gonzo denouement in S-Mart, with Ash battling rabid zombies in the House Wares department, suggests that the Deadites are following this “groovy” hero on his journeys through time and space, and more adventures are to come.  Twenty years later, Ash is still the King -- baby -- as far as I’m concerned, and a hero awesome enough for an additional adventure…or seven.

The Black Hole (1979).  I know this film is on the remake circuit right now.  But when I was a kid, I really hoped for a straight-up sequel to this Disney film. It wasn’t because the film featured a saucy and charismatic lead character, like my other choices.  It was because the sci-fi film ended on a very unique cliffhanger. The heroes had passed through a black hole (escaping the forces of “spaghetti-fication,” apparently) and ended up…where?  On the other side of the universe?  In a different dimension?  In Heaven?  I would have loved to see that idea and that unknown realm explored in a sequel film.  Plus, the film’s climax created a great and fearsome villain: the Reinhardt/Maximillian fusion.  Just imagine that gruesome creation as the central menace in a Black Hole sequel, circa 1981.

John Carter (2012).  It’s too bad that we’ll never see a sequel to this thrilling and beautifully rendered Disney film starring Taylor Kitsch.  The film was poorly marketed and the target of inexplicably hostile, mean-spirited reviews.  Yet it came as close to any film in years to capturing the spirit of the original Star Wars.  Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “Mars” cycle offers the opportunity for not one sequel to this underrated film, but several.  I, for one, would like to see the continuing adventures of John Carter of Mars, and feel genuinely irritated and disappointed that there will be no such opportunity, unless Carter becomes a “cult favorite”….and fast.  Otherwise, I suspect this film will be remembered in the same breath as Buckaroo Banzai of Big Trouble in Little China: loved passionately by a few, forgotten by the masses…

I’m sure I’ve missed some important titles that deserve sequels too, so I hope other readers will provide their own choices.  But these are the titles that I thought of immediately.  My runners-up at this point might be Logan's Run (1976), Flash Gordon (1980), and a David Lynch-helmed Children of Dune.  

Comments

  1. I'm with for ALL of these, John.

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    1. Thanks, Le0pard13.

      In my heart of hearts, I don't believe it is too late to do a sequel to Big Trouble, Buckaroo, Army of Darkness or (naturally) John Carter, with original casts. But in the case of the first three, Hollywood certainly needs to move...quickly.

      I wish they would!

      Thank you for the comment, my friend.

      best,
      John

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    2. Let's add BEETLEJUICE to this, shall we?

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    3. Hi Le0pard13:

      Beetlejuice is a great selection. I'm on board 100% for that one too.

      And now, suddenly, I'm thinking about The Dark Crystal too. I'd like to see a sequel to that one, though I've read on and off over the years that a sequel is being contemplated...

      Meanwhile. Beetlejuice. Beetlejuice. Beetlejuice...

      Great comment!

      best,
      John

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  2. Robert6:12 PM

    Great question, great answer.

    Of all the endings considered for THE BLACK HOLE, (and I believe up to 6 were considered), it's possible that only the ending that was actually filmed could have justified a sequel. The other two that I'm aware of--one involving the dissolution of the protagonists' bodies in the black hole but allowing the survival of their fused consciousness, which spreads across the universe, becoming a sort of cosmic being; and the other, showing Kate McCrae staring up at herself as painted in the Sistine Chapel--were kind of dead ends.

    But really, it even would have been difficult for a sequel to pick up after such a surreal ending as the one filmed.

    --
    How about a sequel to George Pal's THE TIME MACHINE, starring Rod Taylor and made in, let's say, 1962?

    Or, continuing with the time travel theme, what about a sequel to another favorite of mine: TIME AFTER TIME?

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    1. I'd go and see these, too. Two of favorites.

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    2. Hi Robert,

      In terms of The Black Hole, I remember reading about the Sistine Chapel ending, and the novelization by Alan Dean Foster sort of gets at the idea of a fused, group mind...if I remember it right. I agree with your conclusion: neither of those endings would have paved the way for very satisfactory sequels.

      I love the idea of George Pal/Rod Taylor The Time Machine sequel, circa 1962, however. That would have been a great movie, I think. I remember at some point (in a Starlog, perhaps?) seeing artistic representations (pre-production?) of some sequel ideas. Big George Pal fan here.

      Time After Time is also a personal favorite of mine, and I would have loved to see a whole series of sequels with Malcolm McDowell starring, with perhaps occasional return appearances by David Warner.

      Now that you're on a "time kick" (and I mentioned David Warner...) you've got me thinking about a sequel for...Time Bandits! (1981).

      Great comment, Robert. Thank you for adding to the discussion!

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  3. John, I second your choices, especially regarding a sequel to John Carter... as a long-time fan of the Carter books, I was really pleased with it as an adaptation, and also just a fun swashbuckling sci-fi adventure flick. It's my second favorite movie of this year (right after The Avengers), and I was deeply annoyed with the utter failure of the marketing. There are a lot of rumors that Disney execs basically wanted to wash their hands of it, due to internal politics (it was a holdover from a previous "regime"). Anyhow, thanks for including it.

    Also, I think a sequel to the 1980 Flash Gordon would have been interesting. Ming may be gone (or maybe not), but Mongo remained largely unexplored... and as the original Buster Crabbe serials demonstrated, there are other potential bad guys out there... :)

    Finally, Robert, if you can find a copy, there was a kind of a sequel to Pal's Time Machine, a novel ostensibly written by Pal himself. It's been ages since I read it, but I seem to recall the protagonist was the son of George and Weena, traveling in his father's machine in an effort to save his parents' lives. It was called, predictably, Time Machine II.

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    1. Hi Jason,

      We are in agreement about John Carter. I love the books too, and thought the adaptation was really terrific. Such a fun movie, just as you say. I really wish it would get a second chance, and receive some groundswell of approval from fans and audiences.

      It' my second favorite blockbuster of this year too, after Prometheus. Haven't seen Avengers yet! Last person in America, I think...

      A Flash Gordon sequel exploring Mongo would have been terrific in say, 1981 or 1982. The original movie ended with a question mark on screen, so it practically demanded a sequel, right?! I think there was a lot of territory to cover there, and possibly a return by Ming.

      I have vague memories of reading about that Time Machine sequel. Perhaps that's what I was thinking about from the pages of Starlog: a Pal-written novel. The plot line sounds vaguely familiar.

      Excellent thoughts on what movies deserved a sequel, and I'm so glad you also loved John Carter. I hope our numbers (fans of the film) are growing!

      best,
      John

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  4. You know... I've never actually read the Carter books. Didn't see any trailers for the film, either. Frankly I doubt I'd have gone to the second run theater to see it if I'd not read your review here first. Glad I did, and sad we likely won't get another. And Buckaroo... the lack of a sequel there is just criminal.

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    1. Hi Sirrus,

      I'm so happy that my review led you to see John Carter, especially since you enjoyed it and found it worthwhile. I'm sad too we won't get another film in the series.

      And I like your formulation there, on Buckaroo Banzai. It truly is "criminal" that no sequel has been forthcoming!

      Great comment.

      best,
      John

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  5. Anonymous8:55 PM

    John you and I have the same sequel wish list to ‘Big Trouble In Little China’, ‘Buckaroo Banzai a.k.a. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension!’[at the end of this film credits it states the unfilmed sequel’s name: ‘Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League’ ], ‘Army of Darkness’, ‘Black Hole’, ‘John Carter of Mars’ [Disney should have used…of Mars], ‘Logan’s Run’(1976)[because the 1977-1978 series was a revised story of the 1976 film with same production design reused], ‘Flash Gordon’(1980)[a close to perfect film begged for a sequel], David Lynch needs[deserves] another chance to do the sequel to his first ‘Dune’, I liked his version better than the 1985 re-edit.

    SGB

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    1. Hi SGB,

      Thank you for remembering the title of the proposed sequel to Buckaroo Banazi -- "Against the World Crime League." Man, that would have been awesome.

      I also agree with you that Disney would have been wise to leave " of Mars" in the John Carter title. I think it could have made a big difference in terms of drawing an audience.

      I have read two sequels to Logan's Run (Logan's World and Logan's Search, if I recall the titles correctly...) and they both would make great cinematic "next chapters." Of course, those movies should have been made in 1978 and 1980, respectively...

      I also agree with you about Flash Gordon, and David Lynch's Dune. I love David Lynch's Dune and can't believe that some audiences actually prefer the dreadful Sci-Fi TV-movies of the franchise.

      Great thoughts!

      best,
      John

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  6. Agree with you on John Carter.

    My own: Prometheus 2.

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    1. Gustavo,

      Prometheus is a masterpiece, and I'm hoping that within two years time, we'll all be debating, analyzing and interpreting Ridley Scott's sequel.

      Prometheus has taken a hold of my mind like no film in recent memory, and I'm veritably obsessed with it.

      Would love to see a sequel, but I'm under the -- hopefully not incorrect -- assumption that we are going to get one. The film has made enough money, I believe, to warrant a sequel, and I know that is Mr. Scott's intent.

      I couldn't agree more with your choice.

      Glad to see too that you are a John Carter fan as well. It makes me feel good to see that this underrated film has more admirers, perhaps, than folks realize.

      Great comment!

      best,
      John

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    2. Same here, John. It's been 11 years since a film last made me swoon and think and daydream so much (A.I.). And thanks to in-depth analysis like yours and CHUD's and Rope of Silicon's it has become evident that there is much richness to further explore in Scott's alien world.

      And Carter is indeed a joy to watch. It's not gritty, it's not pretentious, it's not cynical, it's not "realistic"... It's just marvelous - which doesn't mean it is empty in content.

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  7. A replacement for the hideous Conan the Destroyer.

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    1. I loved the Milius 1982 Conan the Barbarian. At the time of the second film, I remember that Ebert gave it three stars, but that it felt almost like a tv episode by comparison to the grand original. I haven't seen the recent remake of Barbarian, but I hear that the news is not good...

      This should maybe be another question: which sequel would you replace, and why? (I may steal this idea...)

      best,
      John

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  8. Hi John, yes to all those movies. The sequel I really want right now is Hellboy 3! I loved Hellboy 2 so much!

    As far as replacing sequels: Return of the Jedi

    I don't really want an Empire Strikes Back 2 but ROTJ always felt like a Star Wars remake with a lot of tweeked and repurposed elements although I love all the Luke Vader Emperor material. I like the movie a lot but it doesn't quite have the creative juice and vitality that the first two have. Haven't seen much of Richard Marquand's filmography so I'm not sure if ROTJ is a "typical" film for him.

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  9. I would love to see sequesl to all the films you mentioned, in particular BIG TROUBLE and BUCKAROO BANZAI. As you said in the comments, I think that these would both still be doable with the original casts.

    I'd also like to see another Snake Plissken if only to make up for ESCAPE FROM LA.

    I know I'm in the minority, but I'd also love to see a sequel to SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW. I love this film dearly and felt that it never got a fair shake.

    Oh yeah, and a sequel to THE ROCKETEER, please.

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  10. Some folks claim that BTiLC is a re-written version of what BBATWCL would have been, but other than the fact that Richter had a hand in both, I haven't seen any solid evidence that this was in fact the case.

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