Good morning readers!
In case you haven't noticed, which I doubt anyone has, I've been slacking off from blogging lately. And oddly enough, it has nothing to do with having no good movies to write about. Maybe it's that I have SO much to say about Les Miserables and Star Trek: Into Darkness that my overwordy brain just can't put that much glorious entertainment into words just yet. I might take a stab at Iron Man 3 here soon, but for the moment I'd rather ramble.
Recently in a discussion with a coworker at my job that has almost nothing to do with entertainment (although we find entertainment in our own odd way), I posed the question "has there ever been a good 'part 4' of anything?" My coworker quickly replied "The Land Before Time" but when I asked him what that was even about, he replied "dinosaurs." Indeed. I pretend that The Land Before Time never had sequels, because it was one of my favorite movies as a kid and I feel my memories being violated every time one of these inane pieces of toddler fodder comes forth.
But back to the more serious point, has there ever been a good part 4 of anything? And by part 4, I don't mean stories that are at heart one big story, like Harry Potter, or stand-alone films featuring continued characters like James Bond.
Let's break it down. The first part 4 that comes to mind is Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. At the risk of losing all but one follower, I will admit that for the most part, I rather enjoyed it. However, I will also admit that it seemed to be more on par with The Mummy Returns than the original Indiana Jones trilogy. Personal opinion aside, I can't deny that the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, though not terrible, simply didn't turn out worthy of its iconic title character.
Jaws, The Revenge. There's a reason you probably haven't heard of this. In fact when I mentioned this during my conversation with Coworker, his response was "there's a part 4?" I go into some detail about the flaws of this film in an older review called "Sequels: The Movie Murderer," so you can check that out and save me the trouble of re-ranting how bad it was. Suffice to say, the fact that Michael Caine hasn't paid someone to wipe this film out of the archives is a testament to his great sense of humor.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides left off on a note that indicated we might even be in for a part five, but there has been not even a whisper about it since part four's fiasco of a movie. Zombies, mermaids, and the fountain of youth was a little too much even for this ambitious franchise to pull off well.
When I googled movies that have a part four, I discovered several from somewhat well-known trilogies that had a part four as an afterthought that didn't even go to theaters. That's saying something when you consider that every Free Willy movie until part four did go to the big screen.
But then again, one of my horror movie aficionados tells me that Resident Evil: Afterlife was good if you like that sort of thing, but since I don't like that sort of thing I can't really comment. And I would argue that Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol might well be the best since the original (I actually enjoyed it more since I've seen the first one 10 too many times). It might be fair however, to say that had M:I IV not had the familiar names that it did, and instead struck out to make a movie with the same story-line without using the familiar title and characters, it probably wouldn't have done well. I can't say I would have paid much attention to a movie simply called Ghost Protocol that looked like a cookie-cutter action/intrigue movie.
So what's the verdict? Well clearly there have been terrible part fours. But there have been good ones too, just not enough to redeem the pattern. Successful fourth installments don't seem to have a steady formula, but unsuccessful ones almost always carry the common ingredients of being an afterthought, a desperate attempt at more money, or drawing out an already overdone story-line. It seems that although there are a handful of acceptable 4ths, it's a rare enough occurrence that it ought only to be attempted now and again when a truly original idea surfaces.