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9 Movie Franchises That Rebounded Against All Odds

By Joanna Robinson | Seriously Random Lists | May 23, 2013 | Comments ()


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For the most part, the longer a franchise drags on, the weaker it gets. Look no further than the aptly named Die Hard series. How we got from one of the best Christmas flicks of all time to Bruce Willis dragging his exhausted looking *ss around, I couldn't tell you. The following list, however, is full of exceptions that prove the rule. These are instances where a franchise began to flounder and was miraculously brought back to life with either a successful reboot or a complete revival. So don't count out the planned Star Wars, Jurassic Park and Highlander sequels yet. They may surprise you.

James Bond: This particular franchise is a goddamn roller coaster with peaks of greatness and valleys of cheese all over the place. But, for what it's worth, the marked difference in quality between the end of the Brosnan era and the beginning of the Craig era is particularly noticeable. Casino Royale stands out as one of the finest installments in the series. I think we can all agree that Quantum of Solace was a bit of a misstep and the house is divided on Skyfall but I remain confident that as long as Craig is filling out 007 suit, I won't have to endure Dr. Christmas Jones redux.
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X-Men: The sins of X-Men: The Last Stand were compounded by the completely laughable X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I will never forgive anyone involved for that portrayal of Gambit. But along came Matthew Vaughn and a cadre of comely anglos to make us forget. If you had told me back in 2009 that I'd be looking forward to another Wolverine movie in 2013, I would have laughed in your face. And yet, here we are.
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Dawn Of The Dead: This is a really tricky one because though George A. Romero's first three films were excellent genre flicks, Zack Snyder's 2004 remake had a broader appeal. (Is this zombie film blasphemy? If it helps, I hate giving Snyder credit for anything.) But then Romero continued his series with three lesser films (Land Of the Dead, Diary Of Thee Dead, Survival Of The Dead) meaning that this particular franchise had a brief revival before shambling on, lifelessly.
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Spider-Man: When it was announced that the Marvel Spider-Man reboot would follow so closely on the heels of the hideously disappointing Spider-Man 3, the general response was a resounding "WHY?!" It felt like a blatant cash grab. And maybe it was. But what none of us expected was that the film would be good. Great? Maybe not. But the charming chemistry between Garfield and Stone was enough to drive out all memory of Tobey Maguire finger-gunning his way up and down the boulevard. It's possible (in fact, given the advance images, we can go ahead and ratchet that up to probable) that chemistry alone won't carry us through the next installment. But we can hope.
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Star Trek: Well this is obviously a controversial opinion, and it's not like the Star Trek franchise ever completely lost steam. The old adage is that the even numbered films in the franchise (eg The Wrath Of Khan, First Contact, That One With The Whales) are good and the odd ones a bit wobblier. That being said, if you compare the general interest and response for Star Trek: Nemesis to JJ Abrams 2009 reborquel and you'll see a marked difference. And, in my opinion, a marked improvement. No offense to the Next Gen crew, but this franchises needed a shot in the arm. And it got one.
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Iron Man: It might be unfair to include Tony Stark and company on here. Three films hardly a franchise make and many many great trilogies sagged in the middle. (Temple Of Doom, folks. Temple Of Doom.*) But the disappointment I felt in Iron Man 2 lowered my expectations so much that I left Iron Man 3 positively giddy. Bless you, Shane Black, for bringing Tony Stark back to us.
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Mission Impossible: The third installment in this franchise was pretty good. The addition of Simon Pegg was particularly welcome. But Ghost Protocol is just downright delightful and Cruise's stunt work in Dubai undeniably incredible. Add to that Jeremy Renner's sultry forearms and Paula Patton's ass-kicking ways and you've got one of the most enjoyable action films of 2011.
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Batman: They did their darndest to Shumack the sh*t out of this franchise. (Bat nipples, folks. Never forget.) But Christopher Nolan made Gotham his own and somehow managed to out-dark Tim Burton. Who knows what the future holds for this series. Will it live on beyond Nolan and Bale? If DC has anything to say about it, I'm sure it will.
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The Fast And The Furious: I know, I know. But if you're laughing right now it's only because you didn't see that last one (which as fun) and you haven't seen the new one (which is flat out great). Go check out The Rock, Gina Carano and the Old Gang this weekend and then report back.
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*There are only three Indiana Jones films, right?

Joanna Robinson realizes most of these entries end with the word "Man" or "Men" and it gives her a flicker of hope for Snyder's take on Kal-El.




A Painfully Awkward Interview Where I Attempt to Get Bradley Cooper to Admit "The Hangover Part III" Is a Bad Film | Thirty Seven Years Ago, Lorne Michaels Offered The Beatles $3,000 to Reunite on "Saturday Night Live"






Are you following Pajiba on Facebook or Twitter? Every time you do, Bill Murray crashes a wedding.


Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • "it’s not like the Star Trek franchise ever completely lost steam."

    It's more like they never really had steam. The TV show is classic, but the movies were always pretty bad. Parts 2 and 6 were good. First Contact was ok. That's about it. And especially considering the last few films to come out, I'd say JJ Abrams saved Star Trek from itself.

    Also, you still complain about Temple of Doom, even while you praise the new Fast & Furious? SMDH.

  • calinescu

    perfect

  • jon29

    The Fast & The Furious? I don't even know where I am anymore.

  • You never speak ill of Temple of Doom.

  • No matter what I do with my life it will be slightly incomplete if there isn't almost always a Batman film at least being thought about. If something happens and they pull another Schumaker I've got an idea for them in about 20 years.

    Go full "The Dark Knight Returns" and bring back Christian Bale as Bruce. Pick up with the Rises continuity where John Blake has been Batman but retires or gets killed. Things then go bad (or as in the comic, the Joker is released) and Bruce has to come back as Batman. You're welcome Hollywood.

  • I will watch the hell out of that movie in 20 years.

  • BlackRabbit

    Be a pain for whoever has to be the Joker though. Big shoes to fill.

  • e jerry powell

    Maybe Nicholson will find a way to genetically merge with Matilda Ledger's firstborn. Something with cryonics and cloning.

    SUPERJOKER. Just sayin'.

  • Salieri2

    WHY NO PENNYWISE WARNING? NO LOVE FOR ZERGNET.

  • e jerry powell

    ...or not filling out the James Bond suit, as that picture proves...

  • NoPantsMcLane

    The Amazing Spider-Man was just as bad as Spider-Man 3. Maybe even worse.

  • Guest

    There are only three Indiana Jones films, right?

    Yep, like there are only 3 Star Wars movies and 3 Seasons of Community.

  • Jerce

    the house is divided on Skyfall...

    No it isn't. Skyfall was utter shite.

  • Skyfall is generally considered to be a huge success and a great Bond film. It's box office sales blew away every other film in the history of the franchise. It has an 81 rating on Metacritic and a 7.8 on IMDB. The director was just hired to come back for another film.

    Its fine if you didn't like it, but don't pretend that everyone agrees with you.

  • Guest

    Yep, right there with you Jerce.

  • Josh L

    Where does the r in "reborquel" come from? Prequel? Does that mashup word just drop that first e?

  • H

    The second R comes from "origins" not "bork."

    "Reborquel" is a combination of reboot/origins/prequel.

  • e jerry powell

    We really need a catalog of entertainment industry neologoportmanteau.

  • JoannaRobinson

    Hm. Not my joke, I'll take your word.

  • JoannaRobinson

    I believe it's from "reboot."

    ETA: Oh you mean the second "r"? It's a play on "bork."

  • Robert

    I was going to say Resident Evil was a good example of this but each film has earned significantly more money than the last and the reviews have gotten better. Holy hell. That series is a cash-printing machine.

  • BlackRabbit

    The more money they can make, the more critics they can bribe.Those movies had some hope with the first and ran it straight downhill on Jovovich's skinny yet sexy shoulders.

  • Idle Primate

    i thought the animated one was the only good one. i'd never make it as a producer. i'd greenlight all the wrong movies, make a dozen people happy and bankrupt the company.

  • BlackRabbit

    The world doesn't need another Uwe Boll.

  • Tinkerville

    "There are only three Indiana Jones films, right?"

    Right. Absolutely. Without question.

  • Guest

    Yep, just like there are only 3 Star Wars movies and 3 Seasons of Community.

  • brian

    Your parents don't care much for you do they

  • Jerce

    Right. Just as there is only the one Matrix film. How can you even ask such an irrational question?

  • stella

    And only one season of Heroes

  • A. Smith

    Just the original and the r-series

  • freakscene

    "I will never forgive anyone involved for that portrayal of Gambit"

    You spelled Deadpool wrong...

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Seriously, the best thing in that movie were the actors (well, except for Wil.I.Am). They did their best with the material they were given.

  • foolsage

    I forgive RyRy. He did what he could with the ridiculous script and direction. It was horrible in every sense but I really can't see what he could have done to improve it, without going completely off-script.

    But yeah, that was just a travesty. Deadpool honestly could be one of Marvel's best film characters, and we got... that.

  • snrp

    "Skyfall" turned Bond into Batman and I will NEVER forgive and NEVER forget

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Skyfall turned Bond into Bond when they made it his real name. What kind of secret agent uses his real name, for fuck's sake?

  • Salieri2

    Well, to be fair, what kind of secret agent uses the same name all the damn time anyway?

  • Exactly. When you tell every villain in the world that your name is James Bond it no longer matters that it's real or not. You'd think sooner or later they'd catch on.

    Goldfinger: Hmm... Bond... James Bond. Odd Job, isn't the guy that Dr. No had so much trouble with? Lets not take chances. Kill him now.

  • foolsage

    "The most important thing in life is to be yourself... UNLESS you can be Batman. Always be Batman."

    http://imgur.com/oLwY7R5

    Words of wisdom.

  • poopnado

    I enjoyed the crap out of Wolverine, and I wasn't even drunk! Not even a little bit. But I was also with a crowd of giggly, weird people that were fed up with our work situation and needed a release. Kind of a great way to watch any cheesy movie.

    Are there any animated series that follow this arc? I stopped watching after Shrek 2 and I only watched the first Ice Age. Do they get better?

  • DarthCorleone

    Temple Of Doom rocks.

  • JJ

    Exactly. Calling the newest Faster and Furiouserer "flat out great" and yet knocking Temple of Doom? Entirely suspect.

  • Jeff in Middletucky

    Really, its only liability is Willie Scott (fuck all the Short Round haters) and her incessant screaming. But she is something to look at, I'll give her (and ol' Stevie) that.

  • I like that she at least wasn't just a clone of the Marian character from the first film. The Indy movies have three (well, ok... four if you want to count Cate Blanchett) very distinct leading ladies in them. Compare that to the Bond films, where the women are almost completely cookie cutter.

  • DarthCorleone

    Yeah, I am one of the oddballs that enjoys both Willie Scott and Short Round. Sure, her character might not be someone that you'd want to personally be around with life in the balance, but vicariously I think she makes a fun foil for Indy. I didn't need a Marion Ravenwood redux, as it was futile to try to top her.

    What really keeps Temple Of Doom moving and puts it in the greatness category, though, is the John Williams score. It's one of his better jobs in terms of crafting distinct themes and matching beats to notes.

  • poopnado

    Dude, Short Round forever.

  • foolsage

    Hey, Dr. Jones, no time for love. We've got company.

  • muertemaria

    I love all Three Indiana Jones Movies. We had temple of doom as a kid on VHS and we watched it weekly for years, so I know all the words and love it still. Also there are only Three Indiana Jones movies.

  • A. Smith

    For a long time I only thought there were two Indiana Jones movies, Temple of Doom and Last Crusade. I didn't see Raiders until pretty recently and have yet to see Crystal Skull. All and all, I wholeheartedly agree the first three are pretty much the only three.

  • SnowMan

    Zack Snyder's "Dawn of the Dead" was a lot of fun. However, is it fair to consider it part of the same "franchise" as Romero's movies? Because then I think you have to start considering the "Night of the Living Dead" remakes (there have been two), and the "Day of the Dead" sort-of remake. And all of this is not to mention the quasi-sequels and spin-offs from "Night of the Living Dead" made by various producers of that original... and the sequels and spin-offs to some of these remakes...
    Anyway, my point is that I think Romero's movies are their own "franchise," and stand apart from any of the other "Living Dead" related franchises. That being said, Romero's movies have definitely fallen off in quality with each subsequent film.

  • Very true. The remake is not part of the same series.

    Of Romero's newer Dead films, Diary was the only one worth watching.

  • cicatricella

    I was with you until you said Star Trek, where Abrams has taken a great steaming shit all over the Roddenberry legacy.

  • Abrams directed The Search for Spock and The Final Frontier? He directed Voyager and Enterprise? He directed Insurrection and Nemesis? Wow, he's been a busy guy. He must really want to destroy Star Trek.

    Face it. The Star Trek films are so bad that the one where they save a whale and we almost never see the Enterprise is considered one of the best.

  • Kobie

    Oh, bullshit. The Roddenberry legacy got trampled through the mud while Abrams was still in Underoos. The 2009 film was outstanding. And I can't wait to see ST:ID.

  • Tinkerville

    If you don't like them that's fine. But I'm sick of trekkies (as a lifelong fan, I am one, btw) acting as though the new movies are somehow actively destroying the greatness of the franchise. They're not.

    There have been several god awful horrible Trek movies long before Abrams got his turn. I know a number of people who have decided to seek out the older series after seeing the new movies and loving them. And so much of the arguments against Abram's films are just foot stomping "they just SUCK and if you don't see that then you can't call yourself a Star Trek fan! POSER!" It's gotten silly.

  • Amen I grew up on TOS and Abrams movies remind me of those great times, they really are back to the roots.

  • Jeff in Middletucky

    Preach it, brother!

  • Jerce

    This. Completely true. I greatly enjoyed the first "new" Trek movie and its cast (the last thing I expected, believe me), particularly New Spock. But this latest one just has a terrible, terrible script.
    However, Star Trek V remains the worst Trek movie ever made by about ten country miles.

  • dan

    one word: insurrection

  • "What does...God...need with a...starship?"

  • Tinkerville

    "Jim! You don't ask the Almighty for his ID!"
    *Kirk gets smoted*

    That happened, people.

  • e jerry powell

    And it was awesome.

  • Bea Pants

    If Star Trek IV, The Whalening didn't kill the series, it cannot die.

  • MissAmynae

    Nuclear effing wessels.

  • A. Smith

    Hey I liked Voyage Home. It was an unpredictable conclusion or sure, think about it. You go from fighting V-Ger, then battle Khan only to lose then find Spock after hijacking the Enterprise then destroy it taking a Klingon Bird of Prey received by conning the Klingons onto a ship that's in self destruct. So what are we going to do after all that save the whale and get caught up in '80's hijinks.

    I thought and still think it was funny end to a pretty hardcore first three. Having the crew lose 3 main crew members and Kirk's son throughout their battles.

  • Salieri2

    Bulletproof. Like Aerosmith.

    [Joe Perry: "I don't know if there's much we can do to change the image of this band to screw it up any worse than we already have. I mean if we can play the Superbowl with Britney Spears and still get away clean I think we're kinda bulletproof."]

  • e jerry powell

    Yeah, but then Perry and Tyler went all Jagger and Richards...

  • e jerry powell

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    *humpback song*

  • The legacy is still there. It's just waiting to be discovered by newbies (me) or re-admired by life long fans (my husband) while also enjoying the new movies as exciting additions to an already stellar franchise (both of us).

  • Jeff in Middletucky

    As Roddenberry himself accused Nick Meyer of doing with Wrath of Khan.

    (Really, are Trekkies ever satisfied?)

  • Idle Primate

    trekkies are the only species more defensive than batman fans

  • lowercase_ryan

    No, because secretly they want Star Wars but they can't admit it.

  • foolsage

    William Shatner: I'd just like to say... GET A LIFE, will you people? I mean, for crying out loud, it's just a TV show! I mean, look at you, look at the way you're dressed! You've turned an enjoyable little job, that I did as a lark for a few years, into a COLOSSAL WASTE OF TIME!

    http://www.dailymotion.com/vid...

  • JJ

    I want to frame this and keep it forever.

  • e jerry powell

    Cross-stitch sampler. Or a throw pillow.

  • Joe Grunenwald

    Oh. Oh, Joanna. Oh, no. Are you...are you a Gambit fan? And if so...why?

  • JoannaRobinson

    EYELINER AND TRENCH REASONS.

  • Rocabarra

    And the Cajun accent! That's why I loved True Blood so much, in the good old days when Rene was around (and why Michael Raymond-James should've been Gambit.)

  • Joe Grunenwald

    I can't help but upvote that.

  • NateMan

    I was surprised how much I enjoyed the new Spider-Man. I expected it to be just that, a cash grab. But the leads were great, Denis Leary always brings a grin to my face, and I felt the visuals really captured Spider-Man for the first time. The movie had a number of flaws (You turn a bunch of cops into lizard-men and then do nothing with them?) and the wisecracks needed work, but it was a step in the right direction.

  • Jeff in Middletucky

    Eh, it's the Marvel equivalent of the Green Lantern movie (or Marvel's own The Incredible Hulk): An exceedingly competent movie that was entertaining enough on first watch and then completely forgettable as soon as you're done watching. Not flat out bad or anything; just nothing even approaching great (or even really good) or memorable.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    I'd watch The Amazing Spider-Man again anytime. Raimi's movies? Not so much.

  • Kobie

    The Raimi films have not held up well at all.

  • Idle Primate

    i never thought they started out so great. but then, the third was my favorite of them. i know i'm alone there. i loved the new Webb reboot

  • cruzzercruz

    Dawn of the Dead? That last until the end of that one film. Spider-man? X-Men? Star Trek? Yeah, those are debatable at best.

    And Iron Man is a trilogy. This list got absurd almost immediately.

  • Captain D

    Did Vin Diesel borrow Tom Cruise's soap box so he could look The Rock in the eyes?

  • lowercase_ryan

    Cruise's co-stars get ditches dug for them.

  • e jerry powell

    YAY for this!

  • Mitchell Hundred

    Now I can't stop thinking about this.

  • DominaNefret

    I was thinking about this: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=C....

  • Washington Irving

    Cruise's bitches get ditches.

  • the dude

    make a tshirt out of this, ill buy it

  • lowercase_ryan

    hell, his child co-stars get ditches.

  • Idle Primate

    even the little people in Legend got ditches

  • e jerry powell

    Especially anyone named Fanning.

  • sean

    Joanna, Gambit sucks in any medium. The terrible Wolverine movie was just a small part of his suckitude. Pepe le Pew in a trench coat.

  • Batesian

    Gambit is, indeed, the worst.

    It's science, people. SCIENCE!

  • apsutter

    As a kid I played the X-men Sega game constantly and I always loved playing as Gambit.

  • Bea Pants

    Gambit sucks but Jubilee is ACTUALLY the worst.

  • Bedewcrock

    you win all the things.

  • JoannaRobinson

    At last we can all agree. Jubilee is the worst thing.

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