Most feature films are lucky to get made. A privileged few earn their way to sequels. When the stars align – literally and figuratively – a trilogy can be created.
And then there’s the fourth installments. Their existence is either an act of genius or a signal of forthcoming debauchery for a franchise. Unless you’re a horror movie, of course (what fools kept paying to see Saw after Part IV?).
So with another “IV” on the horizon – in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, docking at theaters today, BuzzFocus decided to attempt our most unique list to-date…The best & worst of the usually greed-motivated fourth installment. And just to make it a little more interesting, we are going to avoid referencing horror movies (c’mon, that‘s just too easy).
THE BEST PART IV’s
For all the fan-boys out there, here’s an honorable mention nod to Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. And there it was .
4. Fast & Furious (2009)
How this franchise managed to find life after Part III (Tokyo Drift) is still a mystery. Well, kind of. A Vin Diesel cameo – and the response it garnered from fans – gave Universal the motivation to invest in this installment and turn it into a nice happy reunion of sorts with the two leads (Diesel & Paul Walker). And let’s be honest, it’s not like Paul Walker was doing anything of note at the time. With all that said, this ended up being one of the better efforts in the franchise (including last month’s Fast Five). The tone of what made the first entry so appealing was captured; and it ushered in a nice way to transition the story for future installments. Part IV was a smooth ride, and the flick didn’t feel forced like many other IV’s do.
3. Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)
It definitely wasn’t the most compelling story in the franchise by any means. However, this addition to the Lethal Weapon family may have been the most entertaining. Mel Gibson chopped the signature mullet and Danny Glover essentially barked out the same lines of dialogue written in Part II & III. By having the addition of Jet Li as the villain and Chris Rock hilariously playing the up-and-coming detective, kept this same old song and dance lively. Not to mention Joe Pesci was allowed to amp up his recurring role as the unhinged “Leo Getz.” Sure this IV was a bit over-produced when comparing it to its predecessors. But once the credits rolled, you realized that this basically had all the elements to make this a Lethal Weapon movie through-and-through.
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
Granted, a lot on how this predetermined installment played out has to do with the completed books by J.K. Rowling. Still, other flicks adapted from heralded source material have gone on to rot as a feature film. Die-hard Potter-heads were perturbed initially, since they felt so much of the material in this monsterous book was glossed over. In looking back – and factoring in three more Potter flicks since then – this did have both fans of the books and ones who were introduced to the world of Hogwarts via the big-screen clamoring for more. Plus, audiences felt this brought back some momentum for the franchise since Part II & III were considered underwhelming.
1. Rocky IV (1985)
Sylvester Stallone may have bit off more than he can chew when he decided to continue on playing Rocky Balboa. But let’s be honest with ourselves…Who doesn’t get pumped up watching this particular piece? It has a choppy delivery for sure, yet it manages to connect emotionally with the viewer. Again – or maybe for the first time – a IV doesn’t have to be the best in the franchise. It must entertain and provide a unique approach that keeps the audience interested. Rocky IV easily grabs your attention and maintains it all the way to the near-laughable speech at the end.
THE WORST PART IV’s
4. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
Returning cast? Check. Successful franchise (at the time)? Check. Superman vs. Nuclear Man? Check. Bad movie? Check.
Mechanically, this flick plummeted very quickly. Cheap producers, a script created by its star, and a storyline that was written in crayon. The idea of having Superman do battle with a worthy opponent – in terms of physical attributes and powers – should have been relatively easy to execute. Yet the other plot points overshadow the one fans wanted to see; and everyone’s performances – save for Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor – came off as they’re just here to collect a super payday. Continuity from the previous three installments flew out the window faster than an Arnold Schwarzenegger “liaison” in Santa Monica.
In fact, Schwarzenegger and George Clooney should have been advised by their attorneys to alert people to this superhero movie disaster, in the hopes of taking off a portion of the heat, when they had to answer for almost destroying the Batman franchise (Batman & Robin).
And yes, I know Batman & Robin was also a IV, but it’s been ripped ad nauseam and gets a reprieve this time around. The same logic applies to The Crow: Wicked Prayer.
3. The Next Karate Kid (1994)
Aside from better production, thanks to the advances in technology in the early 90’s, this IV is worthless. Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) is back, Daniel-san (Ralph Macchio) is not. His replacement, Hilary Swank. Gone is the seriousness and the patent coming-of-age training techniques – which tugged at the heart strings in the first three. Enter in the goofiness, commonly found in a family film, starring Jackie Chan (The Spy Next Door). Of course there are training moments with Miyagi and his new femme pupil. But they’re just not genuine and seemed forced into the recycled story found in Part I. Whoever greenlit this should have been gagged with a black belt.
2. The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1994)
We tried. Seriously, we tried. But this horror debacle is just too painful to let slide. And the strange aspect about this sucker is that it had two notable stars playing the leads. And once you see Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger names listed on IMDb under this crap, one will notice a bunch of names with no pictures attached. Which usually is a sign of a terrible movie that probably buried a few potential careers.
Even worse is that original scribe Kim Henkel penned the script and helmed the director’s chair for this IV. His vision amounted to nothing more than a piss-poor generic rehash of the 1974 classic. And yes, this was intended to be a true Part IV, not a remake. The only decent aspect about this disaster was the coloring. Speaking of color, McConaughey did go all-in with his maddening performance; which is kind of funny to see now, considering his resume over the last decade. That said, allow us to provide you with a couple pieces of evidence why even the studio (New Line Cinema) knew this was a bad idea:
-The trailer was only 23 seconds long (it’s what happens when you have nada to entice)
-First released under the title of “Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre”
-Above titled bombed, and they re-released 2 years later under, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation.” (crafty, but also bombed – as in nuclear).
1. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Box office success or not, this was the most deflating IV these green eyes have ever witnessed. Nostalgia can only go so far. Scripting and a cognizance of the simple components that brought you to the dance in the first place were desperately needed. The word “sellout” comes to mind when pondering about this flick. Money was spent on this summer blockbuster, but the more-or-less trivial elements – the glue that kept these adventures engaging – were lost in the sands of time. Epic fail! To the point where it does not deserve any more attention from us.
(Alright, now feel free to rip and/or praise all the Part IV horror flicks we purposely neglected in the comment section below. We dig the banter)