With all of the recycled junk that Hollywood throws at us, we’re certainly not left wanting for sequels. But where so many movies given the franchise treatment have resulted in unwatchable dreck, there are some terrific movies that just beg for sequels — cries that no one has answered.
1) The Incredibles
Pixar’s given us two sequels to Toy Story and one for Cars, but when-oh-when are we ever going to get The Incredibles 2? Director Brad Bird’s confident debut with the animation studio was a tour de force of wish-fulfillment fantasy, suburban life metaphor, action, and heart. It introduced us to a whole new universe of superheroes, which was dominated by the Parr family. When superpowers are outlawed, Bob, Helen, and their three kids were forced to ignore their mission and live out their lives in mediocrity. Rediscovering their passion made for a potent lesson in the importance of purpose in our lives. Bird never had a sequel planned while crafting The Incredibles, though he’s said on multiple occasions that he’s not opposed to another installment if the right story were to come along. On the other hand, Bird recently made the jump to live-action films with the upcoming Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, an ambition he’s held for a long time. So it’s doubtful we’ll see more animation from him anytime soon.
Say what you will about M. Night Shyamalan‘s most recent work (and there’s plenty to say), but The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs were virtuoso works of art. The way he conveyed so much without words, through the silence and the faintest of his actors’ facial expressions… The man was brilliant. The Sixth Sense may have gotten all of the accolades (it was nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director), but geeks hail Unbreakable as his high water mark. Directed with bravado, using lots of long takes and experimenting with the camera, Unbreakable served as the origin story for a new kind of realistic superhero (and villain), with Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson in a pair of haunting, yin-yang roles. Shyamalan said in interviews at the time that he planned it as the first part of a trilogy. Shame we’ll never see the rest of the story — it was off to such a compelling start.
Firefly fans got some closure from their favorite TV series thanks to this big-screen outing, but the universe and characters are ripe with potential for more. Creator/writer/director Joss Whedon has moved on to Marvel’s highly anticipated The Avengers, while the Fireflyverse lives on in comic books and graphic novels, and the nine main actors have moved on to other projects.
4) True Lies
James Cameron’s take on the spy genre was unapologetically outrageous, but highly watchable. The film’s three stars — Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Tom Arnold — have said repeatedly that they’re game for a sequel. But Cameron’s answer is that public sentiments towards “stylized adventures featuring goofy terrorist bad guys” have cooled since 9/11. It sucks for True Lies fans that he’s right.
5) Independence Day
Back in ’96, ID4 was just about the coolest, big-scale FX-fest to come along since Star Wars. The aliens and their huge ships were instantly memorable, which is a money-making formula that Hollywood rarely lets slip away. Unfortunately, the movie hasn’t held up over the last 15 — probably because director Roland Emmerich went off and made the same movie three more times, giving birth to the term “disaster porn” — but a sequel that delves deeper into the pathos of survivors-turned-freedom fighters (see: Falling Skies) and the culture of those locust-like aliens could have been interesting. Why not have the remnants of humanity use all that crashed alien tech to take the fight back to the aliens’ home world? Or maybe go team up with another, friendlier alien culture that’s under siege by ID4‘s bad guys?
6) The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
The movie weaved in and out of several of the books in the series, but left loads of material for a sequel. Its lukewarm reaction at the box office made it an underrated gem; it also starred Martin Freeman before he became the new hotness (these days he’s starring as John Watson on TV’s Sherlock and the title role in some flick you may have heard of called The Hobbit). I’d take another ride on the Heart of Gold anytime.
7) Reign of Fire
It’s a preposterous premise — intelligent dragons awakened beneath the earth rise to the surface and burn most of it to a crisp — but as with all stories, it’s the execution that makes or breaks it. And Reign of Fire, which treated dragons as vicious, terrifying, carnivorous animals without a hint of magic, worked. (Seriously — these dragons make Jurassic Park‘s dinosaurs look like fluffy bunnies.) Filmmaker Rob Bowman (The X-Files) treats his subject matter with dark reverence, depicting a group of survivors living in an old castle, carefully eking out a gritty existence while doing their best to hide from the deadly flying, fire-breathing beasts, which have risen to become the dominant species on the planet. Helping Bowman in his cause: a solid cast that includes a pre-Batman Christian Bale, a pre-300 Gerard Butler, and a crazy-eyed performance by a bald, cigar-chomping Matthew McConaughey. The movie ties up its loose ends satisfactorily, but it’s an awfully big world, and there could have been more stories to mine.
So what one-off movies would you add to this list?