Contemporary Hollywood might well be known as the Age of the Sequel. Every other cinematic property either sprouted from a preexisting entity or promises to spawn its own big screen offspring. To be fair, however, film follow-ups these days can take many forms.
You have your traditional sequels — the direct carryover of characters, plots, and themes into supplementary adventures — as well as sequels of looser variety, which might eschew old characters (often in the wake of absent actors) in the interest of pursuing similar themes in a new environment.
There are, as well, prequels, sidequels, spin-offs, reboots (subtly distinguished from remakes and “reimaginings,” as which you might classify this year’s Point Break, Cinderella, The Jungle Book, Pan, and Fantastic Four movies), and the organic continuation of a pre-established serious or franchise. In short, with so many version of sequels available to make, it’s no surprise that we have, like, 50 coming out every given year. And this isn't even getting into the territory of new adaptations
And here are those many follow-up features set for release in 2015. Some highly awaited, some curious revisits to movies that nobody wanted in the first place. Check out what the Age of the Sequel has in store for this calendar year, with judgment on just how unnecessary each one of these movies really seems to be.
The Woman in Black 2: The Angel of Death
Predecessors: The Woman in Black.Sequel species: Thematic sequel.Years since last entry: Three.Missing parties: Daniel Radcliffe and his baby.Degree of redundancy: High. No one even really liked the first one.
Predecessors: Taken and Taken 2.Sequel species: Direct sequel.Years since last entry: Three.Missing parties: None. It’s all the same. All exactly the same.Degree of redundancy: High. It’s all the same. All exactly the same.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water
Predecessors: The SpongeBob SquarePants MovieSequel species: Property sequel.Years since last entry: 11.Missing parties: None… unless you count David Hasselhoff.Degree of redundancy: Medium. The animated series’ popularity has dropped off substantially over the past decade, making this feel more like a self-pitying cash grab than an organic call to creative arms.
Hot Tub Time Machine 2
Predecessors: Hot Tub Time Machine 2.Sequel species: Direct sequel.Years since last entry: Five.Missing parties: John Cusack, the central star of the former.Degree of redundancy: Possibly low, probably at least medium. It depends. The first was a surprisingly effective satire of 1980s cinema; if this sequel (which is set in 2025) takes the same efforts toward parodying future-set movies.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Predecessors: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.Sequel species: Direct sequel.Years since last entry: Three.Missing parties: None.Degree of redundancy: Medium-low. There’s no real need for a sequel, but how can you fault a movie this pleasant for giving us another go ‘round?
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension
Predecessors: Paranormal Activity, Paranormal Activity 2, Paranormal Activity 3, Paranormal Activity 4, and Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones.Sequel species: Thematic sequel.Years since last entry: One.Missing parties: All but good ol’ Katie Featherston.Degree of redundancy: Medium.
The Divergent Series: Insurgent
Predecessors: Divergent.Sequel species: Franchise continuation.Years since last entry: One.Missing parties: None.Degree of redundancy: Well, there was no escaping it…
Predecessors: The Fast and the Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious, Fast 5, Fast & Furious 6, Furious 7.Sequel species: These things function as episodic follow-ups rather than legitimate sequels, but there is some carry through. Like people coming back from the dead and whatnot.Years since last entry: Two.Missing parties: None.Degree of redundancy: High, but we’ve all just learned to live in a world where these come out every two years.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
Predecessors: Paul Blart: Mall Cop.Sequel species: Thematic sequel.Years since last entry: One.Missing parties: Most of the supporting cast has been retooled, but Kevin James remains.Degree of redundancy: High. The first one was redundant.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Predecessors: Directly, The Avengers. Less directly, the Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Captain America movies.Sequel species: Franchise continuation.Years since last entry: Three since The Avengers, one since the last Marvel Cinematic Universe movie (Captain America: The Winter Soldier).Missing parties: None.Degree of redundancy: Low. Yes, there is an overabundance of superhero movies dominating the film industry… but we like this one, don’t we? We’re all on board here?
Mad Max: Fury Road
Predecessors: Mad Max, Mad Max 2, and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.Sequel species: Some nebulous hybrid of sequel and reboot.Years since last entry: 30.Missing parties: All. Tom Hardy is taking over for Mel Gibson as the titular Mad Max Rockatansky, with Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult topping the backup cast.Degree of redundancy: Low. It’s been three decades since we saw the last of these great pictures, and today’s Hollywood could take a lesson from this weird, weird property.
Pitch Perfect 2
Predecessors: Pitch Perfect.Sequel species: Direct sequel.Years since last entry: Three.Missing parties: None.Degree of redundancy: Yet undetermined. The only opportunity here is for replacement director Elizabeth Banks to manufacture a movie that actually celebrates, rather than denigrates based on size and sexual orientation, the characters at its center. So here’s hoping.
Insidious: Chapter 3
Predecessors: Insidious and Insidious: Chapter 2.Sequel species: Thematic sequel.Years since last entry: Two.Missing parties: Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne.Degree of redundancy: High. Even Patrick Wilson didn’t see where this one could possibly go.
Predecessors: Jurassic Park, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and Jurassic Park III.Sequel species: Sequel/reboot.Years since last entry: 14.Missing parties: Everyone but the dinosaurs… and B.D. Wong.Degree of redundancy: Medium. From the looks of the trailers, Jurassic World doesn’t seem to be building on the JP franchise in any cohesively intelligent way. That said… excitement is inevitable.
Predecessors: Ted.Sequel species: Direct sequel.Years since last entry: Three.Missing parties: Mila Kunis will be replaced by Amanda Seyfried.Degree of redundancy: Medium-high. While Ted was a surprisingly enjoyable romp, A Million Ways to Die in the West insinuates that it might have all been a fluke. Ted 2, while not at risk to damage the “good name” of its predecessor, seems altogether unnecessary.
Magic Mike XXL
Predecessors: Magic Mike.Sequel species: Reformatted sequel.Years since last entry: Three.Missing parties: All the actors are on board, but Steven Soderbergh won’t be directing.Degree of redundancy: Low. Nobody’s going to say no to this one. The interesting thing is that Channing Tatum, originally assigned as director, has alleged that Magic Mike XXL will be far more of a comedy than its forerunner. The dramatically dense Magic Mike revamped as a broad comedy does sound like an interesting experiment.
Predecessors: The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, and Terminator Salvation.Sequel species: Sequel/prequel/reboot/reset/reimagining/rewhatever.Years since last entry: Six.Missing parties: Linda Hamilton, Nick Stahl, Claire Danes, Christian Bale. We still have Arnold, though.Degree of redundancy: Medium-low. The only real problem with this one is the spelling of its title. Terminator Genysis plays the Back to the Future gambit with its own franchise, allowing for a good deal more fun than we saw in the dreadfully bleak Rise of the Machines and Salvation.
Predecessors: Despicable Me, Despicable Me 2.Sequel species: Spinoff.Years since last entry: Two.Missing parties: Steve Carell and the youngsters.Degree of redundancy: High. After Lion King 1/2, I don’t really trust animated Rosencrantz and Guildenstern stories.
Predecessors: Sinister.Sequel species: Little is known, but I’d guess thematic sequel only due to the absence of all original cast members.Years since last entry: Three.Missing parties: All.Degree of redundancy: High. Who wants this, really?
The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials
Predecessors: The Maze Runner.Sequel species: Franchise continuation.Years since last entry: One.Missing parties: None.Degree of redundancy: Like Divergent, this was planned from the start. But maybe if they worked the whole franchise into one movie the first one wouldn’t have felt so… nothing.
Hotel Transylvania 2
Predecessors: Hotel Transylvania.Sequel species: Direct sequel.Years since last entry: Three.Missing parties: None.Degree of redundancy: High. In the words of Hotel Transylvania 2 star Mel Brooks, we can call subtitle this sequel, “The Search for More Money!”
Predecessors: All 23 James Bond movies.Sequel species: Like Furious 7, more of a “new episode” than a standard sequel.Years since last entry: Three.Missing parties: Just Judi Dench, but what can you do about that?Degree of redundancy: Low. We’ll always need Bond movies.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
Predecessors: The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1.Sequel species: Direct sequel.Years since last entry: One.Missing parties: None.Degree of redundancy: Well, they couldn’t really cap the whole thing with a film called Mockingjay – Part 1, could they?
Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens
Predecessors: Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith (in order of release).Sequel species: Not quite a reboot as it is a deboot. A debunking of the previous reboot, to return to original form. Years since last entry: 10.Missing parties: Of the still-living members of the original trilogy’s main cast, I’m pretty sure we’re only lacking James Earl Jones, Frank Oz, and Billy Dee Williams. What gives?Degree of redundancy: Low enough to feel guiltless about how excited you are over the whole thing.
Alvin and the Chipmunks 4
Predecessors: Alvin and the Chipmunks, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel, and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked.Sequel species: The “we need more money” kind.Years since last entry: Four.Missing parties: None… those damn contracts.Degree of redundancy: Sky high.
Mission: Impossible V
Predecessors: Mission: Impossible, Mission: Impossible II, Mission: Impossible III, and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.Sequel species: See Furious 7 and Spectre.Years since last entry: Four.Missing parties: Nobody you’ll miss.Degree of redundancy: Medium-low. Ghost Protocol actually turned out to be one of the best entries in the series so far. And hey, if these things give Tom Cruise a chance to risk life and limb (rappelling from the tallest building in the world, sans stuntman or special effects) in the name of a rush, then let him have his fun.
Images: Warner Bros. (2); Paramount Pictures/MGM; Universal Pictures/Legendary Pictures; Universal Pictures/Illumination Entertainment; Disney