I was having a discussion with some chums from The Nerd Party recently and the subject of The Lost World: Jurassic Park came up, somehow, while we discussed Ocean’s 12/the Ocean’s movies in general. I don’t entirely understand how, but that’s not the point. There are a lot of things I don’t understand that happen anyway.
Naturally, that got me to thinking about sequels, specifically second movies in a series. There seems to be a big hitch with getting the right mixture for a second in a series. I had a tremendous fondness for Superman II over the years only to find myself far less enamored of it upon a later rewatch, and wishing Richard Donner had completed it. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – both the movie and the book – are really a slightly-warmed rehash of the first in the series.
While I’ve taken a fonder look at it of late, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom certainly still lacks some of the zest of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Batman Returns somehow missed the mark. The Exorcist II: The Heretic is a special kind of awful. Highlander 2: The Quickening is…a thing.
I wonder sometimes if the success of a film/book is enough to lead to a sequel, most especially when it’s a surprise hit, the engines of production move too quickly for a calm reassessment of what the next best step is. I wonder what part of it is ego, and what part of it is simply not understanding on a fundamental level what made the first connect so cleanly with the audience in the first place. I wonder how much of it is treading water, to take advantage of the audience’s attention while they’re still willing to spend money.
Certainly it’s a mix of things that can lead to an artistic limpness that makes you wonder why the sequel turned out the way it did.
And to answer the question, The Lost World was more disappointing by far. Ocean’s 11 is great, but while 12 was disappointing, The Lost World “wins” because there was more of an expectation coming off the masterpiece that Jurassic Park is.