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Movie Executioner: Which Franchises Should Be Spared, and Which Should Get the Axe?

The executioner’s blade has been raised and is poised to strike upon some of Hollywood’s most precious properties, but which lucrative franchises deserve to go on, and which are doomed?  This Valentine's Day, A Good Day to Die Hard adds to the legacy of glib carnage with installment number five, but is there life left in this old dog, or should John McClane take the advice his film’s title suggests?  Let Them Live!   Any Superhero Franchise  It would appear that right now we’re in the golden age of superhero films. Not only are some of the most popular properties still turning out strong efforts, but smaller, lesser-known characters are also getting the spotlight. Furthermore, the great thing about films of this ilk is that there is nearly endless source material from which to draw inspiration, and even if met with a misstep, the property can be partially or fully rebooted until its stride is found.  I mean, who doesn’t want to see a proper version of Green Lantern on the big screen? Just because the 2011 attempt failed, I can’t see many people never wanting him back in action because of it. Even if this genre reaches its saturation point and box office falls to levels incapable of supporting more films, a decade or so down the road fans will be ready for more. Not only are these franchises that shouldn’t die, they’re ones that are pretty much immortal.  Bourne  Not everyone was as keen on The Bourne Legacy as I was, and now that Matt Damon has come out and said he’s very likely done with the character, we won’t get the team-up between him and Jeremy Renner that would have been so awesome to behold (though we’ll see if he keeps his word). All that being said, I’m of the staunch belief there is more that we can get out this universe even if that means another solo Renner outing. The dialogue remains crisp, the action set pieces thrilling and well staged, and the acting universally strong which is more than can be said for most franchises which reach their fourth entry.  James Bond  Pretty much a no-brainer in terms of staying power as Skyfall cruises past $1.1 billion worldwide, 007 is one action hero that nobody seems to be growing sick of. The longevity of this series, despite now being long after the Cold War and the passing away of the original creators, is a testament to now engrained James Bond has become in popular culture (not to mention one capable of many more adventures as directors, writers and the man himself shift and keep fresh and interesting). I mean, for a franchise to be as interesting from a casting, song writing ,or naming perspective as the end product is something rather special. Jack Ryan  So far, all four Jack Ryan films have been solid espionage thrillers, and with Chris Pine on board and Kenneth Branagh behind the camera, there is nothing to indicate a break in that trend. And like James Bond, this character is capable of changing with the times, reincarnating itself with different leads and stories. Something needs to be said with any property that can achieve that.   Mission: Impossible  The bizarre franchise that seems to improve with each instalment, Mission: Impossible has grown beyond its TV adaptation roots to become a culturally significant series with a now-iconic character at its center. Essentially a gamble after the underperformance of Mission: Impossible III, Ghost Protocol all but proved that this franchise not only had creative life left, but was still financially viable. Instalment number five is currently on the way and with Jack Reacher director Christopher McQuarrie at the helm (who did some slick action work on that film) it seems to be in good shape.  Off With Their Heads!   Ice Age  Four films in (making that three rank ones deep) nothing would give me greater pleasure than to see Manny and company go the way of their real-life counterparts and exist only as ratty stuffed corpses in a museum. Ok, maybe Scrat can live. What was once a hilarious and ultimately heart-warming journey for a bunch of lonely souls finding friendship, this series has become a soul-sucking exercise in slapstick, ludicrous set pieces and recycled jokes.  This franchises perplexing international success ensures the series’ continuation, but I would so very much like to see Fox’s Blue Sky Animation focus on more original films. If not, they will continue to gestate as merely that subpar animation house that nobody really knows about by name.  Resident Evil  Tumbling from kitschy B-movie lark to abysmal, unwatchable dreck, this series has become nothing more than 90 unwatchable minutes of actors embarrassing themselves. To call these films video game adaptations is an insult to gamers, to classify them as zombie films a bastardization of horror and if to hold this in any kind of regard due to its rare featuring of a strong female lead, we might as well just spank Ms. Jovovich on the butt and call her “toots”.  Transformers  With at least three more films on the way, this is one series that has little hope of ending prematurely. The addition of Mark Wahlberg, though a tiny step in the right direction, does little to quel the rising bile that comes with the thought of sitting through another 180 minutes of bloat. The only ray of sunshine comes with the fact that Michael Bay will be departing after instalment number four, and the chance is there for his replacement to approach the material with a fresh mind. But that, my friends, is a long way off (if it ever comes to be). Punk ass Decepticons. Underworld  My poor ladies of the gun, what have they done to you? Having been quite fond of the first two Underworld films (and even the prequel for that matter) Underworld: Awakening certainly sucker punched the wind out of me. What rose to be a surprisingly rich tale of feuding vampires and werewolves, has been stripped clean of substance and replaced with cheaply staged action and horrid dialogue. Even the presence of the sultry, leather-clad Kate Beckinsale can do little to lend comfort, and that is a feat in itself. Scary Movie  Thought to be left where it belonged in 2006, it turns out The Weinsteins couldn’t leave well enough alone and decided to dredge up the dated franchise for another round of “laughs.” Continually mediocre and devoid of consistent guffaws, the spoof genre was killed for good by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, purveyors of Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans and Vampires Suck. Now anything outside of passionately constructed genre satire gives me the chills. We often see sequels come out way past their prime and land with a thud, but Scary Movie 5 will have the unfortunate honor to return to both a stagnant series and genre.   Paranormal Activity  Paranormal Activity 3, against everything I would have surmised, turned out to be a hugely entertaining and jump scare-filled romp with some rather inventive camera work and strong acting. Apparently directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, against all odds, both took blows to the head and forgot everything they did right and made the fourth entry as brain-dead and laughable as some of the all-time worst horror sequels. But so cheap to make are these films, that there is no stopping the Hollywood machine and at this point only divine intervention will prevent more follow-ups.


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