/Answers: The Dormant Or Failed Movie Series You Want To See Come Back

Every week in /Answers, we attempt to answer a new pop culture-related question. With Jigsaw reviving the Saw series after a lengthy hibernation period, this week's edition asks "Which dormant or failed movie series do you want to see make a comeback?"

Ben Pearson: F/X

I'm guessing most of you haven't seen the 1986 thriller F/X or its 1991 follow-up F/X 2, but I'd love to see the F/X franchise make a comeback. The first film is about a practical effects guru (Cocktail's Bryan Brown) who works on Hollywood movies, and the government hires him to use his skills to convincingly fake an assassination so the subject can go into witness protection and testify against the mob; naturally, things don't go quite as planned and the hero gets sucked into a conspiracy. The second film sees him teaming up with a cop (Brian Dennehy) who tracked him in the first movie to solve a new murder, and while the first one is a legitimately good action thriller, the sequel descends into much goofier territory.

Still, the premise is terrific and it'd be great to see Bryan Brown come back to reprise the role of Rollie Tyler again (what a name). There's a lot of potential for commentary on how the film industry has changed in the intervening years with the proliferation of CG technology – maybe in a new film, people wouldn't believe that Rollie's effects are real – and there's also an opportunity to inspire a new generation of would-be effects wizards by showing a slick action movie character work his magic on the big screen again. Bring on F/X 3!

Ethan Anderton: John Carter

The year 2012 was not a good one for Taylor Kitsch. That year brought starring roles for the Friday Night Lights actor in Battleship, Savages and Disney's hopeful franchise starter John Carter, and neither of them did Taylor Kitsch any favors. But if one of those movies deserves a second look and needs to make a comeback as a full fledged franchise, it's John Carter.

Pixar Animation director Andrew Stanton was at the helm of the live-action sci-fi adaptation featuring Edgar Rice Burroughs' classic character, and unfortunately it stopped any future he had outside animation dead in its tracks (at least for the time being). That's rather frustrating though, since Stanton delivered an exciting sci-fi adventure in the vein of Indiana Jones and Star Wars. There are compelling action sequences, interesting characters, intriguing alien creatures, and even a kick-ass heroine played fantastically by Lynn Collins.

But audiences just didn't turn out for the movie, and it bombed hard at the box office. I'm not sure if the vague title didn't do anything to get butts in the seats or if Taylor Kitsch wasn't a big enough star, but this movie deserved much more attention and acclaim than it received.

I'm not sure if a John Carter sequel starring Taylor Kitsch would be the route that needs to be taken, but at the very least, rebooting the franchise from scratch isn't a bad idea. There's a lot of material from Burroughs' novels that is ripe for the big screen, but the trick might be getting audiences on board with the character. Still, I'll always wonder what an entire franchise of John Carter films could have been like if the first movie wasn't such a hard flop.

Matt Donato: Feast

Remember 2005's Feast?

Or no, let me start with a more noteworthy event – remember Project Greenlight? The likes of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck giving indie filmmakers the chance of a lifetime? Fast-forward to season 3 and the winning project – a bar-set action/horror/comedy titled Feast – was selected. Damon, Affleck, Chris Moore and Wes Craven were among the film's producers, and thus one of my favorite horror films ever was born.

From writers Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan (various Saw films/The Collector series/Piranha 3DD) comes a story of pitstop travelers who must defend their middle-of-nowhere eatery/drinkery when monsters attack. Director John Gulager (Feast series/Piranha 3DD) knows the fun-loving creature flick he wants to make, and with Melton/Dunstan's immature, humorous sense of grotesqueries, the team architects this violent, vicious and very entertaining hybrid of horror highs. Genre satire on BLAST, from tongue-in-cheek character introduction cards that predict their survivability – each arc a familiar trope – to practical effects that splatter and spill blood, bile and anything gooey.

After the first film received a limited festival and release schedule (home sales were $4.5 million vs. $690K at the box office), two sequels were churned out straight-to-DVD. Feast II: Sloppy Seconds and Feast III: The Happy Finish. I know, I can feel some of you rolling your eyes and while there's a definite dip in quality (egregious green screens and silliness abound) the franchise is BEGGING to be rebooted with the right budget. Today's horror landscape is so predictable, and these Feast films are anything but safe and assuming. We need that spitfire and spunk back. We need the franchise that's willing to not only kill a child, but a baby too! This is horror, people! No rules, no boundaries!

Honestly, that last bit about killing kiddies in horror films is only partly a joke. The best part about these Feast movies is that they got away with such unsightly gags and the acts never felt cheap. Feast – and to a lesser degree Sloppy Seconds/The Happy Finish – works because it truly, honestly subverts everything we know about horror setups and does whatever it damn-well pleases.

"But Matt, this sounds like a horror franchise that started on the wrong financial foot and was just swept under the rug for two cheap-o sequels. Why reboot it?" For that exact reason. Feast scored with the right audiences – a 56% on RT but loved by the right critics – and has a very Scream sensibility about it (meta horror exercise, albeit a different subgenre). Everyone is obsessed with "arthouse horror" or whatever you want to call it nowadays, which means there's prime real estate for a guns-blazing, gut-tearing horror comedy that's going for midnight hoots all-the-way. To me, no franchise reboot would be better for that than Feast.

Jacob Hall: Men in Black

The original Men in Black walks a dangerous tightrope over a gaping abyss – it's a very silly comedy that also manages to build a coherent science fiction world that feels rich and compelling and exists beyond setting up jokes. The gags arise from the very serious characters entering bizarre situations, with Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith approaching everything with a straight face. It really is a minor gem, one that holds up quite well 20 years later.

Of course, Men in Black II did a fine job of falling off that tightrope. The gags became too broad and the actual science fiction core dissolved in a tank of hacky jokes and bad comedy. Men in Black works because the threat at the heart of the movie feels real. The sequel lost that balance. And while Men in Black III was an improvement, it still failed to reach the heights of the original, trading in the glorious mundanity of "protectiing the earth from the scum of universe" for a bizarre "chosen one" story that undermines the first film in a major way.

Anyway, the time is right to bring back Men in Black. Audiences are more open than ever to genre-defying spectacles and a movie that stirs together crowd-pleasing comedy and rich science fiction together could be huge. Or rather, that's my pitch to the studios. I just want another Men in Black movie, one that makes good on the promise of the first film. And no, it doesn't need to feature 21 Jump Street characters.

A new movie is on the schedule for May 17, 2019. I'll cross my fingers that this movie becomes more than a release date (and that it's good).

Chris Evangelista: Dead Silence

This might be a bit of a cheat, but a "series" I'd like to see revived is something that was cruelly denied a series to begin with. In 2007, original Saw director James Wan released Dead Silence, a film in which the ghost of an old woman named Mary Shaw murders people with the help of her army of ventriloquist dummies. It was silly, stylish and spooky, and it's a gosh darn crime that we were denied at least one direct-to-DVD sequel to the film. If the Puppet Master series could stretch on for ten whole movies (holy shit), there's absolutely no reason there couldn't have been a whole string of direct-to-DVD Dead Silence sequels. James Wan has a lot more clout now, having directed Furious 7 and the upcoming Aquaman. I humbly request he use that clout to revive the Dead Silence sequel, and bring Mary Shaw and her brood of puppets back from the grave yet again.

Hoai-Tran Bui: His Dark Materials/The Golden Compass

As you may have read me ramble about in this week's Water Cooler, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy is a series close to my heart. The series brilliantly weaves examinations of human consciousness, alternate universes, and original sin with the adventures of two scrappy children on the run from threatening forces. So I was more than a little devastated when Chris Weitz's 2007 film adaptation of the first book in the series, The Golden Compass, was completely devoid of all those things. Instead, we received an uplifting children's tale set in a mildly confusing fantasy world, heavy on exposition and light on the complex themes from the series.

The most tragic thing about The Golden Compass, however, was that it wasn't the fault of the filmmakers, producers, or actors within the film. In fact, The Golden Compass was perfectly cast to a tee — Daniel Craig as the dashing Lord Asriel, Nicole Kidman as the austere and cruel Mrs. Coulter, Eva Green as a witch. The film had conducted extensive auditions for Lyra as well, with Dakota Blue Richards holding her own against her prestigious co-stars. It was well on its way to becoming a great young-adult fantasy franchise, that could have even surpassed the acclaim of Harry Potter (that's right, I said it).

But the movie was neutered by intervention by the Catholic Church — an ironic turn of events considering the fact that an authoritarian church was the corrupt villain of The Golden Compass. None of the religious themes from the series were included in the story, and the movie became a hollow shell of the book upon which it was based. Bafflingly, the movie was also saddled with a truncated and optimistic ending, completely ridding The Golden Compass of its emotional climax and the fascinating introduction of alternate worlds. It's funny that if this movie was made 10 years later, The Golden Compass would have kept its cliffhanger of an ending, because every blockbuster is the beginning of a cinematic universe regardless of its quality.

What's frustrating about The Golden Compass' abrupt end and disappearance is that there was a great movie hidden in there. It had so much potential to be an engaging, unique fantasy film that would have challenged its viewers — and maybe caused a little controversy. Instead, the memory of The Golden Compass was shuffled off onto a pile of other failed fantasy movies that followed in the shadow of Harry Potter: Eragon, Inkheart, much lesser stories compared to The Golden Compass. The good news is, we've got an upcoming TV series that will adapt the His Dark Materials series and we'll get another, hopefully less hobbled, go-around at The Golden Compass. But we really missed out on having Eva Green as a witch for three movies.

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