It’s summertime, which means two things: suns out guns out, and the non-stop assortment of sequels that flood the multiplexes. This year’s summer sequel offerings include X-Men: Days of Future Past, How to Train Your Dragon 2, 22 Jump Street, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, The Purge: Anarchy … the list goes on.
Of course, not all of these movies will be good. Most won’t be. But hopefully none of them are as abysmal as the movies on this list. There have been some really, truly awful sequels since Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather Part II sparked the idea of a major sequel, and James Cameron certified the box office viability of big-budget sequels with Aliens and Terminator 2. Here, we present seven of the most insufferable, piece-of-trash sequels to soil the big screen.
Let’s just get a few things out of the way. The Star Wars prequels and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, while monumentally disappointing, aren’t truly awful films, hence their absence. They’re bad, yes — very, very bad. But they all have enough redeeming qualities to save them from BOMB status. The Phantom Menace has Darth Maul, even though Lucas doesn’t know what to do with him, and there are some truly revolutionary special effects for the late ’90s on display there. Kingdom of the Crystal Skull has its moments of wonder (which are usually subsequently usurped by gaudy CGI), plus the always excellent Cate Blanchett, and the nuclear fridge bit is far from the abomination people make it out to be. It riffs on the falling life boat from Temple of Doom, which is just as insane. (Those CG monkeys and the alien plot, however, are inexcusable.)
Second: The Godfather Part III isn’t on this list because it’s not a bad movie per se; its individual elements are all fine, from a cryptically tranquil Pacino and an unhinged Andy Garcia to the often beautiful photography, but it never congeals because it’s completely devoid of passion. It’s strangely forgettable, whereas a really bad movie is hard to purge from your memory. Casting Sofia Coppola was a bad idea, yeah, but her performance is so banal and boring, it’s hard to remember anything she says or does. To write the film off as “bad” isn’t fair, and compared to what’s on this list, The Godfather Part III is a near-masterpiece. Really.
Third: Movies that are part of long, bad franchises (Friday the 13th parts 2 through 102, the Saw sequels, the Halloween sequels, some of the lesser Bond movies, etc.) are absent because I could spend all day perusing and berating the bad franchise sequels. They’re legion. This was especially hard with Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, which is about as atrocious as movies can be. Easily the worst direct sequel of any of the major horror franchises, Freddy’s Revenge has a weird, underdeveloped gay sub-theme that feels as oppressed as the supposedly closeted character and astonishingly inept direction. It’s the least fun film in the series, or maybe any series, whereas its predecessor is terrifying and its successor is pure entertainment. Part 2 is as hollow and empty as the space between stars. It doesn’t even have any effects that earn the prefix “special.” The stinker ends with Freddy running around a pool party and swinging his butter-knife fingers at screaming high schoolers like they’re playing a game of tag after too many beers. It’s the kind of thing Freddy vs Jason mocked.
Fourth: Only major movies are included. No direct-to-video movies (sorry, American Psycho 2), and no Z-grade indie movies (sorry, Toxic Avenger sequels.)