2016 is nearly over, and boy is that a relief. In addition to the neverending tragedy and partisanship of the recent news cycle, this has been a rough year for Hollywood and for viewers who are dissatisfied with their current output. Make no mistake — people have been complaining about the dominance of sequels and remakes in Hollywood for decades, but this year, the reliance on such unoriginal properties seemed to reach a point of saturation that could no longer be ignored. With so many disappointments now in the rearview mirror, we’re looking back at the sorry state of cinema in 2016 to pick the worst sequels of the year. Hopefully nothing manages to outdo them in the final month of 2016.
1. X-Men: Apocalypse
X-Men: Days of Future Past went to so much trouble resetting the status quo of the series, and for this? The plot of Apocalypse is about as lazy as it gets for a comic book film, focused on a vague but “all-powerful” villain who shows up for no reason and decides to destroy the Earth, but then waits around long enough to be defeated by our heroes, who are now blander than they’ve ever been. It’s a tired world-ending scenario full of sound and fury, signifying nothing except Fox’s compulsive need to continue this franchise.
2. Independence Day: Resurgence
Independence Day: Resurgence compiles just about everything wrong with studios’ current approach to blockbuster filmmaking into one tediously overblown film. The screen is soaked with uncompelling CGI effects, too many uninteresting characters delivering clunky expository dialogue, leaving no room for actual development, and of course, ends with a mandatory cliffhanger intended to kickstart another franchise for purely economic reasons. This is a sequel with no reason to exist, and no reason to be watched.
3. Zoolander 2
The first Zoolander was stupid, but it was gloriously stupid. The long-delayed sequel is just plain stupid, consistently unable to recapture the comedic energy that made its predecessor a cult classic. Instead, it relies on shoehorned cameos and lazy social commentary for laughs. Comedy sequels have a long history of mediocrity, and Zoolander 2 was unfortunately not immune.
4. London Has Fallen
Some sequels are bad because they taint the memory of great original films, while others are even worse followups to films that weren’t very memorable in the first place. London Has Fallen falls (has fallen?) into the latter camp, widening the scope of its predecessor, Olympus Has Fallen to focus on a stupid, xenophobic terrorist threat that can only be stopped by Gerard Butler’s obnoxious machismo and cringe-worthy one-liners. The script is horrible and even the action fails for being incomprehensible at least half of the time.
5. Now You See Me 2
Another sequel no one seemed to be asking for, Now You See Me 2 (which, for some indeterminable reason, wasn’t called Now You Don’t) continues the “heist movie plus magic” formula of the first, only with lamer magic tricks and a plot even more incomprehensible. The magic tricks are as uninteresting as the characters, of which there are many, all played by recognizable actors who deserve better than this laziness.
6. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
Batman v. Superman is a movie as awkward as its focus-grouped title. It’s peppered with a few memorable images but bogged down by messy plotting that cares more about setting up future sequels than it does making sense of Lex Luthor’s preposterous evil plan. It’s all so obviously formulated to pit the titular heroes against each other, whether it makes sense or not, but even the final battle feels underwhelming and calculated. Perhaps worst of all, the movie completely misunderstands Superman, turning the symbol for truth, justice, and the American way into an unlikable, even incompetent sadsack.
7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
The second modern TMNT film is roughly as good as the first, which is to say, it’s still just a lot of dumb action and noise. Granted, the turtles are more engaging this time around, hewing closer to lovable than despicably obnoxious, but the occasional bright spot of witty banter only calls attention to the lazy plotting and flat human characters.
Follow Jeff Rindskopf on Twitter @jrindskopf
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