With the electric excitement that comes along when a sequel to a great movie promises to be nothing but amazing, like the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it’s easy to forget how ruining they can sometimes be. Then studios announce a fourth movie in the obnoxious Alvin and the Chipmunks series and you remember just how horrible and unnecessary some follow-ups can be.
Whether they’re vain attempts to garner more box office money or honest attempts at trying to further the greatness of a good story, there are so many sequels out there at are a real waste of time. Good intentions or bad intentions aside, here are just a few that should never have happened.
Dumb and Dumber To (2014)
The world may never understand why someone felt the need to make a sequel to the auspiciously funny Dumb and Dumber, but it in nonetheless exists. And while it was built upon all of the elements successful sequels have – original cast members, writers, and directors – it still crashed fantastically.
Dumb and Dumber To fails on a lot of levels, but the most glaring is that the well-meaning dolts you loved to laugh at in 1994 have been mutated into semi-malicious pranksters who are simultaneously smarter and dumber than their original incarnations. Every moment seems forced from the overacting and the rehashed jokes to the plot holes viewers are made to swallow and the weird cameo from Honey Booboo’s mom. The movie is so devoid of humor it is downright upsetting and borderline offensive.
There’s also a mostly-forgotten prequel to Dumb and Dumber from 2003 called Dumb and Dumberer – admittedly, a pretty brilliant title – that features none of the original cast or crew, and is an even more painful to sit though.
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008)
Joni Mitchell sang it best: You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. While plenty of film franchises had survived after recasting major characters, The Mummy: The Tomb of the Dragon Emperor showed how detrimental it can be when a film’s quality depends on the chemistry of its cast.
The first two Mummy movies, though not Oscar worthy, had a certain amount of enjoyable charm as a romantic, adventurous period-piece action movie, roaming through the exotic deserts of Egypt. The third installment followed the O’Connell clan on an adventure to China to battle an all-new evil mummy. And while adding legitimately awesome actors like Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh to the cast might have seemed like the way to ensure the series’ survival, in the end nothing could save it from having Rachel Weisz replaced by Maria Bello.
Nothing could save the movie from Bello’s dopey take on the character, her horrid English accent, and her lack of connection with fellow lead Brendan Fraser. The colossal failure of this movie – a slew of good ideas spoiled by something minuscule and stupid – is proof of why it’s important to know when to quit.
Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000)
Considering how successful The Blair Witch Project was, it was inevitable that someone would pounce on the potentially lucrative chance of making a follow-up – who wouldn’t attempt to replicate a horror movie made on a shoestring budget that grossed hundreds of millions of dollars in worldwide profit? Directed by a man whose documentary films are beyond reproach, a sequel to the blockbuster seemed almost foolproof.
Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 is a terror, and not in a good way. Haphazardly linked to the original story, it follows a bunch of tourists who unwittingly wreak demonic havoc on those around them. Not only did it fail to recreate the hair-raising fright of the first film but it felt as generic as Hollywood horror remakes get. Worst of all, there isn’t even a titular “Book of Shadows” in it.
Son of the Mask (2005)
If the 1994 comedy The Mask were ever deemed cinematicaly important, it would be because it was the movie that proved to the world what force of nature Jim Carrey could be with the right material (Ace Ventura is a fantastic character, albeit maybe a bit too weird and maniacal for everyone to enjoy). Had a sequel been made within the first few years following the original with Carrey still in the starring role, it might have had a better chance at success. Unfortunately, Son of the Mask is so far removed from The Mask in every way that there was never any real chance it could have ever been worth watching.
There’s nothing wrong with trying to put a fresh spin on a good idea, but filmmakers deluding themselves into thinking they could recreate the comedic power of Jim Carrey without Jim Carrey is just sad. Jamie Kennedy and Alan Cumming are no slouches, but some part of them had to know that attempting to replicate the magic of The Mask was a futile enterprise. The goofy mask concept was fragile to begin with, but it sailed on the comedic wings of Carrey’s performance – in Son of the Mask, it sinks to depressing lows with banal tropes that even the dullest child wouldn’t enjoy.
Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, and Blonde (2003)
Hollywood has been reducing women to neurotic, superficial, overly emotional stereotypes for years and Legally Blonde’s heroine Elle Woods definitely falls into all of those categories. But what made the character great in her first film was that it also celebrated her resilience, resourcefulness, intelligence and was not only aware, but unashamed of her shortcomings. What reason would anyone have to try and stop another movie being made about such a positive role model?
Maybe because said sequel completely disregards all of those admirable qualities in lieu of recycling old jokes and reducing serious subjects to frivolous punch lines. Trying to rid the world of animal cruelty is a just cause to be sure, but putting it at the center of this movie turns it into a farce. Insipid and stupid dialogue and thoroughly unrealistic characters make this movie almost unwatchable, but stupid jokes about gay dogs graduates it to being downright offensive.
Jaws: The Revenge (1987)
Making a sequel to a film that many tout as one of the greatest movies ever made is an incredibly tall order, because chasing after greatness means there is a long, long way to fall if you don’t succeed. The tragedy here is that this sequel, fourth in the series, is not just a disappointing follow-up, but also just an egregiously bad film. Period.
Lorraine Gray returns as a widowed Mrs. Brody, who has become convinced that, after her one of her sons his devoured by a shark, she is being targeted out of vengeance by another massive man-eating great white. With three films before it, one would imagine that they would at least get the shark to look dangerous and frightening, but they can’t even manage that. With wooden characters and a zany plot that makes it seem more like a sequel to Orca than Jaws, the movie is so transparently bad that it’s clear it was a sloppy attempt to make a profit. A more apt title for the film would have been Jaws: Michael Caine is Desperate for a Paycheck or perhaps (to steal one from Mel Brooks) Jaws: The Search for More Money.
Staying Alive (1983)
Even if you refuse to appreciate how awesome the film made disco look, you can’t help but respect the realism and powerful feelings of longing that emanate from ’70s classic Saturday Night Fever. It chronicled the very human story of Tony Manero, a teenager who longs of breaking out of his boring life and making something of his talents in the big city. With such a rich main character to work with, director Sylvester Stallone (yes, that Sylvester Stallone) should have been able to create an incredible second chapter to Tony’s story, right?
Instead of a story with substance, the audience of Staying Alive is fed a pile of uninspired dance numbers fanned out between moments of Tony’s trite plotline, split between two women and obsessing over his dance career. Stallone seems far more interested in turning Tony into an alter ego for Rocky Balboa, minus the soulfulness and quiet passion. Plenty of teenagers never break out of their penchant for self-centeredness, no matter how old they get, but Tony Manero had the potential to become someone amazing, if not inspiring at the very least. What a waste.
Grease 2 (1982)
Musicals are hard to judge objectively – whether a movie is good or not, some people just can’t stomach listening to people break into song at the drop of a hat. Despite its rather simple plot, Grease was filled to the brim with singing and dancing talent as well as some pretty great tunes. To fans of the first film, a return to Rydell High might have seemed like a great excuse to indulge once again in snarky teens crooning about their cars and broken hearts, but Grease 2 is only fantastic in one way: how disappointing it is.
Starring a young Michelle Pfeiffer, this pitiful sequel is a poorly put-together rehash of everything that happened in the beloved original – a starry-eyed teen does everything he can think of to make himself appealing to his mostly vapid and deeply superficial girl crush. Perhaps if writers could have mustered a little more enthusiasm for the material it wouldn’t have been so hapless, but dopey songs about Sex Ed. class and mysterious motorcyclists kill any hope this movie could have had at being in the same league as its predecessor.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Truly great stories can never die no matter how badly they are ham-handed. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Long-Winded Title is the only film on this list that isn’t a purely terrible movie, but rather maddeningly misguided and ultimately disappointing mess of a film. Creator George Lucas, director Steven Spielberg, and star Harrison Ford were essential to making the original three films great, but their clear inability to agree on the important elements of the movie prevented the fourth film from being on par with its predecessors.
Part of the charm of the original trilogy is how it balanced the real with the fake, the serious swashbuckling action with the playful kookiness, but Crystal Skull was never able to find the balance between the two. A lack of confidence in a dusty old concept combined with an over-reliance on CGI and a ridiculous number of sidekicks ended up being the perfect recipe for angering fans and dumping on their faith in one of cinema’s great action heroes. Hopefully, should it be decided that a fifth Indiana Jones will be made, Lucas, Spielberg, and Ford can put their vanity aside and agree on something they collectively believe in.
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
While the concept has become stale in recent years, Christopher Nolan’s pioneering move to bring a realistic approach to the world of superheroes did the genre a world of good. Bringing character into deep focus and not shying away from tougher issues of life had a huge humanizing effect on the men and women of comic book mythology. But not every filmmaker has a real understanding of how to use such ideas – the fact that Brett Ratner can’t make a good movie to save his life should have been a big indicator that he is not part of that club.
The first two X-Men films set up a bad habit of ignoring the source material, but Last Stand drove that nail into the coffin and sealed its fate as the worst of the franchise (ignoring the unfortunate X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which is so bad it was scrubbed from X-Men canon). The film is nothing but an endless parade of bad decisions, from the killing off of important characters and the overcrowding of the story with unimportant ones. X-Men: The Last Stand is the crowning catastrophe of Ratner’s subpar career, and he was responsible for Rush Hour 3.
Batman & Robin (1997)
A long time ago, director Joel Schumacher apologized to the world for the cinematic skid mark that is Batman & Robin. While it is admirable to admit the fault and ask for forgiveness, it doesn’t mean he deserves it. Some people were happy to try and embrace the increasingly zany addition to the Batman franchise begun by Tim Burton, but at the end of the day there is only so much audience members can put up with.
It’s hard to pinpoint one single thing that spoils the whole show. The Batmobile disco ball, the painfully obvious one-liners, and the Bat credit cards (“never leave the cave without it!”) are all main offenders. Terminal illnesses that have no effect on a person’s physical appearance. Diamond-powered refrigerating villain suits. Kiddie cartoon sound effects. Batman’s rubber nipples. The list is virtually endless. The memory of the film terrifies George Clooney to this day, and it destroyed any serious chance Alicia Silverstone had at a real acting career. The only time Batman & Robin is good when you watch it with the RiffTrax guys.
Sex and the City 2 (2010)
During its six season run on HBO, Sex and the City was the fashion-forward, escapist TV show for women who enjoyed the classic four-temperament character grouping in the form of modern New York ladies. The success was warranted, as was the cinematic follow-up that built upon the complex life of protagonist Carrie Bradshaw in the reliably semi-approachable way that the show did. And then the second movie came along undid everything positive about the first film, swiftly and soullessly.
The magic of the four women was always that viewers could empathize with their feminine plights, be they professional or social, because they were depicted in their natural every-day-life New York habitat. Sex and the City 2 takes the quartet away on a middle-eastern vacation where the focus seems to be nothing but how selfish, naïve, and materialistic they all are. Is there anything more nauseating than watching wealthy women whine about their children ruining their expensive clothes with finger-paints? Yes – watching the rest of this movie. And the worst part? They want to make a Sex and the City 3…
The Whole Ten Yards (2004)
Of all the cast members of Friends, not including Jennifer Aniston, Matthew Perry always had the biggest chance at an A-list movie career; his neurotic everyman shtick combined with his manic comedic energy gave him greater potential next to his sitcom peers. The Whole Nine Yards set him up for success, pairing his high-strung dopey dentist against Bruce Willis’s gruff, cool-tempered hitman next-door neighbor, forming an enjoyable off-kilter buddy comedy with a tiny edge of danger that raked in respectable earnings. But instead of the film being a platform like it should have been, into turned into an inescapable vacuum.
The original film ended so neatly that it made zero sense to make a sequel, and yet some studio exec thought it would be profitable to beat a dead horse. Everything about The Whole Ten Yards is excruciatingly contrived, right down to the grossly unimaginative title. Despite Perry’s star power and comedic chops, this movie performed so badly at the box office and was so critically maligned (it has an embarrassing 4% on Rotten Tomatoes) that is was the last major studio motion picture the Friends alumnus ever starred in.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)
It’s not necessarily a death sentence when a franchise is left by its creator to be cared for by someone else. Despite the long list of prestigious awards to his credit, James Cameron has produced some notoriously spotty screenplays, so it stood to reason that his departure from the Terminator movies could be seen as a positive thing. Since there is no foreseeable alternate universe where Cameron put his writing/directing eye to the third Terminator, we can never know whether or not his lack of presence was a good thing; what we do know is that Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is not a good movie.
With Linda Hamilton uninterested in reprising her role as Sarah Connor, and Edward Furlong battling substance abuse issues, Arnold Schwarzenegger was the only one left to provide some cast continuity albeit not the best considering his age and semi-fragile health (he had an aortic valve replaced in his heart only a few years before). While the new writers and director came up with some clever ideas for continuing the story of John Connor, the final film ultimately feels like a collection of meandering expository dialogue and overwrought action scenes, making it a perfect example of how great ideas and awesome characters can get swallowed up by mediocrity when they lack purpose and direction.
The Hangover Part III (2013)
The Hangover Part II could have easily found its way on to this list; considering it is virtually the exact same movie as the first film, it is the epitome of lazy filmmaking. But considering how incredibly unnecessary The Hangover Part III is, on top of how terrible it is in general, it easily wins the battle of “Which Hangover Sequel is worse?”
It certainly isn’t encouraging when you learn that there is no actual “hangover” in a movie called Hangover. Sure, there are funny moments, but if you read the synopsis not knowing that it’s a comedy, it just seems brutal and morose. The plot slogs along and all of the gags that made your favorite characters funny are all used up. Do yourself a favor: skip the trilogy and just watch the first one three times.
There are lots of sequels that should never have been made, but did we miss any that really irk you? Let us know in the comments section.