The prequel movie is a tricky thing to take on. Many times when making a prequel, studios are trying to bank off the success of an already beloved film or series. Sometimes it pays off – take this past year’s success of Wonder Woman for example. People were skeptical of how the film would fare, and it completely surpassed expectations, becoming the top-grossing superhero origin film ever. If only every prequel could see that kind of surprise success, but unfortunately that’s not usually the case.
Many times prequels end up disappointing, and fans are left wishing they didn’t have an origin story after all. The following prequels have been ranked in order, according to their Rotten Tomatoes scores. Critics and audiences agree that these prequels are better left unwatched, and there are some that should never have been made at all.
These are the 20 Worst Prequels Ever Made (According To Rotten Tomatoes).
20. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (38%)
Hugh Jackman has definitely done the role of Wolverine justice, but even he couldn’t save this film. Aside from the literal nightmare that was Ryan Reynold’s first attempt at Deadpool (thank the film gods we have a completely new rendition now), there was plenty wrong with this prequel from the start.
Sadly, the general consensus on this film was negative. For a film advertised as a big summer blockbuster, and coming off the success of the X-Men trilogy, people were expecting a lot. Instead, what audiences got was a muddled plot, underwhelming action sequences, and basically a total waste of Jackman’s talent.
When it comes to big budget franchise films, the ultimate goal is to keep the fans coming back for more. Thankfully X-Men Origins: Wolverine wasn’t the franchise’s first go at it. If it had been, it might have been the first and last we ever saw of Jackman’s Wolverine.
19. The Thing (2011) (35%)
It’s never easy living up to an original film, especially when that film is a classic. The Thing, released in 2011, was a prequel to the iconic movie The Thing released in 1982 directed by John Carpenter. For newcomers to the story, the prequel might pass as good, but for fans of the original, it was a huge disappointment.
One of the great aspects of Carpenter’s version is the practical effects. In 1982, computer animation was a relatively new frontier in film. The strange reality of Carpenter’s “Thing” is what made it so frightening to watch.
The prequel was released 29 years later, so naturally there was plenty of CGI used. There’s something just not as frightening about computer generated tentacles than the real thing. Because of this, part of the classic horror magic was lost, and we were left with cheap scares that were less than thrilling.
18. Carlito’s Way: Rise to Power (33%)
It’s never a good sign when a movie goes straight to DVD, as was the case for Carlito’s Way: Rise to Power – the prequel to the far more successful Carlito’s Way, starring Al Pacino and Sean Penn.
The original was praised for being beautifully shot and very well acted, how can you go wrong with Pacino and Penn in the same film?
While Jay Hernandez is a great actor, in this film he just couldn’t live up to playing Carlito. That being said, Hernandez and Sean “P. Diddy” Combs are probably the best things this movie has going for it.
Where this prequel fell apart is with the story. Plotlines and characters from the original were forgotten, and the ending didn’t match up with nor explain the beginning of the original Carlito’s Way.
17. Underworld: The Rise of the Lycans (29%)
The Critics Consensus on Rotten Tomatoes actually calls Underworld: The Rise of the Lycans an “unnecessary” prequel. With two Underworld movies already under the franchise’s belt, it had a lot to live up to, but couldn’t quite do it.
The film may address what happens in the first two films, but it still doesn’t tell audiences why, which is really the most important question. No questions are properly answered, and fans are left with a film that feels like a mixture of the first two – but not as good.
According to most critic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, Underworld: The Rise of the Lycans has a tedious storyline that fails at keeping your interest. The last thing a film should do is bore its audience, and this slow-moving prequel is definitely guilty of that.
16. Annabelle (29%)
Annabelle is a prequel film to the highly successful horror film The Conjuring. And while Annabelle enjoyed similar box office success to is predecessor, the film itself turned out to be a sad comparison to the original.
The Conjuring currently sits at 86% on Rotten Tomatoes, and even Annabelle: Creation – the recently released prequel to the prequel – has a solid 68% after critic consensus. So what went wrong with this first attempt at a prequel?
Unfortunately, Annabelle suffered from what a lot of horror movies do – it was too cliche. It had all the cheesy tropes you would expect from any low-budget horror flick, but the problem is that this movie should be the opposite. With great material from The Conjuring and a $15 million budget, Annabelle had every opportunity to be much better than average.
15. Pan (27%)
There have been many renditions of the Peter Pan story, but none got it more wrong than the 2015 prequel Pan. Referred to as “a theme park ride from hell,” the movie Pan only earned a 27% on Rotten Tomatoes, and for good reason.
Trying desperately to be an origin story, Pan lacks the playful magic audiences expect from a Peter Pan story. While almost everyone agrees that the movie is visually pleasing, that’s really all it offers.
Pan is a darker take on Peter Pan‘s world, but still tries to be a fun family film. The child labor, the out of place music, the miscast actors – this film is simply all over the place. Audiences found themselves questioning whether or not to take Pan seriously, and honestly, it’s still hard to decide.
14. The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (25%)
The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas mainly suffers from not knowing what kind of movie it wants to be. The adult themes are obvious, but the movie is also clearly aimed at children. Any kids who came for a fun and wild ride with the Flintstones definitely left Viva Rock Vegas disappointed, and their parents left confused.
Strangely enough, the original movie The Flintstones scored even lower than its prequel. It sits at 23% on Rotten Tomatoes, but even so, it was still far more popular in comparison. The Flintstones grossed $341 million worldwide, making tons of money back on its $46 million budget. Viva Rock Vegas, on the other hand, couldn’t even make its budget back.
13. Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero (24%)
It’s no surprise that a lot of typical horror movies with bad acting and cliche scares end up with the lowest scores. Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero doesn’t come anywhere near living up to the original Cabin Fever, and falls right into the predictable horror movie trap.
If watching decaying girls fight interests you, you may get something out of this movie. But for the most part it’s gross for no reason, and only mildly shocking. There’s a lot of blood and guts, but very little story to go along with it.
The original Cabin Fever relies heavily on grossing out it’s audience, but there is a sort of grunge and dark humor reminiscent of older horror films that keeps it interesting. Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero doesn’t try to be anything more than a poorly acted, poorly written spook-fest, and it is easily forgettable in comparison.
12. Dracula Untold (23%)
One word came up time and time again when describing this prequel – bloodless. That’s probably the last thing a Dracula origin story should be, but somehow Dracula Untold took a classic character and left out everything that made him appealing.
Dracula Untold was actually meant to be the first of many movies. Of course, after the bad reviews and less than thrilling fan reaction, this never happened. Universal Studios’ continued struggle to create its own “Dark Universe” of monsters still seems to be failing – most recently with the The Mummy reboot starring Tom Cruise.
Apparently Universal has yet to learn its lesson, as it continues trying to change some of the most beloved stories and characters to fit its strange version of a cinematic universe. We can’t all be Marvel!
11. From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter (22%)
Going from a gritty Robert Rodriguez classic to something almost unwatchable, From Dusk Till Dawn 3 was disappointing to say the least. There’s likely no one who expected it to live up to Quentin Tarantino’s original story, and it begs the question why he agreed to help produce this prequel in the first place.
The only thing this film has going for it is that it’s not the worst of the franchise. From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money sits at 9% on Rotten Tomatoes. When you take one of the best writers in the business and try to continue the story without him, failure is a big possibility. Neither the prequel or sequel could prove themselves to be worthy continuations of From Dusk Till Dawn – though Rodriguez’s reboot TV series for El Rey did a pretty good job of it.
10. Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (22%)
Meant to be a prequel, but also posing itself as sort of a sequel, even possibly a reboot – it seems like the only thing people can agree on is that this movie missed the mark.
Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights takes the love story and social message of the original film and awkwardly applies it to the Cuban Revolution in 1959. Trying to address such a complex, volatile event in a fluffy movie about dance and romance results in a tone-deaf, off-beat movie that can’t come close to matching the original. Not to mention that the leads (Romola Garai and Diego Luna), while talented, simply cannot live up to the crackling chemistry between the original film’s stars, Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey.
9. Cruel Intentions 2 (18%)
Sometimes a prequel can simply be ruined by the fact that it’s not as good as the original. If the only reviews you see are “the original was better,” why take the time to watch it at all? That’s how most critics felt about Cruel Intentions 2, a prequel to the iconic ’90s film Cruel Intentions starring Ryan Phillippe, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Reese Witherspoon.
While Cruel Intentions wasn’t necessarily loved by critics, it had all the bankable stars of the moment to help boost its success. Though the prequel only came out one year later in 2000, the story without the recognizable faces wasn’t enough to convince audiences it was worth seeing.
8. The Huntsman: Winter’s War (17%)
Calling yourself “the story before Snow White” leaves big shoes to fill. The Huntsman: Winter’s War is neither as impressive as Snow White and the Huntsman, nor as compelling or magical as the original Snow White story.
Though the movie has an incredible cast, including Charlize Theron, Jessica Chastain, and Emily Blunt, we’ve learned that even with all the right pieces a movie can easily fall apart at the seams. The bland, grey backdrop of the film doesn’t add any excitement, and the slow-paced plot makes the hollowness of the story even more obvious as the film goes on.
7. Hannibal Rising (15%)
Hannibal Rising committed the cardinal movie sin of trying to explain an iconic villain. In this rendition of a Hannibal origin story, the audience learns that one of the most complicated characters of all time is simply suffering from a bad childhood.
The biggest complaint about this prequel is how Hannibal is basically reduced to “a collection of dime-store psychological traits.” Instead of evolving the monster that is Hannibal Lecter in a believable way, his character is watered down, barely creepy, and hard to believe.
Sometimes prequels can answer every question and still leave fans wondering, “who cares?” Part of the thrill of Hannibal Lecter was the mystery about him, and in this attempt to humanize him, the prequel loses everything that makes Hannibal terrifying.
6. Alien vs Predator: Requiem (12%)
When multiple critics reference the bad lighting in a film, you know things aren’t off to a good start. Murky lighting was just one of many complaints people had about Alien vs Predator: Requiem. There are few things more annoying than having to strain your eyes to see what’s going on in a movie – especially if that movie is underwhelming.
This prequel to the Alien films left fans feeling like the filmmakers had given up. The dialogue was almost laughable at times, and for a movie about two monsters going at one another, it was surprisingly boring.
If you could get past the poor lighting, the fight scenes were entertaining and possibly one of the few redeeming qualities this movie had left. At least there are enough Alien and Predator films that fans can simply forget this one.
5. Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (12%)
If you’re looking for blood and gore with little else to offer, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning will probably satisfy. There may be mass murder involved here, but mass murder has never been so dull.
Unfortunately a lot of horror films disappoint because cheap scares simply can’t satisfy audiences anymore. There are so many great horror films coming out every year that fans are finding it hard to stay interested in a movie just because someone’s limb is getting cut off. This movie goes too far, but in all the wrong directions.
Sure, the whole point of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise is watching people get massacred, right? Well, it looks like people are starting to demand more than cheap thrills, and the overwhelmingly negative reception of this prequel says it all.
4. Exorcist: The Beginning (11%)
Yet another prequel that suffers from being compared to an iconic classic, Exorcist: The Beginning doesn’t come anywhere near the 1973 original The Exorcist. Critics and audiences agreed that it was basically a useless origin story to a film that was completely fine as a stand-alone.
The horror of the original Exorcist film mainly surrounded around the themes of good and evil, the Catholic church, and a once-quiet house now taken over and disrupted by the devil himself. In the prequel, we get less of the original terror and suspense, and more of what we’ve come to expect from B and C list horror flicks.
3. Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd (10%)
General consensus on this film? If you’re feeling nostalgic for Harry and Lloyd, rent the original Dumb and Dumber instead. Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd, was, unsurprisingly, a terrible idea for a prequel.
To think that any other actors could live up to Jim Carey and Jeff Daniel’s rendition is absurd. And while Harry and Lloyd are clearly meant for stupid humor, the jokes in this film were too stupid even for them. Fans of the original went as far as to say they won’t acknowledge the film, and many Rotten Tomatoes critics flat-out tell people not to waste their time watching.
2. Amityville II: The Possession (6%)
Called a “depressing version of The Exorcist,” Amityville II: The Possession was enjoyed by almost nobody. If you spend more time yawning and laughing than actually being afraid, it’s not a successful horror movie. The word “silly” was used by critics more than once, likely not the vibe they were going for.
What starts out as a seemingly realistic story, by the second half turns into a CGI fest of special effects put their simply to distract us from the total lack of sense the story makes. The The Amityville Horror remake didn’t have great reviews, but at least it had Ryan Reynolds in it, right?
1. Casper: A Spirited Beginning (0%)
Casper: A Spirited Beginning takes place in a creepy underworld that’s less child-friendly and more confusing. With poorly done CGI effects, and acting that’s nothing to write home about, this movie fails to impress, and currently sits at a sad 0% on Rotten Tomatoes.
For fans of the original Casper, this movie basically rewrites history and makes you wonder why they didn’t just make it an entirely different movie all together instead of an origin story.
Overall, not enough people were interested Casper’s backstory, but the fact that it failed to deliver on even that didn’t help with the low ratings.
Maybe we shouldn’t expect so much from a kids’ movie, but sometimes you just have to wonder why people bother with such poorly put-together films in the first place.
Have you seen any of these prequels? What did you think of them?
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