While filmmakers have been capitalizing on the “sequel” for decades, recent years have seen these steadily increase in frequency. Summer 2012 brought the release of 7 sequels, with 3 coming this month, alone. That number does not include the Alien prequel Prometheus, The Amazing Spider-Man reboot, or the Total Recall remake. Frankly, Hollywood’s ideas are more reused than Tom Cruise’s divorce lawyer.
With sequels in mind, we decided to put together this list of the worst ones film has had to offer. There is one caveat, however. We took into account the quality of the film preceding the sequel; you will not find Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo on this list because, honestly, nobody gives a fuck about Breakin’ 1: Should Not Have Been Done.
5. Teen Wolf Too
The first Teen Wolf was released less than two months after its star, Michael J. Fox, was seen in the blockbuster Back to the Future, so you could certainly argue that fueled its success. You would be wrong, but you can still argue that. Teen Wolf, beneath its wacky, ‘80s cheesiness, is a sincere story of pubescence and discrimination. Of course, it’s told in a lighthearted way, as is illustrated by every single line of sarcastic wisdom that comes out of Coach Bobby Finstock’s mouth, but that’s what made it accessible to its audience. Then, two years later, we get Teen Wolf Too, starring Jason Bateman who’s somehow less convincing as a pugilist than he is a werewolf. If Teen Wolf helped launch Michael J. Fox’s film career, Teen Wolf Too did just as much to put Jason Bateman’s down for the count. Sadly, he would not be relevant again until 16 years later with Arrested Development. He could have really used some of that great Coach Finstock advice.
4. X-Men: The Last Stand and Spider-Man 3
Gather ‘round, chirrens, and let me tell you of the time before X-Men; a time stretching for the decades that led to the year 2000. We will refer to this time as “The Long Night”, or rather, “The Long Knight”, as the only superhero films the gods bestowed upon us were either Batman or shitty… or, in the case of Batman & Robin, both. Yes, there were two good Superman films, but those do not fit into our Game of Thrones/The Dark Knight metaphor, so just listen. The point is that studios would not put money behind films based on superhero comics, unless they were extremely popular, like Batman or Superman. That all changed in 2000, when X-Men was released containing a crazy amount of awesome, action, and sharp parallels to The Holocaust and–once again–discrimination. Thus, the superhero film genre was finally, fully loosed upon the world. This gave directly way to Spider-Man’s release in 2002, in all its overtly patriotic glory, and we now get roughly 5 per year, kind of like with The Jersey Shore and STDs. Beyond their clear social commentary, both X-Men and Spider-Man were well-structured films, with clearly defined narratives; this was further proven with their first sequels, X2 and Spider-Man 2, which are both largely considered to be even better than their predecessors. That all changed with the respective threequels to each series. X-Men: The Last Stand, directed by Brett Ratner after Bryan Singer, the director of the first two films, left to direct Superman Returns, threw away every bit of subtext present in the films before it. The Last Stand ultimately devolves to a soulless romp through muddled canon and “Juggernaut, bitch!” Likewise, Spider-Man 3 discards everything about Peter Parker in the first two films and reduces him to the level of eventually dancing around the streets like a young John Travolta looking for a masseuse.
3. Rambo: First Blood Part II
First Blood, the novel, was written over a four-year period from 1968-1972–a pace that George R.R. Martin fans can only dream about–by David Morrell, an English professor who had listened to the experiences of some of his students who had returned from service in the Vietnam War. That novel was turned into a successful 1982 film, starring Rocky… I mean, Sylvester Stallone. The First Blood film adaptation does a good amount of justice to the novel, telling the story of John Rambo, a Vietnam vet mercilessly hunted by unsympathetic policemen, hampered by an unwelcoming country, and haunted by unshakeable memories. First Blood Part II, quite literally, blows that all to shit. The sequel eschews moral introspection and any exploration of social morass in favor of just kerploding everything in sight, including any kind of plot. The sequels that followed continue the same form, but by that time, the damage had been levied harder than trying to watch Rhinestone.
2. Every Jaws sequel, ever
In 1975, the idea of a “blockbuster” was limited to Fred Flinstone’s occupation or quaint prison yards where guys like Burt Lancaster play with birds. Jaws not only helped establish the summer as the steroidal film season we know it as now, but its novel approach to nationwide advertising and release simultaneously made every single person in the country absolutely terrified to go anywhere near water. I’m pretty sure this directly resulted in the infamous Body Funk era of the late 1970s. Jaws 2 nobly attempted to carry the torch, but they lost what made Jaws so good, you don’t see the damn shark! It’s the unknown, and nobody knew shit about the ocean in 1975; it might as well have been female anatomy. Steven Spielberg masterfully took advantage of the fact that their special effects were terrible; he turned that negative into one of the biggest positives in movie history. Without Spielberg’s eye behind the camera, Jaws 2 turned that positive into a steaming pile of crap, and it only got worse as the sequels kept coming. Jaws 3D is a gimmicky, cartoonish disgrace to the hallowed institution of wild animals murderously attacking innocent people. Yet, somehow, Jaws: The Revenge takes the mediocrity all the way up to eleven, going so far as to completely ignore the events of Jaws 3D. I know everyone would like to think Jaws 3D didn’t happen, but if I have to be aware of its existence, then so do the makers of its sequel.
1. The Godfather Part III
The Godfather and The Godfather Part II were terrific films immediately upon their respective releases, and they have since gone on to consideration among the greatest films of all time. The two-part saga spans decades in the life of a crime family. Together, they represent one of the best told, quintessentially American tales of drama, suspense, romance, horror, action, and every thing that makes up its characters’ lives. There was absolutely no need for a “Part III” or an “epilogue”; well, no need beyond Francis Ford Coppola’s need to revitalize his career, which obviously did not work. Part III is a melodramatic soap opera rife with histrionics worthy of the William Shatner school of acting, and what the fuck is the Pope doing there? Did Dan Brown write this? Is Robert Langdon going to show up and analyze the symbols on Sofia Coppola’s birth certificate? Furthermore, it’s nearly impossible to know what the hell is going on in The Godfather Part III, without having seen The Godfather and The Godfather Part II. No sequel in the history of fiction has ever taken such a dump on the work that came before it. You almost have to ask yourself if The Godfather Part III was some sort of elaborate joke Coppola pulled on everyone. How old was Ashton Kutcher in 1990?