Best and Worst Movie Sequels Ever
By London Designer Outlet
Movie sequels vary hugely in terms of quality. Sometimes, they’re awesome (and on occasion better than the first); other times they are atrocious; and when it comes to trilogies and franchises, they can be great, terrible, and everything in between. This year and the next one coming look amazing for new cinema releases – including more Marvel and DC blockbusters; reboots like Ghostbusters, The Jungle Book and Independence Day; and family flicks such as Finding Dory and Kung Fu Panda 3. Will they be any good? Only time will tell – but with that in mind, here’s London Designer Outlet’s list of 10 of the best – and worst – sequels.
1. Back to the Future I, II, and III
The first Back to the Future is fantastic – a hands-down cinematic classic. The idea of a young Michael J. Fox travelling back to the 1950s from 1985 to potentially change history was completely out there back then. The second Back to the Future expanded on the first, introducing Quantum Leap style “change the past to change the future” time travel ramifications. It’s sometimes even cited by fans as being better than the first – plus, we’re still waiting for hoverboards and self-lacing Nike trainers! However, the third film; one that sees Marty McFly travel way way back to Gold Rush-era America; is certainly above average and entertaining, but lacks the oomph of the first two. By no means a flop at the box office, we think Spielberg simply set the bar a bit too high, and couldn’t quite follow up the other two masterpieces. Still, there are worse trilogies in the movie world, as we’re about to discover…
2. Bond… James Bond
Ian Fleming’s suave super-spy has been dominating our screens for over 50 years now. From Connery to Craig, Agent 007 has gone through a wide range of different actors, eras, styles, gadgets… and women. He’s also seen his fair share of both fantastic and terrible flicks. 2006’s Casino Royale, the first outing for latest Bond, Daniel Craig, is easily the best; with the stiff-upper-lipped gentleman ushering in a sense of stern realism after the ridiculousness of Bonds past (we’re looking at you, Roger Moore!). Hot on Craig’s heels, however, is the original and best; with Sean Connery’s towering performance in 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever. Not only is the classic villain Blofeld played by Rocky Horror’s Charles Gray, but Shirley Bassey rattles cages aplenty when belting out the phenomenal theme song.
At the other end of the scale, however, comes the absolute stinkers. 1973’s Live and Let Die is the disastrous kick-off for Roger Moore’s somewhat-stellar-but-often-silly tenure as 007. Cardboard cut out Bond? Check. Blaxploitation themes peppered with “it was acceptable in the 70s” ooga-booga voodoo scenes? Check. Really cringeworthy comic relief? Check. Compared to 2002’s Die Another Day, though… well, if you’re after a bland story about some kind of North Korean general turned white businessman with diamonds in his face, you’re in luck. Complete with an invisible car for some reason, a Madonna cameo for some other reason, and dodgy over-the-top CGI; this one’s really, really cringeworthy. Sorry, Brosnan.
That being said, SPECTRE is out next month. Daniel Craig’s gruff, edgy, serious Bond opposite Cristoph “Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds” Waltz as Blofeld? Yes, please. Plus, you can book tickets for it right here, right now!
3. The Alien Franchise
Alien is an exercise in suspense and terror. Aliens is action-packed mayhem, and every bit the roller-coaster ride of horror that made the first so excellent. Aliens is also considered to be one of the greatest sequels ever, with many even preferring it to Alien. Both are excellent, and neither could live without the other in many respects.
Ridley Scott’s next two offerings, Alien³ and Alien: Resurrection, however, are more of a mixed bag: worthy of viewing, but nowhere near as well-crafted as the first two. Some even feel that Alien³ is almost unwatchably bad and consider it one of the worst follow-ups of all time, though that could be more because it dashed the high hopes set by the first, rather than the film actually being objectively terrible.
Then there’s that finicky prequel to the Alien franchise, Prometheus. A solid sci-fi film with a distinctly different tone to the rest of the Alien series, this film could stand on its own really – and was the talk of fans worldwide when it was released in 2012. All-in-all, the Alien franchise constitutes a decent set of films – the first two especially, as they may very well rank in amongst the greatest films of all time.
4. The Godfather I, II, and III
There’s no denying it: The Godfather Part II is quite possibly the best sequel ever (although this is an endless debate between film buffs). As a result, much like with Back to the Future III and Alien³, the third Godfather is very easy to hate, and even though it’s not at all even slightly approaching terrible film territory, it’s still often considered a particularly bad third installment. The Godfather I and II are undoubtedly two of cinema’s finest films, and stand up to repeated viewing despite their length.
5. The Terminator Franchise
The Terminator is an exceptional film in many regards, but hardly an original concept, being heavily inspired by The Outer Limits episodes ‘Demon with a Glass Hand’ and ‘The Soldier’, as well as the film and novel Westworld. Terminator 2: Judgement Day is a sensory extravaganza and, alongside Jurassic Park, had an immense influence on the world of film-making with regards to action sequence filming and special effects. Terminator 2 is a veritable visual feast, and both critics and fans of the first film argue that it easily surpasses the original Terminator in many ways. However, much like other films that came back decades later, the next two Terminators, Rise of the Machines and Genisys, suffer from the ‘Alien Effect’ – enjoyable in many respects, but hardly cinema’s best.
6. Star Wars Episodes I, II, III, IV, V, and VI
Star Wars was and is a phenomenon. Not only was the original trilogy of Episode IV, V and VI groundbreaking upon its original release, but there are still raucous debates today over whether The Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi are the trilogy’s best. 40 years on, and now spanning a franchise worth $40 billion, Star Wars has seen better days: the prequels to the original trilogy are average at best, and have left a nasty taste in the mouth for many. The Phantom Menace could easily be one of film history’s biggest let-downs, and don’t even get us started on Jar Jar Binks… Ultimately, Star Wars now has a lot to live up to and make up for. Being acquired by Disney and now looking at launching Episode VII, VIII and IX in the coming years, fans have something to get excited about – but let’s hope that excitement isn’t misplaced.
7. Toy Story Franchise
All three installments of Toy Story are excellent. The second Toy Story lacked the emotional depth of the first, but was more humorous in many ways. The third, a sequel released 14 years after the original to a mass of now-grown-up fans, managed to reduce those very same adults to tears. Thanks to the time and care Pixar take with all of their films (and Toy Story in particular), this could be the strongest set of films on this list. Let’s hope that Toy Story 4 is every bit as impressive.
8. The Evil Dead Franchise
This is my boomstick! The second Evil Dead is essentially a remake of the first. Though it didn’t have the atmosphere of the first, Evil Dead II upped the ante with regards to humour, blood, gore, and action. Evil Dead: Army of Darkness was more of a fantasy-comedy than horror-comedy, but just as fun – and definitely more quotable, too.
9. Indiana Jones Franchise
Spielberg seems to have made this list multiple times – and for good reason! All three of the original Indiana Jones films are immense. The second, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, is usually seen as the weak link, but many fans declare it as their favourite. The third, The Last Crusade, makes this trilogy perhaps one of the greatest one-day movie binges this side of the universe. However, as hard as it is to bring up, there is a fourth Indy film, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – one that die-hard fans of the first three waited for for 19 years. And boy, were they disappointed. Overacting from the good guys, underacting and confusing character development for the bad guys, lazy, over-the-top action sequences, and the incredibly abrupt appearance from aliens towards the end made this film quite possibly one of the most overhyped and underperforming sequels in cinema history. Ever.
10. The Matrix Trilogy
The first Matrix is a remarkable film in many aspects – the show-stopping special effects, the unique storyline, the glorious action and martial arts scenes… the list goes on. In fact, The Matrix was released in 1999 – a year of utterly fantastic films that included Fight Club, American Beauty, the aforementioned Toy Story 2, The Blair Witch Project, Being John Malkovich and many, many more. Never before had Hollywood been so inventive, and 1999 packed it all into one great big stew of movie-making glory. A revolution in film-making had begun.
Then came The Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions, and the two chances to make another high-concept action-sci-fi on par with The Terminator were squandered tremendously. People were hoping for another Star Wars. Instead, they got cartoonish violence and a lot of confusing, overly-lengthy dialogue – and a really deep and meaningful hero in Neo becoming a one-dimensional pseudo-Jesus after the first film.Tell the Watchowskis that less is definitely more, as Reloaded and Revolutions could have been masterpieces had they laid off turning everything up to 11. Luckily, the first Matrix can be watched without the need to watch the other two, and for that, we’re relieved.
So there we have it … Some of the finest, and most disappointingly horrible, sequels ever made. Honourable mentions ought to go to Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Ghostbusters 2, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, The Bourne Supremacy, Superman II, X2: X-Men 2, and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
As for a list of the worst (as in, the truly worst, not just disappointing) sequels? Think of almost any horror movie franchise like Friday the 13th, Troll, Ghoulies, or The Omen, and you’ll get films that more often than not get exponentially worse as more of them get made. Such a list would take forever to make!
Just remember, you can catch all your favourite blockbusters at our fully-fledged multiscreen Cineworld Cinema right inside the London Designer Outlet – including movies for juniors, Meerkat Movies, and a whole heap of special events!