Sequels represent the best and worst of Hollywood. The good ones revitalize tired franchises and add new chapters to stories we already love and the bad ones serve no other purpose than to milk a few more cents out of an already dead cow. Good or bad, they’re an inevitability. Hollywood always has been and will always be a business, with sequels being their bread and butter. This list examines both the bread and the butter, or in other words, the follow-ups that put the emphasis on both the former and the latter of the word.
This list is a collaboration between Sailor Monsoon and Kane, with Sailor tackling the good and Kane taking on the ugly. Both of which had to abide by two rules:
1) Only one film per franchise, unless the franchise reboots with a new cast (James Bond, Star Trek, X-Men, Etc.)
2) It has to be an official sequel, so previous adaptations don’t count (this excludes the Silence of the Lambs) nor do “unofficial” sequels (this excludes the Three Colors trilogy, the Cornetto trilogy and the Vengeance trilogy)
This is the 100 Greatest and Worst Sequels of All Time.
90. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) | WORST
Jurassic Park was a state-of-the-art CGI blockbuster by being a critical and box office success. Of course, a sequel was pretty much a given and you even had some of the key elements of the original return. Steven Spielberg returned behind the camera, one of the writers wrote the screenplay, and the lead star would be Jeff-friggin-Goldblum’s character this time around. Add in some decent names of the mid-90s in Julianne Moore, Pete Postlewaite and Vince Vaughn, how could this be a miss? Well, it was. The hype was pretty high for this sequel and it fell right into the typical sequel woes of a lot of style with no substance. Weak characters and almost incoherent narratively. Huge let down from the bar that the original had set.
89. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) | BEST
Since the release of Temple of Doom proved divisive among movie goers and critics at the time, Spielberg and Co. decided to hit the reset button and take Indy back to his roots. Everything introduced in the previous movie was thrown out the window – The blonde pterodactyl, Data, new artifacts based on religions outside of Christianity, a darker tone and unique settings and villains – but in their place: nostalgia!
The Last Crusade has many problems. The plot is a rehash of adventures we’ve seen before (Indy is once again tasked with saving the world from Nazis who are trying to harness the magic of Christian relics for nefarious reasons), two major characters are poorly written and completely mishandled (Brody and Sallah are inexplicably incompetent this time around) and the whole thing feels like a sad attempt to placate whiny fan boys who bitched about Temple of Doom but, and this is a colossal but, the chemistry between Sean Connery and Harrison Ford is impeccable. The film may have a ton of problems but every scene involving those two together is magic.
88. Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd (2003) | WORST
I went back and forth between this and Dumb and Dumber To as both could easily make this list. This gets points, or for that matter points taken away just for that horrible title. Also let’s cast two unknowns that can’t touch Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels’ comedic abilities. I think its only saving grace was that I don’t think anyone expected much from this and that is exactly what we got. Nothing much at all. It moves at a snail’s pace for the entirety of its 85-minute run time. How this received a box office release is beyond me because Walmart’s $5 bin is too good of a place for this travesty.
87. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) | BEST
No other franchise save for maybe the James Bond series, has split it’s fanbase as equally as the Friday the 13th films. You ask 100 Friday the 13th fans which film is their favorite and I guarantee each film in the series will be picked at least once. Some fans love the over the top cheese of the 3rd, while others defend the divisive remake and Jason X and believe it or not, there are a select few that even go to bat for A New Beginning, the New Blood and Jason Takes Manhattan. They’re rare but they do exist.
But if you got that same group of fans and asked them which film they think is the best, the results would be radically different. Part 2 is arguably the scariest and Jason Lives the most fun but the Final Chapter is pound for pound the most enjoyable in the series. It has the best kills, the best cast of victims, the best story and the third best Jason behind Hodder and Mears. Pretty impressive for the last entry in the franchise.
86. The Hangover 2 (2011) | WORST
“Hey guys, since the first Hangover did so well and was so freaking hilarious, you know what we should do? The exact same thing but in Thailand!” Cheering, pats on the back, some drink and ass grabbing ensues…This what I imagine when I think about the meeting where they decided to make a sequel to 2009’s comedy hit The Hangover. I simply couldn’t even finish this one and it was so unenjoyable that I completely skipped the 3rd installment.
I really don’t know what to say other than it just wasn’t funny no matter how hard they tried, if they even tried, and the lack of originality made it all the worse. Sequels to solid comedies may just be one of the most difficult projects to make. Simply changing out a lost tooth for a face tattoo, a monkey for a tiger and a tranny stripper for a mom hooker is not the way to go. But that’s just me.
85. Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut (2006) | BEST
This is the reason fanboys won’t shut up about the mythical “Snyder cut” of Justice League. While it definitely doesn’t exist, die-hard fans still hold out hope that maybe there’s enough unused footage sitting in a Warner Bros. vault that they could piece together a vague approximation of what his original vision could’ve been. It may be ridiculous but the petition is not without merit because that’s exactly what happened to Superman II. Director Richard Donner was fired half way through filming by the producers and was infamously replaced by Richard Lester. Utilizing about 30% of what Donner shot, the theatrical film is still a good movie but the drastic shifts in tone and lackluster cinematography stick out like a sore thumb.
26 years after its release, a reconstructed version with all of Donner’s deleted scenes put back in was released. Less of a film and more an interesting art project, the Donner Cut is a fascinating jigsaw puzzle that doesn’t always work but the new footage definitely justifies its existence. With a brand new opening, which vastly improves the plot; more scenes with Reeve and Hackman, that help flesh out their characters and most importantly, the return of Brando as Jor-El, that adds an emotional punch the Lester cut sorely lacks. It’s the definitive version of one of the best superhero films ever made.
84. The Next Karate Kid (1994) | WORST
Ah, the age-old debate if Hilary Swank is hot or not…Oops. Wrong editorial. The Karate Kid was pretty successful at the box office during the 80’s. It is one of the few films to not really change anything in three consecutive films, but somehow continue to be consistently effective. The heart and soul, of course, was the Daniel-san and Mr. Miyagi dynamic. The setting, the bad guy and the girl would change, but the movies would end up being enjoyable and fun.
However, by 1994 Daniel was 33 years old and probably off to college by now because it would have been a little weird for him to still be living with Miyagi. So, why not introduce 18-year-old Hilary Swank to live with old man Miyagi? Now that’s better. Michael Ironside is the only saving grace here as he trains an elite high school fighting ninja, security force full of boys, of course. Can girls be Ninjas? Or is it only if they are possessed by dead evil ninjas? Where was I…Oh yea. Any and everything that worked in the previous films wasn’t found here except for a song by The Cranberries and somewhat okay dance lesson. Although, I would rather watch this over Jaden Smith any day of the week.
83. Paddington 2 (2017) | BEST
Live action films based on beloved children’s properties are almost always garbage. Magic tends to get lost during the transition from page to screen, with few films being able to capture the essence of the book they’re adapting. Fewer still are the ones that somehow manage to retain the magic while also transcending the medium in which they were born. Paddington is among the rare examples of an adaptation that’s better than it’s source material; which makes its sequel doubly amazing, since its far better than the first. With its brighter than bright colors and fantastical realism, the film, while not entirely Wes Anderson-esque, has a visual style definitely inspired by the quirky director. In addition to its gorgeous color palette and storybook charm, the movie is effortlessly charming and legitimately funny, the latter of which solely belongs to Hugh Grant, who’s never been better as the hilariously inept villainous thespian. Paddington 2 is better than a hundred marmalade sandwiches.
82. Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991) | WORST
This was once a mighty horror franchise of the 80’s that helped bring a fresh spin on the slasher genre, and had some sequel success with some fans preferring part 3 to the original. I can even argue the merits of parts 2, 4 and 5 but there is no saving grace or argument to be had over the lackluster “finale”. Most franchises are limping pretty bad by a 6th installment, but horror sometimes can be surprising. A little tweak to the formula or a “back to the basics” approach can satisfy most horror fans. See the next entry of the series in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. However, here was an aptly time to put Freddy and A Nightmare on Elm Street out of their misery.
There’s nothing even remotely memorable or interesting here. Sloppy would be the best term for everything in this dismal entry. Most hardcore fans have a hard time putting any kind of positive spin on this film and for good reason. The touted 3-D parts of the film were so-so, and the kills were some of the tamer and more uninventive kind. Freddy was far beyond being scary and even his wisecracking ways was found wanting. Begs the question what could have been had they gone with Peter Jackson’s script instead of this dud.
81. Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964) | BEST
In America, this film was marketed as a horror spectacular, with posters censoring out Mothra and declaring the film as “the birth of the world’s most terrifying monster!’ and asking viewers how much terror they could stand, but in Japan, this was treated as a major event. Created just three years previous, Mothra was such a hit with audiences, that a Godzilla crossover film was not only inevitable but was given the same big budget treatment as their last monster mash up King Kong vs Godzilla (which was a huge deal at the time), a decision that would prove to be wildly successful. Considered by many to be a top tier Godzilla film, Mothra vs Godzilla may lack the allegorical punch of the first film and the campy “Wrestlemania but with monsters” fun of later entries but the story isn’t dull, the human characters aren’t annoying and this is the last time until Godzilla 1985 that Godzilla is portrayed as a malevolent figure. This film created the blueprint that all other kaiju movies still use to this day.
100-91 | 80-71
How do you feel about the selection so far? Comment down below and let us know how right/wrong we are.