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 has always 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.
40. The Cannonball Run II (1984) | WORST
The plot for the first one was simple but highly effective. Have an all-star cast team up in pairs and have them race across America to win a lot of money. The rest was filled with gags and punchlines and goofy characters everyone loved. That film made a lot of cash so why not do a sequel?
This just seemed like an excuse to get all these celebrity pals, a real who’s who list, together to hang out and drink and party and barbecue, but then they decided to just start rolling the camera without a script or a plot or jokes. It had the typical 80’s crude humor about nun’s, breasteses, and everything in between but they forgot to actually be funny. Where the first one worked, this one failed miserably to not connect on anything it tried to do. Practically unwatchable.
39. Desperado (1995) | BEST
More of a reboot than a straight up sequel, Desperado still references the first film, so it counts. Part of the wave of directors that helped establish the new independent cinema of the 90’s, Robert Rodriguez hit the ground running with the micro-budgeted El Mariachi. Made for less than 10,000 dollars, El Mariachi was a massive hit with audiences and even made it into the Guinness World Records as the lowest-budgeted film ever to gross $1 million at the box office. After just one movie, Rodriguez was officially crowned the Prince of low budget film-making (Tarantino was the King), so expectations were high for a follow up. And he didn’t disappoint.
If El Mariachi was a grenade, Desperado was an atomic blast. Infused with an over-the-top comic book sensibility and shot and edited like he was on fire, Rodriguez took all of his action movie influences, threw them into a blender, poured that concoction into a machine gun, aimed it at the audience and then fired. Dripping with style and filled with non-stop action, Desperado not only made stars out of its leads but was proof positive that El Mariachi was no fluke. Rodriguez was the real deal and this was, and continues to be, his masterwork.
38. Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles (2001) | WORST
Fish out of water films can be interesting fun and 1986’s Crocodile Dundee was just that. Fun. Paul Hogan as the titular character and Outback roughneck trying to adapt to the hustle and bustle of life in New York City made for some good laughs. If you watched this as a kid of the 80’s and 90’s, you probably have quoted it a time or two with an awful Aussie accent to boot. “That’s not a knife…THAT’s a knife.” Or remember when he grabbed the cross dresser between the legs because he was told she was a man and he didn’t believe them? Oh man, I miss the 80’s… Anywho, it was a hit. It made $328 million on an $8 million budget while also being nominated for some awards. Won a couple as well. A sequel was guaranteed and of course it sucked like most comedy sequels do. Even though it sucked, it was expected but gosh darn it if it didn’t still rake in the cash.
Fast forward 13 years later to 2001 and we get the inevitable Mick Dundee in another extreme of American culture. Los Angeles. Third time of the same story (with a son this time, of course) is not the charm. Nothing new or original here, except this time he is an undercover sleuth of a financial failure of a movie called, Lethal Agent 3… oh the irony.
37. Thor: Ragnarok (2017) | BEST
It would be a bit disingenuous to refer to any MCU film as a cash grab but if any film deserves the distinction, it’s Thor: the Dark World. A film who’s only purpose is to introduce an infinity stone. That’s it. It was a forgettable sequel to a lackluster movie starring a character fans didn’t really give a shit about. It should’ve been the nail in the coffin for that series and would’ve been if it wasn’t for Taika Waititi, who succeeded where everyone else failed by simply making the character funny. A no-brainer in retrospect but Hemsworth’s comedic chops some how went undiscovered by three other directors. But drastically rewriting Thor, wasn’t the only thing Waititi brought to the table. He created a slew of instant fan favorites (Valkyrie, Korg, the Grandmaster), brought back old fan favorites (Hulk, Loki) Introduced an underutilized but still entertaining villain (Hela), and set the whole thing on a rock’n disco planet. In short: he made fun as hell throwback to 80’s inspired action films like Big Trouble in Little China but set in space. It’s nostalgia done right.
36. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) | WORST
Oh, Michael Bay … I, like a lot of people and kids of the 80’s, was eagerly anticipating the live action film in 2007 and it didn’t disappoint. No one will argue for it to be considered one of the best movies of all-time, but it was a hell of a lot of fun and a spectacle. So, how does the sequel fail so hard? Basically, by removing the human/bot relationship and just having the gigantic robots go at it in an assault on the senses that had to be endured for 150 minutes. Mr. Bay fell into the typical sequel troubles the only way Mr. Bay knows how and that is to go bigger, badder and louder and to blame a writer’s strike for the poor screenplay. As if that had anything to do with adding in his own Jar Jar Binks in the form of “twin” Transformers, Skids and Mudflaps, that embodied racists stereotypes. Even though the franchise would continue to make all the cash, it simply would not be able to recapture the spirit of the first film which is a huge let down.
35. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) | BEST
Becoming an annual tradition is a rare distinction few films have achieved. All a film has to do to become part of an audiences yearly routine, is be set on a beloved holiday (usually Christmas or Halloween) and be good. That’s it. But as hundreds of Hallmark Channel originals can attest, the second part isn’t as easy as it looks. Christmas Vacation is one of the few that makes it look easy. The third entry in the Vacation series, this time the word “vacation” is a misnomer. The Griswold family doesn’t go anywhere but chaos still manages to find them. Insane squirrels, a hectic menagerie of in-laws, Christmas lights that won’t light, turkeys that won’t cook and Cousin Eddie (hilariously played by Randy Quaid, who steals every scene he’s in), the problems keep piling up and so do the laughs. Hughes might be famous for his coming of age comedies but his funniest creation is easily the Griswolds, with this being their finest hour.
34. Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997) | WORST
There are certain genres of movies that when they are bad, they are simply the worst and there is no middle or common ground to be found between entertaining or fun. Martial Arts and video game movie are a couple of those genres. Even in some below average fight films you can fall back on some cool moves, hard hitting action or at least a kick ass bad guy. Not here. Not in Annihilation. You get ineptitude everywhere. The effects, the acting, the fighting the…just the everything. This one of those movies that makes you to like movies anymore. This isn’t even one of those cases where “it’s so bad, it’s good”. I honestly have nothing else to say about this garbage except they also cast James Remar as Raiden…
33. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) | BEST
Chris Columbus had the nigh impossible task of adapting the most popular book series ever made (that didn’t include hobbits or Jesus) and against insurmountable odds, he succeeded. But as important to the success of the franchise as Columbus is, it could be argued that Alfonso Cuarón’s style was equally as important to the franchise going forward. The Harry Potter films, much like the books they were adapted from, grew progressively more dark as they went along and there needed to be a bridge between Columbus’ kid friendly adventure films and the grimdark journey to come.
Enter Cuarón, a director unknown to most at the time but was chosen due to his work on A Little Princess, a fantasy film with a themes and a color palette he would eventually port over to Potter. Guiding the series towards a more mature tone, the director added a level of maturity to the franchise and helped ground it in reality. The main cast finally felt comfortable in their roles and the new additions (Oldman FTW) were some of the best in the franchise. It’s also the last film in series that feels stand alone in that it isn’t bogged down in Voldemort lore and mythology. The Harry Potter universe never dipped in quality (the Fantastic Beasts movies notwithstanding) because it had this one to copy from.
32. Alien vs Predator: Requiem (2007) | WORST
How? How do you ruin an Alien vs Predator movie?! Two popular franchises with two of the best creatures in the history of film and you plop them in this unthrilling (is that a word? It should be just for this occasion) story with cookie cutter characters with the best thing anyone could say about the film is that it had some solid set designs. You had a particular audience in the palm of your hand. All you had to do was deliver and all the money would be yours. You didn’t and then we got this pathetic sequel that we couldn’t even see because the lighting was so dang dark. It was a dull flop with poorly written characters and was disorienting because of the spastic editing. It failed so miserably that the planned sequel was quickly canceled, and we haven’t heard from this particular line of movies in over a decade.
31. Blade Runner 2049 (2017) | BEST
One would assume that since they’re commonplace, sequels would have as much money and resources thrown at them as original IP (intellectual property) but as much as Hollywood loves making them, they sure don’t give a shit if they’re good. The logic makes sense – there’s no reason to spend oodles of dough if the fanbase is already there. It seems as though the only good sequels come from a place of passion, which is obviously a problem because who could get passionate about a cash grab? Which brings us to Blade Runner 2049. Nobody wanted it besides the director who wanted to make it. The studios weren’t hot on the idea, due to the first one being a notorious flop and audiences didn’t want it because the first one was a perfect film. But what everyone forgot or didn’t take into account, was the fact that Villeneuve is a goddamn genius.
Rolling the dice on a property doomed to fail, Villeneuve cashed in all of his goodwill chips in order to do his take on Ridley Scott’s world and it’s a hell of a take. Blade Runner is a pioneer in SFX and is declared by every critic in the world one of the best looking films of all time and Blade Runner 2049 might top it. With impeccable set design, eye popping colors and unreal cinematography by Roger Deakins as well as fantastic performance from all involved (yes, even Leto), Blade Runner 2049 might be the first anti-cash grab sequel in existence.
How do you feel about the selection so far? Comment down below and let us know how right/wrong we are.