It's not easy to make a great sequel. Not only is it hard to capture magic twice, but it's always tempting to simply repeat a winning formula. But sequels are almost guaranteed box-office hits, so they keep coming. Think of Liam Neeson and the Taken movies. At first, he laughed at the idea of a third movie in the series. "How many times can she be taken?" he asked. "I mean, that's just bad parenting." Well, as we speak he's filming Taken 3 for a reported $20 million. The plot isn't public yet, but it's almost certainly ludicrously stupid beyond belief. We asked our readers to select the most disappointing sequels of all time. Click through to see the results.
Keanu Reeves pissed off a whole lot of people in Hollywood when he refused to star in a sequel to his surprise hit movie Speed. There were press reports at the time he decided to spend the year touring with his band Dogstar, but the truth was he knew the script was terrible. "The movie's called Speed," he said. "How fast does a cruise liner move, anyway?" Sandra Bullock, however, didn't want to turn down the huge payday and signed on, even though it strained credulity that she'd wind up on a boat that couldn't slow down just a few years after she was on a bus that couldn't slow down. The movie managed to eke out a tiny profit due to overseas sales, but it's still seen as a historic bomb and nearly everyone involved in the picture now says that it was a huge mistake.
Corpses don't stay fresh very long. In reality, you've got a window of about 24 hours before they smell worse than anything you can even imagine. Parade them around in the sun, and that time goes down to maybe four hours. This was the problem faced by the fine people who brought you Weekend at Bernie's II. They partially solved it by bringing Bernie partially back to life through a voodoo ceremony, but the movie still makes the original Weekend at Bernie's seem like Citizen Kane.
The Terminator 3 team faced some serious challenges. James Cameron – the genius behind the original Terminator and the brilliant sequel – had no interest in coming back on board. The movie focuses heavily on John Connor, but Edward Furlong was facing severe addiction issues and was unable to reprise the role. They did have Arnold Schwarzenegger, but it had been nearly 20 years since the original and robots don't tend to age. It was still probably possible to make a good Terminator movie with these issues, but Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is pretty much a disaster until the final five minutes, when it actually gets kind of cool. Arnold is supposedly returning for yet another Terminator in the next couple of years. Our expectations are very, very low.
Say what you will about Jaws 2, but it had maybe the greatest tag line in the history of cinema: "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water." Unfortunately, that was the only good thing about the movie. Steven Spielberg wisely didn't come on board and Roy Scheider wanted absolutely nothing to do with it, but he was under contract to the studio and they gave him an absolute fortune. The budget was enormous for the time, but the plot was quite familiar: another shark starts killing the people of Amity Island, the mayor doesn't want to close the beaches and Chief Brody is forced to kill it himself. As horrible as it was, the next two sequels were infinitely worse.
Most everyone that saw The Hangover Part II felt it was a pale retread of the original, but it made well over a half-billion dollars, making a third chapter inevitable. It follows the formula of The Karate Kid III, Super Mario Brothers III and Oceans 13 in that it takes the story back to the original location after a second chapter where the characters visited an exotic, faraway land. But even back in Las Vegas and without an actual hangover-induced memory lapse, The Hangover Part III still felt tired and predictable. You could almost see Bradley Cooper calculating how much money he was making per second during most of his scenes. It was so hated that even President Obama made fun of it when he appeared on Between Two Ferns. "You know if I ran a third time, it would be sort of be like doing a third ‘Hangover’ movie," he told host Zack Galifianakis. "Didn’t really work out very well, did it?”
Blues Brothers 2000 had a lot working against it. Sequels filmed decades after the original almost always suck. Sequels filmed without a key cast member from the original almost always suck. Comedy sequels almost always suck. Finally, Saturday Night Live movies of any variety almost always suck. Director John Landis seemed to think he could replace John Belushi with John Goodman, Joe Morton and child actor J. Evan Bonifant, but too many Blues Brothers definitely spoils the broth. It was a bad plan. A very, very, very bad plan.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about the stunningly inept Batman & Robin is the mere fact that George Clooney emerged from it completely unscathed. The film permanently hobbled the movie careers of Alicia Silverstone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chris O'Donnell and director Joel Shumacher, but somehow the man who played Batman himself walked away like it never even happened. To this day, he has a picture of himself as Batman in his office as a cautionary tale about making movies purely for the money. "With hindsight it’s easy to look back at this and go, 'Woah, that was really shitty and I was really bad in it,'" Clooney said years later. "It was a difficult film to be good in."
The original Exorcist remains one of the greatest horror movies ever made, so it's no big surprise the sequel wasn't any good. What is surprising is just how horrible it is. Max von Sydow, Linda Blair, Kitty Winn and many others reprised their roles from the original, but director William Friedkin wisely stayed far away. Much of the movie involves recovering the memories of now 16-year-old Regan MacNeil, but it's a snooze-fest without any scares.
The Matrix Revolutions had one advantage over the second movie in the trilogy: most everyone walked into the theater assuming it would be a confusing mess of a movie, just like the sequel. They were correct. Casual fans of the movies were dumfounded by the needlessly complex plot, and hardcore fans just found it lame and anti-climactic. Millions of people all over the globe saw it, and the vast majority of them probably don't recall a single scene or even how it ended. They were just happy it was over.
Many comic book movies are destroyed when the filmmakers cram in too many villains. In the third Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man movie, our hero is forced to battle New Goblin, Sandman and Venom. This probably helped sell a lot of action figures, but it made for one long and sluggish movie. The movie also had the misfortune of following the brilliant Spider-Man 2, so it was inevitably going to be a disappointment. Even though it made a fortune from the global box office, Sony opted to reboot the franchise in the following years rather than make a fourth one with Raimi.
"Highlander II: The Quickening is the most hilariously incomprehensible movie I've seen in many a long day — a movie almost awesome in its badness," Roger Ebert wrote in his original review of the film. "Wherever science fiction fans gather, in decades and generations to come, this film will be remembered in hushed tones as one of the immortal low points of the genre." As always, the man was 100 percent right. Don't even attempt to say the words "Highlander 2" in a group of nerds. They'll cover their ears and start screaming until you stop. Beyond all the other problems, the plot doesn't even make the tiniest bit of sense. Future editions tried to remedy this, but it was too little too late.
The original Boondock Saints didn't do very well when it arrived in theaters in 1999, but when it hit DVD a few months later, the tale of two brothers on an ultra-violent vigilante mission became a huge hit and drew in a massive cult audience. It took a decade for a sequel to get off the ground, and by this point not many people outside the cult cared, especially since the movie was a lame retread of the original. Roger Ebert gave it a single star and made his feelings clear in the first sentence of his review: "Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day is an idiotic ode to macho horseshite (to employ an ancient Irish word)."
Comedy sequels are notoriously tough to pull off. Nobody will be satisfied by merely repeating jokes and gags from the original, but if you change the formula too much you risk alienating fans. Anchorman 2 worked very hard to walk the line by updating the timeframe to the early 1980s and moving the action to New York, but still maintaining the tone of the first one. But the character of Ron Burgundy was simply too familiar, especially after a relentless marketing campaign, and it felt a little too long. Some gags were amazing, especially the fight at the end, but it lacked the freshness of the initial go-round. No movie could possibly have surpassed the original and this was indeed a noble effort, but it's the first one people will be watching years from now, not the sequel.
The Matrix Reloaded hit theaters four long years after the original. During that time, anticipation among fanboys built and built and web forums poured over every scrap of info they could find about the production. The first sequel was inevitably going to disappoint, but few imagined it would be this bad. The Wachowskis assembled an endlessly confusing, nearly two-and-a-half-hour mess of a movie full of numbing action sequences. Critics were torn, but over the years this has become widely regarded as a fiasco.
The odds of a single group of friends waking up in a hotel room with a missing friend and no memory of the previous night is pretty remote, but audiences are happy to accept it for the sake of the movie. The odds of it happening twice, however, are ludicrously remote. Worse than that, even with the action taking place in Bangkok as opposed to Las Vegas, it results in a movie that hits all the same notes of the original. People flocked to the movie based on fond memories of the original, but most walked out quite underwhelmed.
Grease 2 didn't have John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Jeff Conway, Stockard Channing or even memorable songs. The studio did manage to lure back Didi Conn, but no amount of Frenchy was going to redeem this train wreck. On the bright side, it did give Michelle Pfeiffer her first major role. For that alone, Grease 2 holds an important place in history. But that's it.
A fourth Indiana Jones was the stuff of Internet rumors and playground gossip for years before it became a reality. To paraphrase the great Dr. Ian Malcom from an earlier, much better Steven Spielberg movie, "They were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should." The screenplay just wasn't there, and bringing in Shia LaBeouf as Indy's long-lost son was a critical error. "I feel like I dropped the ball on the legacy that people loved and cherished," LeBeouf said in 2010. "We [Harrison Ford and LaBeouf] had major discussions. He wasn't happy with it either. Look, the movie could have been updated. There was a reason it wasn't universally accepted." It was a rare instance of an actor being honest about a botched movie, and he quickly lived to regret saying it. But he wasn't wrong.
Francis Ford Coppola was the single most acclaimed director of the 1970s, but his career totally fell apart in the 1980s after a series of disastrous bombs like One from the Heart and The Cotton Club. In 1990, he finally caved into years of pressure and made a third Godfather movie. Robert Duvall refused to come back and Winona Ryder dropped out of a key role just before filming began. In an historic error, he brought in his daughter Sofia to take over the part. She's become an amazing director in her own right, but at the time she was a teenager with no real acting experience. The movie isn't quite as bad as legend suggests, but it's incredibly unnecessary and can't even begin to compare to the first two, but then nothing really could. This was doomed to be a failure from the start.
When even Rodney Dangerfield refused to come on board for a Caddyshack sequel, the studio should have realized they had a problem on their hands. Instead, the hired Jackie Mason, Randy Quaid and Dan Akyroyd and plowed ahead with another movie about slobs battling snobs at a golf course. Chevy Chase returned, but that man doesn't know the word "no" and even he later said it was a mistake. Harold Ramis did co-write it, though he later asked the studio to take his name off it. He changed his mind when they said it would cause all sorts of negative press, but the film had bigger problems and it totally tanked.
In hindsight, the signs were everywhere that Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace was going to be an epic disappointment. With the notable exception of the Indiana Jones movies, George Lucas wasn't exactly involved in many great films in the 1980s and 1990s. Also, he opted to write and direct Phantom Menace completely by himself. (He had lots of help on the originals.) Finally, Jar Jar Binks was annoying even in the brief trailer. South Park was making fun of him before anyone had seen the movie, though a certain magazine put him on the cover with the cover line "Superstar." Whoops.
Still, everyone wanted to believe and some otherwise sane people didn't immediately realize it was a turd. Roger Ebert even gave it three-and-a-half stars. "It is an astonishing achievement in imaginative filmmaking," he wrote. "There is a sense of discovery in scene after scene as [Lucas] tries out new effects and ideas, and seamlessly integrates real characters and digital ones, real landscapes and imaginary places." It's a rare instance of Ebert being off, and it's endlessly sad he won't be around to see the upcoming seventh movie in the series. Let's all pray J.J. Abrams doesn't botch this. We can only stand so much Star Wars-related disappointment in one lifetime.