Readers' Poll: The 20 Most Disappointing Movie Sequels - Rolling Stone
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Readers’ Poll: The 20 Most Disappointing Movie Sequels

‘Caddyshack II,’ ‘Batman & Robin’ and other heinously bad second acts

Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace

Lucasfilm Ltd./Courtesy Everett Collection

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. 

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8. ‘Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues’

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. 

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7. ‘The Matrix Reloaded’

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. 

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6. ‘The Hangover Part II’

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. 

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5. ‘Grease 2’

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.   

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4. ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’

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. 

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3. ‘The Godfather: Part III’

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.

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2. ‘Caddyshack II’

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. 

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1. ‘Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace’

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. 

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