Look, there are some impressively bad movie sequels throughout the long history of Hollywood filmmaking. Sometimes, the creative juices have all but dried up, and everyone is just there to cash a paycheck. Other times, there was the beginning of a good idea somewhere in there, but somehow, things just fell apart in the end. One of the incredible things about Hollywood is how they think they can dust off the disappointment of a bad movie and just move on to create a sequel that will set everything right - as if the middling quality wasn't signal enough that things have gone off the rails.
Alas, money is money, and if it's there for the taking, Tinseltown is gonna grab it. That is how we end up with certain sequels that end up looking better with the benefit of hindsight. Sure, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines isn't a great movie, but isn't it better than Terminator Genisys? Jaws 2 is kind of pointless, but what about Jaws: The Revenge? X-Men: Apocalypse isn't the best X-Men film, but it definitely is leaps and bounds ahead of Dark Phoenix. We hope you're ready to cringe a bit because we're looking through some Hollywood sequels that ended up getting better over time due to even worse sequels.
- Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures
Recreating the surprise brilliance of The Matrix was always going to be a tall order for the Wachowskis. After the minor success of 1996's Bound, the sibling duo burst onto the scene with a stylish sci-fi thriller that was the talk of the proverbial town in 1999. It is hard to catch lightning in a bottle twice, and that was certainly the case with The Matrix Reloaded. That isn't to say the second Matrix film is bad - far from it, actually. It just failed to reach the lofty heights of what came before it.
And then we have The Matrix Revolutions. The Wachowskis didn't much stick the landing with this one. In fact, they stumbled quite a bit with the final film in the original Matrix trilogy. Sacrificing what little character depth there was in the Matrix films for an even heavier reliance on CGI was a gamble that didn't pay off in the end. And it makes Reloaded seem all the better in retrospect.Could be worse?
- Photo: MGM/UA Entertainment Company
The Rocky franchise has had some pretty good films over its 40+ year history. In fact, we'd argue that in Rocky and Creed, the series has two genuinely great films it can hang its hat on. Rocky IV is not one of the good ones. It is undeniably memorable thanks to Ivan Drago, a very successful soundtrack, and Apollo Creed's demise in the ring. It is a very fun bad movie, but it is not good.
But Rocky IV is not as bad as Rocky V, a film that ended the franchise for more than 15 years until Stallone brought the series back to life in 2006 with Rocky Balboa. Rocky V is regarded as the worst film in the series by both critics and fans, and this first attempt to explore Rocky's relationship with his son was eventually bested by the sequel that followed it. But if you're in the mood to see a robot butler, this film has you covered.Could be worse?
- Photo: 20th Century Fox
If there was ever a comic book movie that should've been a surefire home run, it is X-Men: Apocalypse. It brought one of the best X-Men villains to the big screen for the first time, had a massive production budget, and featured a completely stacked cast in James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Rose Byrne, and Sophie Turner, among others. Unfortunately, this 2016 film kind of ended up being just okay in the end - somewhere in the middle of the pack of the X-Men franchise in terms of quality.
Its follow-up film, 2019's Dark Phoenix, ended up being one of the - if not the absolute - worst movies in the lengthy history of the franchise. Someone should've informed the production team that attempting to condense a years-long comic book arc in the Dark Phoenix saga down to a couple of hours is just a bad idea. You'd think Fox would've learned their lesson with X-Men: The Last Stand, but apparently not.Could be worse?
- Photo: Buena Vista Pictures
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl shocked the world in 2003, becoming a hit with critics and moviegoers alike while being a box-office smash. Sequels to such a hit were inevitable. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest wasn't the greatest film ever, but it was better than Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, the final movie in the initial trilogy. Of course, things would only get worse from there.
We're not sure who was clamoring for more Pirates of the Caribbean films, but if there is money to be made, you can be sure Hollywood will chase it as long as they can. In light of continuing box-office success, Disney decided to pump out two more Pirates films, though neither did much for fans of the original films. Popular actors like Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem joined the fun, but by the time they came around, there wasn't much life left in the Johnny Depp-led franchise. Will the upcoming Pirates movies fare better with audiences? Only time will tell.Could be worse?