The growth of franchise filmmaking has brought with it a new phenomenon of the successful bad movie sequel. These movies belong to that special class of films that are absolutely and obviously worse than their predecessor, but thanks to the love for that original story, they perform way better at the box office. Audiences who saw the previous film in theaters are now combined with audiences who eventually watched the film at home to create a packed house ready to be disappointed by a movie that doesn't have any real reason to exist other than to make a truckload of cash.
It's not that all of these sequels are bad; they're just nowhere near as good as the original. Hit movies often tell a complete story without a plan for a sequel, leaving no clear reason to revisit the characters in future films. Executives then end up charging ahead with another film featuring these characters whose stories have already been completed. Audiences come out in droves to see their favorite characters again and leave disappointed to learn that their lives should have stayed off-screen after the credits rolled the first time.
- Photo: Paramount Pictures
Transformers: Age of Extinction was Michael Bay's fourth entry into the franchise and the first without Shia LaBeouf. It marked a new chapter for the series, as it follows Mark Wahlberg's Cade Yeager and his interactions with the robotic beings from Cybertron. Even though it only received 18% from Rotten Tomatoes, it still went on to become the highest-grossing film of 2014, earning a massive $1,104,054,072 compared to the original's $709,709,790.
Unlike the previous installments in the franchise, where the Autobots work together with the United States government, Age of Extinction finds our transforming heroes on the run from the law and a Cybertronian bounty hunter. The Autobots have lost public favor after the events of Dark Side of the Moon and now have to ally themselves with an inventor who gains their trust by repairing Optimus Prime. The rushed and hard-to-buy shift in the status quo led to general disappointment from fans and critics alike. The Atlantic called the film a "chilling two hours and 45 minutes," which gave the audience plenty of time for their mind to wander, "dancing across the film's many flaws, little and big." Salon accused the film of being the most joyless of the franchise and claimed that Bay appeared to be "bored with his own work."
- Actors: Mark Wahlberg, Kelsey Grammer, Stanley Tucci, Nicola Peltz, Sophia Myles
- Released: 2014
- Directed by: Michael Bay
- Photo: Paramount Pictures
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was released almost 20 years after the third movie. During that time, the series only gained more popularity, and the film made $790,653,942 worldwide.
While it might have made significantly more money than the previous films, fans did not welcome it kindly. Many felt this attempt to return to the beloved franchise simply skewed too far from the original, and the plan to possibly shift the series away from Harrison Ford's Indiana and onto his son played by Shia LaBeouf did not sit well with fans. Despite the drubbing, there are still plans to make a fifth Indiana Jones film, though LaBeouf will not be a part of it. Odds are they'll find a way to pretend this last installment never happened.
- Actors: Cate Blanchett, Harrison Ford, Shia LaBeouf, John Hurt, Ray Winstone
- Released: 2008
- Directed by: Steven Spielberg
- Photo: 20th Century Fox
Like the comic books they're adapted from, the X-Men movies have a long and complicated history. The films started with a fairly straightforward trilogy, then things shifted toward prequel movies they would ultimately ignore and timelines they would attempt to blend together. Even though the X-Men franchise accounts for some of the worst films in the superhero genre, it also accounts for some of the best. With the release of X-Men: Apocalypse, the franchise had not yet lost the faith of its audience. The film made significantly more than any in the original trilogy, but performed so poorly that the next mainline X-Men film Dark Phoenix absolutely bombed at the box office. While it made the studio money, Apocalypse officially exhausted the goodwill of the franchise.
As far as the movie itself, one critic said, "The property is running on bald tires, and, for all its ear-splitting racket and lavish effects, Apocalypse is the barest of retreads." The film was a long two and a half hours that didn't seem to know what to do with all of the members of its bloated cast, or its villain that comic fans didn't like and casual moviegoers didn't lock onto. One of the film's sillier moments reveals that Charles Xavier is bald due to Apocalypse attempting to put his mind into his body and not just simply because of old age. That's a perfect encapsulation of this film as a whole, because both things are unnecessary.
- Actors: Jennifer Lawrence, Channing Tatum
- Released: 2016
- Directed by: Bryan Singer
- Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing
Spider-Man was a great origin story for one of the world's best-known heroes, and Spider-Man 2 is considered by many to be one of the best superhero films ever made. After two movies that broke blockbuster records and with years of Spider-Man comics to draw from, you'd think Spider-Man 3 would be a home run. It looked like the production did everything right, too. It used the same writer/director and didn't recast any key characters. It even went on to make an incredible $894,983,373 (more than either previous installment). The only problem is, no one really liked it.
The film was pummeled by critics and moviegoers for an overly complicated plot featuring too many villains, as well as cringe-inducing moments like the now-infamous emo Peter Parker dancing sequence. Roger Ebert said that it is "in short, a mess" and that unlike the other films, it "failed to distract [Ebert] from what a sap Peter Parker is." Ebert wrote that unlike the previous film, which he thought was the best superhero movie since Christopher Reeves's Superman, this one spent way too much time on Peter Parker and made him wear on the audience's nerves.
- Actors: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace
- Released: 2007
- Directed by: Sam Raimi