A few weeks back I suggested ten films that deserved a sequel but sadly never received one. The flip side of this would be a list of sequels that were made, but shouldn’t have been. This is a much harder task, given the sheer volume of sequels that disappointed or just didn’t measure up to the original; but here for your reading pleasure are a few of my choices of follow-ups that not only disappointed but utterly stained the film from whence they sprung.
1. Batman & Robin (1997)
Easy one, this. A genuine contender for Worst Sequel of All Time: a pun-drenched, painfully poor script from Akiva Goldsman; headache-inducing camerawork; the camp, dayglo production design; and a cast that couldn’t be more ill-suited to their characters. Result: franchise crash and burn (until Christopher Nolan’s 2005 reboot, anyway).
2. Aliens vs Predator: Requiem (2007)
Regular readers will know of my love of the Alien franchise, so this really was a heartbreaking moment for me. Regardless of whether you count it as a sequel to the original tetralogy or its immediate predecessor, AvP, this is a follow-up so genuinely unpleasant (tedious characters, tedious plot, nasty action) it just shouldn’t be watched. Even the studio realised this, hence the film’s cinematography being so dark it’s practically unwatchable anyway.
3. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
How the mighty have fallen. That Richard Donner’s original comic-book masterpiece should have given birth to this load of cheap old tat is unthinkable. Christopher Reeve is reliably excellent as usual, but he’s the sole reason for watching this poor excuse for milking a cash cow dry. Two words – Nuclear Man. I mean, what? Incidentally, what is it about part fours that consistently make them so much worse than any other sequels?
Speaking of which, here comes another part four from 1987 that shits all over its classic 1970s forefather. Witness the inept direction and nonsensical plot: the way it tries to replay key moments from Spielberg’s film but completely fails to make them work. This is the film about which Michael Caine famously commented he hadn’t seen, but he had seen the house that it built – surely the only positive thing to emerge from this travesty.
5. Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)
I don’t even remember what Exorcist II was about. All I can remember was a) it was a bizarre mess; b) there were quite a lot of locusts; and c) Richard Burton popped up. Probably best just to leave it there, to be honest.
6. Omen IV: The Awakening (1991)
Oh hello, another eye-gougingly awful part four. Seriously, if you’re a filmmaker asked to take on a third sequel to a great original – just leave well alone. This film was in fact a TV movie, an attempt to resurrect the Damien franchise that should have been left dead and buried after part three. Miraculously, it reached some cinemas in Europe. I pity the fools that paid money to watch its miserable attempts to stir up terror.
7. The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior (2008)
In which a warrior rises, apparently. Yes, I did watch this. No, I shouldn’t have. I quite enjoyed the first film – a bright and breezy sword-and-sandals actioner which tipped its hat to the slightly camp fantasy adventures of the 80s typified by Conan the Barbarian/Destroyer and the like. This direct-to-dvd follow-up looks like an episode of Xena: Warrior Princess, but on a lower budget. It does however win points for its hysterically funny giant invisible scorpion at the end, which looks like it might have been created on an Amiga 500. But what’s with all the pointless Greek mythology references?
If I’ve learnt one thing from this article, it’s to fear sequels that are released in a year ending in 7. They are certain doom. Still, at least it wasn’t a part four (On Stranger Tides – which, in point of fact, was slightly better than part three). At World’s End was a near three-hour long barrage of noise, gloom, CGI action and general melancholic tedium. Despite the high volume levels, it’s the closest I’ve ever come to nodding off at the cinema (not counting the Alien Trilogy all-nighter, which saw me briefly flag at around 6am in the middle of Alien 3).
9. Ocean’s Twelve (2004)
Steven Soderbergh’s sequel to his highly enjoyable 2001 caper remake is a textbook lesson in How To Destroy Everything People Liked About The First Film. Here, the plot isn’t clever, it’s stupid; worse, it cheats by going back on itself and changing the rules. The plot point about Julia Roberts’ character looking quite like Julia Roberts is also gobsmackingly irritating, to the extent that you want to punch the film repeatedly in the face. ARRRRGH! *punches film in face*
10. Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990)
Let’s finish with another part four, shall we? Going down the prequel route, this unwanted drivel purports to show us how Norman Bates became the man we all loved to be scared of. In doing so, the film completely misses the point of Hitchcock’s classic original: that horror can be found lurking in the most ordinary and benign situations – even behind the eyes of a seemingly nice young man like Norman. Just awful.