8. Conan The Destroyer (Richard Fleischer, 1984)
Whenever one watches an Arnold Schwarzenegger film, viewers know they are going to watch a film made purely for entertainment. However, sometimes these types of action films even fail at that, and “Conan The Destroyer” is certainly guilty of that.
Compared to its predecessor “Conan The Barbarian”, this sequel is quite tame compared to the first film. This was intentional as the studio wanted to make the film more family friendly, therefore generate more ticket sales. This meant that the violence was less bloody and there was less sex and nudity. In his autobiography, Schwarzenegger has said this is what killed the Conan franchise.
This film is also guilty of introducing poorly-placed slapstick comedy and having bad casting. Although the film made a profit, it was so disliked that no further Conan films were made.
7. Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (John R. Leonetti, 1997)
The first Mortal Kombat film was a surprise hit, especially as it was based on the popular video game series, so naturally a sequel was in the works. The result was “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation”, which is considered both one of the worst sequels and generally one of the worst films ever made.
The film has a very rushed feel to it, and there are too many characters from the games that are in the film just for the sake of having fight scenes and having characters from the games appear. With the exceptions of Robin Shou and Talisa Soto, the rest of the first film’s cast was recast, giving the film a disjointed feel. The special effects are bad and look low budget, despite the film actually having a bigger budget than the first film.
The first Mortal Kombat film was a fun, entertaining martial arts movie that many of the game’s fans enjoyed, so the sequel’s failure is extra disappointing in that sense. There has been talk about a third Mortal Kombat film and even a reboot over the years, but so far none of that has come into fruition. It seems that all of these factors have given the series a fatality from which it cannot come back.
6. Scream 4 (Wes Craven, 2011)
The first Scream film started a new era of teen slasher films upon its release in 1996. The fact that its success spawned similar films like “I Know What You Did Last Summer” and “Urban Legend”, as well as “Scream 2” and “Scream 3”, shows what an impact the first Scream film had in the late 1990s.
Horror maestro Wes Craven was the man responsible for the Scream trilogy, which he decided to make a quadrilogy when he decided to make “Scream 4”. However, the fourth film added absolutely nothing to the series, making this bland film completely unnecessary, and was a poor film for Wes Craven to end his career on before he passed away.
“Scream 3” ended the series perfectly, so “Scream 4” is just pointless. It relies on the nostalgia viewers have for the series. But despite the nostalgia factor, the film feels odd as well for including modern technology like the Internet, live video broadcast, and even more meta humor, whereas the original films are set in the late 90s when these things did not exist. The fact that “Scream 4” was made 11 years after “Scream 3” strongly suggests this film was made purely for the money.
5. Alien: Resurrection (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 1997)
Another reviled fourth entry of a film series is “Alien: Resurrection”, where its previously dead protagonist Ellen Ripley is cloned, along with the queen alien she was carrying, to spawn a new breed of Xenomorphs for use in combat.
Besides the far-fetched premise in order to create a new Alien film, there were many problems with “Alien: Resurrection”. The serious tone of the script did not match the artsy and zany direction of the film (although there are some interesting visuals, the type for which director Jean-Pierre Jeunet is known). The film is often criticized for being silly and over the top, and ultimately an unnecessary entry in the series.
“Alien 3” (or arguably “Aliens”, depending on who you ask) ended the series perfectly where Ripley died and killed the very last Xenomorph. “Alien: Resurrection” was made purely for money, not to continue a great story, and a fifth Alien film was never made. However, “Prometheus”, the prequel to “Alien”, was made, and a second prequel, “Alien: Covenant”, is on the way. The less said about the two “Alien vs. Predator” films, the better.
4. Rocky IV (Sylvester Stallone, 1985)
The progression of the Rocky series is fascinating to look at in hindsight. The tales of beloved fictional boxer Rocky Balboa started with the gritty first film that won the Oscar for Best Picture, and through a combination of Sylvester Stallone’s turn toward playing tough guys in action films, and the weird and wonderfully cheesy decade that was the 1980s, “Rocky IV” was born.
“Rocky IV” is very much a product of its time, with a Russian villain who is heartless and does not care if he kills someone, with lines delivered with pure coldness like “If he dies, he dies” and “I must break you.” With such a lack of emotion in his performance, Dolph Lundgren could not have possibly felt drained from acting in this film (with the exception of the fight scenes, to be fair). The film is so ‘American’ that it could be understandably be considered a perfect piece of American Cold War-era propaganda.
Aside from the Cold War aspect of the film, “Rocky IV” also suffers from simply being a very cheesy 1980’s action film. It took what made the first Rocky film so great, mainly Rocky’s determination to prove his worth, by bastardizing it as he is now fighting to prove America’s worth against one of its biggest opponents, the Soviet Union. The robot at Rocky’s mansion and the training montage in the Russian mountains are also signs of the film’s excessive nature.
Although there have been a few Rocky films since, “Rocky IV” is where everything went downhill until its revival with 2006’s “Rocky Balboa” when it focused on the drama rather than the action, just like with the first Rocky film.
3. Superman IV: The Quest For Peace (Sidney J. Furie, 1987)
Although these days the aforementioned “Batman & Robin” gets more hate, “Superman IV: The Quest For Peace” is by far a worse film. While the fourth Superman film was incredibly cheap looking, at least “Batman & Robin” looked like the millions of dollars it cost to make.
The rights to the Superman franchise were brought by Cannon Films, owned by the notorious Golan brothers. This fact in itself was a sign of the beginning of the end for the series by becoming total shlock. The film’s special effects and production values are incredibly poor, with the presumption that much of the film’s budget went into hiring Christopher Reeve and Gene Hackman to reprise their roles.
But what made “Superman IV” especially bad was simply how stupid and lame it was. The main villain of the film is Nuclear Man, who uses nuclear power to live and is the antithesis of Superman. The action scenes, which are supposed to be the highlight of any action film, are silly and laughable, which is worse considering there are now two “super men” rather than just one.
The Christopher Reeve era of Superman ended with this daft film, and rightfully so. Although Bryan Singer made a failed attempt to revive the character with “Superman Returns”, it was not until “Man of Steel” in 2013 that got Superman flying around Metropolis again.
2. Batman & Robin (Joel Schumacher, 1997)
When Tim Burton’s Batman series was handed over to Joel Schumacher, it seemed like a fresh, new start thanks to the success of the very entertaining “Batman Forever”. That film took the series into a lighter and less gothic direction, but the money it made suggested to Warner Bros that the public liked this.
So like any studio behind a sequel, they overcompensate by making the sequel have even more of what supposedly made the previous film successful. In this case, it was campiness and a family-friendly tone, and more “toyetic”, as Schumacher himself said.
“Batman & Robin” was universally hated upon its release and is now synonymous with bad sequels, and is considered one of the worst films ever made. Besides the film’s general over-the-top and campy nature, the dialogue is what really makes the film bad. George Clooney was miscast as Batman, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Uma Thurman are both in over-the-top villain mode, and his Schwarzenegger’s ice puns are cringeworthy. Chris O’Donnell and Alicia Silverstone can be quite whiny and unlikeable characters as Batman’s sidekicks.
It was clear that this Batman series could not go any further, despite its planned sequel. Both the careers of its director and its stars were affected by “Batman & Robin”, and it is not a proud moment in their careers. But if there is proof that every cloud has a silver lining, it is the fact that the failure of this sequel led to the excellent Dark Knight trilogy.
1. Spider-Man 3 (Sam Raimi, 2007)
Sequels by nature aim to be bigger and better than the film before it, but “Spider-Man 3” is just bigger and cluttered, and definitely not better. There are too many villains for Spider-Man to fight against, and there is far too much going on in the plot, making “Spider-Man 3” an almost incomprehensible viewing experience. It is very easy to forget certain plot points as many of them do not get addressed for quite some time in the film.
“Spider-Man 3” is also just plain silly and over the top, such as the notorious dancing scene in the bar. Although the film was a success commercially, its very poor critical reception was so bad that the series was rebooted. Since Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films ended, there have been two new eras of Spider-Man films.
Author Bio: Matt Wilson is a professional writer from Melbourne, Australia. His passion for cinema has always been a part of him and he aspires to be a screenwriter or a novelist. He particularly enjoys the films of Michael Cimino, Oliver Stone, Stanley Kubrick, Paul Verhoeven, David Lynch and Quentin Tarantino.