1. Batman & Robin
A creaky, confused, Day-Gilo monstrosity, this is the citizen Kane of dire sequels. You can’t really pin the blame on new Bats George Clooney, saddled with a mawkish sideplot involving the butler Alfred’s illness. No, it’s left to a foil-wrapped Arnie, a loloping Urma Thurman, Chris ‘Insert Personality here’ O’Donnell and ol’ saggy chops Silverstone to tussle over the clunky dialogue and compete for our derision. Legend has it someone yelled, “Death to (director) Joel Schumacher!” during a test screening; well, the reaction to Batman & Robin resulted in the death of the franchise – the only way WB could bring it back was to ignore all that’d gone before and start over…
2. Highlander 2: The Quickening
“There can only be one,” went Highlander’s tagline. The studio, in all its wisdom, didn’t agree. See, it all turns out that, dispite being born into a medival Scottish clan, Christopher Lambert’s serial clan, Christopher Lambert’s serial decapitator is actually an exiled alien from the planet Zeist, immortal on Earth, only he isn’t anymore, only he is again now the Zeistian has come down to get him, and oh look! there’s Sean Connery, who is also from Zeist and a lifelong alien buddy of Lambert, even though they met hundreds of years after he was born in Spain, and he’s alive even though he’s dead even though he’s not… Deep breath. All together now: rubbish!
3. Jaws: The Revenge
Jaws is a prime example of a movie that was sequelised purely because its box office demanded it. After all, shark terrorises beach then heroes kill it and go home rather suggests “The End” (or rather, “Fin”). But what’s really stupefying is that Universal stretched the rampaging Great white concept to a fourth part, in which vindictive fish chases Mrs. Brody (Lorraine Gary) to the Bahamas because, er, her now-dead hubby killed two other fish a while ago. Were they its special sharky pals or something? The fact that Joseph Sargent’s direction is as shoddy as the concept is almost reassuring…
4. Speed 2: Cruise Control
It’s astonishing that at no point in the (d)evolution of Speed 2 did someone say, “Y’know, this ain’t gonna work. Let’s call it a day guys, and do something more constructive with this $110 million. Like invest it in porcelaim breeze blocks.” All the warning signs were there. Keanu Reeves – who, if Dogstar is anything to go by, hardly has a sense of taste – wasn’t.
5. Superman IV: The Quest For Peace
After Superman III stumbled at the box office, producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind ditched the series. But super-star Christopher Reeve made the mistake of thinking people wanted more, and pushed the idea of making Supes more, y’know, political by having him trash the world’s nukes. And so Nuclear Man – Jor-El’s solar-powered, blond mulleted clone – was born. Cue a string of tawdry face-offs and bargain-basement FX.
6. Babe: Pig in the City
There are some crazy fools out there who make a case for this freakish follow-up to perennial charmer Babe. Usually, their apologist blurtings contain the phrase “boldly dark”. Well, there’s dark and there’s downright distressing. Like seeing a crippled Jack russell get trapped beneath a speeding ambulance. Or watching a pitbull twitch as it’s throttled by the chain that’s suspending it from a bridge. Given this was directed by Mad Max helmer George Miller, we’re just lucky it didn’t also feature a scene in which a whimpering orang-utan has to frantically hacksaw its legs off to avoid being blown up. Perhaps that’s in the Director’s cut…
This deserves a placing by virtue of being terrible despite – or because of – the fact it was created by the same person as its predecessors. Martin Amis described Thomas Harris’ Hannibal as “a necropolis of prose”. Yet still Ridley Scott filmed it. Some tweaks occurred – including a rewrite of Harris’ ludicrous climax – but Anthony Hopkins’ uncaged Dr. Lecter remained an oddly tedious quip-spewer, Starling an eminently dull frost queen (it’s clear why Jodie Foster passed) while, most baffling of all, the hilariously complex death-by-hungry pig plot twist was retained. Oink.
8. Trail of the Pink Panther
Poor old Peter Sellers. Even the Grim Reaper couldn’t save him from yet another creaky Clouseau caper. The sixth in a series which is one of the best examples of the law of diminishing returns wasn’t even the last, but it deserves a special kicking for its sheer, shameless exploitative cheapness. With the story centring on a journalist’s probe into the whereabouts of a missing Clouseau, it’s a little more than a clip-show drawn from previous Pink Panthers, with a few deleted scenes thrown in. For this travesty alone, director Blake Edwards should have denied his lifetime achievement Oscar.
9. Alien: Resurection
So the first one was a horror, the second an action movie and the third – if we’re going to be generous – a stripped-down arty-thriller. What does that make Alien: Resurrection, then? A comedy, we guess. After all, director Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s ‘Special Edition’ version does open with a farcical routine involving a squished bug and a straw, and it is packed with Jeunet’s trademark, comic-grotesque faces. Plus, what more sane reaction could there be to the sight of the mewling, melting-Milky Bar monster that is the Newborn than hysterical laughter?
10. The Matrix Reloaded & Revolutions
Joe Silver insisted Reloaded wand Revolutions were two halves of one movie, so they deserve to be considered one sequel here: one in which the slick sci-fi of The Matrix is painfully reduced to dreary, clunky big-tech mess that was Revolutions. Even taken together, though, they can’t constitute a whole ‘proper’ movie: insultingly, we were also expected to fork out for a (not very exciting) videogame and a set of so-so animes, to complete the “experience”. Very shabby.