Worth the wait: Bad Boys for Life
2020’s Bad Boys for Life, the third instalment in Will Smith and Martin Lawrence’s action-comedy series, landed in cinemas 17 years after 2003’s Bad Boys II. The world wasn’t holding its breath for more of Miami cops Mike Lowry and Marcus Burnett, yet Bad Boys for Life surprisingly delivers. It packs in all the action and attitude that fans expect from the franchise, even without Michael Bay calling the shots. The director’s successors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah prove themselves to be adept at staging impressive chases, shoot-outs and punch-ups, with a surprising amount of heart too.
Not worth the wait: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
Few sequels have had the impact of 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day, a turning point for big-screen stunts and special effects work, and the jewel in the crown of Arnold Schwarzenegger. So when a third film arrived 12 years later, with Schwarzenegger but without original director James Cameron or Linda Hamilton, fans were naturally wary. They were right to be. Although not quite as terrible as the garbage that followed it, 2003’s Terminator 3 is a completely soulless action movie, paving the way for the seemingly endless rehashes of the franchise that have come every few years since.
Worth the wait: Jurassic World
1993’s Jurassic Park was a game changer for Hollywood: the biggest movie hit ever for a time, the film proved that CGI was the wave of the future for high-tech visual spectacle. Arriving 14 years after 2001’s largely forgotten Jurassic Park III, 2015’s Jurassic World proved that the franchise could still stand out in a crowded field. The film delivered a vision of what a fully realised, functioning dinosaur theme park would look like, something fans had longed for. Just how well the subsequent Jurassic World sequels hold up is another matter.
Not worth the wait: Escape from LA
Whilst John Carpenter’s films may not have done huge business at the box office, most fans would agree that he had an impressive run in the 80s. After a shaky start to the 90s, however, the director surprised many by deciding to make his first sequel, reuniting with Kurt Russell for a follow up to 1981’s Escape from New York. Sadly, 1996’s Escape from LA proved noteworthy for all the wrong reasons. With a garbled plot and campy tone, it tries and for the most part fails to bring the concept up to date for the 90s.
Worth the wait: Mad Max: Fury Road
In the three decades that had passed since 1985’s Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, few but the most devoted fans of the series had imagined we’d ever see the post-apocalyptic action series return to its former glory. However, conventional wisdom was proved completely wrong when Mad Max: Fury Road arrived in 2015. Not only did the film live up to what came before, it’s easily the greatest film in the series, with director George Miller managing to deliver hyper-kinetic action on a scale rarely experienced, whilst not forgetting to provide real soul via the central performances of Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron.
Not worth the wait: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
We know, dissing the Star Wars prequels is like shooting fish in a barrel these days, but put yourself in the mindset of a fan in 1999. The original Star Wars trilogy shaped the imagination of the generation who grew up with it, and the prospect of their original creator returning to the universe he created and showing us where the story really began… the word ‘excited’ doesn’t begin to cover it. However, where George Lucas had previously delivered high-octane adventure, he bogs down The Phantom Menace with turgid politics, leaden dialogue and lame-brained attempts at kid-friendly humour.
Worth the wait: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
By 2015, there hadn’t been a Star Wars movie for a decade, and many fans would have preferred to pretend that the most recent trilogy never happened. With George Lucas retired, it was up to a new team headed up by J.J. Abrams to rekindle that spark for a new generation. Happily, Abrams and company proved up to the challenge. The Force Awakens captures the original spirit of the franchise in a way that no other film had since 1983’s Return of the Jedi. The joy, the optimism, the childlike wonder are all back in spades.
Not worth the wait: Die Hard 4.0 (aka Live Free or Die Hard)
By the dawn of the 21st century, Die Hard looked to be dead for good. While the 1988 original is almost universally accepted as a masterpiece, the whole cop-versus-terrorists set-up didn’t lend itself so well to escapist entertainment after 9/11. Hence it wasn’t until 2007, 12 years after his last big screen outing, that John McClane returned to save the day a fourth time. The resulting film, while commercially successful, left many of us wondering whether Die Hard should have just stayed dead.
Worth the wait: Blade Runner 2049
Although it was more or less ignored on release, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner was a confirmed cult classic by the 90s, and is now widely accepted as an all-time great. Even so, the idea of it getting a sequel 26 years later didn’t necessarily inspire much confidence, with fans worried it would ruin the mystique that made the original so appealing. Fortunately, 2017’s Blade Runner 2049 does anything but tarnish the legacy of the original. Denis Villeneuve’s film delivers jaw-dropping visual spectacle and features beautifully understated storytelling and character-building as rich as the world itself.
Not worth the wait: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Back in the 80s, Indiana Jones only served to further cement George Lucas as the greatest big screen storyteller of his age. When the time came to bring Indy back after a 19-year hiatus, director Steven Spielberg deferred to Lucas on the film’s concept. While moving the action to the 50s and pitting Indy against Soviets made sense, taking things in a sci-fi direction just felt wrong, and the glaringly obvious CGI felt even worse. Still, perhaps above all else, the casting of Shia LaBeouf as Indy and Marion’s son was one of the gravest mistakes of recent cinematic history.
Worth the wait: Toy Story 3
Whilst the original Toy Story films were groundbreaking, the idea of picking up with Andy’s toys a third time after an 11-year gap seemed sure to be nothing but a lazy cash grab. However, Pixar proved the cynics wrong yet again. 2010’s Toy Story 3 ended up being one of the most spellbinding, heartbreaking animated movies ever made. Although the film’s ending is an undeniable tearjerker, Toy Story 3 doesn’t forget to pile on the fun and the laughs, with the entertaining Great Escape-inspired core plot of the toys breaking out of daycare, in the company of Spanish-mode Buzz Lightyear.
Not worth the wait: Monsters University
While Toy Story 3 managed to feel like a natural, worthy progression of a story that warranted continuation, Pixar evidently had a little more difficulty in making a follow-up to their 2001 hit Monsters, Inc, as that the central plot device (children’s screams as an energy source) was resolved by the film’s conclusion. With no clear way to move the story forward, 2013’s Monsters University opts instead for the prequel route, detailing how Sully and Mike first met at a college. It’s not the worst idea, but the film struggles to elevate itself above your standard bland, kid friendly fare.
Worth the wait: Return to Oz
With a full 46 years between 1985’s Return to Oz and the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz, the pressure was high. Given what a perennial family favourite the colourful Judy Garland musical fantasy has been for generations, audiences were naturally anticipating something similarly bright, cheerful and kid-friendly when Disney took them back over the rainbow 46 years later. This, however, was not quite what director Walter Murch had in mind, as Return to Oz is one of the darkest, most unsettling children’s films you’re ever likely to see. Still, it’s a thrilling and fascinating movie for those brave enough.
Not worth the wait: Superman Returns
By 2006, it was crystal clear that superhero movies were here to stay – so it was only logical to bring back the character whose 1978 feature debut had largely pioneered the cinematic genre. Superman Returns director Bryan Singer had already played a hugely important role in revitalising the genre with the first two X-Men movies, so hopes were high when he boarded the long-in-development revival of DC’s man of steel. However, while the resulting film is certainly better than 1983’s Superman III and 1987’s Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, Superman Returns ultimately winds up a hollow, unrewarding experience.
Worth the wait: The Color of Money
25 years after portraying ace pool shark Eddie Felson in 1961’s The Hustler, Paul Newman dusted off his cue and revisited the character. 1986’s The Color of Money casts Tom Cruise as Vincent, an arrogant, directionless kid with exceptional pool skills, who is taken under the wing of the long-since retired Eddie in hopes of making them both a lot of cash. With original director Robert Rossen having passed away, Newman handpicked Martin Scorsese to call the shots on The Color of Money: a wise decision that paid off in a big way, as the film landed Newman an Oscar.
Not worth the wait: Prometheus
Alien prequel Prometheus arrived 15 years after the last official series entry, 1997’s Alien: Resurrection (let’s forget those Alien Vs. Predator films), and marked the long-awaited return of original Alien director Ridley Scott to the franchise. After all the anticipation, the resulting film left audiences very much divided. There’s plenty to be said in its favour, not least its visual splendour and exemplary cast – but we’d be lying if we said Prometheus felt entirely worth waiting for, getting lost in a maze of vague philosophical postulations, flimsy characterisations and unresolved story threads.
Worth the wait: Dawn of the Dead
A decade after George A. Romero invented a new horror subgenre – the zombie movie – with 1968’s The Night of the Living Dead, the filmmaker continued his walking dead apocalypse with Dawn of the Dead. The 1979 sequel arguably made an even greater impression on the horror landscape than Night, thanks in no small part to its dark humour and overtones of social satire. A bigger film than Night of the Living Dead in every respect with ground-breaking and gruesome make-up FX, Dawn of the Dead demonstrated just how much could be done with zombies. The 2004 remake ain’t bad either.
Not worth the wait: Jay and Silent Bob Reboot
Intended as a satirical swipe at the reboot trend, writer-director Kevin Smith’s Jay and Silent Bob Reboot landed 18 years after his 2001 comedy Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. The humour is as low-reaching as you’d anticipate, and heavily dependent on knowledge of Smith’s earlier films. The fact that many vulgar jokes now involve Smith’s own daughter Harley Quinn Smith adds a significant ‘ick’ factor to certain scenes, and all in all the movie tries too hard and routinely falls into the same traps as the reboots it’s trying to send up.
Worth the wait: Rocky Balboa
Even the most passionate fans of Rocky will admit that, by the end of the initial five-film run, the movies and the central character had become a bit of a joke. Where the 1976 original had presented us with an identifiable, salt-of-the-earth guy on the street, the sequels saw him devolve into something of a cartoon character. Then, Stallone unexpectedly brought back the character that made him with the truly joyous return to form that was 2006’s Rocky Balboa. It could easily have been absurd – yet Rocky Balboa proves to be the most human and heartfelt entry since the original.
Not worth the wait: The Godfather Part III
Considering the first two Godfather films are considered amongst the best movies ever made, the pressure on the third was enormous. Unfortunately, when The Godfather Part III finally arrived in 1990, many felt that it might have been better left alone. To its credit, the film brings back the key surviving figures from the original films in director Francis Ford Coppola and stars Al Pacino, Diane Keaton and Talia Shire, but it’s hard to avoid the sense they’re all there in the vague of hope of rekindling the old spark (not to mention box office success).
Worth the wait: Top Gun: Maverick
Tom Cruise famously stated that he wouldn’t make a sequel to 1987’s Top Gun until filmmaking technology had progressed far enough for him to fulfil his vision. Whilst many eventually resigned themselves to the fact that this point would never arrive, a full 36 years after the original was released Top Gun: Maverick soared into theatres around the globe. It was worth the wait. The 2022 sequel actually managed to eclipse its predecessor, delivering breathtaking aerial sequences and a narrative packed with camaraderie, attitude and some real emotion.
Not worth the wait: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
Released 12 years after the 1974 original, 1986’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 managed to spell ‘chainsaw’ right this time, but got everything else wrong. Back at the helm, director Tobe Hooper made the misguided decision to steer the movie into more comedic waters, ultimately creating a tonally dissonant experience. Whereas the original film is sparing in its use of gore, instead delivering terror through an unbearably tense atmosphere, the sequel relies heavily on extremely graphic violence, which actually makes the movie less scary.
Worth the wait: Incredibles 2
The Incredibles immediately became one of Pixar’s most beloved films when it was released in 2004, and fans expected it would soon be followed by a sequel. However, the studio and writer-director Brad Bird weren’t rushing things, and waited a full 14 years before releasing the highly anticipated Incredibles 2. Once again, Pixar justified their status as the most respected animation studio in the world, delivering a witty, hilarious and heartfelt adventure that outshone the original and became the second highest grossing Pixar film of the time.
Not worth the wait: Texasville
Peter Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show – a coming-of-age drama set in a relentlessly bleak north Texas town – dazzled critics when it was released in 1971, scooping eight Academy Award nominations and two wins. No one expected or wanted a sequel, but that didn’t stop the original cast reprising their roles 19 years later for 1990’s Texasville. Whilst The Last Picture Show was filmed in black and white, the sequel is full colour, detracting from the feeling of decay that pervaded the original’s atmosphere. The film bombed both critically and commercially, taking around $2 million against a budget of $20 million.
Worth the wait: Bridget Jones’s Baby
12 years after 2004’s Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Renée Zellweger reprised her role as everyone’s favourite foul-mouther singleton in 2016’s Bridget Jones’s Baby. Suspicions that the film was a cynical cash grab were quickly dispelled by the movie’s heartfelt narrative, which hit all the same notes as its predecessors. Whilst not quite as compelling as the originals, Bridget Jones’s Baby still delivered plenty for fans of the series to enjoy, and was generally well received by critics.
Not worth the wait: The Two Jakes
With its relentlessly bleak tone and ending, 1974’s Chinatown was an instant noir classic, with the movie’s final lines considered iconic. Unfortunately, studio Paramount Pictures couldn’t resist the temptation to push out an ill-conceived sequel 16 years after the original. Jack Nicholson – who also directs the film – reprised his role as the gritty detective Jake Gittes, and several members of the original Chinatown crew returned for the project. Despite this, the 1990 film feels like an insipid tribute to its predecessor, with a plot that tries so hard to be twisty it ties itself into knots.
Worth the wait: Creed
For the second time, the Rocky series pulls off an unlikely sequel. Released nine years after 2006’s Rocky 6, director Ryan Coogler’s 2015 film Creed sees Sylvester Stallone in a supporting role training Michael B. Jordan’s Donnie, the son of his late rival-turned friend Apollo Creed. Like the originals, Creed tells a story of overcoming the odds through passion and hard work, with the relationship between Rocky and Donnie providing the emotional glue that holds the film together. The movie also benefits from cutting edge filmmaking techniques, with the boxing sequences significantly slicker than in previous outings.
Not worth the wait: The Odd Couple II
A full 30 years after the beloved original, 1998’s The Odd Couple II saw Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon reprise their roles as polar opposites Oscar Madison and Felix Ungar. Whilst in retrospect the film is lent a certain bittersweetness by virtue of being the last time the actors appeared on screen together, this unfortunately can’t compensate for the fact that it’s just not that funny. The Odd Couple II flopped commercially and was critically mauled, with one reviewer colourfully comparing it to “mouldy tofu mystery meat.”
Worth the wait: Psycho II
The idea of making a Psycho sequel three years after the death of Alfred Hitchcock sounds patently insane, but director Richard Franklin, a student of Hitchcock’s, pulled off the impossible. Well, sort of. Released 23 years after the 1960 original, 1983’s Psycho II definitely doesn’t reach the lofty heights of its predecessor, but it’s still surprisingly good, offering a fascinating catch-up with Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) when he’s released 23 years after the events of the original. Whilst praise was far from unanimous, many critics lauded the film for achieving the same nail-biting tension as the original.
Not worth the wait: Blues Brothers 2000
A sequel to 1980’s much-loved comedy classic The Blues Brothers was always going to be an uphill struggle, given that John Belushi – who played one of said brothers – had tragically died. Still, the 1998 sequel sees John Landis reassume his seat in the director’s chair, with Dan Akroyd (who also co-writes with Landis) reprising his role as Elwood Blue and John Goodman doing his best to take Belushi’s place as a new character. Despite the undeniable talents of those involved, the project came off as the soulless cash grab it was, with critics pouring scorn on the “lame comedy.”
Worth the wait: Avatar 2
Just to break even, the second instalment in the Avatar franchise needed to make a staggering $1.2 billion. Whilst many critics were sceptical of the 2022 sequel’s ability to do this, expecting people to have stopped caring in the 13 years since the original was released, the film impressively cleared the threshold and is en route to becoming one of the highest grossing films of all time. Avatar 2 upstages the the first in terms of visual spectacle, delivering an emotionally resonant narrative with some social commentary mixed in for good measure.
Not worth the wait: Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles
Released 13 years after 1988’s Crocodile Dundee II and intended to revive the ailing career of Paul Hogan, Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles attempted to rehash the same fish-out-of-water formula that had given its predecessors their laughs. Unfortunately, the extent of the 2001 film’s innovation amounts to supplanting Dundee from New York to Los Angeles, with the humour feeling tired and stale. Critics lambasted the film as an “unnecessary sequel,” although it did sort of succeed in its goal of resurrecting Hogan’s career.
Worth the wait: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
A cash grab it may have been, but Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps proved far better than it had any right to be, largely thanks to Michael Douglas reprising his iconic role of Gordon Gekko. Released 23 years after the 1987 original, the 2010 film picks up with Gekko after his release from prison, cleverly tying its narrative into the 2008 financial crisis, which was still fresh in audiences’ minds. Whilst not as impactful as the original, Money Never Sleeps caused a buzz at Cannes and went on to perform well at the box office. Sometimes, greed really is good.
Not worth the wait: Basic Instinct 2
Released in 1992, Basic Instinct benefited enormously from the controversy surrounding its depictions of violence and nudity. When the sequel rolled round 12 years later, filmmakers tried to capitalise on the original’s infamy, releasing movie posters that hinted at Sharon Tate’s notorious leg uncrossing scene. However, they discovered that it was significantly harder to shock audiences in 2006, and the film failed to cause a stir. It didn’t help that Michael Douglas declined to return; no offence to David Morrissey, but he’s hardly in the same class as a leading man.
Worth the wait: The Best Man Holiday
14 years after the 1999 release of romantic drama The Best Man, director Malcolm D. Lee reunited the original’s ensemble cast for The Best Man Holiday. Whilst it didn’t tread any particularly new ground, the 2013 sequel cleverly played to the same strengths that had made its predecessor a success, providing plenty of belly laughs and feel good moments. The Best Man Holiday was a critical and commercial success, earning $71 million on a budget of only $17 million.
Not worth the wait: Rambo: Last Blood
When First Blood came out in 1982, it managed to pack in tons of white-knuckle action, a critique of corrupt police forces and some commentary on PTSD – quite impressive for a movie in the 80s. Unfortunately, the subsequent Rambo movies went in more or less the exact opposite direction, reaching a nadir with the fifth film, 2019’s Rambo: Last Blood (which arrived 11 years after 2008’s fourth instalment). On top of being soulless and formulaic, critics accused the movie of pandering to the extreme right with racist depictions of Mexicans.
Worth the wait: Bill and Ted Face the Music
Exercises in nostalgia often fall short, as they inevitably get compared to their beloved source material. Fortunately for fans of the series, 2020’s Bill and Ted Face the Music – released 29 years after Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey – managed to live up to the originals. Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter reprised their roles as the eponymous Bill and Ted, now middle-aged men struggling to achieve their purpose as the rock stars destined to save the universe. Critics praised the film as a rare example of a belated sequel that actually succeeds in re-capturing the magic of the originals.
Not worth the wait: Zoolander 2
Zoolander – Ben Stiller’s 2001 satire of the fashion world – certainly wasn’t for everyone, but the sharp comedy and lighthearted tone still won it legions of fans. 15 years later, Stiller released Zoolander 2 and let all those fans down. The 2016 sequel’s plot is a confusing rehash of the original, and it relies on an endless carousel of celebrity cameos to distract audiences from the fact that there just aren’t that many jokes. A confirmed critical and commercial bomb, Zoolander 2 made under $57 million after costing $55 million to make.
Worth the wait: T2 Trainspotting
1996’s Trainspotting is one of the most iconic films of the 90s, so pulling off a sequel was always going to be a daunting proposition. Coming 21 years after its predecessor, the success of 2017’s T2 Trainspotting is largely down to the fact that the entire original cast reunited for the project, with director Danny Boyle back at the helm. It’s not quite as good as the original – lacking some of the rawness and grit – but the chemistry between actors Ewan McGregror, Robert Carlyle, Johnny Lee Miller and Ewen Bremner hasn’t diminished with time.
Not worth the wait: Independence Day: Resurgence
Another sequel that felt like an unnecessary cash grab, 2016’s Independence Day: Resurgence was released 20 years after the original 1996 sci-fi blockbuster. Although advances in CGI allowed the film to deliver an impressive visual spectacle, the movie lacked the heart and emotional resonance that had made its predecessor so compelling – and even though Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman reprise their roles, Will Smith is missed. Though originally intended to kickstart a new series of Independence Day movies, the critical drubbing and disinterest of audiences put this idea to bed pretty quick.
Worth the wait: Glass
2016’s Split was an enjoyable if somewhat formulaic horror, but the real twist came at the very end when it was revealed that the film was actually a set up for a sequel to 2000’s Unbreakable. 19 years after its predecessor’s release, M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass saw Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson reprise their roles for another dark, brooding superhero movie. Whilst critics were less than impressed with the movie, fans of the original were still delighted to get some unexpected closure.
Not worth the wait: Halloween (2018)
Arriving nine years after the previous film in the horror series (Rob Zombie’s Halloween II), David Gordon Green’s Halloween took the bold step of ignoring the entire franchise and serving as a direct sequel to John Carpenter’s 1978 original. Fans were delighted to see Jamie Lee Curtis reprise her signature role of Laurie Strode, and the film proved a hit – but in truth it failed to breathe new life into the long-since over-familiar slasher movie set-up. Sequels Halloween Kills and Halloween Ends proved even greater disappointments.
Worth the wait: 2010: The Year We Make Contact
The idea of making a sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s seminal 1968 classic 2001: A Space Odyssey had long seemed like a fool’s errand, but 1984 follow-up 2010: The Year We Make Contact actually proved worthwhile. Director Peter Hyams (who sought Kubrick’s approval before making the film) delivers a less abstract, more accessible sci-fi drama which still tackles the cosmic themes of the original. Visually 2010 is as stunning as its predecessor, and it boasts strong performances from Roy Scheider, Helen Mirren and John Lithgow.
Not worth the wait: Charlie’s Angels (2019)
16 years after 2003’s Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, the female-fronted action franchise that began on TV was brought back to the big screen by writer-director Elizabeth Banks, who also co-stars. Alas, the 2019 film failed to bring the property back with a bang. Maybe it’s the more grounded tone, the forgettable plot or the lack of chemistry between core trio Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska, but this particular incarnation of Charlie’s Angels fell far short of its heavenly aspirations.
Worth the wait: Tron: Legacy
Years before director Joseph Kosinski delivered a triumphant belated follow-up to Top Gun, he did the same for another, slightly less mainstream 80s favourite: Tron. Venturing back into the digital world of the 1982 Disney movie with more up-to-date special effects, 2010’s Tron: Legacy casts Garrett Hedlund as the son of Jeff Bridges’ computer programmer who enters the Grid to find his long-lost father. A modest hit on release, Kosinski’s film helped pave the way for the many ‘legacyquels’ that have followed.
Not worth the wait: Men in Black 3
When Men in Black 2 hit screens five years after the original in 2002, the filmmakers had clearly struggled to find a way to move the franchise forward in an interesting way. One might have hoped that in the decade that followed, they might have hit on some good ideas – but there were sadly few to be found in 2012’s Men in Black 3. While Josh Brolin was an inspired choice to play a younger version of Tommy Lee Jones’ Agent K, the whole venture feels forced, formulaic and almost entirely lacking in real feeling.
Worth the wait: Ghostbusters: Afterlife
In the wake of 2016’s ill-advised Ghostbusters reboot, fans were delighted when Jason Reitman (son of Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II director Ivan Reitman) took up the reins on a direct continuation of the original storyline. Ghostbusters: Afterlife is an oddity in some respects, taking an unusually solemn approach in contrast to the outright comedic approach of its predecessors. Nonetheless, it struck a chord with old fans, resonated with uninitiated younger viewers, and served as a touching tribute to the late Harold Ramis, co-star and co-writer of the original films.
Not worth the wait: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
It’s sometimes forgotten that, on release, 2004’s Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy wasn’t a big hit – but in the years that followed, it was re-assessed as one of the greatest comedies ever made. As such, when Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues arrived in 2013, expectations were high – but sadly, like so many sequels it proved little more than a pale imitation of what went before. Updating the action from the 70s to the 80s brings less laughs than hoped, and the injection of a hint of social conscience is an awkward fit amidst the absurdist humour.
Worth the wait: Scream (2022)
2011’s Scream 4 proved the last film of sadly missed horror icon Wes Craven, and for years the idea of the iconic series carrying on without him seemed unthinkable. However, directorial duo Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett proved more than up to the task with 2022’s Scream. As well as updating the meta-approach of the earlier films to the age of ‘elevated horror,’ the film also introduced a compelling new core ensemble (including subsequent Wednesday star Jenna Ortega) and delivered some great set-pieces, sporting some real scares and real surprises.
Not worth it: Dumb and Dumber To
Dumb and Dumber was one of the three 1994 movies that made Jim Carrey the biggest comedy star of the decade (alongside Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and The Mask). However, by the time Carrey and co-star Jeff Daniels reprised the roles of the dim-witted Lloyd and Harry a full 20 years later for directors Bobby and Peter Farrelly, it’s fair to say the iron had gone a bit cold. It seems self-defeating to say that Dumb and Dumber To is stupid, but the real problem is that it’s so painfully unfunny.
Worth the wait: Finding Dory
Arriving after 13 years, the sequel to Finding Nemo, Finding Dory, triggered huge queues of kids and parents alike outside cinemas. The story is set only a year after the original, and follows Dory (voiced by everyone’s favourite celebrity, Ellen DeGeneres) as she tries to find her parents. Andrew Stanton and Albert Brooks return as the director and Marlin, respectively, while new cast members include Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy and Idris Elba. This 2016 flick made up for lost time.
Not worth it: The Matrix Resurrections
It was always gonna happen. Lana Wachowski could not have gone the rest of her life having never revisited the Matrix universe. And there’s a pride in trying and failing than not trying at all. Kinda like when Jack Nicholson tries to break the water fountain out of the ground in Cuckoo’s Nest. We, the other patients, pointed and laughed at Lana for trying to present the convoluted, pretentious mess that is Resurrections as anything worth watching for longer than two minutes, but damnit she tried didn’t she?
Worth the wait: Clerks II
Kevin Smith’s cult classic Clerks launched his career back in 1994, but he didn’t really have much interest in revisiting the characters until 2006, when he finally released the long awaited Clerks II. Thankfully, it was an enjoyable catch-up, with Smith managing to balance toilet humour with more poignant themes of friendship and ageing.
Not worth it: My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
My Big Fat Greek Wedding was one the biggest ever indie box office successes, earning $368 million off the back of a $5 million budget. It’s strange, then, that the sequel took 14 years to arrive. When it did, the magic was lost. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 made $88 million, which is nothing to be sniffed at, but it lacked any story development for audiences to stay in their seats.
Worth the wait: Doctor Sleep
Making the sequel to The Shining – and in turn stepping into Stanley Kubrick’s big shoes – is something most directors don’t want to even consider. Stephen King, who of course authored the book and its late sequel Doctor Sleep in 2013, even acknowledged the pressure. So for writer-director Mike Flanagan to not only attempt this but succeed in doing so with the Doctor Sleep movie is something that should be applauded. While this adaptation doesn’t quite match its predecessor, it’s a perfectly frightening stand-alone horror.
Not worth it: Hannibal
Released in February 2001, ten years after The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal was certainly a box office success across the world, grossing a monster $351.6 million during its run. But the reviews weren’t so great. Hannibal was criticised, including by Jodie Foster – who did not return as Clarice Starling – as a bit too salacious compared to the serious piece of work that swept the Oscars a decade earlier.
Worth the wait: Jackass Forever
After the sudden death of Ryan Dunn in June 2011, mere months following the release of Jackass 3D, the future of the Jackass franchise was thrown into question. The cast went their own ways for the next decade until deciding to reunite (minus Bam Margera) for 2022’s Jackass Forever, which is the first film to really showcase how close a blond these clowns have.
Not worth it: Son of the Mask
People were always going to have an interest in a sequel to The Mask, but it’s hard to gauge just how hungry movie-goers were for something as far-removed as Son of the Mask, which features none of the original cast. The hokey story, in which a baby is born with the powers of said mask, isn’t even laughably bad. It’s just bad.
Worth the wait: No Time to Die
No Time to Die was scheduled and postponed and scheduled and postponed (thanks to the COVID pandemic) until finally being released in September 2021, to a very Bond-starved fanbase. This final entry from Daniel Craig proved to be worth its salt. Critics praised the film for balancing the slick cinematography and gravity of plot with the outrageous, camp, blockbuster action the franchise is primarily known for.
Not worth it: Mean Girls 2
Mean Girls 2 is a sequel, technically, although it’s really just a less funny, less risque, less everything remake of the original 2004 classic starring Lindsay Lohan. Girl joins school, girl falls in with mean girls, girl decides to be mean, doesn’t like it, goes back to being nice. This time on (direct-to-)DVD! What’s not to like? It’s a good thing nobody even remembers or saw this film for it to have any negative effect on Tina Fey.