We start the Top 7. You finish the Top 10.
Writer/director Christopher Nolan once asked the important question, "How many good movies in a franchise can people name?" He was talking at that time about why a sequel to his Dark Knight was not something he was particularly jazzed about, and he had a point. Not only are there some terrible "third" movies in Hollywood, but there are certainly some awful grand finales for great characters, etc.
In honor of the terrible ... I give it a 2/10, but Bayer gives it a 8/10 ... Shrek Forever After (or Shrek: The Final Chapter, however you want to call it) I have decided to channel my finale frustration into a list of other movies that end their characters and stories on terrible notes (or just terrible films). To qualify for this list, a franchise must have at least three movies in their series - straight to DVD sequels don't count. A lot of these movies on this list lead to reboots, and after reading this compilation, you'll understand why. Sometimes taking in these movies is like observing a person crawl on its hands and knees. And in a few more extreme occasions, it's the cinematic equivalent of watching a dead horse lay beat up on the side of the road.
Recap: Directed years after the first two Oscar-winning pictures, Mario Puzo’s trilogy was completed with this third movie that shows the last days of Michael Corleone, and also the impact his actions have had on his family. Reason: Contrary to what a lot of people, including “The Simpsons” have said, this is not the terrible movie it has been made up to be. It is, however, a great example of the deflating that a series can exude once it gets around to part three. Especially compared to the two previous movies, The Godfather Part III feels mediocre, especially with its slow pacing and meandering plot. It’s good that Coppola acknowledged himself that this is an epilogue, because that’s exactly what this movie feels like: a part of the Corleone saga that is not entirely justified in its existence. But it does have a great third act.
6. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
Recap: The third movie in the X-Men trilogy (before it was sort-of rebooted last year) was a box office success worldwide, but upset many of the followers who were eager to see their favorite characters finally assembled in the same movie. Reason: This movie tried to give its fanbase so much, but because it wasn’t done properly, everyone felt cut short. Key characters in the X-Men world are given parts that are either bit or just weak, a flaw exemplified fully by Spider-Man 3. Though it does have a scene where Ian McKellen’s character Magneto lifts up the Golden Gate Bridge with his mind and sends it to Alcatraz, this “last stand” from the X-Men franchise hardly appeases fans, despite its promising nature. It probably doesn’t help that this is directed by Brett Ratner.
5. Jason X (2001)
Recap: Years after Jason was dragged into hell in Jason Goes To Hell, the Voorhees franchise aimed to become relevant once more with more slashing, but this time … in space. Reason: Sometimes, when things get desperate, you go to space. The Air Bud franchise did this, (Space Buddies), and so did the Jason Voorhees saga. Though much of the slasher thrills are pretty standard in this movie, Jason X does provide some redeemable moments despite its running on one small fume. It is the first movie to ever have a forced cryogenically frozen face-plant to a desk corner, and it provided a brief introduction of a character unused in the following films, “Uber-Jason.” Still, this movie has a lot of winks at earlier Friday the 13th movies either out of desperation or respect for the fans. Some of Jason’s best kills are repeated, but in an intergalactic context.
Recap: In the last movie of the Dirty Harry saga, Eastwood’s iconic police officer character must stop a game of celebrity killings before his own name comes up on the list. Directed by Clint’s recurring stunt coordinator Buddy Van Horn. Reason: Fumbling to make use of itself, The Dead Pool puts Inspector Harry Callahan into some odd situations, one of them including a scene where he and his partner must race away from … an RC car. The same man that used to threaten punks with an empty gun cartridge is shown being chased up and down the dippy streets of San Francisco by a toy. Along with the general poor quality of the film, this is one of the worst exits an iconic character has ever had. Since the beginning of Dirty Harry in his awesome self-titled film, the man has passed away, and it’s The Dead Pool who killed him.
3. Die Another Day (2002)
Recap: Before Daniel Craig Casino Royale there was Pierce Brosnan in Die Another Day, a movie that pushed Bond beyond the limits when it comes to simple entertainment. Reason: Pierce Brosnan left the Bond franchise with a dud, a lame story for the secret agent that would truly beckon the existence of Casino Royale five years later. It’s arguable that Bond has indeed seen much worse moments, but this one just shoots for the ridiculous and aims among the boring. There’s an ice castle and an invisible car, and it still doesn’t work. Hell, Halle Berry is even in the movie, and this bland Bond adventure is still frozen in mediocrity.
Recap: Writer/director Sam Raimi and co. returned a couple of years after the very successful Spider-Man 2 to add more darkness to the world of Spidey, with disappointing results. Reason: Oh, the woes of upset wannabe web-slingers everywhere once Peter Parker started grooving down the street to the BeeGees’ “Stayin’ Alive.” As if that wasn’t enough of a dagger into their hearts, which had been lifted with Spider-Man 2, there was a poor balance of villains, a cheesy subplot about darkness that made Tobey Maguire look like Conor Oberst, and worst of all – Topher Grace. Though this movie did make a great amount of money, it seemed to insult fans everywhere. As noted by a compadre who says Spider-Man 3 is "the worst movie ever made," director Sam Raimi has always been cheesy, but here he has lost control. Now, the drawing board has been cleared off and a reboot is in the works, with no one from the original creative process on board. Perhaps they’ll think twice before making a superhero dance angrily to salsa music?
1. Batman and Robin (1997)
Recap: The last Batman movie to exist before Batman Begins in 2005, this action-comedy was directed by Joel Schumacher. It featured George Clooney, Chris O’Donnell, and a pun-loving Arnold Schwarzenegger. Scripted by Oscar-winning writer Akiva Goldsman, it remains of the finest moments in terrible movie history, and one of the worst days for the comic book movie genre. Reason: The dark image of Batman built by Tim Burton had imploded when put into the hands of Joel Schumacher, who aimed to make the Dark Knight more Adam West-ian than actually gothic. It is a merciful act from the movie gods that this movie does not include the “Zing!” onomatopoeias that made the 60’s Batman so cartoonish. Then again, there’s the dialogue to be reckoned with, which is full of more puns and bad jokes than a Pauly Shore movie. The movie is horribly miscast, (though Clooney is a decent Wayne), and the action is far too ridiculous. This movie kicked the crap out of all that was good about Batman, and left him in shambles. At the same time, it is worth noting that Batman and Robin is one of those special films that digs so deep into the pile of trash that it ends up on the other side of the quality spectrum – it’s such a terrible movie, that it’s great. And it comes with a free rebate – Clooney has said he’ll pay you back if you tell him it sucks. What an ice gesture!