Hollywood’s latest mega sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence, has not exactly recruited enthusiastic reviews from critics.
Barry Hertz at the Globe and Mail described it as "one of the most aggressively stupid blockbusters ever made." Slant Magazine’s Chuck Bowen touted it as "a pitfall albatross of corporate capitalism." Vox's own Todd VanDerWerff called it "a snoozing house cat in a sunbeam on a hot summer day."
That sounds bad. Really bad. But how does Resurgence stack up against recent history’s worst movie sequels?
We decided to look back at more than 13,000 Metacritic scores to determine which films declined the most in points from original to sequel. As it turns out, 2016 — Resurgence included — has been the worst year for movie sequels in two decades.
A note on our ranking
Metacritic aggregates movie reviews from major news outlets, weights them based on a variety of factors (more on that here), and then gives them a composite score on a 0–100 scale (0 = terrible, 100 = resounding acclaim).
For our analysis, we set a few criteria. First, since older reviews are sometimes unreliable, the sequel had to be based on an original made in the past 20 years (1996 to 2016). Second, for franchises with multiple sequels, we included only the first sequel (or part two). Finally, sequels had to gross at least $20 million at the box office, adjusted for inflation.
With that, let’s take a look at where Resurgence stands.
The worst movie sequels in the past 20 years
We began with a list of 13,000 films on Metacritic, then whittled it down just the films and sequels that meet our criteria above.
Below, each dot represents one sequel.
With a score of 32, Resurgence lingers toward the bottom of the lowest-rated sequels, but it is far from the worst.
With 13 points, Cuba Gooding Jr.’s Daddy Day Camp boasts the overall lowest sequel score. Other bottom dwellers include — unsurprisingly — classics from Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, and Marlon Wayans.
Of course, this doesn't tell the full story. To really understand which sequels performed the poorest, it's crucial to look at how they compared with the originals.
Below, I've pulled out the films with the highest differentiation in Metacritic score points from original to sequel — both those that decreased the most and the those that increased the most. Resurgence is highlighted in yellow.
Going by difference in points, the worst sequel of the 2000s is Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, a film in which some goth kids attempt to recreate The Blair Witch Project and end up killing each other in a fit of paranormally influenced rage. Critic Michael Atkinson called the film "a club-footed vomit launch of teen-horror clichés."
But in this sludge of "vomit launch," Resurgence doesn’t fall too far behind. In 20 years of cinema’s most disappointing sequels, it ranks seventh:
The film’s 27-point decline places it in a rarefied echelon, outpacing immortally bad films like Daddy Day Camp, Scary Movie 2, and 2 Fast 2 Furious.
But if you look closely, you’ll see something else going on: 2016 sequels have an especially strong presence on this list — more so than any other year in recent history.
Six films from 2016 make this list: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny (-46 points); Zoolander 2 (-27); Resurgence (-27); My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (-25); Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (-18); and Alice Through the Looking Glass (-18). Three of them crack the top 10.
On average, a sequel declines 8.5 points from its original. The biggest sequels of 2016 have declined an average of 27 points. Worse, they have averaged an abysmal 39-point Metacritic score.
A sequel’s job is to make as much money as possible
In 2016, 37 sequel films will hit theaters (so far, 25 have already been released). That’s a record-setting figure — and it’s more than double the number of sequels released just a decade ago. This could partly explain why there are so many 2016 films on our list.
As we’ve previously written, there is a reason for this staggering rise: The average sequel makes more than eight times the average original release.
But in the film business, big money does not correlate with quality. And this has been made patently clear so far in 2016 — especially with Independence Day: Resurgence.
"Everything about [Resurgence] feels as if it just doesn’t give a shit about the audience watching it, or the people who made it, or even the fact that it’s unspooling before us," wrote Vox’s Todd VanDerWerff earlier this week. "All it cares about is making as much money as possible."