10 Awful Fourth Movies That Followed A+ Trilogies

Success in films can be measured a number of ways from Critic acclaim, to box office revenue but some films needn’t have been made as the set ie trilogy were all that were needed.

Many factors can determine the box office success of a film:

  • The popularity of the film’s content
  • The current popularity of the film’s genre
  • The current popularity of the film’s stars
  • The strength of the film’s marketing campaign
  • The strength of the film’s distribution as well as its release schedule
  • The competition during the film’s release period
  • Factors such as weather, holidays, distracting news events that can limit the film’s audience during the critical opening weekend
  • Critical reviews, especially if critics are actively pushing a movie that would otherwise get little attention
  • Awareness of the film based upon it being adapted from a popular book or news story

Disney loves money and recently announced the upcoming release of several sequels for some of its most beloved Pixar films. A third entry in the Frozen franchise, alongside sequels for Zootopia and Inside Out, will arrive in the next few years. However, disconcertingly, the studio announced a fifth film in the Toy Story series.

The insistence on dragging the Toy Story saga is baffling. Once a near-perfect trilogy, the series received an unnecessary and ineffective fourth entry in 2019 that ruined everything that came before it. Like Toy Story 4, many other franchises ruined themselves by producing unfortunate fourth entries that outright ruined their legacies.

1 ‘Toy Story 4’ (2019)

Toy Story 4 follows Woody (Tom Hanks) and his gang of toys taking a road trip. When he unexpectedly reunites with his old flame, Bo Peep (Annie Potts), he must choose between his old life and the possibility of a new, more adventurous existence with Bo.

To put it simply, Toy Story 4 is a disservice to the franchise. Toy Story 3 is not only a near-perfect movie but also the ideal conclusion for Woody and his friends’ stories; its powerful and emotional ending, which brought tears to everyone’s eyes, got dismissed and rendered meaningless by the mere existence of a fourth film. Unfortunately, no matter how good it is, Toy Story 4 will always be the film that ruined its once-beloved series.

2 ‘Thor: Love And Thunder’ (2022)

The first Thor movie was a compelling and Shakespearean take on the God of Thunder’s mythos. The second entry was forgettable but harmless, suggesting that maybe Thor just wasn’t leading man material. However, Thor: Ragnarok was a game-changer, redefining the character and introducing some much-needed dynamism to his world.

Director Taika Waititi returned for another round with Thor: Love and Thunder, the first fourth film in the MCU, but lightning didn’t strike twice. The film is louder, dumber, and less entertaining than its predecessor, which felt genuinely fresh. Love and Thunder ends the Thor series with a fizzle when Ragnarok could’ve ended it with a bang.

3 ‘Terminator Salvation’ (2009)

The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgement Day are two of the best sci-fi movies in cinematic history. The films defined the genre for years to come, cemented James Cameron‘s legacy as one of Hollywood’s most ambitious auteurs, and made Arnold Schwarzenegger into a star. While Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines didn’t live up to its predecessors, it was a serviceable, if unnecessary, quasi-conclusion.

However, Hollywood kept exploiting the franchise for all it was worth, leading to the puzzling Terminator Salvation. The film is a confusing and half-baked attempt to launch a new trilogy but lacks any of the original’s daringness and focus. Salvation underperformed critically and commercially, beginning a bleak chapter in the Terminator franchise that led to a bad reboot and an even worse sequel to T2 that disregarded Rise of the Machines and Salvation. The Terminator saga could’ve lived on as one of cinema’s best; instead, unnecessary sequels made it the mess it is today.

4 ‘Dark Phoenix’ (2019)

X-Men: First Class is one of the few prequels that enriched its source material’s lore, providing an interesting look into the titular team’s early days, elevated by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender‘s chemistry. The film’s success led to the ambitious crossover X-Men: Days of Future Past, arguably the best entry in the Fox X-Men series. A third film in the prequel series, X-Men: Apocalypse, failed to live up to its two predecessors, but it wasn’t a complete trainwreck.

Then came Dark Phoenix, a lifeless adaptation of one of the X-Men’s most iconic storylines. Watching the film feels like a chore, especially because it’s painfully obvious how none of the actors want to be there. Sophie Turner gives it her all, but it’s all for nothing. Dark Phoenix is a sad goodbye to a venerable franchise that predates most modern superhero films; the X-Men deserve far better.

5 ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ (2008)

Steven Spielberg seldom misses, but even he couldn’t save the trainwreck that was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The film sees an older Indiana Jones facing the Soviet Union, accompanied by a young greaser who turns out to be his son.

If the question was, “who wants to see Indiana Jones as a family man?” the answer was “no one.” Crystal Skull balances several intriguing ideas, but they are all in service of a story that always seems half-baked and out-of-place in the Jones universe. Crystal Skull isn’t bad — it might be good; however, it’s just not an Indiana Jones film.

6 ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ (2008)

The first trilogy in the Fox X-Men series remains an impressive feat of ambitious storytelling within its superhero set-up. The third film is terrible, but its lows can’t deny its predecessors’ highs, especially regarding the superb X2: X-Men United.

However, Hollywood decided to keep exploiting the saga’s biggest asset, Hugh Jackman‘s Wolverine, by greenlighting a prequel spin-off. The result was X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a film so misguided and terrible that even Jackman has expressed his disappointment with it, while Ryan Reynolds famously “killed” its version of Deadpool in Deadpool (2016). The less said about this movie, the better.

7 ‘Jason Bourne’ (2016)

Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon‘s Bourne trilogy is a highlight of the spy thriller genre. Tense, action-packed, and featuring one of Damon’s most committed and compelling performances, Bourne is one of the few trilogies where every new entry is better than the one before.

Studio greed led to the creation of a spin-off, The Bourne Legacy, an uninspired film that couldn’t rise to the challenge, despite a perfect performance from Jeremy Renner. Still, Hollywood persevered and produced a fourth film in the series, bringing Damon and Greengrass back for another round. However, while the film was an improvement over Legacy, it lacked the original trilogy’s sense of purpose, proving that The Bourne Ultimatum should’ve been Bourne’s last outing.

8 ‘Men in Black: International’ (2019)

In the pantheon of unnecessary movies, Men in Black: International has a place of honor. The original franchise soared on the backs of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, whose oddly charming pairing grounded the series’ antics, providing them with a solid and compelling foundation.

However, International is needless, gratuitous entertainment from a studio running low on IPs. Despite Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson‘s substantial charm and chemistry, the film is dumb, presenting a forgettable storyline that audiences forgot about before the theater’s light came on.

9 ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’ (2011)

The Pirates of the Caribbean series is something of a Hollywood oddity. Based on a quasi-original idea, the original trilogy became an unexpected and gargantuan commercial success.

Following the third film, the studio brought back Jack Sparrow for a fourth adventure, resulting in the uneven and self-aggrandizing Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Although the film doesn’t lack charm, it can’t disguise its status as a shameless cash grab from a studio with a now-legendary hunger for money. While the original trilogy felt grandiose and engrossing, On Stranger Tides is just there, the ugly sibling everyone always forgets about.

10 ‘Spy Kids: All the Time in the World’ (2011)

The Spy Kids trilogy is a beloved part of the noughties’ culture. It was never going to win any Oscars, but fans and critics appreciate it for what it is, celebrating its wacky and self-deprecating take on the spy genre and the cast’s committed performances.

However, the ingredients that made the trilogy bearable were all missing from the needless fourth film, 2011’s Spy Kids: All the Time in the World. Where the first three films were tongue-in-cheek, the fourth is outright absurd, turning itself into the butt of the joke; whereas audiences laughed with the original trilogy, they laughed at All the Time in the World. Tried as they might, Joel McHale and Jessica Alba are no Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino.

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Shaz Salimian
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