Best Kids Films Of All Time

The best films we watch as children not only entertain and amaze us; they fundamentally shape who we are and how we see the world. These films stay with us long after we’ve left playground games and imaginary friends behind us. Even as an adult watching a childhood favorite film can feel  uniquely comforting and inspiring, like slipping under a warm fuzzy blanket of nostalgic joy.

So we’re running down our list of the top kids’ films of all time. Whether you’re 8 or 80, these films are all sure to warm your heart, teach you something and remind your face how to smile…

1. The Original Star Wars Trilogy

Our list starts a long time ago in a galaxy far far away… with the original Star Wars trilogy. Since 1977 these are THE films that have almost single handily defined most people’s childhood. With substantial help from revolutionary special effects, George Lucas created the ultimate space adventure that has helped generations of children’s imaginations jump to light speed.

With convincingly alien worlds, lightsabre duels and spectacular space battles Star Wars made intergalactic civil war look fun.  We dreamed of battling Darth Vader to rescues princesses in peril before racing around the galaxy in our Millennium Falcon accompanied by a pet wookie and some bickering droids.

Yoda’s grammatically challenged sage wisdom taught us valuable life lessons, while the Force is responsible for countless wasted hours spent trying to move things with our determined minds.

Even the phantom menace of woefully inferior recent prequels hasn’t managed to tarnish the extraordinary legacy of the Star Wars saga. As adults we may want to decapitate Jar Jar Binks with a lightsabre but nevertheless the Force will always be with us.

2. Willow

Between the early genius of Star Wars and the bitter disappointment of the Star Wars prequels George Lucas did give us another memorably magical fantasy adventure in Willow.

Warwick Davies plays a diminutive would be wizard on a quest to save a baby queen from an evil sorceress and her armies. He’s reluctantly teamed with an arrogant swords swinging mercenary called Mad Martigan, played with maniacal charm by a young Val Kilmer. Together our unlikely heroes must face trolls, fire breathing monsters and all manner of black magic if they’re to save the kingdom.

Warwick Davies shines in a rare opportunity to escape Ewok suites and goblin prosthetics, grabbing the wand with both hands for an endearing star turn. Industrial Light and Magic also continued to break the boundaries of special effects to make this a genre defining sword and sorcery epic.

3. Toy story 1/2/3

At some point every child inevitably ponders the same important question. What do my toys do when I’m not around to play with them? In 1995 Pixar finally gave us the answer.

Heralding the big screen arrival of CGI animation, Toy Story breathed whimsical life into plastic action figures that captivated grownups and children alike.

The most compelling children’s films are those which manage to adeptly layer an accessibly simple narrative with more complex and sophisticated themes. As Randy Newman croons, for younger audiences Toy Story is all about friendship. But bigger kids quietly understand that Buzz Lightyear’s dismayed discovery that he is merely a disposable plaything rather than a real intergalactic space ranger is actually a thinly veiled metaphor for coming to terms with mortality.

Although Toy Story 2 and 3 are equally superb, Toy Story will always be the film that launched Pixar studios and gave us those magical first steps to infinity and beyond.

4. E.T.

Another question which preoccupies the imagination of most children at some point, is wondering what it would be like to have an alien best friend. When Steven Spielberg told that story in 1982 he broke box office records.

Beyond the obvious messiah metaphors E.T. is also transparently about a family dealing with divorce. This sincere emotional core lends the extraordinary adventures of ordinary suburban kids befriending a stranded alien with magical healing powers an aura of authenticity.

Like much of Spielberg’s finest work, E.T. profoundly juxtaposes mundane real life with something special and amazing. It’s an emotional rollercoaster that takes children through the entire spectrum of fear, joy, sadness and euphoria.

Watching E.T. and Elliot soaring past the moon on a flying bike is one of the most iconic and inspiring moments in cinema history. It immediately represents imagination without limits and dreams that do come true.

5. Labyrinth

Combining the musical talents of androgynous rock oddity David Bowie with the genius of the Jim Henson’s puppeteers produced pure goblin magic in 1986 kids classic Labyrinth.

Sporting purple highlights, copious makeup and a prominent codpiece Bowie was perfectly cast as the crystal juggling Goblin King who challenges a young girl to navigate his impenetrable Labyrinth to rescue her little brother from his castle.

With the help of new friends that include a brave doggy knight and a friendly furry giant; she makes her way past riddles, booby traps, ugly goblin armies and the magnificently named bog of eternal stench.

An unforgettable soundtrack combined with all kinds of inventive puppet wizardry make Labyrinth weird and wonderful.

6. The Dark Crystal

Jim Henson creature team sets an incredibly high standard for fantasy adventure in Labyrinth but The Dark Crystal remains their undisputed masterpiece.

Made exclusively with puppets The Dark Crystal doesn’t have any of the musical silliness of Labyrinth, but it remains a dazzling visual achievement of imagination and wonder.

Incredible creature designs by artist Brian Froud and amazing practical effects make this the most astonishingly beautiful and tactile fantasy world ever captured on screen.

Though it’s gone on to be a firm DVD best seller The Dark Crystal had a tough time in cinemas partly because it was deemed too dark for children, but mostly because it was released at the same time as E.T.

7. Return to Oz

Another children’s classic that was originally shunned at the box office for being too scary but eventually embraced as cult classic was Disney’s Return to Oz.

Vastly superior to the insipid Judy Garland original, Return to Oz takes the Technicolor dream of The Wizard of Oz and turns it into an exciting nightmare.

Dorothy returns to the magical Land of Oz to find the Emerald city in ruins and its citizens turned to stone. Befriending strange new companions Dorothy faces a terrifying head stealing Witch, the creepy wheelers and a malevolent gnome king.

In the proud tradition of the Grimm fairy tales films like Return to Oz recognize that not only are children capable of handling a little light horror and genuine peril, they have an insatiable appetite for it.

8. The Witches

One person that understood the dark fascinations of children better than anyone was Roald Dahl. His stories superbly blended whimsy with black comedy to teach children and adult alike valuable lessons.

The Witches was one of his finest creations and the big screen version was faithfully magnificent. Angelica Huston was truly terrifying as the repulsive Grand High Witch, scheming to wipe out every child in the world with her hideous army of bald headed witches.

Watching our childish hero get turned into a mouse was scary, but seeing him enact his daring plan for poisoned soup revenge was exhilarating.

Though Hollywood gave us a happier ending that Roald Dahl might have intended, The Witches remains a joyous thrill ride loaded with subtle life lessons.

9. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has twice made it to the big screen, but even Tim Burton and Johnny Depp couldn’t surpass the oompa loompa brilliance of the first version.

Gene Wilder perfectly captured the playfully erratic genius of magical factory owner Willy Wonka without resorting to an inappropriate Michael Jackson impression and a ladies wig.

The wicked fates that befall the various greedy, spoilt, TV addicted children and their misguided parents are both richly satisfying and entertainingly educational.

Throw in some inspired musical numbers, a candy cane wonderland and an everlasting gobstopper or two and you’ve got the sweet taste of childish adventure.

To paraphrase Hunter s. Thompson “Buy the golden ticket, take the ride.”

10. Bugsy Malone

Bugsy Malone is a unique and charmingly implausible film. It’s a madcap musical about gangsters and dames made with an entirely pre-pubescent cast who drive around in push pedal cars armed with tommy guns that fire mash potatoes.

While the unlikely combination of The Godfather and school musicals might leave cynical minded adults perplexed, it absolutely delights anyone young enough in body or spirit to understand its charms.

An impressively accomplished turn from a young Jodie Foster as sassy lounge singer Tallulah, Fat Sam’s gang of bumbling hoodlums and a collection of memorably melodic tunes make this film fantastically fun and endlessly re-watchable.

By the time the film ends with a climactic gangster food fight you’re thoroughly wishing you were part of the best game of dress up ever captured on camera.

11. The Back to the Future Trilogy

One set of films taught us everything we ever needed to know about time travel. They took us back to 1955 school dances then threw us into a future full of flying cars and floating skateboards.  Finally they let us play out our Clint Eastwood cowboy fantasies in the old west.  Those films were the Back to the Future Trilogy and they did it all in Delorian style.

Christopher Lloyd was the ultimate scatter-brained scientist Doc Brown and Michael J Fox was charmingly baby-faced young hero Marty McFly. Watching them race through the space time continuum at 88 miles an hour taught us how to stand up to bullies and make our own destiny.

12. Young Sherlock Holmes

Young Sherlock Holmes explored the tantalising possibility that the world’s greatest detective Sherlock Holmes and his faithful companion Dr Watson actually met a school and started their crime solving escapades much earlier than even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would have imagined.

Watching young Sherlock easily outsmart bullies, bumbling policemen and master criminals is a perfect personification of the simple truth that children really do always know best.

Although it’s playfully tongue in cheek, a mysterious murderous case packed with deductive reasoning and deadly action makes this one of Holmes best outings ever and a firm childhood favourite.

13. Jungle Book

Another example of classic literature bought to life in a timelessly joyous way was Disney’s animated masterpiece The Jungle Book. They took Rudyard Kipling’s well-crafted prose and introduced singing monkeys, a hypnotic lisping snake, forgetful elephants and a dancing bear.

It’s the film that taught us to look for the bear necessities, forget about our worries and our strife. Though animation techniques may have advanced, the Jungle Book still stands proud over 40 years later as one of Disney’s very best adventures of music and animal magic.

14. Robin Hood

Disney took even more liberties with their interpretation of Robin Hood. They turned the infamous English folk hero into a roguishly good looking fox and Prince John into a cowardly thumb sucking lion. Packed with archery, swordfights, heroic deeds and adorable bunnies this film is the perfect package of history and hilarity.

15. Cinderella

Disney sprinkled more of their bibity bobity boo magic onto Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy-tale of a young girl with ugly sisters, a wicked stepmother and a habit of forgetting glass footwear at parties in Cinderella.  This film is still the reason most little girls dream of princess tiaras and fancy ball gowns. It’s also probably why Prince William and Harry never seem to have any trouble with the ladies.

16. Up

If Pixar are now responsible for most of our animated adventures then the opening ten minutes of UP are surely one of the very greatest gifts they have ever given us. It’s a beautiful and profound celebration of lifelong love that reduces grown men and women to tears even more successfully than the last ten minutes of Toy Story 3.

Though the rest of the film can’t possibly live up to this moving opening, there is still something enchanting about an earnest boy scout and grumpy old man flying into adventure in a house pulled by multi-colour balloons. Doug the squirrel obsessed talking dog is also another stroke of Pixar genius.

17. Shrek 1 & 2

DreamWorks has always lagged behind Pixar in both animation and storytelling quality; however the first two Shrek films remain their crown jewels.

Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas largely steal the show from Mike Meyer’s suspiciously Glaswegian sounding Ogre, as Donkey and the world’s greatest feline lover Puss in Boots.

DreamWorks took us to the magical land of Far Far Away, full of familiar fairy-tale favorites and clever pop culture references.

18. Who framed Roger Rabbit?

Who framed Roger Rabbit was one of the very first films to ever fuse the real world with animated hijinks. As washed up detective Eddy Valentine finds himself reluctantly helping cartoon star Roger Rabbit prove he’s been framed for murder.

While young kids love the zany slapstick antics, older kids can’t help but notice Jessica Rabbit in a tight sequined dress. The buxom cartoon femme fatal was recently voted the second hottest female film character of all time.  Of all the things films taught us ‘special feelings’ was perhaps the most awkward lesson.

19. The Little Mermaid

Speaking of inappropriate crushes on redheaded cartoon characters… The Little Mermaid took us under the sea and made little boys everywhere fall hopelessly in love with Ariel. While little girls were busy admiring the colorful fish little boys were wondering when do we get to Kiss the Girl?

 Evil Octopus-lady Ursula is also one of Disney best villains and her habit of turning people into little brown sea slugs was genuinely a bit creepy.

20. Finding Nemo

Staying underwater Finding Nemo combined a trip to the aquarium with a beautiful story of a devoted father going to incredible lengths to rescue his lost son.  Mesmerizing visuals and characters like surf dude turtles, vegetarian sharks and Dorey the forgetful fish made this one long nautical journey you could happily go on again and again.

21. Babe

One film that features real animal stars is Babe, the live addiction adventure based on the best-selling kid’s book about a confused pig that thinks it’s a sheepdog. This film is the reason Santa still receives countless letters requesting pet baby pigs every year. Babe is so brilliant we’ll even forgive it for the fact that Babe 2 Pig In the City exists.

22. Addams Family Values

One childish sequel that definitely didn’t disappoint was Addams Family Values. It took the kooky gothic charms of the first film to a whole new level of fun. Despite the joyous oddity of Thing, Gomez and Uncle Fester the undoubted highlight is watching Pugsley and Wednesday wreak havoc at a cheery kids camp.

23. Lady and the tramp

Disney’s classic tale of animated puppy love Lady and The Tramp has a timeless romantic charm. Watching two love-struck dogs from opposite sides of the track nuzzle meatballs to each other whilst being serenaded by Italian waiters cannot fail to produce the sound “Awwwwwwww!”.

24. The Aristocats

Although Disney also proved that everybody wants to be a cat in the Aristocats. We loved watching a family of adorable high class kitties finding their way back home with the help of a debonair alley cat.

25. The Lion King

Whether you’re a dog or a cat, in The Lion King Disney taught us that were all connected by the great circle of life. They also made countless children cry their eyes out in the cinema by killing Mufasa.

To be fair they did go on to console us with infamously problem free philosophy Hakuna Mutata.  Although it’s a little worrying that many people’s carefree attitude to life is now based entirely on the advice of a flatulent warthog and a talking meercat.

Still Disney’s African safari themed re-telling of Hamlet is one of the last great examples of traditional animation techniques and makes emotionally complex issues of life and death easily accessible.

26. Rango

Johnny Depp channeled the maniacal spirit of Hunter S. Thompson into a cartoon chameleon cowboy in animated Western Rango. The academy recently awarded this inspired act of insanity with the Oscar for best animated feature.

Rango boast lush quirky visuals that feel somehow more real and tactile than anything you’ve seen before. You could literally reach out and touch the dust on a lizard’s hide or the slime on a toad’s back.

This film is touched by a genius of the most bizarre and sacred kind, that rare magic that only usually exists within the confines of a child’s imagination.

How else can you possibly begin to explain scenes where our hero flees from villainous hillbillies riding a swarm of bats to the sounds of Ride of the Valkyrie played on the banjo?

27. An American Tail & The Land Before Time

It’s important to acknowledge that Disney has never had a monopoly on animated adventures. Don Bluth gave us both An American Tail and The Land Before Time.  Both had an enchanting style all of their own.

An American Tail saw young Feivel Mouskowitz looking for his lost family in the Promised Land of New York, while Land before time saw a misfit band of young dinosaurs searching for the promised land of the leafy great valley while escaping the evil sharp toothed dinosaurs.

28. Jurassic Park

Steven Spielberg gave us real dinosaurs with Jurassic Park, an adventure 65million years in the making. Dinosaurs have always fascinated children because in a way they’re the closest thing to real monsters that’s ever walked the earth.  From the first moment we saw the water jiggle we knew that this was an experience that was going to live up to all our wildest fantasies.

Although it was hard to do a playground velocoraptor impression without walking and sounding more like an angry alcoholic that certainly didn’t stop us. Above all this film taught us not to meddle with nature unless we want to be eaten by a T-Rex.

29. The Princess Bride

Only one film combines swordplay, masked pirate heroes, giants, rodent of unusual sizes and an old grandfather reading a sick kid a bedtime story. That film is The Princess Bride. And it’s wonderful! Packed with an inconceivable amount of fun, genre in-jokes and endearing charm.

The fact that Peter Faulk best known as TV detective Colombo plays the gravel voiced storytelling grandpa, makes you want to reach of a cup of hot chocolate and settle in under a comfy duvet.

30. Ferris Bueller’s day off

Speaking of sick days… Ferris Bueller’s day off showed Mathew Broderick living the dream as he scammed his way into ditching school with his friends to go on the best adventure you never had. He was a hero. The kid you wanted to be, the guy who always got away with it. Things just work out for Ferris; everything goes to plan… well almost.

31. Watership Down

Watership Down was an animated antidote to everything insipidly happy about usual kids movie fare.  Instead of the usual lessons about sharing and friendship you got confronted with death and fascism in bunny rabbit form.  A haunting soundtrack and the bittersweet Bright Eyes song still has the power to make most people familiar with this one tear up and stare wistfully into the distance.

32. Aladdin

It’s hard to avoid Disney for too long on this list and thanks in large part to Robin Williams incomparable vocal talents we have to praise them again for giving us Aladdin. A talking monkey a flying carpet and the best blue friend you ever had made this film more exciting than a thousand Arabian nights. It also gave us a pleasing taste of sappy romance with the memorable whole new world duet.

33.   Harry Potter

No list of classic kid’s film would be complete without mentioning to boy who lived and went on to star in seven films and become the biggest movie franchise of all time.  Harry Potter repeatedly defeated he who shall not be named and made a generation of children actually believe in magic.

34.   The Goonies

Based on a story by Steven Spielberg the Goonies are a gang of typical suburban kids on a dangerous journey to find the lost treasure of suggestively named pirate one eyed Willy. Pursued by a bumbling family of crooks, they have to dodge booby traps to escape with their lives and the rich stuff. Highlights along the adventurous way include the infamous Truffle Shuffle, friendly monster Sloth and a mouthy young Corey Feldman.

35.   The Muppets

Jim Henson’s beloved puppet creations are the definition of family entertainment. Their recent triumphant return to the big screen after 12 years away reminded us that we never really stopped loving them at all.

Kermit the Frog , Fozzie, Animal, Miss Piggy and Gonzo the Great. Uttering those names alone is enough to make us uncontrollably smile. Anarchic, whimsical, inspiring and fluffy are just a few of the countless adjective and accolades you could hurl in the Muppets direction.

There are simply no words that can adequately sum up their timeless brilliance.

The Worst Movie Sequels

If at first you do succeed, you probably shouldn’t try again…

Proving that cinematic lightning rarely strikes twice in the same place, today we’re going to look at some of the very worst movie sequels of all time.

Understandably risk adverse studios are increasingly reliant on the supposedly guaranteed success of following up last year’s sure fire hits with simply more of the same.

Popular characters, memorable catchphrases and ground-breaking special effects often make films successful, but unfortunately without improvement or originality they rarely stand up to the scrutiny of a second  effort.

Nevertheless we’ve recently heard news that even films like Twins and I Am legend are getting unlikely sequels. So here’s some particularly embarrassing cautionary tales for audiences and studios alike to take note of…


1.     Godfather Part 3

The Godfather is unquestionably one of the finest films ever made, brought to life with an all-star cast that perfectly captured the menacing caecilian charms of Mario Puzo’s mafia saga. The Godfather part 2 did the impossible; it not only equalled the impeccably high standards of the first film but arguably surpassed them.

Part 2 added to the already rich tapestry of the Corleone crime family, masterfully juxtaposing the rise of Don Corleone with that of his ruthless son Michael.  Al Pacino dominated every inch of the screen with a career best performance, while Robert De Niro stepped into Marlon Brando shoes and never put a foot wrong.

It’s hard to understate the level of anticipation that greeted the news that there would indeed be a Godfather Part 3. With Francis Ford Coppolla again directing and Pacino staring the stage was set for a glorious final chapter.  Unfortunately the result was one of the most bitterly disappointing sequels in screen history that brought shame on the family and tarnished an otherwise flawless saga.

What went wrong? For a start the script. The Godfather Part 2 had exhausted the last dregs of worthwhile storytelling form Puzo’s original book.  Coppolla wanted 6 months to write the script but Paramount only gave him 6 weeks in desperation to meet a Christmas release date.

The third chapter replaced astonishing drama about betrayal, power and corruption with an outlandish tale of predictably failed redemption and an embarrassing incestuous romantic subplot.

Coppolla himself has admitted that it was only financial problems caused by the failure of other films that forced him to reluctantly take up Paramount’s long standing offer for a third instalment.  Ironically Robert Duvall refused to reprise his role for a third film because he wasn’t going to be paid enough.

The film has many flaws, but casting his own daughter Sofia Coppolla as a last minute replacement for Julia Roberts & Winona Ryder in the crucial role of the Don’s daughter Mary proved a major mistake. Her performance was nervous, vacant and the last thing the already weak production needed.

The Godfather 3 isn’t the worst film ever made, it’s not even truly awful or unwatchable, but when the bar for greatness has been set so high anything below it feels like a massive fall from grace.


2.     JAWS 3

If The Godfather Part 3 was a lacklustre instalment in a once proud franchise then Jaws 3 and 4 were nothing short of embarrassing disasters.

Jaws was based on Peter Benchley’s bestselling novel about a 25ft Great White Shark terrorizing the quiet beach community on Amity Island.  With considerable help from John Williams menacing soundtrack the film launched the career of Steven Spielberg, practically invented the concept of summer blockbusters and remains one of the finest thrillers ever made.

Unfortunately by the time the studio dragged the animatronic Shark into the tank for a third film Spielberg, the original cast and the slightest hint of any quality had already abandoned ship.

Originally entitled Jaws 3-D the film sees the Great White Killer invading a SeaWorld waterpark and was part of the embarrassingly unsuccessful 1980s 3D revival.  Dennis Quaid leads an unfortunate cast through an alarming array of awful dialogue and cheesy special effects.

The film was justifiably nominated for 5 golden raspberry awards including worst picture and director.

The lowest point of Jaws 3 without question is when our heroes find themselves being saved from the evil shark by a pair of friendly dolphins.  Good Grief!


3.     JAWS: The Revenge

The only thing more implausible than Dolphin’s beating up a three ton killer shark is the fact that this Jaws 3 failed to kill off the franchise.

Jaws:  The Revenge saw yet another Great White Shark terrorizing what’s left of the Brody family, having followed them on their Caribbean vacation. The film’s poster came with the simply preposterous tagline “This time it’s personal!”

It’s hard to work out what’s most ridiculous about this leading contender for worst film of all time.  Not only are we supposed to believe that a shark deliberately targets the Brody family to punish them for all their past crimes against Great Whites but then due to a psychic connection it follows Mrs Brody (Lorraine Gary) half way round the world to interrupt her tropical romance with Michael Caine.

The awkward presence of acclaimed British thespian Sir Michael Caine in this atrocious effort is emphatic proof that good actors can’t save a terrible sequel from sinking. Years from now when the Oscars finally plays a memorial reel for Michael Caine it’s safe to say it won’t be featuring any extended clips from Jaws: The Revenge.

*Rotten Tomatoes the website that aggregates film reviews still gives Jaws an almost unprecedented 100% positive rating 36 years after its release, Jaws: The Revenge has 0%!


4.     The Hangover Part 2

Sometimes the problem with sequels is that they try to change too much. They depart from a simple successful formula and fall flat on their face in a misguided effort to be creative and original.

Keen to avoid this potential pitfall Director Todd Phillips decided the only way to safely ensure that The Hangover Part 2 equalled the commercial and critical success of the first film was to change absolutely nothing. Literally.

The Hangover Part 2 shamefully regurgitates ever major plot point, the cast and the predictable toilet humour of the original in its entirety. You almost wonder if they even bothered writing a new script. It might have been easier to simply cross out Las Vegas in the old one and write Bangkok instead.

I’m not even sure if this one counts as a sequel it’s practically a remake. It’s almost as if life is cruelly imitating art and Todd Phillips simply forgot he made the first film, mistaking it for some fuzzy drunken dream he had of a really cool idea for a film.

Sequels are supposed to build on what’s gone before, to develop characters and take the drama and adventure to exciting new levels. They’re not supposed to just be an excuse to re-introduce my dismayed eyes to a poorly endowed naked Asian man. “You wanna party with Chau..?” No, No I do not.  Once was quite enough for me.

A Mike Tyson cameo and Zack Galifianakis’s confused oaf face is not a plot and it’s not even vaguely funny a second time over.


5.     Matrix Reloaded & Revolutions

The problem that faces almost every sequel is that almost by definition good stories tend to have a well-structured plot that crescendo with a satisfying and conclusive climax. Even where some films deliberately leave unanswered questions the reality of watching that story continue and having them actually answered rarely meets our elevated expectations.

The Matrix Reloaded is a classic example of this. The Wacowski brothers redefined the boundaries of special effect with The Matrix. They also gave GCSE religious studies teachers a cool video to show during the ‘what if we’re all just brains in a jar’ class.

Beneath all its bullet dodging Kung Fu moves, the philosophical premise of the first Matrix film was comparatively simple.  By contrast the plot of the much hyped sequels was increasingly convoluted and dull. Relentlessly pummelling bored and confused audiences like a 100 angry CGI Agent Smiths. By the end even the impressive action sequences began to feel bloated and unnecessary.

Watching Keanu Reeves prove ‘I Know Kung Fu’ felt important and exciting, watching him fly around in a trench coat like emo superman felt ridiculous and pointless.  By the end audiences were wishing they’d taken the Blue pill and never even bothered.


6.     Transformers – Revenge of the Fallen

One of the most common crimes of bad sequels is being excessive and unjustified. Particular for blockbuster spectacle movies the pressure to be bigger if not necessarily better is considerable.

One director who’ never been afraid to abandon plot, emotions and any semblance of character development in favour of increasingly elaborate pyro-technics and CGI is Michael Bay.

His first Transformers film was hardly an Oscar winning classic, but the abysmal follow up Revenge of the Fallen was unacceptably poor even by his standards. Sadly Michael Bay has never learnt that the size of your explosion doesn’t matter when your entire cast displays the acting prowess of sweaty lobotomy victims.

Michael Bay clearly relied on the wisdom gained from years of directing mediocre action films and sleazy Victoria Secret commercials to produce a lacklustre sequel even more reliant than the original on Megan Fox’s porn star looks and Shia Labeouf repeatedly screaming Optimus!!

Apart from and some cringewothy nonsense about ‘the Matrix of leadership’ the only notable addition to the usual giant robot fighting for the second instalment in the franchise were some highly offensive new Transformers based on thinly veiled racial stereotypes.

In one of the film’s most embarrassing low points, John Toturro’s character also explicitly identifies two demolition balls hanging between the legs of an evil Decepticon as the “enemy scrotum”.  When people say the second Transformers film is a load of robot balls they mean it literally.

The third Transformers instalment wasn’t any better, yet inexplicably Michael Bay will still be directing the forthcoming Transformers reboot. The very worst thing about bad sequels is that when they make half a billion dollars worldwide studios really don’t learn their lessons.  If you don’t stop watching he won’t stop ruining your cherished childhood memories.


7.     Star wars episode 1 The Phantom Menace

Speaking of the unholy desecration of childhood favourites…

Technically it’s a prequel but it was made 30 years after the original trilogy and it’s utterly awful so Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Mistake still takes it’s shameful place on our list of worst movie sequels.

It’s hard to know where to begin. The original saga gave us a breath-taking tale of intergalactic civil war full of lightsabre battles and exploding death stars. The Phantom Menace gave us trade disputes, little Annie Skywalker screaming Yipee! and Jar Jar Binks.

Devastated fanboys around the world were left pondering why exactly Obi Wan Kenobi didn’t introduce Jar Jar to the business end of his lightsabre as soon as he started shouting “Annie Annie, youssa people gonna die?”

While the original star wars films were actually the result of a talented team of writers, directors and producers, George Lucas spent decades personally deciding how best to bitterly disappoint us with Phantom Menace.

Painfully wooden dialogue and quickly outdated CGI robbed the Phantom menace of all the heart and spirit of the original trilogy. The mysteries of the force were reduced to a midichlorian blood test. Heroes were reduced to 11 year old boys and moronic fish faced Rastafarians. Not even the considerable talents of Liam Neeson and Natalie Portman could save proceedings.


8.     Oceans 12

An even better illustration of the sad truth that a good cast is no guarantee of a good sequel is Ocean’s 12. Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Juliet Roberts… the list of people who should feel disappointed with themselves over this one goes on.

Ocean’s 11 was itself a remake, but it was superb. A largely perfect concoction of star power held together by combined effortless charm and winning style.  The con was most definitely on as we watched a team of familiar Hollywood faces pull off a daring and inventive heist in an evil Las Vegas casino.

As the gang walked off into the neon Vegas night it was clear that the real winner was the studio. The sequel was inevitable but sadly it was also predictably unsatisfying.

Lacking the momentum and confidence of the well planned first instalment, Ocean’s 12 increasingly descended into silly chaos. By the later stages of the film Julia Roberts is playing someone pretending to be Julia Roberts, taking playful self-referential in-jokes quite a few steps too far.

By the end of the film much of the cast is seen hiding in prison, presumably because they’d rather be stuck in there than associated with the flimsy final plot twists.

Though Ocean’s 13 did partially redeem the franchise, the series still goes a long way to proving that if you play the sequel game long enough sooner or later you always lose.


9.     Pirates of the Caribbean – Dead Man’s Chest & At World’ End

If Ocean’s 12 emphatically proved that even the most glittering all-star cast can’t guarantee a good sequel then Pirates of The Caribbean Dead Man’s Chest made clear that you can’t entirely rely on Johnny Depp to do the same.

The first Pirates film was remarkable for several reasons. It was the first big screen blockbuster to be inspired by a theme park ride rather than the other way around. It was also an entire film built solely on the charisma of one eccentric performance.

Johnny Depp’s inspired swaggering Keith Richard impersonation as Captain Jack Sparrow was just good enough to make us overlook the fact that he was entirely surrounded by performances more wooden than the ship’s mast.

But half way through Dead Man’s Chest even Captain Jack’s rum soaked antics couldn’t hide the fact that the plot was an absolute mess, Keira Knightley was irritating and Orlando Bland had a well groomed goatee but no actual personality.

At World’s End even resorted to cloning Johnny Depp as part of an extended existential dream sequence to try and save the sinking sequel ship. It didn’t work and the weird shambles ended up being the worst nautically themed disaster since the Titanic sank.

The most recent Pirates instalment On Stranger Tides did come up with a more effective remedy though and simply cast off all the dull characters to focus on the only people who were ever really worth watching namely Jack and Barbosa.

Sadly if Johnny Depp wants to keep playing dress up with Tim Burton Disney will probably insist he makes another four or five Pirate movies. Kooky hats and novelty wigs aren’t cheap.


10.  Babe : Pig in the city

Classic kids’ films are often the subject of ill-advised money grabbing sequels of increasingly questionable quality. Disney are especially guilty of this, having churned out a growing volume of straight to DVD offerings based on original classics like The Lion King, Beauty & the Beast, Aladdin & Cinderella. Leaving Disney alone in recognition of the all the animated magic they have given us we turn instead to Babe 2: Pig In the city.

Babe is a beloved family classic about a talking pig that mistakenly thinks it’s a sheepdog. Pig in the City is the unlikely sequel hat does exactly what it says on the tin. It takes our loveable talking swine hero and puts him in the middle of a whimsical city full of grumpy dogs, zany monkeys and all manner of talking animals.

The film failed to capture the same whimsical box office magic of the first film, losing $30million. Bizarrely it was also banned in Malaysia. Some people, including indie musical star Tom Waits have hailed it as a cult classic. But the general consensus is that it’s terrible and a compelling argument for the virtues of a well cooked bacon sandwich.


11.  Lara Croft Tomb raider: The Cradle of Life

Based on the bestselling video game series Lara Croft is a tomb plundering action heroine transparently ripped off from Indiana Jones. Inspired by the success of the games and the well documented affections of teenage boys for buxom ladies in hot pants it was inevitable that big screen adventures would follow.

Unfortunately not even the bountiful charms of a young Angelina Jolie could save appalling sequel Lara Croft Tomb Raider the Cradle of Life from dying on its feet at the box office.

Any time an action sequel resorts to plot elements that include base jumping and objects from Greek mythology you know some poor unfortunate screenwriter has reached the bottom of the creative barrel and just kept on digging.

Squeezing Angelina Jolie once again into a wide range of skin-tight action attire can’t hide the fact that the film is bland and joyless.  Gerard Butler takes over from Daniel Craig in the first film, for the thankless task of being the film’s token piece of rugged eye candy.

Although the film still made enough money for Paramount to threaten inflicting another sequel on audiences, Angelina Jolie at least had the good sense to hang up her hot pants after this one.


12.  Basic instinct 2

On the subject of gratuitous sex symbols, Basic Instinct remains one of the most infamous erotic thrillers. Sharon Stone at the height of her sexual prowess was the ultimate ice pick wielding femme fatale in the original. The scene where she reveals she’s going commando to a room full of police officers and cinema audiences around the world is notorious and genuinely provocative.

Unfortunately Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction was made 14 years after the 1992 original and many years after Sharon Stone had stopped being a frequent object of men’s fantasies.

Set in London the film is a lazy rehashing of the first film with Stone playing a serial killing novelist who plays seductive games with police officers and her therapist.

There’s just something so particular depressing about watching graphic sex scenes with a 47 year old former screen beauty. It feels much like noticing the expiration date has passed as you take your first sip of milk from the carton. Both experiences leave you with regret and a nasty aftertaste of disappointment.

At the Razzies , the film won four awards for Worst Picture, Worst Actress (Sharon Stone), Worst Sequel and Worst Screenplay. It also earned nominations for Worst Director, Worst Supporting Actor and most cruelly Worst Screen Couple (for  Sharon Stone’s apparently lopsided breasts).

Speaking of horrific encounters…


13.  Blair witch:  book of shadows

The original Blair Witch Project is a cult classic for the simple reason that it’s found footage documentary style was at least at the time, slightly original and inventive.

Watching three hikers lost in the woods getting increasingly hysterical in shaky camcorder style footage was surprisingly atmospheric. It was clever, ultra-low budget horror accompanied by an inventive promotional campaign that pretended the footage was actually recovered during the search for missing real life hikers.

It gave birth to a new genre of contemporary horror with films like Cloverfield & Paranormal Activity following successfully in its found footage footsteps. Unfortunately its own sequel Blair Witch Book of Shadows did not.

The second Blair Witch film largely abandoned the camcorder footage approach in favour of a generic studio horror film with glossy production values and typically atrocious acting.

The plot such as it is too ridiculous and elaborate to be easily summarised. But in a nutshell some people go camping on the cursed location of the incidents in the original film and end up committing horrible violent crimes with no memory of how or why they did it.

Sadly the film was greedily rushed into existence largely without the involvement of the original production company and writers because the studio wanted to capitalise on the success of the first film while it was still at the peak of its popularity.

This kind of short sighted money grabbing is especially common in the horror genre, where sequels are habitually churned out quickly to capitalise on brief notoriety.


14.  Speed 2 Cruise Control

Of course big action blockbusters often fall victim to the same greedy pressures.

Speed was a runaway smash hit at the box office. Unfortunately Speed 2: Cruise Control was a disaster film for all the wrong reasons. Even Keanu Reeves knew better than to reprise his role from the first film for a second offering that replaced the adrenalin fuelled bus ride of the first film with a sluggish paced cruise ship stuck on a collision course with an oil tanker.

The film’s closing scene, where the boat finally crashes cost almost one quarter of the film’s $110 million budget, and set records at the time as the largest and most expensive stunt ever filmed.

In addition to reeves Christian Slater, Matthew McConaughey, Jon Bon Jovi & Gary Oldman all turned down roles in the film. They must look back on that as a pretty good decision. The film has officially been voted one of the worst sequels of all time in numerous polls and received 8 Razzies nominations including a win for worst sequel.

It’s a fairly well deserved punishment for being foolish enough to set a film which literally promises speed in the title on a giant luxury cruise ship that only moves at a few knots an hour. They’re lucky they weren’t sued for false advertising.


15.  Legally Blonde 2 : Red White & Blonde

Legally Blonde 2 Red White & Blonde certainly delivered on I’s promise of a whole lot of Blonde, but sadly Reese Witherspoon couldn’t deliver any of the plucky charm of the original rom com classic.

Like many comedic sequels Legally Blonde 2 suffered from having to fabricate a pointless second adventure for a character that had already completed her journey from plucky outsider to confident loved up winner.

Sticking close to the fish out of water formula of the first film that saw Elle Woods conquering the uptight world of Harvard law, the ill-advised second offering sees our stereotypical blonde girly girl getting to grips with the harsh realities of the American political system as she moves to Washington DC to get a bill passed to end animal testing and help reunite he pet Chihauhau Bruiser with his mother.

The laughs are few and the films flaws are many. Stretching some weak blonde puns and a pink wardrobe into a 90 minute film is clearly a bad idea. Especially when you’ve already gotten away with it once!


16.  Spiderman 3

The first two Spiderman movie Sam Rami made broke box office records and seemed to only be getting better. Hopes were high for the third instalment in a proposed 6 movie franchise. Especially when news broke that popular villain Venom would be making an appearance.

Tragedy struck quickly and unexpectedly.  Spiderman 3 was so bad that the studio has since been forced to reboot one of the most profitable franchises in movie history with a new cast, new style and new director.

Spiderman 3 made every single clichéd mistake a superhero sequel can. It was overloaded with villains, rushing through their introductions and blatantly miscasting hulking Venom with weedy TV star Topher Grace. It also allowed our main hero to become irredeemably unlikeable. There really is no way back from Emo Jazz dancing. The film irrevocably crossed the line from fun adventure to camp costume clad silliness.

Some conspiracy theorists suggest that Rami deliberately sabotaged the film in order to escape his obligations for further instalments. But other perhaps more believably direct the blame at a studio determined to pack in as many new characters as possible to secure a greater merchandising payday to go with the inevitably colossal box office haul.

But when Peter Parker next swings into action he’ll have Emma Stone on his arm, so whatever audiences make of it, things sure seems to be working out for Spidey.


17.  Batman & Robin

Say what you want about Spiderman 3 at least his suit didn’t have molded rubber nipples on it. Such was the sad state of affair for George Clooney in Batman & Robin. This cheesy abomination looked like it had actually managed to kill off one of the most enduringly complex and popular comic book heroes.  Until Christopher Nolan resurrected Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins, the Dark Knight looked like he’d looked like he’ never rise again.

Uma Thurman was unashamedly over the top as Poison Ivy but Arnold Schwarzenegger as the puntastic Mr. Freeze was simply in another league of awful. Watching the Austrian beefcake spew a never-ending stream of ice and snow based one -liners in the direction of anyone else on screen while covered in body glitter and a neon body suit it’s hard to believe he somehow went on to become a prominent political figure  once tipped for a run at the Presidency of the United States.

Joel Schumacher, if you’re listening to this and let’s face it what else are you up to these days hang you head in shame!


18.  Rocky V

After the euphoric highs of guilty pleasure Rocky VI which saw the Italian stallion squaring up with towering Russia muscle mountain Ivan Drago (played by He-man star Dolph Lundgren) , Rocky V was a depressing crash back down to harsh reality.

Perhaps looking to recapture some of the convincingly gritty drama of the first film, Rocky V saw the thoroughly washed up champ back in his old neighbourhood, boke and reduced to training new up and comers at his local gym.

While the earlier films saw Rocky literally punching his way to victory and glory, Rocky V brought the saga full circle and saw him humbly return to his roots. Quite frankly it pretty depressing.

Instead of the usual final showdown for the heavyweight championship of the world the film ends with a disorientated Rocky reluctantly brawling for his life in a street fight with a young punk half his age.


19.  Queen Of the Damned

Interview with the Vampire stars Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and a young Kirsten Dunst in an opulent and largely faithful adaptation of Anne Rice’s classic vampire tale. By contrast the sequel Queen of the damned stars R’n’B star Aaliyah and lesser known British actor Stuart Townsend.

The sequel was rushed into production by the studio in 1998 against the wishes of author Anne Rice , who admitted she was entirely ignored and snubbed in offers to help write a script for what she later  described as ‘a doomed project’.

Discarding the entire second novel and much of the core plot of the third book the studio paid a TV writer to pull together a makeshift script that would allow them to commence production before their adaptation rights expired on the books.

When young star Aaliyah died tragically in a plane crash the production plunged further into disarray, but eventually a film was realised patched together from what had already been filmed.

Rice would later describe the pain and disappointment she felt at seeing her work mutilated on the big screen.  As we near the end of the list this reminds us of another painful movie truth, however good the source material or initial franchise offerings life and its sequels will always find a way to disappoint.


20.  Indiana Jones Kingdom of the Crystal skull

It’s with pain but a slight sense of relief that we come to the end of our rundown of some of the worst movie sequels. We leave you with a film that is by no means the worst sequel but still easily the weakest effort in a classic franchise.

When archaeologist adventure Indiana Jones finally returned for The Kingdom of Crystal Skull, needless to say expectations were high. One of my best friends actually slept in a car in a French car park in Cannes for an entire week just to be there for the red carpet world premiere.

When the film finally arrived and audiences held their breath expectantly, what followed was a long collective sigh of disappointment.  An aging Harrison Ford, a typically sweaty Shia Laboeuf and a plot centred on inter-dimensional alien skulls left his as the most unsatisfying of all Indy’s magnificent adventures.

The action in Indy movies was always a little far-fetched, but surviving a nuclear blast by hiding in a fridge and having Shia Laboeuf swinging from CGI vines with a group rock and roll monkey took things way too far.