Not even the most successful film franchises in the world are immune to failure. And more often than not a long running series finds its weakest link occurring closer to the middle of its total chain.
So brace yourself for this list of the lowest rated movies from popular franchises, based solely on the Rotten Tomatoes critic review scores for sagas like the Star Trek and Star Wars movies, plus so many more.
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) - 21%
If you can’t imagine William Shatner and DeForest Kelly singing “Row Row Row Your Boat” to a confused Leonard Nimoy, you probably haven’t seen Star Trek V. If you thought roasts of Gene Roddenberry’s writing were harsh, try reading some of the reviews for this Shatner directed/co-written entry into the Original Series movies.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) - 19%
It’s hard to imagine a world where Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ animated saga actually saw critics panning its existence. But sure enough, before it grew into the phenomenon everyone knows and loves today, the 2008 feature-film debut of this fresh take landed itself at the tail end of the franchise’s review scores.
A View To A Kill (James Bond, 1985) - 37%
Not even Christopher Walken’s charming villain could save the final entry of Sir Roger Moore’s James Bond movies, A View to A Kill. Throughout the decades of history involved with adapting the literary creation of Ian Fleming, it seems the one where 007 engages in a ski battle set to “California Girls” is seen as the weakest point in the canon.
The Next Karate Kid (1994) - 7%
Shifting to a new lead is never easy for a beloved franchise like The Karate Kid. The bad news for that teen drama saga is that Hilary Swank’s The Next Karate Kid represents the deep end of critical disapproval. The good news is that the spinoff legacy-quel series Cobra Kai eventually made up for it.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 (2011) - 25%
How crazy is this: The Twilight Saga’s lowest ranking critical rating is the first part of its epic two-part conclusion?! Now we can’t say for sure that the epic fight scene in Breaking Dawn Part 2 was what put it above Part 1. But can you really say with absolute certainty that it wasn’t?
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) - 36%
Ok Wizarding World fans: you probably called this the moment you walked into the room. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is, without question, the bottom of the magical barrel with critics. Fortunately, the movie that followed, The Secrets of Dumbledore, managed to reverse its critical fortunes.
Jurassic World Dominion (2022) - 29%
This one stings, especially in the face of a franchise that counts Jurassic Park III among its entries. But the reality is that co-writer/director Colin Trevorrow’s trilogy closer Jurassic World Dominion brings up the rear of the RT review parade. C’mon, even critics are allowed to get it wrong from time to time.
Terminator Genisys (2015) - 26%
Somehow, even with Terminator Salvation sitting right there, 2015’s Terminator Genisys takes the crown for the lowest RT rated entry. Perhaps turning John Connor (Jason Clarke) into a villainous cyborg was a bridge too far for some franchise fans to cross; and that's even in light of what Terminator: Dark Fate would do to the character!
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023) - 69%
Admittedly, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny seems fated to have this spot in the pecking order. Indy’s fifth adventure didn’t exactly inspire fortune and glory during its box office run, and to be fair there were some huge swings taken. But if your lowest rated RT score is a fresh 69%, how bad is it really?
Transformers: The Last Knight (2017) - 16%
Movies like Bumblebee and Transformers: Rise of the Beasts really have turned things around for the Michael Bay-originated franchise. Nowhere is that more clear than the fact that the final Bay directed installment, Transformers: The Last Knight, is the low water mark for the franchise’s critical stores. Unfortunately Sir Anthony Hopkins can only do so much to save a picture.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017) - 30%
Fun fact: Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl is the only entry in the series that’s considered “Fresh” by Rotten Tomatoes scores. That’s kind of wild to consider, especially with how the series’ box office fortunes progressed from that point. And sitting right in Davy Jones’ locker is 2017’s Dead Men Tell No Tales; which still has a post-credits sting worthy of following up with.
Rocky V (1990) - 31%
Another easy fish in the barrel, Rocky V is the dead end of Sylvester Stallone’s franchise. A movie so infamous it was technically retconned by 2006’s Rocky Balboa, but it still technically exists in the series. Good luck finding anyone who’ll defend it as their favorite though.
Men In Black: International (2019) - 23%
Franchise lead changes can be murder on a series, and that seems to be what Men In Black: International did to the popular series of sci-fi comic adaptations. Not even the chemistry between Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, as well as a murderer’s row of talent like Rebecca Ferguson, Kumail Nanjiani, and Liam Neeson could save this one with critics. And be honest: did you remember anyone outside of the film’s leads being part of the cast?
Home Sweet Home Alone (2021) - 15%
In a saga that has two entries not even rated by Rotten Tomatoes, Home Sweet Home Alone is officially the nadir of the legacy holiday franchise. That fact is only made more dire when you realize it’s the only sequel outside of the first two films that ties into the McCallister Cinematic Universe. That’s right, Home Alone 3 is technically a better movie than this; and that’s not a hard case to make.
Vegas Vacation (1997) - 15%
As sure as you can assume that Audry and Rusty Griswold will be recast, people’s opinions on the National Lampoon’s Vacation series vary quite wildly. While most would call that first film their favorite, Vegas Vacation has somehow become the litmus test for what kind of Griswold fan you are. Bring this one up the next time you’re gathered with family or friends, and see the sparks fly.
Jason Bourne (2016) - 54%
How could you go wrong with bringing Matt Damon back as Jason Bourne? Apparently that question was easier to answer than previously thought, as 2016’s big resurrection of The Bourne Identity’s commanding lead absolutely cratered upon release. Maybe that previously rumored Jeremy Renner crossover was the move to make after all.
Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers (1995) - 8%
Paul Rudd, beautiful man and textbook example of Golden Retriever energy, sometimes finds himself in a bit of a pickle. Though in all fairness, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers was early on in his career, and it’s not his fault that the film went through such a troubled production that there are two different cuts out there. The bright side is that Clueless came out that same year, leaving Mr. Rudd not only hedging his bets, but coming out on top of this gamble.
A Good Day To Die Hard (2013) - 15%
Some franchises you can set your watch to when it comes to the movie everyone despises. While the big action in John McClane’s canon is which Die Hard sequel is best, most everyone can agree that A Good Day to Die Hard is the absolute pits. In fact, some might even rank that car battery commercial Bruce Willis did, in character as McClane, higher than this misfire.
Inspector Clouseau (The Pink Panther, 1968) - 0%
Trivia time friends: Inspector Clouseau is one of two times the classic run of films cast someone else in this titular role. Using the late, great Alan Arkin as the famed French sleuth at this point, it was obvious that you can’t just sub out Peter Sellers at will for this iconic character. As for the other actor that played the role: that would be Sir Roger Moore, credited as Turk Thrust II, in a small cameo for 1983’s Curse of the Pink Panther.
Friday the 13th: Part 3 (1982) - 7%
Remember when horror movies used to have “the 3D installment” to count as a gimmick? Of course you don’t, because it never really survived past Friday the 13th: Part 3. Though other series would try again, both before and after the 3D boom of the late aughts, Jason Voorhees’ adventure through the third dimension of entertainment went over as well as you’d think. On the plus side, it does have an awesome Alice Cooper theme to call its own, thanks to the inclusion of the song “He’s Back.”
A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) - 14%
We seem to be on the cusp of a potential reevaluation of 2010’s A Nightmare on Elm Street remake. Some consider Jackie Earle Haley’s portrayal of Freddy Kruger to be quite chilling, and a welcome return to the sinister nature of Wes Craven’s iconic creation. Upon its release however, the film was panned heavily, and much like Friday the 13th, any aspirations for a follow-up were snuffed out.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014) - 55%
Chris Pine can revitalize franchises to a pretty fantastic effect, like he did with J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek. Even with that experience under his belt, it sadly wasn’t enough to win over critics in the Kenneth Branagh directed Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. On the bright side, we eventually saw Pine nab crazy experimental roles past this point, and Branagh would go on to make his fantastic Hercule Poirot films as well. So maybe the Clancyverse wasn’t their true calling.
Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004) - 19%
In the entire history of the live-action Resident Evil films, and yes that includes Welcome to Raccoon City, there isn’t a fresh entry in the lot. So guessing which one is the statistical floor of the Capcom video game adaptations isn’t an easy feat. If you guessed Resident Evil: Apocalypse was that very film, you win a prize: being harsh on what’s arguably one of the better sequels in this wild range of films.
Hotel Transylvania (2012) - 45%
This is a fact that would make anyone go “blah blah-blah.” Out of all four Hotel Transylvania movies, the very first entry is the one that sits at the bottom of the food chain. Which makes the Adam Sandler-led ensemble comedy one of those cases where not one, but two major recastings actually didn’t cause the series to flatline faster than a vampire.
The Transporter Refueled (2015) - 15%
Rule one of entering a franchise: always know your audience. The Transporter Refueled could be seen as forgetting that rule, as the first film to recast Frank Martin saw Ed Skrein stepping into the shoes of Jason Statham. While he seemed to do rather well in the lead, critics just couldn’t help themselves when deciding to send it to the back of the pack.
Night At The Museum (2006) - 43%
Wild fact of the moment: even with a recast animated legacy-quel, Night at the Museum’s very first installment is the lowest rated RT score in the series. Of course, that wasn’t enough to stop the Ben Stiller series from continuing to thrive. So maybe the tablet’s magic extends to the fate of the franchise it exists within as well.
Ice Age: Collision Course (2016) - 18%
Horror franchises love to go to space in order to spice things up in later entries. However, the Ice Age series technically isn’t a part of that genre, depending on the parents you consult on the matter. In either case, it sounds like that sort of mixup may have been part of why this Scrat-enhanced entry is in stone cold last place.
Rambo: Last Blood (2019) - 26%
“They drew first blood,” but Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo: Last Blood made sure it was the end of an era for the action star’s legendary character. While the first film is considered one of the best action movies of all time, its less than stellar finale had critics ready to move on. To survive a franchise, you’ve got to become someone who knows when to quit while they’re ahead.
Sudden Impact/The Dead Pool (Dirty Harry, 1983/1988) - 53%
Leave it to “Dirty” Harry Callahan to buck the trends, and have not one, but two movies tied for last place. 1983’s Sudden Impact and 1988’s The Dead Pool are both equally rotten in the minds of critics, no matter how many wicked one-liners Clint Eastwood’s hard nosed cop spouts.
Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) - 52%
Maybe they were too old for this mess. Despite ending Lethal Weapon 3 with both Danny Glover and Mel Gibson partaking in that gag that helped make the series famous, 1998’s Lethal Weapon 4 happened, scoring the worst RT score in series history.
The Matrix Revolutions (2003) - 34%
Pop quiz, hot shot: did you expect The Matrix Revolutions to represent the bottom of the barrel for Keanu Reeves’ sci-fi epic? If you think that’s crazy, buckle up for what we’re about to tell you. As it turns out, this is the only Matrix movie that isn’t considered Fresh. How unfair is that?!
The Godfather Part III (1990) - 66%
The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corelone recut The Godfather Part III decades after Francis Ford Coppola’s infamous sequel laid an egg ending the Corleone saga once and for all. In its original form, the movie weighed in at a respectable, but still hotly debated 66%. The recut, on the other hand, saw itself clearing an 86% RT rating; and even led to star Diane Keaton’s glowing reappraisal upon its release.
You never know where a popular franchise is going to go when it comes to public and critic opinion. Let that lesson sink in as you reflect on the movies we’ve discussed above, as the notion that the last entry is the worst one can properly be dispelled with the cases we’ve just studied.