Between Top Gun, Jackass, and Bad Boys, a “rotten” Rotten Tomatoes score doesn’t mean a series can’t return bigger and better than ever.
Top Gun: Maverick is going from one success to the next, and when people aren't talking about the latest box office record it has broken, they're discussing the chances of Top Gun 3. However, while the 2022 movie has been a huge critical hit, it comes as a surprise that the original 1986 movie is rated "rotten" on Rotten Tomatoes.
Original "rotten" movies having "fresh" sequels is extremely rare, and it has only ever happened a small number of times, as badly received films rarely get sequels, and when they do, the quality isn't ever any better. But these films prove that isn't always the case, and sometimes a series could be ridiculed into obscurity only for it to return bigger than ever.
It's no secret that the Fast and Furious franchise has gone on to become a high-octane globetrotting action affair. But the original movie, while rated "rotten," has become rather refreshing with its even pacing and story-driven narrative compared to its sequels.
However, though F9 was way too bombastic and unbelievable for most critics, the series hit a nice stride starting with Fast Five. And through to Fate of the Furious, the movies were all rated "fresh" and hovering around the 70% mark. Unfortunately, given all the wild fan theories about Fast X, it doesn't seem like the franchise is in any rush to go back to its roots.
Against all odds, the Transformers films have become huge blockbuster event movies. While that action is messy and crude one-liners litter the screenplays, the films have made billions at the box office, and that's all without ever being rated fresh. However, the last movie in the series, Bumblebee, wasn't only rated fresh, but it has a huge 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. And it's no coincidence that it's the movie that stripped back all of the CGI, explosions, and one-dimensional military characters.
But the original 2007 movie, at just 2% away from being rated fresh, looks great now compared to all of its follow-ups. And there's no denying that seeing Optimus Prime and Bumblebee in a live-action movie for the first time was on an epic scale that few non-superhero movies can achieve.
Top Gun: Maverick has become a phenomenal box office success, grossing $1.4 billion worldwide, which is more than any DC movie and even more than any MCU movie too. That's even more of a surprise given that the original movie surprisingly wasn't even rated "fresh" when it was released.
The original Top Gun sits at a 58% on the aggregate website, which is a full 28% less than its sequel. The original's effects might not be as dazzling as Maverick, and it might not hit audiences on the same emotional level either, but the action sequences were by far some of the most overlooked of its time, and they still totally hold up today.
The Jackass series has impressively gotten a higher Rotten Tomatoes score with each consecutive release, which is a rare achievement for any franchise, let alone one that was so hated to begin with. The latest release in the series, Jackass Forever, shockingly has a huge 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. What's interesting is that the sequels don't do anything drastically different from the entry that came before it, so it could be that critics have warmed to the eccentric pranksters.
It could also be that as time goes on, many of the younger critics will have grown up with the series. But even though that's the case, the franchise will unlikely be nominated for any Oscars any time soon. However, if the original was released today, there's no doubt that it would be rated "fresh."
Suicide Squad and its sequel, the confusingly titled The Suicide Squad, have the biggest gap in quality between an original film and its sequel ever. The 2016 film sits at a miserable 26%, and it was slammed by critics for being cut together to feel like a two-hour trailer, and, of course, Jared Leto's depiction of the Joker was ridiculed.
However, the 2021 sequel fine-tuned the series, and it focused on everything about the original that had potential, such as Harley Quinn and the ragtag group of outcasts. The Suicide Squad has a 90% on the website, which is a whole 64% more than its predecessor. Now director James Gunn is the CEO of DCEU studios, fans will undoubtedly get a lot more films in the sequel's style.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine was one of the most insulting movies for fans of the franchise, and sewing the Merc with the Mouth's mouth shut was a cardinal sin. Thankfully, the Wolverine solo movies got significantly better with each release.
While The Wolverine is rated "fresh" and has a score of 71%, it still has a lot of problems and turned into a run-of-the-mill CGI action movie by its final act. But Logan is almost flawless when it comes to telling the story of Old Man Logan, which fans had been waiting to see for 17 years. However, X-Men Origins: Wolverine still has its fans, and arguably has an intro that rivals Nightcrawler's White House invasion in X-Men 2, as Wolverine and Sabertooth fighting through several major wars in history is so well shot and edited.
The 1995 action movie Bad Boys is a classic for many, but its Rotten Tomatoes score isn't exactly representative of that. It wasn't until the legacy sequel, Bad Boys for Life, was released in 2020 that the franchise finally got its "fresh" movie. The threequel impressively sits at 76% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is huge compared to the original's score, and even more impressive compared to Bad Boys 2, which has a shocking 23%.
However, the action movies are so much fun, regardless of their RT scores, and director Michael Bay pulls off some great comedy violence in the series too, such as the gunfight in the club and the titular detectives hiding amongst corpses in morgues. And comedy violence is something Bay doesn't get enough credit for.
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace was the start of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, and while the wool was pulled over critics' eyes back in 1999 with hype and excitement, the film's Rotten Tomatoes score has now stabilized to one that's more representative of its quality. The film has just 51% on the website, but its two sequels are rated "fresh."
Attack of the Clones' "fresh" rating comes as a surprise given that it's arguably worse than its predecessor, but Revenge of the Sith is more than worthy of its 79% score for the fight on Mustafar alone. But there's still a lot to love about The Phantom Menace, as the pod racing needs to make a comeback, and Darth Maul is the best villain in the universe outside of Darth Vader.
Just as Adam Sandler movies are an excuse for the comedy actor to hang out with his buddies, The Expendables was seemingly made for the same reason. The 2010 movie sees Sylvester Stallone bringing all of his 80s movie star friends back for an extremely tepid legacy adventure, and they seem like they're having a better time than the audience.
However, as the movie was followed by a couple of sequels (and Expendables 4 is currently in production too), The Expendables 2 ironed out a lot of the original's problems. The 2012 movie has a 67% on Rotten Tomatoes, as it brings back way more action heroes, and there's a much better balance of story, action, and old friends busting each others' chops.
Critics thought that writer-director Kevin Smith's schtick got old fast. While the cult classic Clerks gets praised to no end, those same fans were quick to point out Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back's flaws. The film is extremely goofy and breaks the fourth wall a little too much.
However, critics were a lot more receptive to the legacy sequel, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, which has 64%. But the reason for the critics' admiration of the sequel must be similar to why Jackass has become more beloved over time. The 2019 film is still full of unnecessary cameos and has an outrageous narrative, even for the ViewAskewniverse.
NEXT: 10 Funniest Quotes From Jay & Silent Bob Reboot
Currently residing in Madrid, Stephen Barker has been a staff writer at Screen Rant since 2020. Since graduating from Manchester Metropolitan University with a bachelor’s degree in Film, Television, and Cultural Studies in 2014, he has written for numerous movie and music websites. Stephen has been obsessed with movies since he first watched Jurassic Park on VHS, and with a deep interest in screenwriting, he loves 70s character-driven movies. But he’s just as much of a defender of Batman & Robin, The Fast and the Furious, and Small Soldiers. Visit Stephen‚Äôs personal blog, Quaranste, where he writes about guilty pleasure movies, his latest musical discoveries, and how he stays creative during global pandemics, or contact him directly: [email protected]