First, the bad news: there are a lot of movie sequels set for release sometime within the next six months. Now, the good news: Most of those films are going to suck — and yes, that is good news. The more terrible, financially disastrous sequels that are made, the less likely studios will be to continue thinking that making a 2 or 3 of every movie is a good idea. Eventually, if enough of them flop at the box office and fail with critics, Hollywood might finally start to understand that most movies, no matter how successful, should just be left alone.
And if any year's roster of sequels could teach studios that lesson, it's this one's. While the first half of 2014 saw some fairly decent follow-up films—The Amazing Spider-Man 2, 22 Jump Street, X-Men: Days of Future Past — the second half doesn't look quite as promising. Between Step Up All In, The Expendables 3, and Paranormal Activity 5 (seriously, five?!), this fall's film sequel line-up doesn't exactly scream "Oscar."
Yet for those of you not dying to see Sylvester Stallone and Mel Gibson duke it out this fall (and I assume that's most of you), there are a few sequels coming out this year that look a bit more promising. Seven films you won't want to miss:
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Jul. 11)
Sequel to: Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
About: The war between Caesar's (Andy Serkis) army of genetically evolved apes and the human survivors of a decade-old epidemic, including the ape-allying Malcolm (Jason Clarke) and a man set out for revenge (Gary Oldman).
Do you need to see the first one? It would help give some background, but you'll probably be fine. Dawn's plot could stand on its own, and James Franco's Rise character only makes it into a cameo.
The Purge: Anarchy (Jul. 18)
Sequel to: The Purge (2013)
About: Five people trying to survive The Purge, a night where all crime is legal... actually, who cares? The only reason the movie's even on our list is because it stars Zach Gilford, better known as Friday Night Lights ' Matt Saracen.
Do you need to see the first one? Nope — the plot's pretty much the same, and nearly all of the actors are different.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (Aug. 22)
Sequel to: Sin City (2005)
About: The lives of the city's eclectic residents, including Dwight (Josh Brolin), Marv (Mikey Rourke), Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Nancy (Jessica Alba).
Do you need to see the first one? Probably. You could try to figure out all the intersecting plotlines on your own, but you'd be much better off if you gave the first movie a re-watch beforehand.
Dumb and Dumber To (Nov. 14)
Sequel to: Dumb and Dumber (1994)
About: Harry (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd's (Jim Carrey) search for Harry's long lost daughter, also starring Jennifer Lawrence. Yup.
Do you need to see the first one? Nah, but why would you see this if you didn't love the first one? Oscar-winning actress aside, it's not like Dumb and Dumber To sounds so appealing on its own.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 (Nov. 21)
Sequel to: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
About: And speaking of Jennifer Lawrence... Mockingjay follows Katniss' (Lawrence) fight to save Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and lead the Districts in a battle against the Capitol.
Do you need to see the first one? You really should. There will definitely be viewers who are coming in fresh, but they'll have no idea what's going on. Watch the movies.
Horrible Bosses 2 (Nov. 26)
Sequel to: Horrible Bosses (2011)
About: The plan of Nick (Jason Bateman), Dale (Charlie Day) and Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) to kidnap an investor's son (Chris Pine) in order to fund their business.
Do you need to see the first one? Probably not, but why not? The first movie was witty and fun, and it'll be nice to have some fresh memories of Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Spacey's antics before coming into the sequel.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Dec. 17)
Sequel to: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
About: The battle of Middle Earth's creatures to gain control of The Lonely Mountain.
Do you need to see the first one? It's definitely advised. Like all Lord of the Rings movies, you could go in without any background, but you'd be very, very confused. Do yourself a favor and see the first two Hobbit movies so you're not the person in the theater going, "now, which one is Gandalf?"
Image: 20th Century Fox; Universal; Dimension; Lionsgate; Warner Bros