I preferred the original…
The sequel. Much derided. Often disappointing. Sometimes brilliant. In recent years they have even fallen out of favour, replaced by reboots and prequels and all manner of black magic. There are examples out there in the cinematic abyss of sequels that have even surpassed their source material. This article will attempt to find them.
Oh, and also there are actually 11 of them because I wrote the article and then realised I didn’t have a Lord of the Rings film…
11. Clerks II (2006)
If ever there was a film that seemingly didn’t need a sequel, it is Kevin Smith’s lo-fi classic Clerks. It was the grainy, rustic style of that film that made it so adorable. So refreshing. In 2006 Kevin Smith was licking his wounds from the (totally unfair) critical and commercial mauling of his Bennifer starring romcom Jersey Girl. He came roaring back with Clerks II. A film that retained the dick and fart jokes of the original whilst adding a layer of emotional resonance that perhaps nudged Clerks II beyond its source material.
For a list of every Kevin Smith film ranked from worst to best, click here.
10. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
I came late to the Harry Potter franchise and while I grew to love it dearly, it was with Prisoner of Azkaban that I really became smitten. This films marks the first appearance of Sirius Black, Remus Lupin and Draco Malfoy’s boy band haircut.
In truth, the only Potter film to be directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men) is also the best. A classic of the genre.
For part one of 50 things I learnt from watching the Harry Potter franchise, click here.
9. Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995)
Bruce Willis. Samuel L. Jackson. In their prime. Need I say more? Die Hard with a Vengeance perhaps falls short of matching the frantic intensity of the original, but it is undoubtedly the Die Hard movie that has the most fun. Willis and Jackson make for a compelling and frequently hilarious double act and Jeremy Irons makes for a suitably dastardly villain. Not the most technically brilliant film on this list, but perhaps the most entertaining.
8. Evil Dead II (1987)
Released mere weeks before I too was released into the world, the similarly acclaimed horror sequel Evil Dead II refined what a horror entry could be. Rather than a stale rehash of the original, Evil Dead II turns everything up to 11. Bloodier, nastier and funnier, Evil Dead II could well be the greatest horror sequel ever released.
7. The Dark Knight (2008)
Is The Dark Knight the best film of the 21st century? Is it even Christopher Nolan’s best film? I’m not so sure. It is definitely a cultural behemoth though, there is no denying that. There is also no denying that Heath Ledger’s portrayal as the Joker is one of the most iconic in modern cinema. It is a juggernaut.
6. Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)
Aside from inspiring one of the greatest Twitter accounts of all time. Gremlins 2: The New Batch is notable for just how far it strayed from the typical sequel conventions. As with Evil Dead II, the rule book is torn up and spat out, with gross-out comedy combining with biting social satire to produce something meta, unique and jarring. I must admit however that I do prefer the original…
Many of the jokes in Gremlins 2 are imperceptible to the modern viewer – the Cooking cable channel is no longer satire because it really exists. We are heading towards a future where the film is increasingly inseparable from reality. I call this process Hyper-Gremlinization.
— Institute of Gremlins 2 Studies (@G2Institute) December 8, 2017
5. Aliens (1986)
There is some debate around what should be considered the best film in the Alien franchise but the general consensus is that James Cameron’s sequel is the pinnacle of the genre. There is no doubting Cameron’s ability to produce a spectacle. The most memorable shots of the whole franchise come from Aliens, whether it be the victims stuck in the walls or the terrifying, slow reveal of the Queen, and the breathless last hour is as gripping as it is entertaining.
Aliens is a very different film to the one that preceded it but somehow they fit together perfectly. Arguably, neither of them have been surpassed in the genre of science fiction.
For a full review of Aliens, click here.
4. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
For a long time I held out against the charms of the Lord of the Rings movies. Mainly due to my own stupidity. I am here to confirm that I have dove deep into the Rings pool since however and the water is blissful. There is certainly an argument to be made for The Two Towers being the better movie but in terms of sheer scale and magnitude, The Return of the King shades it. Still far too much time spent walking around with Sam and Frodo, but that comes with the territory.
For 10 things I learnt from watching the Lord of the Rings films back to back, click here.
3. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Tough choice here between Last Crusade and Temple of Doom but the former just steals it for me, mainly because of Sean Connery. No one does entertaining quite like Steven Spielberg, and Last Crusade is just a whole lot of fun from start to finish. It kind of feels like these movies, along with the Back to the Future franchise, have kind of been forgotten amidst recent hype for Star Wars and Marvel. Don’t let that happen. We must remember.
2. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
A simply incredible sequel. While A New Hope is still probably my favourite, The Empire Strikes Back is more of a show stopper. Not just one of the best sequels ever, but one of the best films ever. Your desert island Star Wars film. Neither George Lucas or JJ Abrams would ever come close again.
1. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
Being a subjective list, one could sanely argue against every entry in this article. In terms of a sequel that has surpassed the original however, there can only be one. Terminator 2: Judgement Day is possibly the best film of my favourite cinematic decade. There can be no higher praise. Forget every other Terminator film and simply bask in the glory of this one. James Cameron really is the king of the sequel.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
Dawn of the Dead
Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey
The Naked Gun 2 and a Half
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Back to the Future II
Return to Oz
Toy Story 3