Saturday, July 19, 2014

What Sequel Do You Like More Than the Original?

Second/third/fourth time's the charm.

There are two high profile sequels in movie theaters this weekend, and both of them are better than their respective first installments. This is not a new phenomenon -- I'm sure many of you prefer The Empire Strikes Back to Star Wars or The Godfather Part II to The Godfather -- but what are some other sequels you find superior to the original?

Before you answer, just remember they haven't yet made a Kuffs 2. Some movies can't be improved upon.

50 comments:

  1. I like Terminator 2 more than the first. I also enjoy the third Indiana Jones movie way more than the other two but that's mainly because of Sean Connery.

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  2. Three come to mind:

    Fast Five: it's the best AND it's the FIFTH movie in the franchise. That's impressive.

    Spider-Man 2 and X-2: The second entry in most comic book movies seems to often be the best (save for perhaps Iron Man 2)

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  3. Airplane II: The Sequel is so much better than "Air... just kidding. :-P But Shirley you'll agree that Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear is better, funnier and just better-looking and shot than the still-potent-but-cheap-looking original "Naked Gun."

    Good call on "X-Men 2" and "Spider-Man 2," John. "Superman II" (either the Donner or Lester cut), while not as polished as the first one, feels looser and more fun ('Kneel before Zod!'), paying off the world that was set-up in the first Donner movie. It's a guilty pleasure.

    Bride of Frankenstein and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Need I say more, F heads?

    Friday The 13th: Part 2 and Part IV: The Final Chapter are uncut-heads and non-dislocated shoulders above all the other "Friday" flicks, especially the dull-as-hell original that started it all. Amy Steel rulz! :-)

    Fourth time's the charm, and around here few would argue that Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol isn't the best in the franchise.

    A Shot In The Dark, The Return of the Pink Panther and specially The Pink Panther Strikes Again (2-4 in the official Edwards-Sellers franchise, excluding Allan Arkins' '68 one-off "Inspector Clouseau" directed by Bud Yorkin), all much more fun and enjoyable than the '63 "Pink Panther" that started it all (which doesn't suck as much as it unfolds painfully slow).

    Batman Returns is better than the 1989 original, IMO, and as dark and bleak as "The Dark Knight" in an alternate Batman movie universe.

    I'm in the minority, but I like Kurosawa's Sanjuro as much or a tad more than it's 1961 prequel, Yojimbo, mostly because Mifune's character is such a bad-ass that he feels less trapped by the formulaic plot of "Yojimbo" and allowed to just be a mofo ronin in his own adventure.

    It's a personal call, but Dawn of The Dead and Day of The Dead feel like they build and deliver so much more than what the original "Night of The Living Dead," historic and influential as it was, was able to do on its limited budget. Oh well, all three are good regardless.

    "Mad Max" was a cool flick, but The Road Warrior strapped an ass to that and took off, "Rocketeer"-style.

    I wish I could say that "Evil Dead 2" or "Terminator 2" are better than the prequels, but these are instances in which the original was such a pillar to establish its universe that it feels unfair to single out the sequel as better for cashing in on the the prequel's hard work. It's like saying "From Russia With Love," "Goldfinger" and a number of Bond movies are better than "Dr. No." Well, duh! It has to start somewhere.

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    1. A rocket! I meant to say "The Road Warrior strapped a rocket to that and took off, "Rocketeer"-style." That's what I get for writing early on a Saturday. :-)

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    2. Face it, you like Mel Gibson's ass.

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    3. Face it, you're like Mel Gibson's ass.

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    4. I'll face it, I'm an ass. :-P

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    5. Great list J. M! I agree with you on some of the franchises like the Bonds. I will apply the same logic to the Harry Potter franchise! There are several in the series that are better. But the first one lays all the ground work for them to be so!

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    6. The are sequels proper ("Lethal Weapon 2," "Puppet Master 3," "Rocky V," etc.) and then there are franchises that aren't limited to a number set of installments. When your franchise plays by a different set of rules (like all the actors playing Bond all being essentially the same character, or following a group of characters like the kids in "Harry Potter" as the grow over a decade) then the sequels can't be given a proper high place when their entire reason for being were groundwork-laying prequels. You can enjoy a "Rambo" or "Chucky" sequel without seeing the prequels, but the 4th "Potter"? The latest "Hunger Games"? The 2nd "Twilight"? Hell, no.

      Glad you liked my humble little list. :-)

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  4. Of releases just this year...The Raid 2, Muppets Most Wanted, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit.

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    1. Don't forget The Winter Soldier. I would also make an argument for Days of Future Past, but I still think X2 is the best movie in the series.

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    2. I liked The Winter Soldier but preferred The First Avenger.

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    3. I can definitely see why, I loved most of The First Avenger as well. But for me the ending was rather anti-climatic, and I found Weaving's Red Skull character to be a letdown. Although, I didn't love the explosive ending to Winter Soldier either, as that type of ending has been done to death in Marvel movies (and action movies in general).

      So maybe I need to watch both again to be certain.

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  5. It's a cheat but The Color of Money.

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    1. Why is that a cheat? It's a sequel & arguably better than The Hustler (I disagree that it's better, but not by much, they're both straight up great movies)

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    2. I always considered it more of a standalone movie featuring the same character than a sequel, but I'm talking semantics. I agree they are both excellent movies.

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  7. NOT A JOKE: Babe 2: Pig In the City. A movie thoroughly overstuffed with charm and imagination, absolutely worth watching. Love it, wish more kids movies were like it.

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    1. Agreed! I especially love how Momma becomes a full-fledged superhero-on-a-bike at the end.

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  8. Khaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnn!!!!!!!!

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  9. I love, love, love The Silence of the Lambs. One of the all time great horror films. But I have so much more fun with Hannibal. I get so excited when all the stories meet and Hopkins is taken hostage by Gary Oldman. Clarice has to save him and there are giant Russian boars to tend to and they're hungry.

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    1. I'm a fan of Hannibal, too. I don't like it more than Silence of the Lambs, but it's a cool way to go in a completely different direction rather than just trying to repeat the first movie. It's like Texas Chainsaw and Texas Chainsaw 2.

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    1. And now I'm trying to think of another series besides those two where it was a straight shot that 1 is good, 2 is better and 3 is the best.

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  11. Another terrific topic to mull over. Well done, guys.

    If The Devil's Rejects is a sequel, then it is miles ahead of its predecessor.

    I've got to second The Dark Knight again and again; it's in another league altogether from Batman Begins.

    Recently, I thought Catching Fire was more polished and better paced than the original flick.

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    1. Absolutely The Devil's Rejects is a sequel. It's the way sequels should be made. Why does a sequel aways have to follow the same tone and feel as its predecessor? Imagine if Legally Blonde 2 had the feel of a hard hitting, courtroom thriller like The Verdict instead of what we got… That would have certainly changed the playing field.

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    2. Well said, sir.
      And I like where you're going with the Legally Blonde 2 idea. Could be a whole new meta-genre!
      Police Academy 2 done as Serpico. Or what about Missing in Action 2: The Beginning starring Chuck alongside John Savage, De Niro and Walken?

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  12. Debatable, but Hatchet 2 is my favourite of that franchise!

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    1. I don't understand the affection for the series. I watched the first two, but it just wasn't for me. Maybe I am missing out on the joke, but the Hatchet series did not work for me.

      I looks like The Purge: Anarchy is better than the first, which is't saying much since the first one was not good. Still I am looking forward to checking it out, because they're finally hitting the streets, where they should have went in the first place. That and Omar White is in it....

      Some others I would like to add if I may; The Good the Bad an d the Ugly (not technically a sequel), Superman II, The Bourne Ultimatum, From Russia With Love, The Evil Dead II, Lethal Weapon 2, Blade 2, Hellboy 2, Addams Family: Values,.then of course there are horror series where the sequels become either better of worse than its predecessors with no real rhyme or reason to it (Friday the 13th, Saw, Final Destination); I suppose that's because the first movie in each series wasn't all that great in itself, but I always found the range in quality in these series fascinating.

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    2. I don't think you're missing the joke. It just sounds like the joke isn't for you, which is totally ok. Those movies are mostly about a specific sensibility, and if you don't share it you probably aren't going to dig them much. I think the first movie has some things to say about the genre, but mostly it's just about the tone.

      I didn't like The Purge much, but I liked The Purge: Anarchy.

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    3. Thanks for the sentiment. I did like some of the characters in Hatchet mind you, but they never survived for long...

      I saw The Purge: Anarchy tonight, and I really liked it as well. It is very reminiscent of John Carpenter's work, and it provided for a tense atmosphere. I am quite surprised really at him how I did enjoy it. Glad to see you liked it as well, looking forward to your review.

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    4. Yeah I would never try to launch a strong critical defense of the Hatchet movies - it's not like there's much to "get" - it either works for you or it doesn't. My affection for them also grew a lot as I got to know the creator/director, Adam Green. Hatchet was basically his response to the MEAN horror of the late 90's/early 2000's - he was trying to make it fun again and I'm totally on board for that.

      And now I'm actually looking forward to The Purge: Anarchy. My sister finally had her baby so I'm off standby babysitter duty - got some catching up in the theatre to do!

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    5. I actually mention Carpenter in my review, Alex. Great minds something something.

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  13. What with all the sequels coming out nowadays, sheer quantity alone means we're getting a lot of sequels superior to the originals, and I suspect the average quality of sequels overall is improving, also. Anyhow, to answer the question, I like Iron Man 2 better than the first - it's messier, but a lot more interesting, with more going on. Thor 2 is pretty clearly superior to the first, IMO. I vastly prefer the gloriously over-the-top Once Upon a Time in Mexico to the overly grim Desperado (haven't seen El Mariachi); ditto Expendables 2, and for the same reason.

    I argue that TDK is right up there with Wrath of Khan for most improved sequel, as I'm in the minority on finding Batman Begins a witless, moronic bore. But for a more controversial choice, I find Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest a huge improvement over the first, and by far the best of the series to date.

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    1. I think Patrick and I agree with you on "Dead Man's Chest" being out favorite "Pirates" flick.

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    2. I think DMC is the best POTC too :-)

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    3. I think the first Pirates movie is the best, but I like 2 and 3 a lot, too.

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  14. Okay, so I went through my list of favorite movies, and pulled the sequels from them. Then I subtracted from that.

    The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and Kill Bill: Volume Two are fantastic, but I consider them parts of bigger movies, so calling them sequels feels like a stretch. They are the last third and the second half of their respective movies.

    The Godfather Part II is an amazing movie, but I think I like the original ever so slightly more. So it's a sequel worth mentioning, but I don't necessarily see it as the better film.

    That leaves me with three picks.

    SPIDER-MAN 2: Talk about improvement. I cannot stand the original Spider-Man, but Spider-Man 2 is my favorite superhero movie. It played to Tobey Maguire's strengths by focusing on Peter Parker more than Spider-Man. That, and the film lacks a lot of the embarrassing early 2000's style that the original has.

    THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY: Definitely the best film in the Dollars trilogy. It's one of the most suspenseful films out there, slowly warming up the tension until it reaches it's scalding boiling point. It also does the best job of portraying Clint Eastwood's character as a mythical archetype. He feels like a legend in this movie.

    THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK: This is kind of my favorite movie ever, so it was my gut reaction when I saw the title of this post. It manages to be an exciting and fun family adventure movie while still carrying dramatic weight and, for lack of a better term, "dark" undertones. It branches from the original in organic yet unexpected ways. The special effects are greatly improved from the original. It introduced the Imperial March. It gave us Boba Fett and Yoda and Lando Calrissian. It takes everything that makes the first entry fantastic and injects just a little bit of emotional uncertainty to make the film feel unique in it's series.

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    1. Jamie Kennedy in Scream 2 says when asked about The Empire Strikes Back, "Not a sequel. Part of a planned trilogy."

      That quote always stuck with me.

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    2. That's a good point, it seems a lot of the better sequels come from planned trilogies, or at least planned franchises when they have an idea on where to go in future movies. It's a lot more difficult to name "unplanned sequels", or ones that aren't just a continuation of the first movie.

      Also a lot of the first movies have an origin story that bogs the plot down, or doesn't have the same budget future entries have. So they're often saddled with lesser movies. Of course there are exceptions like Iron Man, Robocop, and Captain America, where the origin stories themselves are far more interesting than what the premise in future movies may offer.

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  15. I agree with a lot of whats been posted and the only new one I have to add on would be Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn. While I'm a big fan of the first Evil Dead the insane WTFness of the comedy/horror elements coming together in the sequel has slowly but surely convinced me its better then the original. Army of Darkness while still a lot of fun has kind of lost its luster for me. Also real quick Gremlins 2: The New Batch makes the first Gremlins look quaint.

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  16. Does like...half of the James Bond movies count? Dr. No is a fine movie, but From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, and like 10 or 11 of them are better.

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  17. A few that haven't been mentioned: Hot Shots! Part Deux (1993), A Very Brady Sequel (1996) , Blade II (2002), The Bourne Supremacy (2004), The Transporter 2 (2005), The Bourne Ultimatum (2007). Regarding Evil Dead 2 (1987), I agree that it's better than The Evil Dead (1981). However, I don't think it's a sequel. I think it's more a version 2.0 to The Evil Dead's version 1.0.

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    1. I agree. I kind of think of ED2 is a remake but with more money. The first is brilliant as to what they achieved with so little resources. The second is just brilliant. The third went down the three stooges comedy route. Lots of humour and more one liners. I love all three for different reasons but the first was a true labour of love and that is why I have such affection for the film. Groovy

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  18. Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 needs to be reappraised. That movie has always creeped me out.

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  19. Aliens. They're both so great, but I can't help but prefer the all-out assault slightly over the Ten Little Indians game.

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  20. Gremlins 2

    Return of the Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe

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  21. I'd like to put in a vote for the Bourne series - with the exclusion of that Godawful Bourne Legacy gubbins. I think that each film improved on the last, with Ultimatum being the best of the trilogy. Toy Story aside, I can't think of another franchise (and I LOATHE using that word...) which has done the same.

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  22. Hmmm...No mention of Rambo: First Blood Part 2? Debatable, but definitely in the mix for discussion.

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