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Friday, April 13, 2012

Five Movie Sequels That Are Better Than The Original (And Other Notes On Sequels)

There are a lot of great movie sequels. There are a lot of lists that rank the best movie sequels. However, those lists rank the sequels as stand alone movies. That is not this list. This list not only compares the quality of the sequel itself but also also compares the sequel to its original. In order to be eligible for this list the sequel needs to be better than the original. Frankly, it was tough coming up with five movies. There are a LOT of sequels out there but very few of them are better than the original.


Directed By: David Yates
Original: Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone (2001)

Why The Sequel Is Better: Frankly, it was not hard for HP8 to beat HP1. It wasn't that the original was not a good movie, it's just that the Harry Potter franchise never really made THAT good of a movie. Don't get me wrong, I love the Harry Potter franchise and saw all 8 movies, most of them in IMAX. However, as stand alone films they are nothing more than three star flicks.

The plot of the first six are all the same. Harry is with his surrogate family that he hates, he goes to Hogwarts, meets up with his friends, something terrible happens, Harry, Ron, and Hermione stumble across teachers where they explain that something is wrong, the three friends try and solve the problem, there is an "epic" climax sequence, and then Herry saves the day and is the hero. Don't get me wrong, I love watching that formula, but it is a formula nonetheless.

The Deathly Hallows, Part II however not only does NOT follow that formula (mainly because it's the second half of a book and not a whole book) but it's extremely darker than it's first seven predecessors. The action is better and HP8 takes you on a better and more exciting journey. You know in your heart of hearts that there did not have to be 7 Harry Potter books and J.K. Rowling easily could have gotten what she needed to say in, at maximum, four books. So as the series went along the plot did kind of get a little stale. But that being said, the epic conclusion was very entertaining one to see.

4) ALIENS (1986)

Directed By: James Cameron
Original: Alien

Why The Sequel Is Better: The simple answer is because Ellen Ripley is infinitely more of a bad ass in James Cameron's version than she was in Ridley Scott's version. Admittedly it is hard to compare Scott's version to Cameron's because they are purposefully two different genres of films. I just prefer Cameron's genre better because of the action sequences (which Aliens is purposefully more of an action movie than Alien). Alien is more of a horror movie whereas Aliens is sci-fi/horror/action-adventure. Never before had we really seen that blend of scariness and fun like what Cameron delivered to us and for that I believe Aliens is better than Alien.

Plus, in Aliens we get that famous Ellen Ripley line, "Get away from her, you BITCH!"

3) SPIDER-MAN 2 (2004)

Directed By: Sam Raimi
Original: Spiderman

Why The Sequel Is Better: Spiderman was Sam Raimi's take on a superhero movie and because Raimi has a great sense of humor which shows in all his work (see: Evil Dead) his interpretation of a superhero movie was very fun to see. But then Raimi topped himself with Spider-Man 2. The reason the sequel is so much better is because it is not really an action movie at all. Since Michael Bay burst onto the scene action movies have had a very thin plot but lots of explosions and shit guys generally want to see. Sam Raimi changed the entire landscape of not only superhero movies but action movies in general- by taking OUT the action. While Doc Oc and Spiderman have an pretty badass fight on a train at the film's climax, the vast majority of Spiderman 2 is how Peter Parker deals with being in a relationship with Mary Jane and dealing with his superpowers. It is because of how revolutionary this squeal is that it easily earns a spot on this list.


Directed By: James Cameron
Original: The Terminator

Why The Sequel Is Better: The main reason is the special effects. Sure the seven year gap between the first and the second one helped with that, but the fact remains Judgment Day still holds up today- even with the world being exposed to Cameron's Avatar. The same can not be said for the original. These special effects make for better action sequences and an overall better movie going experience.

The plot is also better with the addition of Edward Furlong as a young John Connor plus the addition of a robot protecting the Connor's as opposed to just a soldier. I understand there is still that disparity as the one protecting the Connor(s) is still weaker than the one sent to destroy the Connor(s) but it is much more believable in this world the movies set up that the Connors are saved by a cyborg as opposed to just a soldier.

For a better plot and better special affects, Terminator 2: Judgment Day earns the runner up position on this list.


Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Original: Batman Begins

Why The Sequel Is Better: The simple reason is because The Dark Knight is one of the best films of all time. (It's number two on my personal list behind The Shawshank Redemption). The long reason is because the plot is darker and it is able to explore the complexities of Batman in Gotham City which was a limitation of Batman Begins because it was an origin story. Batman Begins is the prequel laying the foundation for The Dark Knight. The theme for TDK is escalation and what happens when Batman helps to clean up the mob from ruling the streets. We are able to get to that darker place because of the initial steps Batman Begins took.

Plus, The Dark Knight had the greatest characters ever in the history of cinema: The Joker. Hot damn was Heath Ledger's Joker amazing!


- Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King: To be honest I think the entire LOTR trilogy is overrated. The third installment is probably the best one, but really, how can you tell?

- Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back: I was in the boat for the longest time that Episode 5 was the best of the trilogy. Until I actually saw Episode 5 past the age of 12. Like all of the original trilogy, it's an excellent film but really it is just a bridge so we can get to Episode Six. There is only one true fight scene and it's a "eh" battle between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. The cliffhangers of Empire are great (such as Han getting frozen in carbonite and Luke finding out Darth Vader is his father), but it is only as good in the fact that it connects us to the end and not better than Episode IV.

- Star Wars Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi: The three battle sequences at the end (Luke v. Darth Vader and The Emperor / Han and Leia and The Ewoks vs. The Stormtroopers / Lando Calrissian and the Rebels v. The Death Star) make this one a more legitimate contender to be better than A New Hope but the Ewoks are just so damn silly and too cartoonish (although they probably are more entertaining than the original idea of a planet full of Wookies just for the fact that the Wookie language would make you want to shoot your brains out) and the muppets that hang around Jabba The Hut at the beginning of the film are just ridiculous (something George Lucas realized and updated in the "newer" version)  and all of which make Return Of The Jedi inferior to A New Hope.

- The Godfather: Part II: What does Part II add or do that Part I didn't already do?

- Toy Story 3: An excellent film but it was too reminiscent of the original and I personally didn't even think it was the best Animated Film of the year (20110)


- Raiders Of The Lost Ark: Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull was just atrocious, Temple of Doom was very entertaining but the restrictive narrative makes it inferior, and The Last Crusade was so boring at parts I literally zoned in and out of the film.

- Die Hard: You just can't find a better villain than Hans Gruber

- The Bourne Identity: I can't stand Paul Greengrass' shaky cam which far and away ruined The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum (Greengrass did not direct The Bourne Identity)

- The Planet of the Apes: What made the original so great was that it tackled the issue of science vs. religion yet Hollywood and produces stupidly thought Americans just wanted to see talking monkeys. Idiots. Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes could give the original a run for its money but I consider it more of a reboot than a prequel/sequel.

- The Matrix: Again, the producers suffering from a "Planet Of The Apes" type syndrome. What made the original Matrix so good was not the fight scenes and the effects (granted it was a huge part of it) but the futuristic story line. The best part of The Matrix was not the shoot 'em up stuff that happened after the Agents kidnapped Morpheaus (although again, pretty bitchin' stuff) but everything that happened before then. The second sequel was a decent action flick but the third one was just a pile of garbage and both completely missed the mark on what made the original so great.

- Lethal Weapon: Not only did Joe Pesci (whom I normally love) alone ruin all the sequels because his character is so damn annoying (Ok, Ok) but Mel Gibson's character was so great in the original as a suicidal maniac / great cop yet was not the same guy in the latter films. Plus, there's only so much shit Danny Glover was too old for. If he was too old to do the stuff in the original he absolutely was too old to do the stuff in the next three movies.

- Jaws

- Back To The Future

- Shrek

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