Many of us groan when we hear about sequels to the best movies being made, because they often end up tarnishing the originals for us. However, sequels actually can be done right if everyone involved actually cares about artistic merit rather than just making some more money. This is a look at the best movie sequels Hollywood as to offer, and, sorry, you’ll find no Sylvester Stallone movies here:
Terminator 2: Judgment Day – But I did have to put an Ah-nold movie on this list. Fans of what is arguably one of the best action movies ever made were very lucky that it translated into one of the best sequels ever made. It’s nice to see the Governator play the good guy here. But of course what makes this one of the best sequels ever is the introduction of a new bad guy, the liquid metal T-1000. Kiddies today might not be so impressed with it, but it was truly a marvel to behold when it came out in 1991.
Aliens – After ‘Alien’, one of the best movies about extraterrestrials ever created, it seemed that there was no way that beings from another world could scare us any more than they did in that movie. But James Cameron continues to bring the chills and thrills here by bringing back Ripley, the best sci-fi heroine ever created, in one of the scariest sequels you’ll ever see. In the sequel, Ripley’s maternal instincts are put to the test, and Bill Paxton provides a bit of much-needed comic relief. Like the movie above, it’s a shame that this franchise didn’t stop with the sequel.
The Godfather, Part II – As you look at each sequel on this list, you’ll notice that most movies are comedies or action/thrillers. This speaks volumes about this sequel. The past and present are blended together as we learn more about the Coreleone family and how Vito rose from nothing to become a legendary crime boss. This is one sequel that is arguably better than the first movie, with darker tones as corruption and betrayal plague Michael Coreleone and those close to him. It’s a shame Part III just couldn’t give this trilogy a proper ending, thanks in part to Coppola’s casting of his daughter in an important role in the movie, but Hollywood just has a way of slowly sucking away the vision and imagination of directors as they start to see movies less as art and more as a business.
The Road Warrior – Mel Gibson was at his best in this sequel to post-apocalyptic movie ‘Mad Max’. In a sequel that should be very relevant to us with the direction we’re going in today, fuel is as precious as gold, and “The Road Warrior” stumbles upon a community that has plenty of it, but needs help protecting it from a biker gang. This movie has “badass” written all over it, and it is another of the sequels here that was actually better than the first movie.
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me – And this is another of the sequels here that was superior to the first. Mini-Me, Fat Bastard, and Felicity Shagwell are all introduced to us, and this movie contained plenty of quotes that would remain popular for the next five or so years following its release. In the movie, Austin Powers must get his mojo back and stop Dr. Evil from destroying the world with a laser on the moon. It’s a great spoof of James Bond movies and another sequel that probably should have been the last here (although it’s hard not to hope that Mike Myers will still revisit the character in the future).
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg – This is one of the most unique sequels you will ever see. The first movie, ‘Lola’, is a black and white portrait of the lives of a cabaret dancer and a man with no prospects in a life, and the second is a Technicolor dream in which every line is sung. Both are incredibly powerful paintings of young love and in my top 100 best movies of all time, and ‘Umbrellas’ is definitely my favorite of all of the sequels on this list.
A Shot in the Dark – When it comes to comedy, this is one of the best sequels of all time for laughs, and Inspector Clouseau brings a lot more here than he did in the first movie, ‘The Pink Panther’. Peter Sellers doesn’t just act here; he is Clouseau, the bumbling detective who drives his boss mad, visits a nudist colony, and finds himself unable to solve a crime before numerous other people are murdered. His ridiculous French accent, servant Kato, and the way everything is accidentally resolved in the end (although Clouseau doesn’t do anything himself) help make this one of the most hilarious sequels you’ll ever see with one of the most ingenuous characters ever created.
Return of the Jedi – This is one of the most popular sequels on this list, but it’s amusing to me to place it here. George Lucas may have started the ‘Star Wars’ franchise, but it looks like it may have been a little better if he hadn’t directed the first movie. Highlights here are the Jedi training with Yoda and, of course, the Ewoks. Too bad George Lucas took an amazing idea and did what he did with it.
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – This sequel is a continuation of the first movie and matches it quality-wise, and I prefer it to the third movie in the trilogy because it doesn’t have twenty endings. This epic trilogy is a little too epic for me, but it is entertaining and this is one of the better fantasy movie sequels out there.
Toy Story 2 – It’s hard to top the first ‘Toy Story’ since it was an animated first and became an instant classic, but this is one of those sequels that it looks like some work actually went into it. It has a unique storyline about Woody being kidnapped by an avid toy collector, and introduces the audience to a few new colorful characters. Will ‘Toy Story 3’ be as good? Well, with the masterpieces Pixar has been churning out lately, it could be the best of the bunch.
So while 99 percent of sequels are snoozefests that warrant popcorn-throwing and walking out of the theater, every once and awhile you’ll come across a real gem. These are some of the best sequels you’ll ever watch because, in some rare cases, one movie just isn’t enough.