Shihnong's Movie List - The Best and Worst Sequels

By ShihnongShihnong
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Movies are stories, and because they are stories, movies are meant to have a beginning and an end. But sometimes, there’s another story that follows the end. And why is there another story? On the rare occasion, it’s because what we thought was the story was only the beginning. Sometimes, there’s a far deeper plot that incorporates the first story. Sometimes, it’s a different story revolving the same characters, but it feels whole and complete. And then for the most part, it’s because the first gained so much economic success that it would be “stupid” not to follow up with another part.

I’m not going to be discussing the last choice where people take amazing stories (and on occasion really bad stories that I don’t know how they got made in the first place) and turn it into something that went through your garbage disposal.

No. This is about those gems that outshine the first. And why do they outshine the first? Well – here’s why.

But before I get to that, I’d like to state that this is my list, so if you don’t agree – your tastes suck.

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And three other things:
  1. There are a lot of movies I haven’t seen.
  2. Sequels are complete stories – not continuations. So there will be no Kill Bill Vol.2 or Lord of the Rings: Return of the King on here.
  3. The Empire Strikes Back will not appear on this list. It is a darker story, more detailed, and more engrossing than Star Wars – I will not add in that subtitle of “New Hope” because it is Star Wars PERIOD – but Star Wars had that amazing cascading impact that the Empire Strikes Back cannot compare to. Sure, it probably caused immense trauma to people by completely shadowing your innocent thoughts of wanting Luke and Leia to get together romantically, which implies sexual, by making them brother and sister. Oops? Spoiler? Honestly, if you didn’t know that, read the last clause of the above paragraph. But anyways, you’re all sickos. I’m a sicko too.

The list: Sequels better than the first.

#5) Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man 1 was an okay movie. It might even border bad. It was campy, the action was subpar, and seriously – what is up with the costumes? The Green Goblin looked horrendously laughable, and the Human Spider – c’mon. In fact, I’ll sum up Spider-Man 1 as the fight between the Human Spider and Bone Saw. Mediocre at best.

Now, Spider-Man 2 was fantastic. It kept its camp to a minimum for the film. When it was campy, it made it so extreme that you knew they were laughing at it. But the story is where it shines. Alfred Molina gave life and realism to Doc Ock. The script with his acting made the character relatable, understandable – human. Defoe did a great job as a psychopath for the Green Goblin, but the Green Goblin was written terribly. There was nothing engaging about him, but Doc Ock who I never really cared for became a character I could feel for.

And finally, the theme of “with great power comes great responsibility” actually had poignancy. It wasn’t just Peter but also Doc Ock. Anyone tired of me raving how good Doc Ock is? ‘Cept that “protector” chip. Seriously, worst plot device ever.

It’s possible that Spider-Man 1 was weighed down by the origin-story. It’s possible. I don’t care. 2 was better than 1. Could 2 have existed without 1? Yes. Easily. Why? Because everyone pretty much already knows who Spider-Man is. And, it’s possible to tell a story without the whole origin. Or you can do what the Incredible Hulk with Edward Norton did. All-in-all. Spider-Man 2 is superior to 1.

#4) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade / Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark is a stellar movie. Honestly, I love the entire series including Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (a terribly entertaining movie). But I’m hard pressed to put either 2 or 3 as being the superior sequel.

Temple of Doom is my actual favorite. It had a darker story involving child slavery, it had an awesome roller-coaster scene, and the sexual tension between Indy and Willie was by far the most enjoyable romance in the series. Last Crusade and Raiders don’t have that romantic flair.

But Last Crusade is “awesomer” than 1 because of the trials Indy goes through at the end were undeniably creative and fun, “No Ticket” has become an allusion people can throw out and get, and…

Sean Connery.

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#3) Die Hard 3: With a Vengeance

Die Hard is one of the most hard-boiled action movies I’ve ever seen. Unlike Schwarzenegger films, Willis’ character McClane in Die Hard actually takes a beating, gets hurt and bloodied, and is burdened by a possible divorce. He’s human, and everything he does is a testament to willpower.

In Die Hard 3, he’s in the middle of an estrangement with his wife, likely to end in divorce (watch Live Free or Die Hard to see how that ends), he’s on probation from the force, and some random jerk wants to kill him. So really, he has no motivation to do any of this stuff. But he’s a good guy, so he’ll play along with the evildoer (portrayed by Jeremy Irons).

Two things make this better than the first movie:
1) The puzzles: Some sadistic guy is threatening the city by making McClane run around and solve puzzles. That’s awesome. And the puzzles are entertaining! Also, if your child is in 3rd grade like I was when I watched the movie, they’ll learn math and logic! One of the puzzles is how do you fill a 5-gallon jug to 4 gallons with only a 5-gallon jug and a 3-gallon jug. Man, good memories.
2) Samuel Jackson: I feel Samuel Jackson has been hyped far too much in recent days. Marvel even modeled their Nick Fury for their Ultimate universe after him. C’mon. But he’s still awesome. And this is before all that hype. So this is classic Samuel Jackson.

#2) Once upon a Time in China 2

Once upon a Time in China is a series of kung-fu movies starring Jet Li (I know there’s another actor for other films in the series, but frankly, only Jet Li can be Wong Fei Hong). Now, for those of you who don’t know the Once upon a Time in China series (which I’m supposing is most of the population), it’s a kung-fu film series set during 1850-1900 China. The first one in a nut shell shows China’s xenophobia to outsiders aka the West, and ultimately, the outsiders are evil.

Once upon a Time in China 2, however, flips that. In this film, we see how the Outsiders actually help. Westerners are actually good people, and it’s the xenophobic Chinese that are bad! Wow! It must have hurt China to depict themselves as evil (haven’t seen an American film do that yet…). But we’re supposed to realize that the true enemy is racism and xenophobia. Ah, good to see philosophy coming in finally. And it’s in an action movie? What? Awesome film.

Oh, and the action is spectacular too. It's string-fu. So if you’re looking for a realistic kung-fu movie, this isn’t it.

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#1) Terminator 2

Terminator 1 implied that man’s reliance on machines would destroy mankind. It also implied the theme “there is no fate but what we make for ourselves,” but it didn’t run with it. What Terminator 1 did do was have Schwarzenegger be evil and give the lead action role to Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton, a female? Women can be action heroes?!

But Terminator 2 actually took those themes of man’s reliance on machines and showed how quickly it could all go wrong. We see how one man’s motivation to create an artificial intelligence for good can go wayward in militaristic hands. We also see the ability for mankind to change its fate of destruction. The movie argues that if a machine could learn the value of human life, humans can as well. And that’s the most important trait about humanity: change.

And the action was sick!

I saw this movie when I was six, and it’s stuck with me ever since.

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On the flip side – Sequels that should not have been made.

5) Spider-Man 3

Honestly. How do you go from mediocrity to excellence to this disaster? All I have to say is this – 2 weeks after it came out, I watched it in the theaters and there was a standing ovation when Peter slapped Mary Jane. ‘Nuff said.

4) S. Darko

I haven’t even seen this film yet, but here’s where I’ll rant about how the economic success of a movie combined with someone’s vision of a continuation ‘cause s/he doesn’t feel that the story is over is a bad idea.

Hopefully, you’ve noticed that the sequels I’ve listed as superior are generally action based movies. Yes, I watch a lot of action movies. I also watch romantic comedies. On occasion, even the dramatic movie or the Indie film. Something like Godfather 2 didn’t make the list because it’s not a movie I can watch over and over again. It’s a great movie and superior to the first, but its overbearing themes just don’t flow well with me. Sometimes, drama/philosophical movies can have sequels like Godfather 2.

And then there’s something like this. Richard Kelly, director of Donnie Darko, does not want to even mess with a sequel. Why? Maybe he’s afraid it’ll somehow ruin the continuity of the original film. Or maybe some things should remain as they are.

3) Chronicles of Riddick

Sometimes, it’s okay to take a character in another direction. Riddick didn’t become any less badass in his transition form Pitch Black to Chronicles, but the overall atmosphere and story went way down the drain. Pitch Black is a thriller; whereas, Chronicles is pure action. Pitch Black was about humans at the edge of space. Then Chronicles came and took all the emotive power in the final scenes of Pitch Black, and turned it into some gung-ho explosive action sequel where Riddick was revealed to be a Furyan, an alien being who is predestined to be great. Along with the other sequels on this list, I pretend this one doesn’t exist.

2) X-Men 3

I’m not a super big Marvel fan. I don’t even like the first X-Men movies. But when you kill one of the most famous characters and muck up the story just so Halle Berry can have more face time as the leader of the X-Men, then it’s a pretty bad movie. Might as well have been: X-Men 3 – the X-Woman starring Halle Berry, directed by Halle Berry, produced by Halle Berry, written by Halle Berry, casting by Halle Berry, and with music by Halle Berry.

1) Matrix Sequels

What the #@$%(edited for kids reading this) Wakowski brothers?

Note: I don't own the copyright to these pictures. I suppose the production companies own them. If not them, then the people I found it from on google images.


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