Hollywood has been sequel crazy for years. So many sequels are released, it’s impossible to keep track. Some shitty ones that have come out already this year include A Good Day to Die Hard, The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia, and The Last Exorcism Part 2, with countless more set to come out in the next few months, including The Hangover: Part III, Iron Man 3, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Scary Movie 5, Fast and Furious 6, Star Trek Into Darkness, Thor: The Dark Worlds, The Wolverine, and Anchorman: The Legend Continues, just to name a few.
Many moviegoers feel that sequels are always far inferior to their originals. However, not all sequels suck, and I’m going to prove that with this list of follow-ups that either live up to their originals, are almost as good as, or can even be considered better than their predecessors. Some of these sequels I happen to prefer to their originals, for various reasons. I’m leaving out some of the cliché, most obvious choices, such as Aliens, Terminator 2, The Dark Knight, and the mother of all sequels, The Godfather: Part II.
Scream 2 (1997)
The characters in the film discuss, paradoxically, how sequels generally suck in a sequel that is quite far from sucking. That automatically warrants it being on this list. It had the best finale in the franchise – not necessarily who the killers are, but the fast-paced action of events. It also has the series’ second-best opening scene, which featured Jada Pinkett Smith being slashed to death in front of moviegoers at the premiere of Stab, the movie-within-a-movie that’s based on the events of the first film. This brilliant scene cleverly conveys a commentary on violence in cinema and how people have become so immune and numb to everyday violence that they’re not even capable of distinguishing staged violence from the real thing. In addition, it features my favorite scene in the franchise, which is when Sidney and her roommate Hallie must climb over the apparently knocked out killer in order to escape from a crashed cop car. Scream 2 has everything that made the first film great: witty dialogue, pop culture references, a great cast of well-developed, likable characters, suspense and original kills. Not to mention, both Courteney Cox and Neve Campbell look the sexiest in this installment. Somehow, rather fittingly, they both wind up looking the worst in the third one.
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
Let’s face it, nothing is more awesome than New York City during Christmastime. Granted, it’s virtually a remake of the first one, but the fact that it takes place in a huge city instead of just a house sets itself apart enough that the similarities are easily overlooked. Unfortunately for The Hangover: Part II, Bangkok isn’t nearly different enough from Las Vegas. The number of sheer coincidences that happen in order for Kevin to wind up in New York are truly mind-boggling and they make the first film seem plausible. So much shit happens in Home Alone 2 that couldn’t happen in the first time around, such as Kevin checking into a hotel and making complete idiots out of the entire hotel staff. This sequel is even more quote-worthy than the first one, and the traps are so outrageous, pretty much all of them could be featured on 1000 Ways to Die. It also features my favorite scream from Marv, when the pigeons are attacking him at the end.
Shrek 2 (2004)
As fantastic as the first one is, the sequel is genuinely funnier. It has more great pop culture references than a Perez Hilton blog post. One of my favorite scenes is when Pinocchio gets tangled in his strings as he tries to rescue Shrek, Puss-in-Boots, and Donkey in a parody of Mission: Impossible. It has a more solid plot than the vast majority of sequels. The first half of the movie is like a fairy tale version of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. The inclusion of Puss-in-Boots brings some boundless bickering between him and Donkey. The Fairy Godmother taking the role of the villain who makes a dangerous deal with the King is a nice twist. There’s a good reason why it broke several records at the time, such as the highest-grossing comedy and animated film ever.
Addams Family Values (1993)
Wednesday and Pugsley being sent to a summer camp filled with bubbly blondes and irritatingly creepy counselors is a delightful idea, and the epic revenge scene where they destroy the camp’s set of their production of The First Thanksgiving and torture the entire cast and crew firmly places it a step above the first movie. I also love the newfound sibling rivalry between Wednesday, Pugsley, and their new baby brother, Pubert, whom they constantly try to kill. Joan Cusack steals the show as the psycho gold-digger who loves to murder her husbands so she can shop her life away. Quite literally, as she’s eventually electrocuted into a pile of dust.
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Before the release of The Dark Knight four years later, many people considered Spider-man 2 to be the ultimate comic book sequel. It’s darker and takes everything that made the first one outstanding to another level. With Spidey’s origins already having been explored in the first film, it allows itself to focus and the plot and supporting characters. It features a menacing yet sympathetic villain, as well as a truly terrifying operation scene where Doc Ock’s tentacles attack the surgeons. If only Spider-Man 3 had never come along to kill the franchise, Tobey Maguire may have still been wearing the Spider-Man mask today.
Let’s hope even a fraction of the sequels set to be released this year come as close as these films do to living up to their originals. At the very least, I pray The Hangover: Part III will be an improvement over Part II. Post in the comments to let me know some of your favorite sequels that I left out!