I was inspired to create a list of the best film sequels that I have seen by a friend of mine. I will start with some ground rules.
- The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are each one story told over multiple films. The distinction here is that it is a single story, spread across multiple films, rather than a different story told with the same characters on the same timeline. With The Lord of the Rings, act one is The Fellowship of the Ring, act two is The Two Towers, and The Return of the King is act three.
- If we look at Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, The Dark Knight is the sequel to Batman Begins.
- I must have seen it. If I haven’t seen it, I can’t list it.
- I will group some sequels together, when there are multiple in the same series, for the sake of clarity and ease of reading.
Here we go:
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens / The Last Jedi (hopefully also Episode IX) – Successfully following up from Return of the Jedi, it brings mystery, new characters, the feel of the post-Old Republic universe back, moving forward, while recalling what was great before.
- Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith – The best of the prequels, it still has some issues, but once it hits Order 66, it elevates the feel of the film to that which I wish the entire prequel trilogy felt.
- Ghostbusters II – Takes the formula of the first film, repeats it in fun ways. Not nearly as good as the first one, but with a charm of its’ own. Self-aware, almost to the point of absurdity, but wonderfully joyful in being just what it is. I still wish there were just one more adventure with the film versions of these characters. The IDW comics do a great job of capturing the spirit of the characters, as does Ghostbusters: The Video Game, but I’d like a film. I know a bit too much about film writing to even consider the Video Game to be Ghostbusters III. But I would love to see the video game’s cut scenes and storyline edited into a film version. It’s possible.
- The Karate Kid – Part II – Daniel heads to Okinawa, where the mythology around Miyagi was deepened. Even as a kid I didn’t like this one near as much as the first one, but it’s way better than the follow-up Part III. And leagues ahead of The Next Karate Kid. I skipped the Karate Kid remake, but did watch Cobra Kai. That series, if cut into a more family friendly feature, is a great Karate Kid – Part IV. (I’m planning to make my own cut of the show into a PG version without the swearing and some other content.)
- Home Alone 2: Lost in New York – Takes the formula of the first film, turns it on its’ head by having Kevin actually make it to the airport this time, but instead traveling to the wrong place. I remember the first time I saw it, I thought he was going to, somehow, rig the hotel he was staying in with booby-traps. I didn’t know how he was going to do it, or why the Wet Bandits would rob the hotel, but that’s what I was thinking. The other thought I’d had was that he’d simply set traps in his hotel suite. I was still happy with the movie overall though. It had John Williams scoring it again, and was a treat. It’s too bad they didn’t get to finish Home Alone 3 as originally planned… with the same cast coming back together for a final film of Christmastime hijinks. I still wish they’d make a proper third part, though, and ignore the sequels that have come since (it worked for Superman Returns).
- Jurassic World – And Fallen Kingdom? Haven’t seen it yet, but I’ve heard it’s as good as Jurassic World. This is the movie that I would have loved to see back when The Lost World was released, instead of that film. It wouldn’t have worked back then, but they did a great job bringing the thrill of the park back.
- An American Tail: Fievel Goes West – It doesn’t really have the classic song in it, but it takes Fievel and his family to a new location and does so with Jimmy Stewart along for the ride.
- Spider-Man 2 – WAY better than the first movie. Great villain, great hero, great story. Wish the third lived up to this (and it would have if the studio hadn’t gotten involved).
- The Muppets – My favorite Muppet movie, along with Muppets Most Wanted. I still wish there would be a Muppets 3 of some sort. Recaptured the spirit of Jim Henson.
- Toy Story 2 and 3 – And the third one is the best of the 3 films. Looking forward to the 4th!
- How to Train Your Dragon 2 – And 3? Continued the journey started with the first film, telling another story in that world, and doing so with incredible heart. Bring on the third and final part. These films could easily be Pixar.
- Many Marvel Sequels – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Iron Man 2 & 3, Captain America: Winter Solder & Civil War, Thor: The Dark World, Avengers: Infinity War, etc. Not all are great, but I have liked many.
- Men in Black 3 – Harkens back to the spirit of the first one.
- Night at the Museum 2 and 3 – More of the same, but fun Ben Stiller films that are still funny.
- The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises – Epic Batman films that bring an end to a trilogy that was fantastic. I only wish we had seen just 10 more minutes from the end of that last shot. Not fair, Christopher Nolan!
- Back to the Future II and III – Successful follow-ups and a nice closing to the trilogy. Never lived up to the thrill of the original, but were fun movies all the same.
- The Care Bears Movie II – A New Generation – Seemingly retcons everything about the first movie, to be another origin story for the Care Bears and the Care Bear Cousins. Better songs, still a story that makes very little sense (where are the adults?). If you’re wondering how this made my list, I have a great memory and a 2 year old daughter.
- The Rescuers Down Under – Better than the original Rescuers movie, an adventure into the Australian outback is a much more fun and thrilling story.
Other sequels that I don’t have time to write about right now, but enjoyed: Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Bambi II, Ghostbusters: Answer the Call, X2: X-Men United, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Kung Fu Panda 2 & 3, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 and 3, Split, Ocean’s 12 and 13.
Not sure what I’m forgetting.
Do you have any favorite sequels?