February 11, 2012

Hube's movie sequels that are better than the original

There ain't that many out there, but they exist -- follow-ups that outshined the original. Now, keep in mind that I am only including those which I've seen; please add to the list if you feel something has been omitted. Also keep in mind that I am only including immediate sequels, not later follow-ups (like, for instance, many Star Trek sequels were better than the first film, but only Star Trek II can count.)

So now, in no particular order:

SUPERMAN II. "Kneel before Zod!" (See left.) The original 1978 Superman made you believe that "a man could fly;" Superman II made you fear what four Kryptonians doing battle in a large city could wreak. The original Richard Donner cut is the one to see (despite the obvious edits), and given that it was 1981 when the flick came out, the F/X still kick butt (especially the city battle scenes).

STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN. Despite the big hype surrounding the return of Kirk and co. in 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the film was way too slow, especially the ridiculously interminable scenes where various Enterprise crew gazed in awe at the remodeled NCC-1701. But no worries -- the follow-up featured hated villain Khan hijacking a Federation starship and threatening to wreak havoc upon civilization everywhere. Vintage Kirk hijinks, epic space warfare, and Ricardo Montalban spouting the classics make this one of the best sequels ever.

TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY. Maybe not fair considering the budget of the original; nevertheless, Jimmy Cameron delivers and then some in this non-stop sci-fi action thriller. Schwarzenegger's killer android this time is good, and comes back to protect young John Connor from a more advanced Terminator. Connor's efforts at teaching Ah-nuld human colloquialisms ("Chill out. Dickwad.") are an instant classic.

I haf detailed files on human arousal. Dis turns me on.

THE INCREDIBLE HULK. Yep, it technically is a follow-up to Ang Lee's Hulk which had Eric Bana in the title role. But this time it's Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, who's on the run from his own government because, y'know, he's super-charged with gamma-irradiated BADNESS!! General Ross flushes Banner out of Brazil, and back to the States, where he eventually has to battle the Abomination (played awesomely by Tim Roth).

THE ROAD WARRIOR. "Two days ago I saw a vehicle that'll haul that tankeh. You wanna get outta heah? 'Ya talk t'me." That's probably the longest line star Mel Gibson has in this follow-up to Mad Max. The dystopian Outback can't be any scarier with the hordes of The Humongous waiting to pounce on you. But 'ol Max has a plan, and the climax car chase scene cannot be topped in cinema.

THE GODFATHER PART II. Delves much deeper into Michael Corleone's motivations and psyche, and features a young Bobby DeNiro as young Vito when he first came to America. Very long, but very, very good.

X-MEN 2. In my view the greatest comicbook flick ever made, it features Charles Xavier's minions teaming up with Magneto's Brotherhood of Mutants to stop the evil William Stryker from unleashing a plan to eradicate the planet of mutants. The action never stops, and the story is fantastic. It also features the live-action debuts of popular X-Men Nightcrawler and Colossus.

SPIDER-MAN 2. The origin story is over, and the lame movie version of the Green Goblin is done with, so now it's time to really swing! (Pardon the pun.) Spidey takes on one of his greatest enemies -- Dr. Octopus -- smartly portrayed by Alfred Molina. J.K. Simmons' Jonah Jameson couldn't be any better (especially his coining of the name "Doc Ock"), "The Soup's" Joel McHale has a cameo, and the action is sensational.

THE DARK KNIGHT. This sequel to the "re-imagined" Batman Begins not only kicks major ass in the action department, it features the absolutely spookiest portrayal of a villain I think I've ever seen -- Heath Ledger's Joker. Insanely dark and brooding, the soundtrack expertly adds to the creepiness whenever Ledger's highlighted.

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE. Though Dr. No is noteworthy as the original Bond flick, it's arguably one of the lamest. The immediate sequel is much better, featuring, of course, Sean Connery in the title role and a young Robert Shaw as a buff Russian killer.

The following are HIGHLY DEBATABLE:

ALIENS. It's very difficult to compare the original, Alien, to its 1986 follow-up. They're two completely different types of films. Ridley Scott's 1979 scare fest was just that -- an insanely spooky and gory horror film. James Cameron's sequel was a knock-down/drag-'em-out action flick with the US Marines charging in to (futilely) attempt to off the deadly xenomorphs. Each film is top-notch in its own way.

What is that Alien doing to my balls??

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (STAR WARS EPISODE V). I'm not at all in the cadre that agrees with this; however, many, many folks online believe that TESB is superior to Star Wars. Sure there's more characterization and mind-blowing revelations, but as a whole the original is clearly superior. SW's action alone makes it better; couple that with the snarky humor and Mos Eisley bar scene and it can't be beat.

DAWN OF THE DEAD. I saw this one pop up a lot in online debates on the topic; I have to disagree with this one as well. The original Night of the Living Dead is so classic in its campiness (it helps being in black and white) that none of the sequels tops it, in my opinion. Oh, and did I mention the dark humor? "Yeah, they're dead. They're all messed up." Love it!

LETHAL WEAPON 2. The sequel to the Mel Gibson-Danny Glover team-up is at least on par with the original, and it probably has better villains: racist, Apartheid-loving, "kaffir"-spewing white South Africans. Aside from Nazis, there's no easier bad guys to make use of then outright hardened bigots. But ... how does Mel always seem to bump into old Special Forces acquaintances? Especially ones now in the employ of a foreign government? I dunno ...

CHRISTMAS VACATION. Personally, I dig the original more, but I can see the appeal of the sequel. I've never been a big Chevy Chase aficionado, and he's definitely dopier (in a negative sense) in this sequel. I also could have done without the silly Julia Louis-Dreyfus/Nicholas Guest neighbor interludes. The original had it all: John Candy's dopey amusement park guard, Randy Quaid's hillbilly-esque family, and, of course, Christie Brinkley!


DIE HARD 2. Nothing, I repeat, NOTHING tops the original Die Hard film. The original premise was so good that a flurry of knock-offs quickly followed (Under Siege, to name one, and even an episode of "Star Trek: TNG" did one -- "Starship Mine"), not to mention the campy humor was first-rate (Harry Ellis: "Hans? Bubbie!"). Classic roles by character actor Paul Gleason (Deputy Chief Dwayne Robinson), Robert Davi (FBI agent Johnson -- the white one), Reginald VelJohnson (Sgt. Powell), and William Atherton (Richard Thornburg) are not even close to being eclipsed in any of the sequels. (The only exception, perhaps, being DH2's Dennis Franz as Capt. Lorenzo.)

BACK TO THE FUTURE II. Good film, good sequel, but hardly on par with the original. C'mon -- the first film had it all, including a terrific soundtrack, and the while the sequel (to me) was pleasing from a time travel/scientific point of view (it actually made sense!), the overall entertainment value was taken down a notch. And I'm still laughing at how Biff didn't manage to see Marty riding behind him on his hover-board!

Posted by Hube at February 11, 2012 08:53 AM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

But Die Hard 2 (which is a very good movie if not better than the original) contains one of my favorite movie gaffes of all time, when Bruce Willis, supposedly in a DC airport, makes a call from a bank of pay phones clearly marked "Pacific Bell."

Posted by: Steve Newton at February 12, 2012 11:38 AM

Great call, Steve. I remember that as well.

Posted by: Hube at February 12, 2012 04:26 PM