At times there seems to be a stigma attached to movie sequels. A lot of the time they have no purpose other than to capitalize on the name recognition of their popular predecessor. But there are times where the sequels live up to what has come before, or even surpass it on some occasions. Take the jump and see which movies made the cut, and Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo sadly didn’t.

10. Iron Man 2

When Marvel Studios produced the first Iron Man starring Robert Downey Jr. the critical, and fan(boy) reaction was so positive you could practically print money. When they followed it up with the sequel that replaced Terrence Howard, who played James(War Machine)Rhodes, with Don Cheadle things could have been awkward, the movie could have stumbled, but it didn‘t. Building on the mythos set up in the first movie, and expanding on the Iron Man universe, and in result the Marvel Movie Universe as well. Iron Man 2 brought the funny, the action, and bucket loads of character development, and in my opinion is a better movie than the first. I would rather watch Iron Man 2 over Iron Man any day.

9. The Lost World: Jurassic Park

“Life will find a way”, and it did on the back up “dinosaur island” Isla Sorna. As Spielberg and the fans of the first Jurassic Park clamored for more, they got it, with a not a double, but quadruple shot of dinosaur goodness. When comparing the first movie to The Lost World the one thing we all came to see was more dinos, and that’s exactly what we got. They looked more realistic, had a wider variety, and had more of a role, and where not, what some might consider, glorified scenery. All while culminating with a T-Rex rampage through the streets of San Diego, puts to shame the Visitor Center escape.

8. Desperado

Some might not know but Desperado is a sequel to, El Mariachi, but where the previous installment was more akin to a student film with some John Woo influences. The sequel takes off like a rocket, with a healthy dose of gun-fu, a nude Salma Hayek, and a over the top drama. The way the Desperado sets up it’s environment, and it’s cinematography are far above what came before, the pacing is good, and allows for the movie to breathe before a clip or three of .45 slugs are pumped into a goon. The construction of the movie is such, that you really don’t need to see what came before to get the whole story, and that’s a good thing.

7. Short Circuit 2

SAINT Number 5, is a robot built to kill but is struck by lightning and gains a soul, after escaping his creators who want to disassemble him. With the help from the weird girl from the Breakfast Club, and Steve Guttenberg, he dubs himself Johnny 5, and drives off into the sunset. Now with Johnny’s newly acquired soul, he is brought to New York City, to help Ben create toy replicas of himself. Johnny is a innocent to the world of man, having a voracious appetite for input of all kinds, this blinds him to the wickedness of man, who use him to commit crimes. This movie runs the gamut, on the surface it’s a comedy, but at it’s core it touches on what it means to be human, how science fiction should. When Johnny is mortally damaged, he realizes the value of life, and what’s right and wrong, he dons a “punk rocker” look, and goes out to get revenge. In the end, Johnny 5, now gold plated, becomes a Citizen of the United States. The movie pulls on heart strings at times, and pushes the first aside, and I am not just saying that because it had Steve Guttenberg in it.

6. A Better Tomorrow 2

John Woo’s follow up to the gun-fu spectacular that preceded it. It’s a story about how no matter how much you try to change, there will be people to try, and sometimes drag you back into a life that is detrimental to your spiritual, mental, and physical well being. As the first movie ended in a blood bath, the sequel would have been kind of hard to make but they pull out the “twin brother” trope and push on ahead. The movie can be called mindless action, but out of mindless action, you want to be the best, and this is. With an ending that is a bloody poetry of gunfire, and blood, that is so much more satisfying than how the first A Better Tomorrow ended.

5. Day of the Dead(1985)

The first “Dead” movie took place in a Farmhouse with everyday people, the second in a Mall with Cops, and encroaching criminals, and the this one in underground bunker, with the military that has structurally, and mentally fallen apart. With power corrupting, and insanity growing, the isolation and the hostility was never more present, with a tyrannical gun totting madman running this bastion under the Earth, metaphorically into the ground. What makes Day of the Dead stand out more than Dawn of the Dead(1978), is the stark take on surviving the zombie apocalypse, and humanizing the undead, showing that just because they devour the flesh of the living, they still have a sliver of humanity left within them.

4. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Back with the good ol’ hated Nazi’s and Father issues, Last Crusade builds on Indiana’s world with the genesis of his fedora, and fear of snakes, within the first 15 minutes of the movie. Attempting to rescue his some what absent minded father, brilliantly portrayed by Sean Connery, Harrison Ford has not lost a single drop of charisma. With adventure, and death traps, and that live up to Raiders, it’s not what makes this a good sequel it’s the interaction of estranged father and son. With so many locals that give a visual zest to the movies search for the location of the mystical Holy Grail, it signs with a pulpy tone that sends up the serials that inspired the franchise.

3. Army of Darkness

Picking up after the somewhat remake/sequel that was Evil Dead II, Army of Darkness takes Ash’s war with the “evil dead” back to middle ages England where he has to become a hero of the people, that initially throw him to his death. With the tongue in cheek humor that in varying degrees, populates the works of Sam Raimi, Army of Darkness accomplishes the goal of making Ash a badass without, making him a total fool. With send up’s to the works of Ray Harryhausen, with the undead horde created due to Ash’s inability to remember three simple words, making the hero a flawed and brash character, which makes himself his own worst enemy. Now with Ash not being confined to a cabin in the woods, and having the put up with “Primitive Screwheads”, Ash’s cockiness comes to the forefront, and really shines due to Bruce Campbell’s ability to inhabit “The King“.

2. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

After stumbling with Star Trek: “The Motionless Picture”, the choice of antagonist and plot move past a thinly veiled 2001: A Space Odyssey clone, and pick up with Khan Noonein Singh and his powerful thirst to exact revenge on Captain James T. Kirk, and the crew of the Enterprise. With the cast of the Star Trek returning, and Ricardo Montalban once again portraying Khan, a memorable character from one episode(“Space Seed”) that aired 15 years previous.

All of these perfectly fitting pieces, made me forget the blandness that plagued Star Trek’s first theatrical outing. With the disturbingly uncomfortable scene of the mind controlling eels borrowing into Chekov’s and Terrell’s ears, still makes me shutter to this day. To the passing of our favorite Vulcan, Spock, as he saves the lives of his friends, and fellow crew, from a reactor core breach. A touching farewell, that helps makes this movie hold much more emotional weight, than the first, and also served to launch a trilogy of movies that redeemed the Star Trek movie experience.

1. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

What? You expected Godfather Part II? Empire is my favorite of all the Star Wars movies, all three, of them. Empire has a deeper, and darker story that isn’t as whiny or coated in tons of Joseph Campbell lacquer, the lacquer is still there in Empire, but not as noticeable. Now with the Empire nipping at the heels of the Rebellion, there is no time for trivial matters like going to Tashi Station for Power Converters. The overwhelming might of the Empire can be felt with the thunderous foot falls of the AT-AT’s as the move in the quell the Rebels in their base on Hoth.

When our heroes scatter to the four corners of the galaxy and Luke is trained by the wise Yoda, to confront Darth Vader that whole sequence has much more meat to it than Star Wars did with the interaction between Luke and Ben. But the ultimate reason this movie works as a sequel, and does better than Return of the Jedi, is that is sets up the tent pole of the Star Wars universe with(SPOILER)Darth Vader being Luke’s father. After all is said and done Luke has to become more like his father, Han is carried off my Boba Fett to Jabba’s palace, and Rebellion has a new ally in that of Mr. Colt 45 himself, Billy Dee Williams. With ROTJ following Empire, the pandering to the audience was in full effect, with merchandising being on the brain, since according to Spaceballs, “That’s where all the money is”. I’ll take my frozen Hoth any day, over the woodland critters insurgency.

The Author

Larry King

Larry King

It is hard being a King, especially when your first name is Larry. Well, not really. In Larry’s Kingdom the re-imagining “Battlestar Galactica” is superior, “The Wire” is the greatest crime show ever, and “ROM, Spaceknight” is the hero of the realm.

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  1. tidge
    April 6, 2011 at 5:35 pm — Reply

    Predator 2 deserved to be on this list.

    • Damascus
      May 12, 2011 at 1:06 am — Reply

      See, I never liked Predator 2, never thought that it was even in the same ballpark as the original. I think it’s partly due to cast and pacing. Being in the jungle and having Schwarzenegger (who was at his prime) as the lead just worked so much better for me than Mr. Danny (I’m gettin’ too old for this shit) Glover.

  2. April 6, 2011 at 6:29 pm — Reply

    We’re going to have to completely disagree on THE LOST WORLD. It’s a fun movie, but in no empirical or imagined way could it be said it’s a better movie than it’s predecessor. It needs to be removed from this list post-haste, with its place given to THE DARK KNIGHT.

  3. Galador
    April 6, 2011 at 6:45 pm — Reply

    I don’t agree with Iron Man 2 being superior to the original, it did not grab me like the first one did.

    But your views on ROM are absolutely correct.

  4. Belmont
    April 6, 2011 at 6:51 pm — Reply

    Everyone’s list is going to be different. Meaning: “Your mileage may vary.”

  5. Ian
    April 6, 2011 at 7:09 pm — Reply

    Sorry, but El Mariachi is a zillion times better than Desperado.

  6. April 6, 2011 at 7:33 pm — Reply

    Gremlins 2, Superman 2, Lethal Weapon 2,3, Xmen 2, Spiderman 2, Most of the Rocky films, Aliens(which in my opinion is by far the best sequel ever to hold it’s own).the list you made seems a bit dissapointing. Desperado? really? that’s not even a good movie. But seriously how do you leave off ALIENS? That should easily be in the top 3 of your list and instead you have Short Circuit 2, and Lost World? And I’d even throw in Toy Story 2 before most of your list.

    • Crash
      April 10, 2011 at 9:59 pm — Reply

      Sadly Gremlins 2 is a sorely underrated film. I thought it was amazing.

      Also Once Upon A Time in Mexico was much better than Desperado.

  7. Matthew
    April 6, 2011 at 8:27 pm — Reply

    remove everything but Star Trek and Star Wars… replace Day of the Dead with Dawn of the Dead
    and fill the rest with these… infact… extend the list to include all of these..
    Godfather 2
    Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey
    Airplane 2
    The Naked Gun 2 1/2
    28 Weeks Later
    Back to the Future: Part 2
    Spider-Man 2
    The Dark Knight
    Superman 2
    Terminator 2: Judgement Day

    the rest of your list is a joke.. short circuit.. are you effing kidding me? why not police academy 2 while we are at it *rolls eyes*

    • Matthew
      April 6, 2011 at 8:35 pm — Reply

      also.. because these are also better than more than half the movies you listed

      Back to the Future: Part 3
      The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
      The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
      Quantum of Solace

      mr. king, never make a list again.

      • Matthew
        April 6, 2011 at 8:45 pm — Reply

        ok you can also put The Last Crusade back on the list, somehow I over looked that.

      • brenton8090
        April 7, 2011 at 5:58 am — Reply

        But, Matthew, I would argue a technicality. His list is SEQUELS THAT HOLD THEIR OWN. I think your list would be titled, SEQUELS THAT OUTDO THE ORIGINAL.

        So the real arguement is, why is Empire there? Cause it does far more than hold its own.

    • Damascus
      May 12, 2011 at 1:21 am — Reply

      Since you’re jumping all over his list, looking at yours from another single person’s opinion, Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey was filled with horribly lame parts and despite being insanely more ridiculous than the original, it wasn’t better than Excellent Adventure. 28 Weeks Later was just a run of the mill action/horror movie without real substance whereas 28 Days Later was a slightly different take on your traditional zombie movie in that it really focused more of it’s attention on the survivors of a zombie attack, not really on the zombies themselves. And the way the armed forces were still holding together (sort of) but in a self-serving sort of way that shows that propriety had broken down even amongst men who were supposed to be upholding those ideals.

      Back to the Future 3 was the weakest of all the movies, I still enjoy it, but never as much as the first two. Predators again, maybe better than Predator 2 but not better than the original. And Quantum of Solace was a fairly lame entry in the Bond franchise, that tried way too hard to be intellectual and doing little things like highlighting the major elements (fire, water, land…) through the locations and cinematography and recreating the gold covered girl on the bed but using oil, it was trying to be way too clever and fell short. Especially considering the bar that was set with Casino Royale.

      See, my list can undermine yours too but it’s just my opinion on the movies in question. Mileage may vary and all that.

      I do agree with some of your choices though, Superman 2, Aliens, Godfather 2, Spider-man 2, Dark Knight, Terminator 2. All great movies, and those are better than the originals for sure. I do posit though that the reason Two Towers and Return of the King may be better films than the Fellowship is more on the content of the stories moreso than effectiveness of the filming. The later two are way more action packed and don’t feature huge lengths of time in the Shire and then in forming the Fellowship and all that.

  8. vistapa
    April 6, 2011 at 11:41 pm — Reply

    DUDE Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey at least as a honorific mention and remeber be excellent to each other

  9. April 7, 2011 at 4:45 am — Reply

    About the only one I’d disagree with is “The Lost World”; it lost me the moment there was a scene that existed solely to show off the foster daughter (or whoever she was) was good at gymnastics & that was the only reason she was even in the movie at all. Effects-wise it was an improvement, but it was weaker in nearly every other field. But other than that (of the ones I’ve seen) I agree.

  10. Tondi- (Villain)
    April 7, 2011 at 5:51 am — Reply

    Johnny 5 is Alive!

  11. brenton8090
    April 7, 2011 at 6:00 am — Reply

    You know what is secretly brilliant? TRON: Legacy.

    What? You say that sequel was mediocre at best? HA! That’s where you’ve been had, my friend. It is not a sequel, but indeed, it is a REMAKE.
    Don’t believe me? Watch the two films back to back. They’re the same. Completely. It is an obvious and intentional remake. The genius comes from their cleverness: disguise a remake as a sequel.
    But that’s silly! you say. Well, it fooled you, didn’t it?

    Tron Legacy: Remake disguised as a sequel. Discuss.

    • Matthew
      April 7, 2011 at 6:35 pm — Reply

      it references events that happen in the original… it contains characters from the original that maintain that the events in the original happened.

      a redesign sure.. a re imagining of the lore, maybe. not a remake.
      on a side note, i liked the movie as a sequel… it introduced a bunch of new ideas to the already outlandish world of tron. the pacing was off, and some of the non human characters were… stupid (zeus). but it had a difficult task of maintaing existing lore, introducing new lore and characters and plots and updating the look. the next one should be more action and less recapping and setting up.

      while typing this, the pirates of the caribbean came to mind. the 4th movie is coming out soon, it has some of the main characters from movies past, but not all. it does not share the same plot as the 2nd and 3rd, and does not have the same subplots from the first 3… arguably i could tell you exactly what will happen in the new one… drunken pirate jokes.. sword fighting with unbelievable shenanigans going on… but would this be a remake of the first? perhaps its not the best comparison but you get my meaning.

      • brenton8090
        April 7, 2011 at 8:39 pm — Reply

        I guess, But as I was watching I couldn’t help thinking: Guy thrown into the net unwittingly, immediately ends up in “the games” is rescued by an insider, he unites with a man and a woman who live in the net to help fight the tyrrannical dictator…

        I think it was when they were on the floating boat/train thing that I was thinking… wait… I’ve seen this scene before. And the train takes them to the big beam of light, where they fight the evil dictator program. So while the new movie is different enough to be a sequel, I feel it is also similiar enough to be a remake. I think it is a brilliant fusion of both, and better for it, giving the franchise new room to grow.

  12. Justin Gerlach
    April 7, 2011 at 7:26 am — Reply

    How did Aliens not appear on this list???

  13. hermit
    April 7, 2011 at 7:46 am — Reply

    i have to completely disagree with Iron Man 2. let me explain.

    the guy uses a whip. when it doesn’t work, he built a bigger whip.

    one Iron Man was cool in the first movie, so 2 should be even cooler. wait, don’t stop there, let’s put the bad guy in an Iron Man-like suit AGAIN and built an army of robot Iron Man. Iron Mans everywhere.

    and i didn’t believe for one second his his descent to hell. it felt completely random when he got drunk and got into a fight with his sidekick (can’t remember the name)

    and your list is seriously lacking Dark Knight (pun intended)

  14. Ashen
    April 7, 2011 at 8:18 am — Reply

    X-men 2 should be on the list

  15. April 7, 2011 at 8:34 am — Reply

    I was really disappointed by “Day of the Dead” when I saw it in the theater in 1985. Of course, it was the follow-up to “Dawn of the Dead” which is a very tough act to follow.

  16. ikdks
    April 7, 2011 at 9:46 am — Reply

    Day of the dead was horrible!!! Jurassic Park 2 suuuuuuucked!!! And short circuit 2?

    Are you serious with this list or is this some sort of fancy pants meta-humor?

  17. ClubberLang6
    April 7, 2011 at 11:04 am — Reply

    I really think Superman 2 should be on the list.

  18. crazyangel93
    April 7, 2011 at 7:10 pm — Reply

    dudes are you serious? I mean come on these are Mr.King’s sequal’s that “HOLD THEIR OWN” so give him a break and stop trolling him as his opinions do seems to be quite good! Even if in your own opinions they are not that good just be supportive and stop trying to be mean!!

    keep it up Larry baby!

  19. Stefanie
    April 8, 2011 at 10:23 pm — Reply

    Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is the only Indiana Jones film to date, and I just know it’s the best in the series.

    My list of great sequels would include: X-Men 2, Power Rangers Turbo (unlike the 1st one, it’s canon in the franchise), The Great Muppet Caper, Return to Oz, and Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

  20. JambaTheHutt
    April 9, 2011 at 12:07 pm — Reply

    Interesting that Terminator 2 was not on the list. Or Waynes’ World 2 for that matter.

  21. NorrisTheSpider
    March 21, 2012 at 9:24 pm — Reply

    Aliens should have been on this list.

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