Saturday, July 9, 2011

Underrated Sequels

Today is Saturday, which means its time for another general film post. This weeks topic is underrated sequels.

This post is not about the best sequels. Instead I am going to write about sequels I like that have been forgotten about or were critical/financial disappointments.

Escape from L.A. (1996)
I love Escape from New York and like the sequel, which was also directed by John Carpenter. I re-watched this couple of months ago and it is still a lot of fun, although the CGI is noticeably dated. One of the reasons I liked the first one was because it featured many famous and recognizable actors such as Donald Pleasence, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, and Isaac Hayes. The sequel keeps up with this tradition as we have Cliff Robertson, Pam Grier, Steve Buscemi, and Bruce Campbell! This is more of a spoof than the original which turned off some fans, but I still find it to be a fun ride. There is an old rumor that Carpenter would make another movie in the series called Escape from Earth, but since its been 15 years since the last one and Kurt Russell isn't getting any younger, I doubt it will happen now. I just wish that Escape from New York had a true sequel (Escape from Cleveland?!) back in the 80s. It did surprisingly well at the box office when originally released so I'm kinda surprised it took 15 years to make a sequel. Nowadays its not uncommon to get long overdue sequels (Tron: Legacy, Predators, etc.) but at the time EFLA came out it was a bit unusual.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
While I agree with the consensus that Temple of Doom is the weakest of the first three Indiana Jones movies, I still really like it. Of the original three Indiana Jones movies Temple of Doom is probably most like the serials of the 1930s and 40s. I think that its stock has risen since Kingdom of the Crystal Skull has come out. I liked how this one tried to do something different by having an old school horror influence. Sure its pretty dark, probably too dark, but at least its not a rehash. I know that Kingdom of the Crystal Skull tried to do the same thing but with 50s sci-fi, but I feel it didn't work as well for a variety of reasons. Kali Ma!

Predator 2
I really like the first Predator but the sequel is surprisingly good. I liked how Predator 2 didn't try to rehash the first film and instead opted for the urban jungle setting of late 80s/early 90s Los Angeles.  Danny Glover is a lot of fun and Gary Busey is crazy as usual. I also liked how this movie gave us more information on the Predators. The alien (Xenomorph from the Alien series) skull in the Predator ship at the end is one of the best Easter eggs in all of cinema!

Robocop 2 (1990)
Irvin Kershner, most known for directing The Empire Strikes Back, directs yet another very good sequel in Robocop 2! The movie has one of my favorite Robocop lines, "Thank you for not smoking!" Another cool thing about this movie is that the title "Robocop 2" doesn't just refer to the fact that this movie is a sequel, but also the the next generation robocop called Robocop 2! I know not all sequels with a number can do something like this but I thought it was clever. A lot of people didn't like the kid Hob, but it made sense to me since Robocop could not harm children. While Robocop 2 doesn't try to rehash the original, it still does a good job of keeping in line with what was set-up in the original even though its not as good. Unfortunately Robocop 3 did not do this, probably due in part to its PG-13 rating. If you've only seen the first Robocop check out Robocop 2 but stay far away from Robocop 3!

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is not only my favorite Star Trek movie, but also one of my favorite movies period. That is a tough act to follow, but as a direct sequel to that film The Search for Spock is a worthy successor.  There is an old wives tale that all the odd numbered treks suck and all the even numbered treks are great. Although this was rule was somewhat true at one point, it has now completely fallen apart since Nemesis was bad and Star Trek (2009) was good. Although Star Trek III got overshadowed by its better and more popular prequel and sequel, it is still a very good movie in its own right. Christopher Lloyd plays the villian, the Klingon captain Krudge. Lloyd is great as always, but his role was very important to the Star Trek universe as it was the first time (other than a brief appearance in the first Star Trek film) that we got to see the new look and style of the Klingons. Lloyd and the other Klingons in this movie created the model for how actors would play Klingons for the next twenty years. Star Trek III does something many good sequels do, which is to inverse the message of the original. For example, in the first Terminator you are a slave to your fate. However in T2 you can change your fate and create your own destiny. In Star Trek II the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one. However in Star Trek III Kirk and his crew risk their careers and lives and make several sacrifices all for the sake of one man, their friend Spock.

Star Trek: Insurrection
The biggest complaint with this movie is that it feels like a long Next Generation episode. While this is kinda true, I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing. Star Trek First Contact was better, but at least this one tries to be different. The basic plot is shockingly similar to Avatar: a planet contains resources that could help all life across the universe, but to do so the native population would have to be moved and they don't want to leave their home. Another thing I like about Insurrection is that the characters make the film. If Kirk and his crew were in the same situation they would have helped the Federation evict the aliens on the planet because the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few! Picard and his crew obviously take a different approach. Insurrection is my second favorite Next Gen film, ahead of Generations and Nemesis.

Fright Night Part 2 (1988)
I've written about this one in Part three of my summer round-up so check out that post for a full review. The main reason I feel this is underrated is simply that nobody knows about it, even fans of the first movie. The main reason for this is that the DVD is currently out of print. Hopefully it will get a re-release to coincide with the Fright Night remake.

Tremors II: Aftershocks
This is the best direct to video movie I have ever seen although that is not saying much. It's nowhere near as good as the first, but still enjoyable. Kevin Bacon doesn't come back but we still have Fred Ward and Michael Gross. If you loved the first like I did, check this out Tremors II. The third one wasn't good and I haven't seen the fourth yet or the short lived TV show.

Cube 2: Hypercube (2002) and Cube Zero (2004)
Cube is a great movie, so I was pleasantly surprised that the sequels (actually a sequel and a prequel) were actually decent. The second Cube movie has a similar premise to the first in that it is about some people trapped in the cube with no idea how they got there who try to escape. Of course this time we have different people and a different cube with new traps. Cube 2 isn't as good as the first, but the concept is so good that doing it again with different types of people in a new setting works. I liked Cube 2 better than Cube Zero. Cube Zero is a prequel, which is a bit disappointing as I was expecting Cube Cubed! Anyway, Cube Zero was not a bad movie, but it actually shows what is going on outside the cube. I liked how the first two films gave some hints, but left the details up to the imagination. The explanation contradicts some things said in the first one about the origin of the cube, which I didn't care for. However, I really like the character of Jax and the idea of a character from the outside actually choosing to go inside the cube. Sure the sequels were unnecessary, but I still liked them and they could have been a lot worse.

The Karate Kid, Part II
I liked The Karate Kid, but didn't love it like a lot of people. Other than a great Oscar nominated performance by Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi, its basically Rocky for kids. I liked the second movie in this series because it doesn't rehash the first one. Miyagi goes back to Japan because his father is dying, and Daniel comes with him to continue his training. The different setting and lack of a tournament changed things up, but it works. I liked the subplot about Miyagi's former best friend who is now his rival and wants to fight him. The Karate Kid, Part II is not as good as the original, but not a bad movie at all. On the other hand, The Karate Kid, Part III sucks. I've only seen the Nostalgia Critic's review of The Next Karate Kid and that is all I need to see! I haven't seen the new The Karate Kid with Jackie Chan and don't really plan on it.

I'm not sure what my topic will be for next week, but I think I'll want to get away from remakes and sequels. Come back tomorrow (Sunday) for the weekly round-up.


  1.'ve seen WAY more sequels than I have. I usually just watch the first movie of a franchise. Did you know I've only seen the first "Back to the Future?"

  2. If I liked the first I'll check out the sequels if I get the chance unless I hear they are terrible.

    The first Back to the Future is the best but you gotta see the other two!

  3. Excellent list.Thanks for including Temple Of Doom and Predator 2.I think these two got a lot of backlash since they were bolder and deviated from the original.

  4. Thanks for the comment! I agree that those two got some flack for being different, although I think doing something new while staying true to the universe set up in the first one is the sign of a good sequel. It seems that if you don't change anything the sequel gets criticized for being more of the same but if you try to do something different you get criticized for changing a format that works.

    Also if you liked Predator 2 check out the Dark Horse comic Predator: Concrete Jungle. It's similar to the movie in some ways but takes place in NY instead of LA and follows Dutch's brother who is a cop.