Top 5 Sequels that Surpass Their Originals
Hollywood loves sequels. When something is real good - and financially fruitful as well - the temptation to continue capitalizing on certain characters, certain styles, or certain motifs becomes very strong and studios cannot often resist. The result is usually some half-baked, half-veiled attempt to re-hash a movie just enough so it's novel without losing its familiarity. In other words, most sequels are pretty terrible. But for all of the Electric Boogaloos and Legends of Curly's Gold that exist in cinema, there a few sequels that are actually so good that they make you skip their originals on outdoor movie night. We had some healthy debate at Open Air Cinema over the great Part Twos of cinema. And we came up with a list of sequels that we skip straight to when it's time to break out the inflatable screen for a night of cinema under the stars.
Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey
(Peter Hewitt, 1991)Our initial introduction to the - ahem - brains behind Wyld Stallyns was truly an excellent adventure. But the fantastical mishaps that befall Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted Theodore Logan during their bogus journey are far more nuanced, far more creative, and less dependent on the historical figures go wild model. Our favorite garage guitarists meet evil robotic clones of themselves. They escape from the fires of Hell, sneak into Heaven, meet the greatest scientist in the entire universe, and beat Death Himself at every board game Milton-Bradley ever printed - all in time to save their girlfriends and win the prestigious San Dimas Battle of the Bands. Almost everything about this movie is better than its predecessor, from the mise-en-scene to the performances to the music itself - a most bodacious and impressive feat, indeed!
Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn
(Sam Raimi, 1987)The original Evil Dead was definitely good enough to be both remembered and appreciated. It was our first exposure to many of director Sam Raimi's camera quirks - the fast push-pulls, the houndlike pursuit of a fast-moving object, the extreme wide angle close-ups, etc. But this sequel gave Raimi a rare opportunity, as a director, to essentially reshoot his debut. Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn recreates the entire plot of the first Evil Dead in the first fifteen minutes with better effects and a more cohesive feel, despite the fact that it's merely a re-cap. The film then goes on, right up to the brink of insanity. It doubles down on the gore, on the suspense, and, funnily enough, on Bruce Campbell's innate ability for slapstick. Rather than serve as a distraction, this goofy approach to horror helps cement this sequel as the real cult classic in the its series.
A Shot in the Dark
(Blake Edwards, 1964)Peter Sellers' turn as the hilariously-inept Inspector Clouseau definitely makes The Pink Panther worth a watch. But it is A Shot in the Dark that really takes the comedy to the next level, by anchoring the buffoonish gendarme Clouseau in an ambiance more akin to the Agatha Christie than to a half-baked Bond parody. Giving the crime in question a greater dose of gravitas makes for a more pronounced comic release when Clouseau bungles his way into the scene. Whether he's playing pool with a warped cue, awkwardly investigating a probably clue in a nearby nudist colony, or accidentally finding himself on the business end of a beating from Cato, A Shot in the Dark is textbook slapstick all the way through.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
(Nicholas Meyer, 1982)Just putting Kirk, Spock, Bones, and the rest of the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise on the big screen was enough for most die hard Trekkies. But whereas the first Star Trek movie relied a lot on a getting the band back together kind of premise, The Wrath of Khan had a intricate and intense plot with higher stakes, even though they may appear much smaller than the imminent destruction of the earth. By bringing the film down to a more personal level, we actually feel the tension more - and when our beloved Spock dies, it stings all the more. Finally, we get to see Ricardo Montalban take his famous charm and endow it with a healthy dose of danger, chewing the scenery and cribbing lines from Melville as the ruthless and relentless Khan Noonien Singh. Out of all the voyages of the starship Enterprise, this is probably the most captivating.
The Godfather Part II
(Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)The Godfather was a great beginning - В one of the most iconic films to ever hit the silver screen. The Godfather Part III is regarded as mostly laughable, with some memorable scenes scattered here and there. But it's The Godfather Part II where Coppola really dials in the sweeping epic. Oscillating back and forth between Michael Corleone's takeover of Las Vegas and Don Vito's rise to power almost 50 years previous. Casting heavy hitters Robert De Niro and Al Pacino as the two ends of the Corleone dynasty in America was a wise choice on the part of director Coppola. And by focusing on the Don's rise to power from an impoverished immigrant to the head of a crime family, Coppola takes the film away from Mafia movie cliches and makes it a truly American epic.