Films are notorious for getting sequels – some of which are horrendously bad we wonder why the producers ever thought another film would be a good idea. However, sometimes, the sequel is so good it surpasses the brilliance of the first. For day 17 of our 30 days of film challenge, our writers look at their favourite sequels.
Paddington 2 (2017)
There’s a lot of bad sequels out there, but also a lot of good ones. We have The Dark Knight (2008), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and of course, Paddington 2.
Firstly I would like to say that I love Paddington Bear with all of my stupid heart. That stupid bear with his stupid love for marmalade and his stupidly wholesome optimistic personality, and his little red boots. He’s painfully British, and personally, I think he should he should be on our coins instead of the Queen. However, as much as I adore Paddington Bear, Paddington 2 was a masterpiece beyond love.
Do you know about the orphaned bear who moved to London with the Brown family? Well, how about the time he went to prison because of Hugh Grant? That’s Paddington 2 in a nutshell. The sequel is so beautifully bizarre, which is impressive considering the premise of Paddington is already pretty bonkers. I love Hugh Grant essentially playing himself as a villain, and I think it’s his best performance out of anything he’s ever done. And I love Hugh Grant! All of the support characters are wonderful in this film, such as Knuckles who is feared by all the prisoners, yet befriends Paddington because he makes a mean marmalade sandwich.
This film manages to be extremely wholesome and funny, whilst really tugging on your heartstrings. Paddington was just trying to save up his pennies to buy his Aunt Lucy a birthday present, and he gets framed for theft. For a good portion of the film, Paddington thinks that his family has forgotten about him whilst he’s in prison. However, the ending ends up wonderfully optimistic, as a Paddington film should be. I’m honestly just so glad that Aunt Lucy got the best birthday present ever.
This film franchise is wonderful in its entirety, but the sequel is just brilliant. You leave the film feeling like you went on the adventure of a lifetime, and also with a craving for marmalade sandwiches. Pure perfection.
The only sequel I’ve ever watched that manages to outshine the original – apart from maybe Johnny English Reborn, thanks entirely to Daniel Kaluuya’s amazing performance.
Paddington 2 somehow improves on the perfection of its 2014 opening to produce an animated/live action mix that is the very definition of heart-warming. At one point, Paddington is disguised inside a bin on his way to bring to justice the man who has wrongly imprisoned him. A police offer approaches the bin, drop his empty wrapper into it – and Paddington SAYS THANK YOU. Such a pure, deeply and wholly good character has never been portrayed in cinema before or since, and this unwavering wholesomeness, alongside a dramatic plot, beautiful animation, and genuinely funny jokes, are what makes Paddington 2 the absolute masterpiece that it is.
Evil Dead II (1987)
Some movie sequels are good. Some are bad. Others are just plain groovy.
The Evil Dead (1981) is one of the most iconic horror films of all time, but it’s not until the sequel Evil Dead II (1987) that the series truly came into its own. Camp horror at its finest, Evil Dead II takes everything its predecessor did and scales it to 11. And it’s brilliant. Full to the brim with awesome camera work, practical effects, and an armada of awesome one-liners, you can’t not fall in love with this ridiculous, over the top, gorefest of a film. Bruce Cambell was made a household name thanks to his performance as Ash Williams, but Ash Williams wouldn’t be who we know and love today with his chainsaw hand, boomstick, and smooth-talking personality without this film. And that alone makes this film a masterpiece.
Sam Raimi is the master of the movie sequel, an art few people seem to be able to master. Let’s hope he keeps up this trend with the Doctor Strange sequel he is set to direct.
The Incredibles 2 (2018)
The first Incredibles was great and I was so excited for the sequel. Little did I know I’d be waiting 14 years but after I watched this film I did admit it was worth the wait. I thought the fight scenes were faster and more exciting. The characters were the same hilarious family as the first. The bad guys were more intelligent and scheming. This film has all the ingredients of a great sequel and it delivered just that. Along with a sprinkle of Edna Mole (how can you not love her) the recipe was perfect. I can’t think of a sequel that has given me more. It’s a great film in it’s own right while also enhancing the elements in the first film that deserved to be built on (think Jack-Jack). It did everything a sequel should do and so much more.
Toy Story 2 (1999)
Toy Story 2 (1999) is a classic example of a sequel which outshines the original film. It’s a shock to think this was originally pitched as a direct-to-video sequel to the beloved Toy Story (1995), with Disney pushing Pixar to take a chance with a cinema release. Proving to be an unexpected hit with audiences, Toy Story 2 takes us on a journey with our favourite characters as Buzz Lightyear leads the gang on a mission to save Woody from a greedy toy collector.
Like its predecessor, and pretty much every Pixar film, Toy Story 2 lets us dive into our imaginations through the world of toys. What makes this sequel so great is the introduction of characters such as Jessie, the cowgirl with an upsetting past, Woody’s horse Bullseye and Stinky Pete the Prospector, who try to convince Woody not to go back to Andy. Jessie’s flashback sequence, featuring the song “When She Loved Me”, is one of the most memorable of the scenes in the Toy Story franchise as we watch the heartbreaking moment Jessie was abandoned by her owner. But it’s with Woody’s encouragement and friendship that Jessie is able to leave storage and become one of Andy’s toys, writing his name on the bottom of her boot (a big deal in Toy Story). With lovable characters and a compelling plot, Toy Story 2 is one of the few sequels which is superior to the original.
Shrek 2 (2004)
It was going to happen at some point. At some point I was going to give up the pretence of that I know any other films and just chose a Shrek film because, y’know, Shrek.
Also had a slight feeling I might get very judged for picking Thor: The Dark World.
You can’t tell me this isn’t one of the most iconic sequels in movie history, if not slightly better than the original at least. The “are we there yet?” scene, the most awkward dinner scene in movie history, PUSS IN BOOTS and that legendary rendition of “I need a hero”. As the animation upped its game, so did the script. Am I digging through the DVD collection every week to watch it, like George Bell? No. Might I just go back and watch it now for old times sake? Maybe…
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
I absolutely adore The Lord of the Rings franchise, so much so that I always re-watch them during long journeys. I thought The Fellowship of the Ring would always be my favourite but when I watched the final movie in the sequel, I knew I was wrong.
The Return of the King is literally the most overindulgent piece of cinema I’ve ever watched and that’s a good thing. Tolkien’s story is so intricately structured and detailed that the conclusion to the story is perfect in every single way. The film brings emotion, awe-inspiring battle sequences, pitch-perfect pacing – everything you want from a fantasy film. The performances, the direction, the screenplay, the effects, the sublime make up is outstanding. It’s hard to top the other two films but for me, I think the final film does it in a nostalgic, over-the-top way that just makes you love it all the more.
I also love how The Return of the King combines the two greatest aspects of the first two instalments. In the first film, the adventure is present and it is lively while in the second, there’s an ever-looming darkness over the film. In Return of the King, both of these aspects are there but in a well-balanced tone that makes this movie nothing but pure magic.
The Return of the King is cinema at its most pure and immaculate form. It is hard to finish a series with a movie that almost surpasses the first two in its brilliancy but this film certainly does it.
Last modified: 1st May 2020