05 August 2023

Sequels, Not Equals


Question: Have you ever seen a really good movie, hoped afterward that someday there would be a sequel to it, and then been sorely disappointed when that happened? Join the club. 

The Rule is . . .

Most sequels fall short of the originals. Here are some that come to mind, that I had actually looked forward to seeing:

Jaws 2

Return to Snowy River

Escape from L.A.

Speed 2: Cruise Control

Be Cool

Wonder Woman 1984

Staying Alive

Independence Day: Resurgence

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

The Sting II

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Under Siege 2: Dark Territory

Return of the Seven 

The Jewel of the Nile

Grease 2

Evan Almighty

Rocky II

Blues Brothers 2000

There are many, many more. By the way, for this post, I'm focusing on immediate sequels. Movies like Robocop 3, Moonraker, Lethal Weapon 4, Police Academy 6Jaws: The Revenge, and Jurassic World: Dominion will have to be covered elsewhere. Well, hopefully not.

The Good, the Bad, and The Good

Something worth noting, about sequels: Occasionally, the second installment in a series can be terrible and the third can be excellent. Examples:

Back to the Future, Back to the Future Part II, Back to the Future Part III 

Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade

Men in Black, Men in Black II, Men in Black III

But only occasionally. In most cases, nothing after the first movie is all that great. My opinion only.

Creative names

One thing that movie sequels do have going for them--they can have clever titles (some of them a little too clever). Here are the ones I remember:

Oceans Twelve

102 Dalmations

Hot Shots, Part Deux

I Still Know What You Did Last Summer

Another 48 Hours

Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit

The Dentist 2: Brace Yourself

Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous

Honey, I Blew Up the Kid

The Whole Ten Yards

Beethoven's Second

2 Fast 2 Furious

Finding Dory

Die Hard 2: Die Harder

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Mama Mia: Here We Go Again

Any Which Way You Can

The Lion King 1 1/2

Daddy Day Camp

The Net 2.0

Sharknado 2: The Second One

Look Who's Talking Too

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel

The Naked Gun 2 1/2

After the Thin Man

House II: The Second Story

Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money

Can I Do It 'Til I Need Glasses?

Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd

But a cool title doesn't mean a good story. 

Dumb and Dumberer

Exceptions to the Rule

Thank goodness, some sequels seem to defy the odds. Here are ten that I think were better--a few of them far better--than the first in the series:

From Russia with Love

The Godfather Part II

For a Few Dollars More

The Road Warrior

The Silence of the Lambs (yep, it was a sequel: Lecter first appeared in Manhunter)

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

The Empire Strikes Back

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

A Shot in the Dark

And in my humble opinion, the absolutely all-time best movie sequel:


A question, and a reassurance

Which movie sequels, good and bad and ugly, do you remember most?

Promise: Don't worry--I'm not planning a sequel to this post.



  1. Would the James Bonds count? From Dr. No to Die Another Day (the latter a terrible movie on its own merits. Or lack thereof.), they were meant to be standalone. And the Craig Bonds had an overarching story arc, even if they made most of it up as they went along.

    1. Hey Jim. The Bond movies do count--and I agree with you on Die Another Day. And yes, they took a welcome turn with the Craig movies--at least the first one of those. As you said, it's hard to call the whole thing a "series," but they're certainly installments of a franchise about a main character.

      I still think Goldfinger was best of the bunch, and I consider it the third of the serious Bond movies--Dr. No (good), From Russia with Love (better), and Goldfinger (better still).

  2. I particularly agree with your list of sequels better than the originals, especially Silence of the Lambs and as we’ve fondly discussed, the vastly underrated For a Few Dollars More.

    Looking at individual Bond adaptations, Casino Royale (1967) with David Niven and Peter Sellers was goofy and far outside the spirit of 007, and easily topped by 2006 and 2021 releases. Many Bond movie lists don’t bother listing the 1967 version.

    [But… contrarily, the previous paragraph notwithstanding, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein offered a fresh take on the monsters, as did Gene Wilder / Mel Brooks in Young Frankenstein. Fidelity to the spirit or the originals made the difference.]

    1. Leigh, I love that second one of the Dollars movies, and have re-watched it more than any of the others. I first saw it at a drive-in in college, with a carload of folks who hadn't yet seen the first one.

      That first Casino Royale was insane (the only good thing about it was Herb Alpert's theme song), and--along with a TV presentation with (I think) Barry Nelson as James Bond--I don't even think of it as one of the Bonds. As mentioned to Jim in the previous comment, I think they started with Dr. No in what, 1964? And by the way, I liked Craig but I when I think of James Bond I think first of Sean Connery, and always will.

      Never even thought of Abbott and Costello when I put this post together. Glad you mentioned them.

  3. Totally agree about ALIENS, John: Best. Sequel. Ever.

    But I also really like SHOCK TREATMENT, the little known and underappreciated sequel to ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW. No Tim Curry, and Brad and Janet are played by different actors, but others from the original cast are back, and some of the songs (i.e. “Bitchin’ in the Kitchen” and “Little Black Dress”) are as good as anything in the first film.

    1. Josh, I like to tell folks you don't even have to like science fiction to like Aliens. It's just a fantastic movie, start to finish.

      I totally forgot Shock Treatment. Now I have to go find it and watch it again. Thanks!!

    2. Also totally agree about Aliens. I saw it first and could barely make it through Alien. It's so slow in comparison.

    3. Hi Janet. I saw Alien first (on the big screen, on a business trip to Atlanta) and liked it--but when I saw Aliens a few years later, it blew me away. I think Ellen Ripley is the toughest hero in movie history, and that last scene in Aliens is as tense as anything I ever saw. Even the bit parts in that movie were terrific.

  4. Speaking on behalf of my kids, they enjoyed these sequels the most: Shrek 2, Toy Story 3, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Frozen 2, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (2), Jurassic World : Dominion, Sonic 2, Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse (even split on this one), and spider-man: Far From Home.

    1. Hey, sometimes the younger viewers have a better take on all this than we do.

      I actually started to mention Toy Story 3, because I really liked that one, but I was trying to limit myself to immediate ("first") sequels, so had to leave out some good ones. Same goes for some of the later Spiderman movies.

      Sounds as if your kids like movies as much as I used to. (But I had to go to a theater!)

      Thanks for stopping in.

  5. Floyd Sullivan05 August, 2023 12:09

    The Black Bird was a 1975 sequel to 1941's The Maltese Falcon. That's 34 years, so does it count? It was marketed as a sequel and even had Elisha Cook Jr. and Lee Patrick in it. Wilmer and Effie. It was pretty bad! I recall looking forward to it and being very disappointed. It tried to be funny and failed miserably.

    1. Sure it counts--I should've listed it! I saw it years ago, and I agree with you, it was bad.

      Thanks, Floyd! Hope all's well with you.

  6. I just hope the above premise doesn't hold true for book series! - grin, says she, with a second book in the current series coming out next year. I find it interesting that you liked A Shot in the Dark better than The Pink Panther. I love both, by the way. My kind of loopy humour! Great list, John.

    1. No worries, Melodie, you and I both know your series start out great and get better with every book!

      As for A Shot in the Dark, yep, I confess I DID like it better than The Pink Panther. I seem to remember it having a lot more of Inspector Clouseau, for one thing--and I even thought the music was just as good, even though "TPP" is better known. I saw both movies in high school, I think, and as kids I remember we even liked Elke Sommer better than Claudia Cardinale (which is one of the ways we judged movies, back then). I need to re-watch 'em both--I have them here on DVD someplace.

  7. John, I totally agree with you about the 12 that are better than the original. And I think A Shot in the Dark was the best of all the PP movies.

    1. Eve, do great minds think alike, or what?

      Seriously, I wish that number were a lot higher--I just can't think of a lot of sequels that *were* better. (Some say Superman II was as good as the first one, and while I can't quite agree, I think part of that might be that Superman III was SO much worse than either of the first two.) I'm just glad I'm only trying to rate them and not trying to finance them. What an iffy business that would be.

  8. Now that you mention it, I loved Superman II. I'd forgotten all about it, but for me it was the best.

    1. It was a good movie, Liz, and a true sequel in that it picked up right after the first one left off. I guess Supe 1 was one of the first of the big superhero movies--I remember it was a big hit at the Oscar ceremony.

    2. I did too. It was at least as good as Superman.

    3. I still have a hard time knowing which I liked better. There was just something about that first Superman movie (it was so very different from anything before it)--but Superman II had a bigger plot and more characters and more action. I loved 'em both.

  9. Thanks for the lists, John. Your triple-jump list of good-bad-good sequences is especially intriguing. I'd be tempted to throw in Star Trek II-III-IV, but III isn't a bad movie, just not up to the titans of II and IV. Perhaps Star Trek IV-V-VI would be a better good-bad-good nominee. And while I've never seen Exorcist II, it has been excoriated by everyone I know, making me want to suggest Exorcist--Exorcist II--Exorcist III. The third installment has the strong benefit of George C. Scott, not to mention what might be the greatest jump scare ever for a movie midpoint. Yikes!

    1. Good analysis of the Star Trek movie franchise, Dan. And yep, I forgot to mention Exorcist !!, which was indeed a bad between two goods. You've made me want to re-watch Exorcist III.

      Thanks for the thoughts.

  10. John your lists are great as usual! I think you’ve forgotten one set of movies, by Christopher Nolan, The Batman series. I think the second movie, The Dark Knight, is easily as good or even better than Batman Begins, and the third is awesome too. (Dark Knight Rises) Great column. Loved reading your thoughts.

    1. I forgot to list a lot of appropriate sequels and series! You're right, and I think almost everyone agrees that The Dark Knight was better than Batman Begins. I also never even mentioned the "other" Batman series, the one that came first. (Maybe it's better left unmentioned--especially those sequels.)

  11. John the above comment about Batman is from me, Mary Ann Joyce! (I’m replying from my phone. Not sure it tagged me!)

    1. Mary Ann, I'm not surprised this was you--I'd hate to think you weren't included in any discussion about movies! And, since I know it's you, I should say we also haven't talked about M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable series, which had its own ups and downs. I still liked 'em all, though,

  12. I did think about the Unbreakable trilogy. I’d say the first was awesome, one of my favorite movies of all time and when Split incorporated the the universe in the ending it was phenomenal and a great movie on its own without that. McAvoy’s performance alone is worth the watch. Glass was fun but didn’t live up to expectations unfortunately for me.

    1. Rule still applies, I guess: First movie's usually better than any sequel.

      I'll still watch anything Shyamalan makes. Movies like Signs, Unbreakable, etc., make up for misfires like The Last Airbender and The Happening. I even liked his newest one, Knock at the Cabin.

      It's always fun talking about this stuff with you, Mary Ann.

  13. Here's one that we need to mention: Godfather (great) Godfather 2 (great) Godfather 3...BLAM-that was the sound of this author shooting himself half-way through the movie. I recovered.

    1. Hey Patrick. Yep, GF3 was terrible. I re-watched the first two not long ago, and didn't even bother with the third this time.

      I've been trying to think of cases of a movie and its first two sequels that were all good, and the only ones I can come up with are Sergio Leone's three Eastwood movies. They were, in my opinion, at least good, great, great, if not three greats. Maybe it's more because they were so unusual and groundbreaking, back in the 60s.

      Thanks for stopping in at SleuthSayers!


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