Ah, sequels. The Hollywood equivalent of Hamburger Helper, sequels are filler designed to stretch out a franchise the way Hamburger Helper stretches out meat, so you can get more use out of it. The problem with sequels, once you’ve done a movie once, all the novelty and great ideas it head are used up, which means you either come up with something new, or your movie is boring. It’s very, very hard to write a sequel that does the original justice. There are, however, some that are actually, through some bizarre Hollywood voodoo, better then the original. Here’s a look at what I consider the five best sequels to ever grace a sci-fi franchise.
(Note: By nature, this list is subjective; these are MY opinions, which are just as valid as yours except I write for a website and you don’t, nyah nyah)
5. Chronicles of Riddick
You’ve probably never even heard of Pitch Black, the first movie in the Riddick franchise. It was more or less Alien on steroids; a bunch of guys crash on a planet and have to escape a swarm of super-aliens that want to eat them. Pretty basic stuff, except for Riddick. Richard B. Riddick, played by the nerdy Chuck Norris clone Vin Diesel, was a criminal badass who enjoyed murder and Hannibal Lecter-style mind games, saved an otherwise forgettable movie by being awesome and leading the group (well, part of it) to safety. Chronicles of Riddick is notably very different from it’s predecessor in style, tone, and genre, but what it shares with its prequel is that it’s a forgettable movie saved by its lead. So why is this one better? Because it knows Riddick is the only draw it has, and gives him a lot more time to show off. Like killing people with a tea cup.
It’s a dumb movie with a sub-par plot, but the action is so mindblowingly amazing that you’ll forget all that so you can stare, open-mouthed, at Vin Diesel punching people.
4. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Terminator was yet another“implacable sci-fi villain chases a young woman” movie, but it had Arnold Schwarzenegger so it was
superior. It also had a pretty cool plot involving time travel, robots, and mildly confusing parentage, and some really awesome scenes where the Terminator just would. Not. Die. So why was the sequel better? A couple reasons. First, it gave the heroes a chance to fight back, with some heavy weaponry and a Terminator of their own. The ‘good’ Terminator let Arnold play the role he was born to play – an emotionless killer robot struggling to understand humans – while still letting him be the hero, which he preferred. It also had a way cooler villain in the T-1000, who could shapeshift, was even harder to kill then the previous T-800 model, and had then-cutting edge special effects backing him up. Bratty kid John Conner brought the movie down a bit, but it was worth it to teach the Terminator some choice phrases (“Hasta la vista, baby”), and gave him an excuse to show how badass he was when he wiped the floor with a bunch of cops without killing anyone.
3. Dark Knight
Okay, so Dark Knight is only barely a sci-fi movie, and only if you count that cell-phone radar thing at the end as science fiction, but I’ve met a couple people who consider it to be sci-fi and it’s a great movie, so it goes here. A lot of the fans of this movie probably didn’t even know about Batman Begins, to which Dark Knight was a direct sequel. While Batman Begins was a very well-done comic book movie that accomplished its task quite throughly, it never really reached anyone who wasn’t already a fan of Batman. Dark Knight, on the other hand… everyone has seen the Dark Knight. EVE. RY. ONE. Even people who can’t stand superheroes in general love this movie – my own sister, who has often lamented the fact that she’s grown up with a pair of comic book nerds for brothers, proclaimed this to be “the best movie Heath Ledger has ever done”. Oh, yeah, that’s right – nobody cared about Batman in this movie. It was all The Joker. But it was such a brilliant performance, that’s all this movie really needed.
This is the movie that invented the trilogy formula that both Riddick and Terminator follow: first, a movie about a nigh-invulnerable monster(s) that chase our hero(s), who barely escape with their lives. Then, the hero strikes back when the events of the past movie returns to haunt them, this time showing those evil monsters who the real boss of the galaxy is. Then come a few shitty sequels nobody cares about (Riddick hasn’t quite reached this point yet, but they’re working on it). This movie is the second step in that process, where Ellen Ripley finally gets her shot to strike back at the Alien that destroyed her crew. After spending the whole last movie running in terror, this time she kicks the crap out of the Alien Queen with a giant friggen’ robot, and really, that’s all you need.
1. Star Wars Episode V: Empire Strikes Back
Everyone loves Star Wars. It’s part of being American. You eat hotdogs, you watch baseball, you like Star Wars… it’s part of the package. And while the original Star Wars (Episode IV) was pretty excellent, introducing us to the universe and giving us Han Solo, Chewie, Obi-Wan and a bunch of other awesome characters (oh, and Luke), Episode V just completely blew it out of the water. Why? PIck a reason! Yoda! The Battle of Hoth! Lando Calrissian and the Cloud City! Darth Vader is Luke’s father (admit it, it blew your mind the first time)! There is just so much right with this movie I can’t fit it all in, so instead, why don’t you just go rewatch the movie. Like, now. Seriously, why are you even still here. GO!
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