19 underrated sequels that deserve another chance

Some movie sequels get rightly slated or ignored, and yet there’s a collection of them that deserve a bit more credit than they get. Such as these...

The sequels that need more love...

It’s with good reason that many people fear sequels. For every Dark Knight or Godfather Part II, there are a dozen films like Men In Black 2, Charlie’s Angels 2 or The Mummy Returns (as our recent look at films that spoil a boxset demonstrated).

Some sequels, however, simply don’t seem to get the credit they deserve, and while they may not be the equal of their predecessors, they were either let down at the box office, have been seemingly forgotten, or are just regularly slated. Here are 19 that deserve some fresh love…


Back To The Future Part III

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Or: the sequel that put lots of people off because is was a Western. With a romance in it. Back To The Future Part III is, however, a superb way to round off an excellent trilogy. Packed with the in-jokes and conventions of the trilogy, it’s more in keeping of the feel of the first, rather than the second film. It also boasts some great set pieces, Lloyd, Fox and Thomas Wilson clearly having a blast, and some great dialogue too.

Addams Family Values

Staggeringly, this made less than half of the original’s box office take in the States, in spite of it being one of the smartest comedy sequels of the 90s. It’s a good deal better than the first film, and surely the outright highlight has to be Christina Ricci’s Wednesday (the best child actor performance of the 90s? Just a thought we’ll throw out there) going off to camp, where they try and make her happy. Plus, there’s the majesty of the late Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston as well. Inspired, but it killed the franchise cinematically, only arising again for a direct-to-video movie that entirely recast the film.

Gremlins II: The New Batch

Granted, there’s an army of people who will defend Gremlins 2 to the hilt, and we’re proud to line up alongside them. It’s also become more and more popular over time, but it still amazes us that it was a box office disappointment when it was released, with it being trampled over by Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy. An hilarious sequel, clearly made by someone who didn’t give a monkey’s about making a third film (and you can find our interview with its director, Joe Dante, right here), it’s the brain gremlin that would be our absolute highlight. But there are so many of them to choose from….

A Very Brady Sequel

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Another comedy film that bettered its original, and yet one that never even made it to cinema screens in the UK, caught up in a ratings mess over the use of nunchuks in the film. Sigh. Blistering funny, with Gary Cole in his second best comedy role of the 90s (after Office Space, of course). And it’s also the film that mines comedy gold from incest. You couldn’t say that about a Police Academy sequel….

Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines

It’s not a great film. Heck, you can’t help but understand how angry people get about it when it sits next to the first two in a box set. But it’s not a bad film either, and it has a brassy an ending as we can remember in recent times from a major Hollywood blockbuster. Ironically, it’s Arnie who is the biggest weakness here, with his tired Terminator, and the insistence of giving him stupid things to say regularly dragging the film down. But it’s still better than it’s often given credit for.

Alien 3

A regular discussion topic at Den Of Geek, there are one or two who believe that Alien 3 – particularly in the extended form we got in the Quadrilogy boxset – is some beast. And even those of us who don’t warm to it so much do concede that it’s not the write-off that it’s often dismissed as. Granted, pissing away two major characters in the first five minutes does it no favours at all, and granted, you can sniff studio interference from 20 paces, but there are some strong moments, the core of a grand idea, and Sigourney Weaver is excellent once more. Plus you can’t say that elements of it aren’t bold, either. Certainly worth giving another chance to.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

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Mark Oakley wrote an article at DoG where he proclaimed that Temple Of Doom should live in his DVD Dungeon. And this writer couldn’t disagree more, although for a long time thought that it was a weak sequel. However, a couple of recent respins have convinced me otherwise. This is a dark, at times quite nasty follow-up, and it’s all the more interesting for it. Okay, it doesn’t match the tone of Raiders of the Lost Ark for long periods, but it’s far, far better than it’s often given credit for.

Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey

Whenever anyone pulls out the old argument about sequels that are never better than their originals, then the comedy genre is the place to look. Already we’ve talked about the Bradys and the Addams (some might even argue Wayne’s World as well?). But Bill and Ted’s early 90s follow up to their excellent adventure is an absolute blast, and an expansion and improvement on their Excellent Adventure. It’s the introduction of Death as a character that helps it soar, and the image of them playing Twister with him is simply inspired. We’re not over keen on the idea of a belated third outing for Bill and Ted, but primarily because this second film whacked it out of the proverbial park.

Conan the Destroyer

Brett Ratner is believed to involved/being approached to reboot the Conan franchise, but don’t forget that it’s already enjoyed a not-perfect sequel, but certainly a better one than it’s often given credit for. Arnie owns the role of Conan, and the late Richard Fleischer knew how to knock an action sequence together. Bonus points too for Sarah Douglas and Grace Jones in the supporting cast.

Escape from LA

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My colleague, Martin, would have my guts strung up if Escape From L.A. didn’t make an appearance here. A film that was heavily criticised on release, and one deemed a box office disappointment, and yet one that turned out to be very much ahead of its time. Now that the world has caught up with it, its time has most certainly come. If you can overlook the ropey CGI…

Final Destination 2

Take the snobbery away from the Final Destination franchise, and the second film is an absolute hoot. For much of its running time, it’s a game of guessing just how the faceless teen in question is going to meet their maker, and there’s so much fuel for a drinking game here, it should come with a warning. Directed by David R Ellis (he of Snakes on a Plane fame), it’s much better than the tepid third film. But Ellis will be returning to the franchise for a second time to direct this summer’s fourth instalment. In 3D. It gets no better…

Jurassic Park III

It’s not up to the standard of the first film, and doesn’t match the highlights of the second, but Jurassic Park III is a lean, straight-to-the-point dinosaur action film, heightened by the luring back of Sam Neill to the franchise. The plot is superfluous here, as the whole thing is an excuse to pull in some dino action sequences, and in the pterodactyl house particularly, it really kicks in to gear. The budget-enforced hasty ending is a pity, though.

Rocky II, III & IV

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Our love of Rocky IV has already been documented at Den Of Geek, but the saga of Sylvester Stallone’s Italian Stallion is really enjoyable right up until 30 seconds before Rocky V starts. The second movie is a glossy and very functional sequel, but let’s cut film three slack for loosening up and having some fun, with Mr T’s Clubber Lang a great introduction to the franchise. Rocky IV, of course, remains without modern day parallel…

Die Hard II: Die Harder

Try and put aside the callousness of crashing a packed jumbo jet on Christmas Eve, just as all the characters manage to do for the traditional hugs and happy ending, and Die Hard 2 is a rock solid action movie. It’s one of three films that director Renny Harlin put out in the 1990s that we really, really like (Cliffhanger and Deep Blue Sea being the others), and it bothers to reintroduce characters and conventions from the original films, that the later sequels seem less inclined to do. William Sadler isn’t a great villain – he’s not in the Rickman and Irons class, certainly – but the film still throws in some terrific sequences, and Willis happily eating up the scenery in his most iconic role.

In fact, let’s not just defend Die Hard 2, here. Let’s go further. There’s never been a duff Die Hard film. Discuss…

Clear and Present Danger

A superb follow-up to Patriot Games and The Hunt For Red October, and one of Harrison Ford’s finest films (yes, really). This is a complicated, at-times very political thriller, that manages to squeeze in space for some welcome turns from James Earl Jones, Willem Dafoe and Donald Moffat. That it squeezes in a couple of really, really good action sequences is all the better, but it also helps that this is just the kind of fodder that its leading man is really, really good at. Incidentally, the next Ryan film, The Sum Of All Fears, nearly squeezed in this feature too, Affleck and all…

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Lethal Weapon 4

Lethal Weapon 4 is not a great film by any stretch, and the fingermarks of its truncated production time are all over the rushed action sequences, and script contrivances that have you swallow the fact that Mel Gibson wouldn’t have the shit kicked out of him by Jet Li in three seconds flat. Plus, it’s a million miles away from the rawness of the original. But you know what? It squeezes in here purely off the back of its comedy, as it works far better as a comedy than it does as an action flick. A three star movie, sure, but an entertaining one.

Crocodile Dundee In Los Angeles

It seems that only Paul Hogan and his bank manager were keen to see a revival of the character that put the former on the map a decade and a half after it happened. But what flew under many people’s radar is the fact that the third Crocodile Dundee movie is really quite good. Some good one liners, and Hogan on good form, cover the fact that the story is a bit of a contrived mess. It’s better than the first sequel, and worth digging out of whatever bargain bin it currently resides in.

Miss Congeniality 2

Just kidding…

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Add in your suggestions in the comments….

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14 January 2009