A look at five sequels that worked because they added to the original premise
Director Dean BeBlois based his sequel of How to Train Your Dragon on the second or fifth (depending on your age) Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back .
The sequel to Star Wars was that rare breed of movie that built on the premises of its predecessor. Usually when a movie does well, a sequel is a born, which invariably is more of the same—further adventures of the same characters. The successful template is carried forward with cosmetic changes. Here is a list of five sequels that were as good or even better than the original.
The Godfather Part II
Francis Ford Coppola had created the Mafia epic with The Godfather . The multiple-Oscar winning film told the story of the Corleone family in New York and ended with the youngest son, Michael, taking over the family business. The Godfather Part II (1974) was a sequel and a prequel as it followed two timelines.
We see the corruption that eats into Michael’s soul and also follow his father Vito Corleone’s rise from a quiet boy in Italy who goes on to become the most powerful man in New York.
All the actors from Al Pacino (Michael), Robert Duvall (Tom Hagen) Diane Lane (Kay), and Robert De Niro (Vito) were pitch perfect. The movie worked because it provided a backstory for Vito while also following Michael’s destruction — mama Corleone unfortunately still did not have a name.
The Empire Strikes Back
Movie lore has it that director Irvin Kershner did not want to direct the film as it was a sequel to the super successful Star Wars .
Luckily he reconsidered his decision. The Empire Strikes Back (1980) reveals quite a few shockers — Darth Vader being Luke Skywalker’s father is the biggest zinger.
There is Princess Leia telling the piratical Han Solo (Harrison Ford) that she loves him and Solo cheekily replying “I know,” just before he is frozen and given off to the bounty hunter Boba Fett.
Apart from the cool, stunts and the cooler animals, the icing on the cake in the movie is Jedi master Yoda with his weird speech patterns and homespun wisdom.
Like him we do very much!
James Cameron took Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979), which was basically a haunted house in space and turned it into a hard-core action film with a strong emotional centre. Sgt Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is woken up from hyper-sleep and asked to accompany a bunch of tough marines to investigate a planet by the evil Weyland-Yutani Corporation.
The planet is deserted except for aliens and a little girl Newt.
As the marines are picked off one by one, Ripley with Newt as an unlikely ally, try and outsmart the alien. For all the sci-fi action, Aliens has some strong women characters, starting with Ripley, Newt and also the alien queen with acid for blood.
Terminator II: Judgement Day
With this 1991 sequel to his Terminator (1984), James Cameron proved he was the sequel king. In Terminator , a killer robot (Arnold Schwarzenegger) comes from a future when machines rule, to kill Sarah Connor as her child will be the leader of the resistance. Terminator II sees Sarah in an asylum while her son, John, is a rebellious teenager running wild. Another killing machine is sent from the future to finish off John. There is also a saviour sent from the future to save John. The fun twist is that Schwarzenegger is the good terminator while Robert Patrick is the wicked guy. The special effects are awesome, the fights thrilling and the chases mind-blowing. John’s attempts to make Schwarzenegger cool are engaging. And all that time travel and machines becoming self-aware just adds to the fun. Hasta La Vista Baby!
The Bourne Supremacy
At the end of The Bourne Identity (2002) the baby-faced amnesiac assassin Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) walked into the sunset with the modern gypsy Marie. The Bourne Supremacy (2004) opens in Goa with Bourne and Marie hanging out in a cosy shack by the beach. Their idyllic life is shattered when a sniper’s bullet kills Marie and Bourne is on the run again trying to find clues to his past and revenge in his present. British director Paul Greengrass took over from Doug Liman and gave a realistic, gritty look and feel to the film. The action is unrelenting but there are also quiet, introspective moments as Bourne tries to piece together his identity from his fragmented memory.