Monday, May 30, 2011

MASTER LIST #21: The 50 Best Sequels

Another difficult list to compile. First off, I had to decide which sequels actually surpassed their originals in quality and influence (the first twenty entries make this cut). But, before this, I had to reconcile myself to whether or not entries in long-running series like the James Bond movies, the Hannibal Lecter series, and the Hope/Crosby "Road" movies counted as sequels. I decided the answer was yes, but I had to rank them in order to their intrinsic relation to their originals (hence, The Silence of the Lambs is lower down on the list, because its connection to Manhunter lies only in the inclusion of Lecter's character, and though Road to Morocco is the best in that series, it's strange to include them because Hope and Crosby's character names--but not their personalties--change from film to film). Unfortunately, I had to exclude a movie as great as Broadway Melody of 1940, because even though it was the last and best in a series of films started with the 1929 Best Picture winner, it's connection with that film was only in that it had been branded with the Broadway Melody trademark. Similarly, I had to exclude Kieslowski's Three Colors: Red and Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, because I thought they were really just parts of the same film. (In other words, you can't really GET those films without seeing the others in the series. This was a particularly hard thing to consider, because I wondered if this quality made them IDEAL sequels. That said, I'll be perfectly willing to hear arguments to the contrary, especially seeing as how I included The Empire Strikes Back in the top five.)

After all this was done, I had to rank the rest of the movies (post #22 or so) in order of quality, regardless of the reputation of their inspirations. There were about 25 movies that I felt varying pains in leaving off this list, including Powaqqatsi, In the Line of Duty: The FBI Murders, Pets or Meat: The Return to Flint, The Big TNT Show, Come Back Charleston Blue, Army of Darkness, Britannia Hospital, Day of the Dead, The Spy Who Loved Me, Gator, Enemy from Space, War of the Colossal Beast, Texasville, The Snapper, Pusher II, The Living Daylights, and Rocky Balboa. So I include them here, to let you know I considered them. Finally, I should address the exclusion of The Dark Knight on this list. This here post will let you know what I think of that film: Heath Ledger's insanely immaculate performance as the Joker aside, there's no way that The Dark Knight is better than Batman Begins. So now, in order of preference, and judged by (1) comparison to the original, (2) overall quality and influence, (3) relation to the original, and (4) quality and influence of the original, here are my choice for the 50 best sequels out there:

1) The Godfather, Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 74; sequel to Coppola's 1972 original)
2) Toy Story 2 (John Lasseter, Ash Brannon and Lee Unkrich, 99; sequel to Lasseter's 1995 original).
3) O Lucky Man! (Lindsay Anderson, 73; sequel to Anderson's 1968 film if... and second in Anderson's "Mick Travis" series)
4) The Empire Strikes Back (Irwin Kershner, 80; sequel to George Lucas' 1977 Star Wars)
5) The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (Sergio Leone, 66; third entry in Leone's "Man with No Name" trilogy)
6) The Bride of Frankenstein (James Whale, 35; sequel to Whale's 1931 original)
7) Goldfinger (Guy Hamilton, 64; third in the James Bond series of films)
8) Before Sunset (Richard Linklater, 2004; sequel to Linklater's 1995 film Before Sunrise)
9) The Road Warrior (George Miller, 81; sequel to Miller's 1979 film Mad Max)
10) Quatermass and the Pit (aka Five Million Years to Earth) (Roy Ward Baker, 68; third in the Quatermass series of films)
11) Aliens (James Cameron, 86; sequel to Ridley Scott's 1979 film Alien)
12) 28 Up (Michael Apted, 85; fourth in Apted's "Up" series of documentaries)
13) Dawn of the Dead (George A. Romero, 79; sequel to Romero's 1968 film Night of the Living Dead)
14) A Shot in the Dark (Blake Edwards, 64; second in Edwards' "Pink Panther" series)
15) Casino Royale (Martin Campbell, 2006; 21st entry into the James Bond series)
16) Superman II (Richard Lester (and Richard Donner), 80; sequel to Richard Donner's 1978 original)
17) Road to Morocco (David Butler, 42; third in the seven-part Hope/Crosby series of "Road" movies started in 1940 with Road to Singapore)
18) The Testament of Orpheus (Jean Cocteau, 60; third in Cocteau's Orphic trilogy)
19) From Russia With Love (Terrence Young, 63; sequel to Young's 1962 film Dr. No, and second in the long-running James Bond series)
20) Tarzan and His Mate (Cedric Gibbons, 34; sequel to W.S. Van Dyke's 1934 film Tarzan The Ape Man)
21) The Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 91; sequel to Michael Mann's 1986 film Manhunter)
22) On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (Peter Hunt, 69; sixth in the James Bond series)
23) Stolen Kisses (Francois Truffaut, 68; third in Truffaut's "Antoine Doinel" series)
24) Manon of the Spring (Claude Berri, 87; sequel to Berri's 1986 film Jean De Florette)
25) The Color of Money (Martin Scorsese, 86; sequel to Robert Rossen's 1961 film The Hustler)
26) The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (Fritz Lang, 33; sequel to Lang's 1922 silent film Dr. Mabuse the Gambler)
27) Magnum Force (Ted Post, 73; sequel to Don Siegel's 1971 film Dirty Harry and second in the long-running "Dirty Harry" series)
28) Evil Dead II (Sam Raimi, 87; sequel to Raimi's 1981 original)
29) Saraband (Ingmar Bergman, 2003; sequel to Bergman's 1974 film Scenes From a Marriage)
30) For A Few Dollars More (Sergio Leone, 65; second in Leone's "Man With No Name: trilogy; sequel to his 1964 film A Fistful of Dollars)
31) Biloxi Blues (Mike Nichols, 88; sequel to Gene Saks' 1986 film Brighton Beach Memoirs, and second in Neil Simon's autobiographical play/film trilogy)]
32) Pumping Iron II: The Women (George Butler, 85; sequel to Butler and Robert Fiore's 1977 documentary original)
33) Dracula’s Daughter (Lambert Hillyer, 36; sequel to Tod Browning's 1931 film Dracula)
34) The Bells of St. Mary’s (Leo McCarey, 45; sequel to McCarey's 1944 film Going My Way)
35) The New Land (Jan Troell, 72; sequel to Troell's 1971 film The Immigrants)
36) Rocky II (Sylvester Stallone, 79; sequel to John G. Avildsen's 1976 original)
37) The Drowning Pool (Stuart Rosenberg, 75; sequel to Jack Smight's 1966 film Harper)
38) Spiderman II (Sam Raimi, 2004; sequel to Raimi's 2002 original)
39) Babe: Pig in the City (George Miller, 98; sequel to Chris Noonan's 1995 film Babe)
40) This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse (José Mojica Marins, 67; second installment in Marins' Coffin Joe series, started in 1963 with At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul)
41) French Connection II (John Frankenheimer, 75; sequel to William Friedkin's 1971 original)
42) Return to Oz (Walter Murch, 85; sequel to Victor Fleming's 1939 film The Wizard of Oz)
43) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Steven Spielberg, 89; third installment in Spielberg's "Indiana Jones" series, began in 1981 with Raiders of the Lost Ark)
44) Gremlins 2: The New Batch (Joe Dante, 90; sequel to Dante's 1984 original)
45) After the Thin Man (W.S. Van Dyke, 36; sequel to Van Dyke's 1934 film The Thin Man, and second in a long-running series)
46) Dr. Phibes Rises Again (Robert Fuest, 72; sequel to Fuest's 1971 film The Abominable Dr. Phibes)
47) Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (J. Lee Thompson, 72; fourth in the Planet of the Apes series, begun in 1968 with Franklin J. Schaffner's original)
48) Die Hard With A Vengeance (John McTiernan, 95; third in the John McClane series of action films, begun in 1988 with McTiernan's Die Hard)
49) Shock Treatment (Jim Sharman, 81; sequel to Sharman's 1975 film The Rocky Horror Picture Show)
50) Big Top Pee-Wee (Randal Kleiser, 88; sequel to Tim Burton's 1985 film Pee-Wee's Big Adventure)

Coincidentally, while I was compiling my list, the estimable Matt Zoller Seitz compiled his own list of the top sequels on Salon. His #1 is brave and justified, but really, we all know the #1 choice is the one I picked. Mine may be an obvious selection, but there's a reason for that.


Ken's movie reviews said...

This list is silly... Where is the Dark Knight? Or Terminator 2?

Dean Treadway said...

Never liked either one of those movies. As I said in the post, DARK KNIGHT is good only for Ledger. TERMINATOR II is ruined by the excreble performance by Edward Furlong, who has to be one of the most irritating kid actors ever. Horrible wooden delivery and grating voice. Nice effects in that movie, though. But that's all it is: an effects reel.