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Smoke, Flicks, and Chill: Sequels That Surpass the Original

These few overcame that wretched Hollywood stigma.

by Sean Abrams

by Sean Abrams

Most sequels are created for all the wrong reasons. Casts are locked into a contract that could require multiple go-arounds despite a flop, or hungry filmmakers are trying to milk a box office success for all its worth. But every once in a while, an idea is developed, a budget is bigger, and things just – click. Sequels have the potential to not only stay faithful to what came before them, but enhance it, open up the world it’s spawned from and make us want more, and more. At such a high standard, one can understand why most fall to the waistside, but not these select few. Here are some sequels to get high during that surpass their predecessors (in no particular order). It just works.

Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995)

Who knew placing Bruce Willis and Samuel L Jackson square in the heart of New York City for a twisted game of 'Simon Says' would turn out to be so much fun? 5 years after Lt. John McClane continued to spit out his memorable one-liners, the iconic character returns for a riddled-filled romp that makes you forget how mediocre its predecessor was. While With a Vengeance may not have directly proceeded the original 1988 film, the 3rd installment in the growing franchise delivered with enough charm and finesse (and connections to said original) that you truly appreciate the updated settings and sense of direction this one took. Not only does it keep you on the edge of your seat, but it gives you something to appreciate courtesy of the banter between Willis and Jackson something that should've been played up more during their Pulp Fiction days. 

Munchie: Donuts – and lot’s of em.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Let's face it  despite their undertaking at the box office, some of Marvel's movies are duds (just don't let them hear you say that). It's hard to replicate a comic book storyline, feature an array of super powered heroes and villains, and still make sure it all stays on a path that won't have you questioning whatever you just saw by the credits. While Avengers laid groundwork for the Marvel Comic Universe (MCU), striking gold and opening up doors for all different types of Marvel characters to emerge, it's sequel really divulged into the nitty, gritty of a well-balanced team's conflicts that we all actually care about. Age of Ultron's action wasn't the only star, with the emergence of powerhouse Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and her brother, an iconic villain whose actions would lead to serious repercussions down the road, and the beginning of their biggest battle yet: One against each other. Superheroes have feelings too, you know!

Munchie: Pop open a can of nuts (and bolts), Ultron's favorite.

Scream 2 (1997)

Just as Jamie Kennedy's character Randy Meeks' explains (before his untimely death): Developing a successful sequel is no easy feat. And despite Wes Craven's quick draw to get Scream 2 from page to screen in a year's time, things managed to click into place, turning this into a pure, genuine horror follow-up that works. With most returning, the Neve Campbell-led cast has evolved before our eyes straight from a high school setting to new life in college, providing them with a storyline we actually care about and therefore giving us all the feels when they're gutted like a fish. In an era where blood-soaked movies have turned to mush that's thrown to VOD, it's sequels like Scream 2 that make you truly appreciate when a good scare is done right. And this certainly delivers on that. 

Munchie: Popcorn, perfect for a scary movie.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

There's a reason this was the highest-grossing movie of 1991. 'Ahnold' is back as our savior in this James Cameron-follow up, and with his change in allegiances come a more expansive story, outrageous special effects, and real heart behind the characters. This sequel cranked everything up so hard the notch almost broke, with the introduction of a liquid metal villain to contrast the Schwarzenegger battle bot, and the evolution of Sarah Connor from a damsel in distress to a serious shotgun-toting BAMF. There's no argument against the original introduction of this time traveling sci-fi feature... but this one is definitely the victor that'd easy to watch on repeat. 

Munchie: A definite bro film, this one deserves a liquid lunch. 

22 Jump Street (2014)

Because witnessing the odd couple of Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill to survive a few measly weeks in high school was so hilariously ludicrous in 21 Jump Street, directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller decided to up the ante with a follow-up, appropriately titled... 22 Jump Street. The unprecedented movie sequel to a TV show about undercover cops in a school sets the stakes higher and moves the boys all the way to a co-ed dorm, allowing their bromance to blossom even more than it did in the 2012 action-com. In this case, it's the predictability and raunchiness that we expect, but still appreciate coming from the dimwitted, loud-mouthed pairing that could keep us entertained for ages. 

Munchie: Easy-mac, this is college after all.


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Sean Abrams

Sean Abrams is a Brooklyn native with a penchant for being the guy who eats only the pink Starbursts. He currently resides in Astoria and is an Associate Editor at Maxim Magazine. Follow him down the rabbit hole on Twitter at @seanybrams.



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