I saw this link at Bill Crider’s Pop Culture Magazine that directs the individual curious enough to click on it to a Times Online article listing twenty film sequels Michael Moran feels are better than the originals. “Whenever a movie sequel is announced, the cry that
Of the twenty sequels listed, I have to reserve comment on Clear and Present Danger (#17 on the list), Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (#16), Before Sunset (#8—though I have seen Before Sunrise…and anything that followed in that overrated film’s pretentious wake would have to be an improvement), The Bourne Supremacy (#7) and The Dark Knight (#3) because I’ve not viewed any of those films. Then there are several on the list that are sort of no-brainers: Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (#13), From Russia With Love (#11), Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (#9), The Empire Strikes Back (#4) and Mad Max 2 (#2) are the ones that immediately come to mind.
The rest of the list is populated with what I would categorize as “crazy talk,” “daring choices” and “myths.” It goes against the grain to suggest that Magnum Force (#19) is superior to Dirty Harry, just as it’s just-plain silly to suggest that Back to the Future II (#14) surpasses the original…and why Moran chose to argue that The French Connection II (#15) outpaces the first is anybody’s guess…I don’t know what he’s smoking, but he’s welcome to share it with me. Subsequently, I’d rather watch the first Terminator instead of Terminator 2: Judgment Day (#5) and I’d put Alien in a Netflix queue before Aliens (#6).
Under “daring choices,” it’s suggested that Superman II (#12) is better than the first Superman; I find this daring only because the two movies are pretty much cut from the same bolt of cloth (you may be familiar with the story of how the films’ producers intended to make two movies but were only going to pay the actors for one) and to suggest that one is superior than the other doesn’t make a lot of sense. The one that really surprised me was After the Thin Man (#11) because I think you could argue that it’s slightly better-made and better-acted than the first (and its denouement of an unlikely screen actor as the killer is a plus) but in the final analysis (your mileage, as always, may vary) I like The Thin Man more only because of its breezy, unpretentious feel.
As to the remaining films on the list, Bride of Frankenstein (#20)—despite its stellar reputation—is not better than the original Frankenstein (although it is an outstanding film in its own right) only because its emphasis is on fantasy and not horror, like Frankie I. Dawn of the Dead (#18) may be a more accomplished work than Night of the Living Dead (with a slightly bigger budget), but that doesn’t mean it’s better than its source, which can still raise a goose pimple or two if I watch it in an empty Rancho Yesteryear by my lonesome. And why people continue to perpetuate the myth that The Godfather, Part II (#1) is better than “Godfather I” is a question that will occupy film buffs and critics for years and years to come. (Part II has to do without Marlon Brando, who was the life force behind the first picture.)