Seattle Cinema Survey – Unexpectedly Good Sequels

Welcome to the latest bout of the Seattle Cinema Survey aka a gathering of people who hate Michael Bay movies talking about good films; usually.

As it is summer, where sequels come in even more frequently than the rest of the year, I’ve asked our bunch; What’s your favorite sequel you didn’t expect to be good?

The answer couldn’t be more obvious in my brain; Fast Five. Pre the fifth outing in the Fast & Furious franchise, the series did little for me, centering too closely on a small collection of deadly serious acting done by ladies and gentlemen who don’t exactly specialize in that move. With Fast Five, Vin Diesel, Jordana Brewster and the late Paul Walker didn’t need to bare the burden of thinly developed leads with not enough talent to carry the dramatics; they were now in an ensemble collecting the various supporting characters of pictures past. Gone was the plots of illegal street racing done by super stern dudes, into the fold came Ocean’s Eleven on wheels. The mood was looser, the energy more kinetic and oodles of fun flowing amidst additional laughs and ball-busting. Plus, it hosts a ridiculously glorious over-the-top closing action scene where a humongous vault is dragged around the streets of Rio de Janeiro, as both treasure and weapon.

Erik Samdahl of Film Jabber @filmjabber
I was going to go with 22 Jump Street, but the most surprisingly sequel that comes to mind is Magic Mike XXL. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it my favorite—in fact I’m sure it’s not—but it’s definitely a sequel that I went into with low expectations and walked out being stunned by how much fun I had, as a straight dude, watching a movie about a bunch of male strippers.
Matt Oakes of Silver Screen Riot @SSRdotcom

I’ve wracked my brain over and over again to find an answer to this and just keep getting ensnared. There’s so many sequels but the caveat of expecting them to be bad really throws me for a loop. So I’ll toss it to a film that while it may not be “my favorite” certainly is a great piece of art; a film that fought its way inside my top ten in 2014 and a remarkable step forward from already extremely satisfying feature, The Raid 2: Berendal. The first Raid was a balls-to-the-walls Indonesian martial arts film that some fairly compared to a video game in terms of its somewhat narrow-minded narrative progression but The Raid 2, which for all intents and purposes could have just been more of the same fisted flurries, introduced an engrossing crime plot, not tonally dissimilar from The Departed or Infernal Affairs, and one-upped the action ante from before. The result is a masterfully-made triumph of action filmmaking, an unrelenting, dramatically engaging epic that engages the mind almost as much as the adrenaline gland. To watch The Raid 2 is like taking a shot of whiskey from a golden shot glass. Simply put, I love it.

Brian Taibl of Brian the Movie Guy @BrianMovieGuy

In my eyes, Pixar has yet to do wrong. They’ve done not-as-good-as-the-rest (Cars, Cars 2, The Good Dinosaur…wait, I take that back, I actually really liked the heart and simplicity of The Good Dinosaur), but I don’t think they have a legitimate big time miss to date.

In early 2010 I vividly remember seeing and openly mocking a Toy Story 3 one-sheet. Aside from the terrific Toy Story 2 (the Empire Strikes Back of animated film fare), Pixar was in the original works business – churning out beautiful worlds, layered characters and rich, meaningful dialogue. That was their modus operandi. Plopping out a third installment of talking toys cinema seemed like a frivolous cash grab — something WAY beneath them. I mean Up (2009), Wall-E (2008) and Ratatouille (2007) were the three completely unique and brilliant films that processed this atrocious act of laziness. How could Pixar have sunk so low?!

Then I actually saw Toy Story 3 and it became my favorite film of the series, my favorite film from Pixar and my #1 movie of that year.

That day, I learned that you should never judge a movie by it’s poster (unless, of course, it’s something that features Liam Neeson and has the word Taken on it followed by a number).

Jason Roestel of Examiner @filmbastard

The Wrath of Khan is still one of my favorite film sequels of all time. It wasn’t just a great film, it pretty much saved Star Trek from the pending scrap pile it was warping toward after the pretty blunder of Star Trek The Motion Picture. Proof of its power is that here we are in 2016 and we have a new much faster and more furious Star Trek film a month away now and we have a brand new television series arriving early in 2017. As great as it most certainly is – and I’ll argue with any Star Wars fanatic that Spock’s death scene was every bit as potent as the “I AM YOUR FATHER” reveal in The Empire Strikes Back, William Shatner still hasn’t been recognized enough for his work in Wrath of Khan for my satisfaction – it was later tragically mimicked in JJ Abrams delicious dud Star Trek Into Darkness. A minor smudge on an otherwise spotless reputation. Lastly, I’d say that Mad Max: Fury Road was one of biggest sequel surprises of the 21st century, except that it wasn’t for me. I’ve been a Miller disciple since primary school.

Tim Hall of The People’s Critic @peoplescrtic
Ok, mine would be Men In Black. After the disappointing Men In Black 2 (sorry Rosario Dawson), I figured Men In Black 3 was going to be trash, especially with the time travel component.

Josh Borlin plays a great young Tommy Lee, Will Smith was awesome, and Jemaime Clement was a fantastic villain. We even get to see Luke Cage as Will Smith’s dad.

Brent McKnight Cinema Blend/The Last Thing I See @BrentMMcKnight

For every truly great sequel, there are exponentially more that are hasty knock-off cash grabs. But the most satisfying follow-ups are those that you look at, make a weird confused dog face, and ask, “Why did they make this?” but that turn out to be awesome.

When Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure dropped in 1989, it had a profound impact on my 12-year-old life. Probably more than it should have. I still ask people when the Mongols ruled China and lament the lack of Circle-Ks left in this world. But even I wasn’t sure about Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey when it hit two years later. But you know, what? It’s incredible.

There’s a camp that holds Bogus Journey up as superior to its predecessor, and while I can’t quite do that, it’s still fabulous and one of my favorite movies ever. Instead of simply traversing time, the titular slackers breach the pane between life and death, we get Good Robot Us’s, Evil Robot Us’s, William Sadler as Death, Bill and Ted Melvining Death, and the most high-stakes game of Battleship you’ll ever see. And we finally get to hear Wyld Stallyns’ music, the music that reshapes the world. Turns out it was KISS all along.

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