5 sequels that made the originals better

Posted July 18

SEQUEL TOWN — Movie fans have a very complicated relationship with Hollywood sequels. Yes, we want to see our favorite characters again and, of course, we want to know what happens after a flying DeLorean disappears into a “To Be Continued” sign, but we’ve been hurt before.

We’ve learned from Neo attending raves in Zion and Sandra Bullock riding “Cruise Control” that Hollywood can’t be trusted with its own creations. Experience has taught us that no matter how much we liked Jack Sparrow in that first movie, we really only wanted to see Jack Sparrow in that first movie.

So why do I have June 15, 2018, circled on my imaginary calendar? Why am I counting the days until I can hang out again with the Parr family and their BFF Frozone? Because when Hollywood gets a second chapter right, it’s glorious — it’s “Aliens” or “Toy Story 2” or “The Wrath of Khan.”

So, for the month of July, we are dedicating our movie club to our favorite sequels.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

"Yes, this choice is based on a YA novel, but I stand by this pick as being a pretty solid, fun-to-watch action flick. I actually liked these movies better than the books, which is rare for me (but let’s be honest, cutting out all of Katniss’ love triangle inner dialogue made the movie series way more enjoyable.)

"I know that many have argued that these movies/books were just a ripoff of “Battle Royale” and “Lord of Flies,” but they are still highly entertaining and the movie adaptation is worth watching. I actually think “Catching Fire” is the best movie in the trilogy because it skips all the boring plot setup of the first movie and the third installment and jumps right into the action, while still introducing some new characters and plot points so that it stays interesting.

"While there are some things that I don’t love about the 'Hunger Games' movies and the storyline in general, I think 'Catching Fire' makes for a pretty solid sequel and is even a worthwhile stand-alone film."

The Godfather: Part II

"Even though I’d always heard 'The Godfather: Part II' was one of the greatest movies ever made, I didn’t sit down to watch the series until well after college.

"With each movie of the trilogy clocking in at around three hours, and rumors that 'Part III' was a giant letdown, the idea of tackling the nine-hour marathon had always felt more like a homework assignment to me than anything I’d actually enjoy. But that all changed on an airplane, where I conveniently had enough time to finally do the Godfather thing 30,000 feet in the air.

"I remember enjoying the first movie quite a bit, but after “Part II,” I was just left shaking my head thinking, 'Is that the best movie I’ve ever seen?'

"Strangely, I’ve never revisited 'The Godfather: Part II.' I think I’ve always been afraid of what a second viewing would do to that experience, but since the Popcorn Report crew is doing sequels this month, it seems like the perfect time to spend some time with the Corleone family."

"The Godfather: Part II" is rated R for sexual content and violence and gore.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

"Does this movie need an explanation as to why it’s one of the greatest sequels of all-time?

"I will confess that I actually saw this movie before I even watched 'The Terminator.' I was 9 years old when 'Terminator 2' was released, and some of my friends that had much cooler parents than me were able to go see it. It was all they talked about for years.

"When it was finally on cable a few years later, I was able to watch it and my mind was blown. The CGI was like nothing I had ever seen and the story is just fantastic. This was and still is one of the best action movies ever made, in my opinion.

"When I finally saw 'The Terminator,' it was a total letdown. It was like eating your appetizer garden salad after you had just eaten your delicious steak meal. It’s very rare when the sequel is so good that no one ever talks about its predecessor, but T2 accomplished that. It is one of those movies that whenever you run across it on cable, you just have to stop and watch it."

"Terminator 2: Judgement Day" is rated R for strong sci-fi action and violence, and for language.

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

"This may be the sequel to end all sequels. For me, 'The Empire Strikes Back' is not just a great Star Wars sequel, it’s the best Star Wars movie, period. This movie has action, romance, humor and possibly the greatest twist in movie history. While 'Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope' is iconic and the thing that started all this madness, it's the sequel that is truly a great film.

"Every time I watch this movie, I am in awe of it and blown away by the risks the filmmakers were willing to take. To me, this is an obvious choice and the first thing I think of when someone asks what the best sequel is."

Lethal Weapon 2

"I chose “Lethal Weapon 2” because it not only built upon everything good from the original 'Lethal Weapon,' but became something even better the second time around, a feat which is extremely rare with sequels.

"Since 'Lethal Weapon 2' came out during the golden era of buddy cop movies, the challenge of making a better film than the original was up to a cast with great chemistry and strong behind-the-scenes talent. The magic between Mel Gibson and Danny Glover was taken to the next level with the addition of Joe Pesci as a third wheel.

"The story for 'Lethal Weapon 2' written by Shane Black has now become his running formula for the success of many of his other films, most recently including 'The Good Guys.'

"To be fully appreciated, 'Lethal Weapon 2' does not require you to watch the original, as this stands perfectly on its own. It is, however, kind of fun to watch the original first to see just how much better the sequel actually is."

"Lethal Weapon 2" is rated R for sexual content and nudity, violence and gore and profanity.

What are your favorite sequels? Let us know in the comments.

Travis Poppleton has been covering movie news and reviews with KSL since 2009, is a frequent guest on the KSL Popcorn Report podcast and keeps up with all things Utah and film related at over at You can contact him at


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