You’ve heard the phrase, “The sequel is never as good as the original.” Ha! Utter nonsense. There are plenty of cases where the sequel is just as good if not better than its predecessor. Here are a few great sequels you can watch whenever you please on Netflix Instant, some of which even surpass the films that came before them.
Whether Aliens is “better” than Alien really depends on what mood you’re in, but for the record, James Cameron‘s sprawling action-adventure response to Ridley Scott‘s moody chamber piece is considered by many to be the model of its kind. It certainly is a near-perfect action movie, with Cameron expertly maintaining a relentless pace and a sense of sometimes unbearable intensity as a group of Colonial Marines face an enemy they really weren’t prepared for. Sigourney Weaver runs the show with her passionate, fiery performance as Ripley, though both Carrie Henn as Newt and Bill Paxton as Hudson steal the occasional scene. Great stuff — and, in many ways, Cameron has yet to top it.
Yeah, Superman II is a bit of a mess, and it’s got a bit of a mean streak, too, but there are a few scenes that top anything we saw in Richard Donner’s excellent original. Watching Superman giving up his powers for the love of Lois Lane is actually a pretty stressful experience, and even more so when he gets the crap kicked out of him by some thug in a diner. Terrence Stamp provides plenty of delight as General Zod, who loves referring to himself in the third person, and Gene Hackman manages to steal the show (again) even though Lex Luthor is reduced to a sidekick role as the three Kryptonian villains take center stage. Through it all, it’s Christopher Reeve‘s heartfelt, sincere and completely believable performance as both Clark Kent and the Man of Steel that keeps it all together.
James Cameron again, and once again he raised the bar for sci-fi action adventures with this thrilling, punch-drunk extravaganza. The special effects — especially the “liquid metal” — still look great even almost 20 years later, and that scene where the security guard gets a T-1000 blade through his eye still gets us every time. Linda Hamilton created a new kind of female action hero with her new workout regimen (and half-crazy persona), though it’s Arnold Schwarzenegger who deserves a lot of the credit for T2‘s success — his underrated performance is intense, funny and ultimately touching, playing the surrogate father role to Edward Furlong‘s John Conner (oh, Cameron, you old softy, you!). Arnold seems genuinely comfortable in this role, and he hits every beat perfectly, whether he’s blasting a shotgun or hopping on one foot.
The second installment in the Lethal Weapon franchise trades the original’s intensity for a sense of general chaos, but the sequel still has a lot going for it, including Mel Gibson and Danny Glover throwing themselves into their roles with genuine glee (the film opens with Mel howling with delight and Danny freaking out as the two of them engage in a high-speed car chase). The goofy humor that would almost completely overtake the series by the third installment is introduced here (this is the first appearance of Joe Pesci‘s Leo Getz), though the film takes a sudden and unexpected turn into really dark territory during the final act that will make some viewers wonder if they’re still watching the same movie where Mel seduced Patsy Kensit in a supermarket by imitating the Three Stooges. “It’s just been revoked!”
A genuinely creepy and unsettling movie, First Contact, like The Wrath of Khan before it, isn’t just a great Star Trek movie but a great sci-fi movie, period. The Borg are the villains here, and great villains they make, with Alice Krige delivering a grotesquely sexy performance as the Borg Queen. Resistance is, indeed, futile — you won’t be able to help but be assimilated by this rousing adventure, a deep space nightmare that still manages to throw in some great humor that can only come from having such great characters. Boldly go.