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Published on January 28th, 2019 | by voxx

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What makes a Great Film Sequel?

We all know a successful movie will bring a sequel or two, as Hollywood loves the smell of money and will continue to milk franchises dry left, right and centre, and it seems Disney is jumping on that money train, revisiting every classic Disney story and turning it into some low-effort live action remake. Though many studios have a bad reputation for rehashing the same plot, or ruining things about previous films, a few have got it right, adding something to the stories we already love. But what makes a good sequel?

A good sequel should build and expand the world and characters that have been established, and take them on a new journey with new challenges and arcs. A bad sequel, on the other hand, tends to re-tread on old surfaces and present nothing new. An example of this is ‘Batman & Robin’, or perhaps ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’, ‘Son of the Mask’, ‘The Godfather Part 3’, ‘Carrie 2’, ‘Star Wars VIII. The list expands an entire universe.

An obvious example of a good sequel, without question, is ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, which not only added the biggest twist in movie history, but also offered a deeper story, bigger threats, new locations and romantic developments, and a very likeable cast of both new and old characters, all while feeling fresh and exciting. There is a reason the original ‘Star Wars’ series has a large legacy. ‘The Godfather Part 2’ is another sequel held in high regard, for taking its main character and placing him into a role he must adapt to, whilst revealing his past and the journey that affected his growth into a position of power.

While it does re-tread old ground to some extent, ‘Rocky 2’ manages to do this in a new way. Though the first will always remain the most famous underdog story, the second does a great job of showing how his life was affected and highlighting the issues that come with fame. Relationships change and depth is given to the opponent, which makes the rematch feel far more intense. ‘The Dark Knight’ is similar in this vein as Batman is still taking down villains, but is this time presented with two, which switched the dynamic the ideals he must stand for, with more action, more demanding villains, and an excellent story. Then you have lighter entries, such as ‘Toy Story 2’, which is a personal favourite of mine as it asks questions the first one didn’t look into. Oddly enough, it had a lot of adult themes, and yet they did still make sense in that universe. There were issues of abandonment, collectors, themes of loss and death, a life of unfulfillment and sadness, alongside the loveable characters and clever storytelling.

Unfortunately, great sequels are now such a rare sight, but when they do appear, they are such a treat. From animations to TV to live action film, they can exist in all mediums, and I hope they continue to blossom.

- By Samuel Wood


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