THE DARK KNIGHT, Heath Ledger as The Joker, 2008. ©Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection

10 Sequels That Were Better Than The Original

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Sequels are, in many ways, the bane of Hollywood. Executives eager to wring every last drop of blood out of their original investment will stretch an idea past the breaking point. But sometimes – rarely – a sequel will actually manage to improve on the original, whether due to bigger budget, a more confident vision or some intangible factor. Here are ten second installments that were better than their progenitors.

10. Toy Story 2 

Yes, Toy Story is great. But the second installment improves on everything that made the first film work and adds an emotional undercurrent (those Jesse flashback still get us) that Pixar continues to mine today.


9. Blade II

It’s crazy to think that before the Marvel Cinematic Universe was Disney’s cash cow, Wesley Snipes turned a C-list comic character into a franchise player. The second Blade movie snagged Guillermo del Toro to direct and pits the half-vampire and the Bloodpack against a group of super-strong undead infected with a bizarre virus.


8. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

The first big-screen Star Trek outing was, to be fair, pretty dull. When director Nicholas Meyer was brought in for the sequel, he tossed almost everything out and made an action-packed flick that balanced space battles while also acknowledging the crew’s advancing age. Throw in the performance of a lifetime from Ricardo Montalban and you’ve got a classic.


7. Dawn Of The Dead

The original Night Of The Living Dead single-handedly created the zombie horror genre, but George Romero’s follow-up transformed it into the social allegory we know and love today. When a motley crew of survivors hole up in an abandoned shopping mall, the suspense and gore both climb to absolutely shocking levels. It’s a classic that influenced every bit of zombie-related media to come.


6. Friday The 13th Part 2

The first film in the franchise is kind of an outlier – the murderer is Jason Voorhees’s mother, after all. The sequel introduced the iconic hockey-masked killer for real, making for a much better film. Without the convoluted mystery, Jason is allowed to become an implacable, supernatural agent of destruction and one of the best movie monsters of all time.


5. Spider-Man 2 

Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man film did a solid enough job setting up Peter Parker’s world. But Spider-Man 2 upped the action and the emotional stakes, and gave us the best villain the franchise has seen in Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock.


4. The Dark Knight

Christopher Nolan’s first Batman film was burdened with the inexplicable need to show the hero’s origin (guys, we get it: dead parents) and the casting of the walking charisma blackhole that is Katie Holmes. The follow-up rectified all that with Heath Ledger’s unforgettable performance as the Joker, Maggie Gyllenhaal stepping in for Holmes, a great turn from Aaron Eckhart as Two-Face and a thrill ride of a plot that never let up.


3. The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars kicked off the modern age of science fiction films, but the sequel did everything the original did but better. Relationships were deepened, the action was more dynamic, and the ending – where Vader reveals he is Luke Skywalker’s father – added an emotional layer to the proceedings that defined the entire franchise.


2. The Godfather Part II

Francis Ford Coppola’s Mafia masterpiece was a tough act to follow, but the sequel widened the scope to follow both Michael’s struggle to keep the family together and flash back to Vito’s arrival in America and the establishment of the Corleone family as one of the top gangs in the Big Apple.


1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day

James Cameron’s first Terminator movie was a solid outing that gave Arnold Schwarzenegger one of his most iconic roles. The sequel took the original and, with the aid of a massive budget, turned everything up to 11. A new liquid metal antagonist, ass-kicking Sarah Connor, and some of the greatest set pieces in action movie history make this an all-time classic.

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Inauguration Alternative

Bill Murray On Repeat

It's a movie "Murray-thon" all-day Friday on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs courtesy of GIPHY

Democrats, Republicans and Millennials agree: 2017 is shaping up to be a spectacle — a spectacle that really kicks into high gear this Friday with the presidential inauguration. Not only will the new POTUS swear in, but all the Country’s highest offices will be filled. It’s a daunting prospect, and to feel a little anxious about it is only normal. But if your anxiety is snowballing into panic, we have a solution:
Bill Murray.

He’s the human embodiment of a mental “Happy Place”, and there’s really no problem he can’t solve. So, with that in mind, how about we all set aside reality for a moment and let Bill take the pain away by imagining a top-shelf White House cabinet filled exclusively by his signature characters. Here are a few hypothetical appointments for your consideration…

Secretary of Defense:
Bill Murray from Stripes

His incompetence is balanced by charm, and dumb luck is inexplicably on his side. America could do worse.

Secretary of State:
Bill Murray from Lost In Translation

A seasoned globetrotter steeped in regional traditions who has the respect of the whole wide world. And he kills Costello in karaoke, which is very important.

Press Secretary:
Bill Murray from Ghostbusters

“Cats and dogs, living together. Mass hysteria.” Dude knows how to brief a room.

Secretary of Health and Human Services:
Bill Murray from What About Bob.

A doctor-approved people person who knows that progress is measured in baby steps.

Secretary of Energy:
Bill Murray from Groundhog Day

Let’s be honest, this world is going to need a lot of do-overs.

Feeling better? Hold on to that bliss. And enjoy a healthy alternative to the inauguration brouhaha with multiple Murrays all Friday long in an IFC movie marathon including Kingpin, Zombieland, Ghostbusters, and Ghostbusters II.

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Home Run

Hank Azaria Gets Thrown A Curve Ball

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Unless you’ve somehow missed every episode of the Simpsons since 1989, then surely you know that Hank Azaria is one of the most important character actors of our time. He’s so prolific and his voice is so dynamic that he’s responsible for more iconic personalities than most folks realize. Basically, he’s the great and powerful Oz — except that when you pull back the curtain the truth is actually more impressive. And now Hank is coming to IFC to bring yet another character to the TV pop culture hive mind in the new series Brockmire. Check out the trailer below.

Based on the following Funny or Die short and co-starring Amanda Peet, Brockmire follows the story of imploded major league sportscaster Jim Brockmire as he tries to resurrect his career by calling plays for a floundering minor league team in a podunk town.

The series is written by Joel Church-Cooper (Undateable) and produced by Funny or Die’s Mike Farah and Joe Farrell, meaning that there’s funny in front of the camera, funny behind the camera–funny all around. Sounds like a ball to us.

Brockmire premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Car Notes

Portlandia On People Who Can’t Park

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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If flagrant bad parking takes nerve, then retaliatory note writing takes neuroses. Watch Fred and Carrie take passive aggression to next level in Car Notes, the new Portlandia web series presented by Subaru. The first episode is yours right here and now, and you can see every installment of Car Notes anytime online, on the IFC app and on demand.

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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