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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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Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

Uncle-Buck

Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…