Sequels, prequels and remakes. One of the greatest pleasures of movie obsession is seeing the films you love reimagined, seeing how different directors bring their own peccadillos to the proceedings. Remaking movies is as old as cinema itself, so quite why the concept is so frowned upon nowadays, I have no idea. Anyways. These are my personal favourites (though it bears underlining that in nearly every case the original movie is superior.) No Jaws (1975 – Steven Spielberg) sequels though because they’re all terrible.
- The Outfit (1973 – John Flynn)
Unrelated sequel to Point Blank (1967 – John Boorman)
All the movies that have been based on Richard Stark’s Parker series of fictions have been completely unrelated in cast, direction, form and style. They are not without their pleasures, particularly the Jim Brown starring heist film The Split (1968 – Gordon Flemyng), but The Outfit remains an enjoyable slice of seventies American crime cinema. Robert Duvall, a reliably dominant actor, spends the movie screwing over the mob as best he can by holding up as many of their operations as possible in as short a space of time. The grottiness of these endeavours ensures you are a watching a sweaty, desperate of cinema that can only end in a recognisable form of failure.
- Texasville (1990 – Peter Bogdanovich)
Sequel to The Last Picture Show (1971 – Peter Bogdanovich)
You never really grow up. You never really leave home. You hold the memories of people and places from your past in your head. They live with you every day. Every now and then you bump into a ghost from your past and you see how wildly different their reality is compared to your imaginings. In Texasville Bogdanovich allows us to experience this on the screen, using the warmth of colour to impress upon us how lives continue way beyond the silver screen.
- The Raid 2 (2014 – Gareth Evans)
Sequel to The Raid (2011 – Gareth Evans)
Despite losing the claustrophobia found within the enclosed environments of its predecessor, The Raid 2 is a spectacular piece of action cinema. There is a sense, in the same way that Raging Bull (1980 – Martin Scorsese) displays, that this is a filmmaker’s last shot, and they are going to show everything that they can do. Car chases, fight scenes, random characters… the film drives on and on, further into the murkiness of the underbelly of society that oppresses our everyday.
- The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997 – Steven Spielberg)
Sequel to Jurassic Park (1993 – Steven Spielberg)
Despite featuring a typically irritating child performance, this movie demonstrates that it is impossible for Spielberg to stop entertaining. There is a sequence of a landrover falling over a cliff’s edge that ranks among the most competently spectacular moments in any of his movies. Plus, this movie takes the very wise choice of releasing a dinosaur into a modern San Diego, which is something you can only see in the movies. And isn’t that why we go? To see spectacle.
- Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977 – John Boorman)
Sequel to The Exorcist (1973 – William Friedkin)
Utterly despised upon release, this sequel makes the curious decision that the appeal of its predecessor was Linda Blair. Though she has a dance routine in this film that is more horrific than anything seen in the first film, the real appeal of this maligned sequel comes in the central performance of Richard Burton. A man wrestling with the weight of his past and the understanding that all men of faith are men of doubt. Called into being a living representation of Christianity, he has to trust his god, and act almost impossible for any man of sense. Burton physically seems to carry the souls of those he is exorcising around with him. This is no depiction of pure evil, this is a depiction of humanity, and thus a far less manageable film for us to watch.
- The Exorcist III (1990 – William Peter Blatty)
Third in The Exorcist series
Whereas this film returns to a reality of supernatural evil. The true strength of this film comes in its moments of utter terror, some of the finest cinema has to offer. Blatty displayed an enormous capacity of understanding how camera placement and movement could induce feelings of discomfort in the audience, and how he could use it to build tension to an almost unbearable degree.
There was a fourth film in The Exorcist series, which is available in two substantially different cuts – one directed by Renny Harlin and one by Paul Schrader. The Shrader effort is marginally superior, attempting to wrestle with some notions of belief, but neither are able to convince you of the reality of physical or metaphysical evil, despite liberally employing Nazis within their narratives.
- The French Connection II (1975 – John Frankenheimer)
Sequel to The French Connection (1971 – William Friedkin)
Moving away from the documentary style of the first film this film exists as a showcase for Gene Hackman. Which is not a bad thing, given he is one of the strongest screen presences in American cinema. Here he is thrown through the wringer, given a forced addiction to heroin, and sent to France. Frankenheimer, a master of the chase sequence, wisely chooses a foot chase rather than a car chase… some things could/should never be bettered.
- Magnum Force (1973 – Ted Post)
Sequel to Dirty Harry (1971 – Don Siegel)
Moving away from the widescreen heat of Siegel’s entry, Magnum Force explored the true limits of the right wing fantasy of the unconstrained law enforcement officer. By pitching Callahan against a group of vigilante policemen his own brand of ‘justice’ is seen to be unreal – the true consequence of individuals deciding who is right or wrong leads to chaos. Justice isn’t a whim. It’s interesting that by the second film they had already begun to test the boundaries of the character… as if no one really believed in him at all.
- Sudden Impact (1983 – Clint Eastwood)
Fourth in the Dirty Harry series
Whilst it could on occasions seem like the Dirty Harry films existed simply to maintain Clint Eastwood’s eclectic directorial career, on the one occasion where the two coincided, it produced something quite remarkable. Returning to the progenitor film’s concept of Harry Callahan versus a serial killer, the film explores the consequences of patriarchal society (which Callahan typifies.) His foe is a woman seeking revenge for an attack she experienced – she represents the oppressed woman fighting back, regaining control of her body after it has been violated. Eastwood always had a strange relationship with women, and by causing Callahan and his oppressor to be lovers, he demonstrates the belief of this man as a saviour, but you remain unconvinced that she ever needed it.
There is a fifth film in the series that features an early performance from Jim Carrey as a coked-up rock star. It is simultaneously a very good and very bad thing.
- Bad Boys II (2003 – Michael Bay)
Sequel to Bad Boys (1995 – Michael Bay)
In Bad Boys II Michael Bay sought to refine his filmmaking to its purest form. Violent, colourful, and often outrageous, it is an eclectic assault on the senses. At times the film veers into crassness, but it is never less than entertaining, anchored by the charm of Martin Lawrence and the platinum talent of Will Smith. The spectacle of its action sequences, particularly its car chase, has been cribbed by many other filmmakers in the subsequent years.