Top 6: Distinctly Different Sequels

Posted in Top 6 at 4:59 am by Sam

In Episode 20, our Top 6 list is about sequels that are distinctly different from their originals. Usually, sequels are purposely fashioned to recreate the experience of the original, just bigger and better. Most that do this fail, because usually the element of surprise is what makes the originals successful in the first place. But here are our favorite sequels that attempt to do something entirely new and different. Well…maybe “favorite” is putting it too strongly. Neither one of us could resist throwing in a couple of interestingly appropriate bad movies.

What are your own favorite distinctly different sequels?

As always, we recommend listening to the episode before reading further.

  1. The Thin Red Line (1998)
  2. White (1994) and Red (1994)
  3. Aliens (1986)
  4. Enemy of the State (1998)
  5. Rambo: First Blood, Part II (1985)
  6. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
  1. Babe: Pig In the City (1998)
  2. Stolen Kisses (1968)
  3. Once Upon a Time In China VI (1997)
  4. Rooster Cogburn (1975)
  5. Army of Darkness (1992)
  6. Shaft In Africa (1973)


  1. Sam (405) said,

    February 13, 2007 at 9:48 am

    So, before anyone asks, we don’t know yet what next week’s Top 6 segment will be, but we’ll announce it here when we do.

  2. Stephen (221) said,

    February 13, 2007 at 10:04 am

    It will be Top 6 Movies that We’ll Never See — movies that are either lost or unmade. Also eligible are extended cuts of movies where the extra footage is lost/unavailable.

  3. Rifty (64) said,

    February 13, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    … wait, is that a joke?

    I can never tell with you two.


  4. Sam (405) said,

    February 13, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    Not a joke.

  5. wintermute (157) said,

    February 14, 2007 at 10:36 am

    I can think opf a fair few books I’d love to see made into movies - do they count?

  6. Stephen (221) said,

    February 14, 2007 at 10:50 am

    Probably not, wim. It only counts if there’s no chance we’ll see that adaptation.

  7. WarpNacelle (48) said,

    February 14, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    How about “Highlander 2″ since they changed everything established in the first one.

    Instead of being humans with a special genetic trait - they became aliens.

    “The Gathering” wasn’t the ultimate end-all time but merely a … rough get together.

    Being decapitated does not actually kill them since they can be summoned back by simply screaming their name loud enough. “Ramirez!!!!” (Good thing no one thought to yell “Kurgan!!!”)

    Clothes are apparently immortal as well.

  8. Stephen (221) said,

    February 15, 2007 at 11:27 am

    Hey Warp, that’s actually next week’s topic… ;-)

  9. Ferrick (140) said,

    February 15, 2007 at 2:16 pm

    Aliens was the first to pop into my head. For some reason, I didn’t think of Army of Darkness. But that’s all I’m coming up with. What are some of the titles that you two thought of that didn’t make your lists? Was it hard to whittle down to six or was it harder to find six that worked?

  10. Sam (405) said,

    February 15, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    Beastmaster 2, which moves the action from a fantasy world to modern day Los Angeles, was another that crossed my mind. There were probably other bad movies that fit the topic, but I had to dismiss most of them, because the goal was to find *good* movies to talk about. As it was, though, I still wound up with a #5 and #6 that I don’t really like that much. So it was tough to complete the list.

    I did think of Aliens, and I support Stephen’s selection of it, but in my own mind it just wasn’t different or unusual enough for me to be interested in talking about it.

  11. WarpNacelle (48) said,

    February 15, 2007 at 3:59 pm

    Sorry Stephen, didn’t mean to jump the gun! :)

  12. Ferrick (140) said,

    February 15, 2007 at 4:00 pm

    With Aliens, could they have gotten away with doing another Alien style movie? The whole point was, you had no clue what was going on. As far as the suspense went it was essentially Jaws in space but with a beast that had never been seen before. Subsequent sequels in the Jaws series did not have the same impact as the first, as you’d expect.

    But people that saw Alien and then Aliens were in for a surprise. I didn’t see Alien in the theatre (the movie’s impact is so much better if you go into a theatre not knowing anything. At home, it doesn’t work as well) but when my brother took me to see Aliens, he explained the plot of the first one and really emphasized the size and isolation of this ship. We were both surprised with the style of Aliens (I already knew what they looked like).

    Wouldn’t having Newt in the sequel make it different enough?

  13. SplishFish (29) said,

    February 15, 2007 at 6:15 pm

    Warp: I was going to mention Highlander 2 as well. Aliens from the planet Ziess (or however it was spelled)? They’re immortal only when others of their kind are around? Huh?

    What’s interesting about Army of Darkness was that Ash’s going back in time was established in Evil Dead 2, but the character totally changed. In ED1 and ED2 Ash was just a normal guy, in AOD, he’s really a jerk. Funny as heck, tho.
    I wish that they kept the originally intended title: The Medieval Dead

    I highly recommend getting the Official Bootleg Edition and listening to the commentary and seeing the original ending.

  14. Stephen (221) said,

    February 15, 2007 at 11:33 pm

    Actually, I got confused, WarpNacelles. You were correct. I don’t know what I was on when I posted that.

  15. Sam (405) said,

    February 16, 2007 at 10:23 am

    Whoa. I read Warp’s post and also thought that he should save that for next week. Then I read Stephen’s post and looked back at Warp’s for reference, and I still thought it was next week’s topic. Then I read Ferrick’s post, and I thought, “Huh, I think this is actually the first comment that addresses THIS week’s topic,” and I skimmed through the prior comments, including Warp’s, to make sure. Yup, it most certainly was. Way to go, Ferrick. Then Warp apologizes, because of course Stephen was right, right? Not until Stephen posts a correction do I catch on at all.

    Stephen, I think someone has been putting hallucinogens in our microphones or something.

  16. Stephen (221) said,

    February 16, 2007 at 10:52 am

    Has anyone seen the girl with kaleidoscope eyes?

  17. WarpNacelle (48) said,

    February 16, 2007 at 12:02 pm

    Well, if next weeks topic is just “bad sequals” then I’ll re-post and call it even! :)

    I guess my thought process was just that even though “Highlander 2″ wasn’t didn’t really a different type of movie - it still had immortals sword fighting - it was totally different in that it ignored all the “rules” of the first part.

    Anyway, something like that… I’m sure you get it. Your all smart here!

  18. wintermute (157) said,

    February 16, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    Now that you’re up to 20 episodes (next week will give us 20 Top 6 segments, but it seems like that won’t affect this at all), I’ve totalled up which movies you pick. The rules are simple: every movie named in the Top 6 list is counted, even where there are more than six picks, and I also keep track of who directed each one.

    Some of these, of course, are not picks for the movie itself, but for a particular scene or character, or even (as in episode 8) votes against a movie. But I still count them - theoretically, the disapointing movies ought to languish at the bottom of the list, and not affect the Top 6, but they may have an effect on the directors lists

    So if you’re wondering how Stephen’s #1 director is George Lucas, he got four picks for Darth Vader as a sympathetic villain in Episode 2, and a fifth for The Phantom Menace being disapointing.

    I plan to keep this updated, and may well post updates every 5 weeks, or maybe just when I feel like it. If anyone beyon me finds this interesting, I’d like to know…

    So far, Sam’s Top 6 movies are:

    =1 Citizen Kane (2 picks)
    =1 Frankenstien (2 picks)
    =1 Jaws (2 picks)
    =1 Raiders of the Lost Ark (2 picks)
    =1 The Godfather, Part I (2 picks)
    =1 Twelve Angry Men (2 picks)

    Stephen’s Top 6 movies are:

    =1 2001: A Space Oddesy (3 picks)
    =1 The Shawshank Redemption (3 picks)
    =3 Blade Runner (2 picks)
    =3 Citizen Kane (2 picks)
    =3 Fight Club (2 picks)
    =3 Psycho (2 picks)
    =3 Sin City (2 picks)
    =3 Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (2 picks)
    =3 Sunset Boulevard (2 picks)
    =3 The Player (2 picks)
    =3 The Seventh Seal (2 picks)
    =3 The Shining (2 picks)
    =3 The Talented Mr Ripley (2 picks)
    =3 Touch of Evil (2 picks)

    The combined Top Six is:

    =1 2001: A Space Oddesy (4 picks)
    =1 Citizen Kane (4 picks)
    =3 Jaws (3 picks)
    =3 Raiders of the Lost Ark (3 picks)
    =3 The Godfather, Part I (3 picks)
    =3 The Player (3 picks)
    =3 Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (3 picks)
    =3 The Shawshank Redemption (3 picks)
    =3 The Shining (3 picks)
    =3 Touch of Evil (3 picks)

    Sam tends to pick movies directed by:

    1 Steven Spielberg (7 picks)
    2 Francis Ford Coppola (4 picks)
    =3 Frank Capra (3 picks)
    =3 Alfred Hitchcock (3 picks)
    =3 Stanley Kubrick (3 picks)
    =3 Sidney Lumet (3 picks)

    Stephen’s most commonly cited directors are:

    1 George Lucas (6 picks)
    2 Stanley Kubrick (5 picks)
    =3 The Coen Brothers (4 picks)
    =3 Francis Ford Coppola (4 picks)
    =3 Alfred Hitchcock (4 picks)
    =3 Ridley Scott (4 picks)
    =3 Orson Welles (4 picks)
    =3 Billy Wilder (4 picks)

    The combined directorial list is:

    1 Steven Spielberg (10 picks)
    =2 Francis Ford Coppola (8 picks)
    =2 Stanley Kubrick (8 picks)
    =4 Alfred Hitchcock (7 picks)
    =4 George Lucas (7 picks)
    =6 The Coen Brothers (6 picks)
    =6 Orson Welles (6 picks)

    Somehow, Sam’s managed to not avoid ties that would take his lists beyond 6 items…

  19. Sam (405) said,

    February 16, 2007 at 5:13 pm

    Wow, great work, wintermute. I don’t know how Robert Altman escaped mention, since it seemed like we were picking his movies a lot for a while in there. I’ll be interested to see how these stats progress as the show goes on.

  20. wintermute (157) said,

    February 16, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    Both of you cited Altman movies twice. Three of those are for The Player (which made the combined top 6), and one for Gosford Park.

  21. wintermute (157) said,

    February 16, 2007 at 5:39 pm

    I have to admit, it’ll be interesting to know where you feel this matches up with or differs from your memories of what movies you picked…

  22. Sam (405) said,

    February 17, 2007 at 12:55 am

    Altman was the main surprise. The only other one is that I didn’t realize I’d picked so much Spielberg, but it makes sense now that I think about it.

  23. joem18b (231) said,

    April 19, 2007 at 9:36 pm

    As I listened to Episode 20, I thought of a couple of sequels that I’d like to mention, even though the caravan has moved on:

    The Color of Money (sequel to The Hustler) and Texasville (sequel to The Last Picture Show). I consider these distinctly different sequels in that everybody is a lot older in them and it’s a rare sequel that shows up 25 years after the original movie. I loved watching the original movies and then the sequels and seeing the actors still hanging in there up on the screen after so many years of work. Before Sunrise and Before Sunset were like that to, but the separation in time wasn’t as extreme; Julie Delphy goes from young and zoftig to someone with an eating disorder, or is that just me?

    Also, for those who have watched the 7 Up series, you know that between 35 Up and 42 Up, one of the subjects in the series makes a major, life-affirming change, which caused a lot of comment in the reviews at the time and which I think of as a sort of unexpected change worthy of mention.

  24. Sam (405) said,

    April 20, 2007 at 10:45 am

    Great thoughts. Yeah, there’s something fascinating about sequels that preserve the same cast decades later. I mentioned Antoine Doinel in the segment, and you’ve probably named all the other significant examples. I suppose Escape From L.A. is worth mentioning, even though it’s a terrible film. And though the other cast members rotated more frequently, Lois Maxwell played Moneypenny for 23 years, and Desmond Llewelyn played Q for 36. The Star Wars prequels fall into the same sort of category, with most of the cast members rotating. But Ian McDiarmid, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, and Frank Oz played their characters over 25 and 28 years.

    Any other examples?

  25. joem18b (231) said,

    April 20, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    1. Some sequels where age becomes such a factor that the movie is inflected by it:
    - Basic Instinct II - Sharon had a lot of work done before starring in this at the age of 48.
    - View to a Kill - Bond at 58. Creaky.
    - Death Wish V - Bronson is 73. Please head back to the home.
    - Rocky Balboa - Sixty-year-olds rule!

    2. Prequels and a sequel where age stands out, though the actors change:
    - Comanche Moon, Dead Man’s Walk, and Streets of Laredo (Lonesome Dove)

    3. Distinctly different sequels:
    - Meitantei Holmes (Sherlock Holmes) - Starring Taichirô Hirokawa as Holmes
    - “Alone. Life Wastes Andy Hardy” (1998) - 11 Andy Hardy movies in the 30s/40s. And then this one.
    - Bambi Meets Godzilla (1969)

    4. Homework: Compare and contrast the differences between the original hit and the sequel:
    - Behind the Green Door and Behind the Green Door II

  26. joem18b (231) said,

    April 21, 2007 at 2:52 am

    Lee Van Cleef was a good guy in “For a Few Dollars More” and a bad guy in “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” That always bothered me.

    And what’s up with Felix Leiter???

  27. Sam (405) said,

    April 22, 2007 at 9:49 am

    The casting of Felix Leiter bothers me like crazy. Besides recasting him every single time, half the actors to play him aren’t any good.

    Recently I rewatched all the Bond movies with all the special features on the new Ultimate Edition DVDs. I still need to recap that experience for you folks, but I tried to glean what I could about why Leiter was recast so often. There seems to be a multitude of different reasons, most uninteresting, but I still don’t understand most of it. But, for example, Jack Lord was dropped after Dr. No because his demand for continuing the role was equal billing with Sean Connery. So yeah, he’s out. Then David Hedison, in Live and Let Die, worked out so well that they were thinking of using him as the recurring Leiter, but they looked at the Fleming stories they had left to adapt, and there wasn’t really a place for him in those stories, so that deal fell through. (And indeed, the next time the Leiter character appears after 1973’s Live and Let Die is 1987’s The Living Daylights.)

    I think Lord and Hedison are the only two Leiters I’ve particularly liked. I don’t like the new guy in Casino Royale either, but I hope they keep him for the next few, just to restore some sanity to the part.

  28. Eman Resu (5) said,

    February 11, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    Nobody listed Terminator 2? Brilliant role reversal there, not to mention going from a horror movie to an action movie.

    “With Aliens, could they have gotten away with doing another Alien style movie? The whole point was, you had no clue what was going on.”

    Well, Alien 3 was basically a retread of Alien. I think it’s a decent and underrated movie, but even I can admit that it’s nothing compared to the first two movies.

    “I guess my thought process was just that even though Highlander 2 wasn’t really a different type of movie - it still had immortals sword fighting - it was totally different in that it ignored all the “rules” of the first part.”

    And the whole futuristic setting.

    Here’s a theory about why Felix Leiter was recast so often: he’s a minor character in the films who nobody gives a crap about. Hence the reason Hedison was brought back for Leiter’s expanded role in Licence to Kill. They needed a good actor who was comfortable in the role, which they didn’t need in, say, The Living Daylights.

  29. Sam (405) said,

    February 12, 2010 at 12:06 am

    Eman: A reasonable enough theory. And I’m sure that if Leiter were more important, producers would have tried harder to get a regular actor, and said actor would have tried harder to clear his schedule. But I think that’s only part of the story. Jack Lord, for example, wasn’t brought back after Dr. No because he demanded equal billing with Sean Connery (which, I’m sure, got him laughed out of somebody’s office). Scheduling conflicts account for others, and still others weren’t satisfactory enough to bring back. When David Hedison came along, the producers particularly wanted to make him a regular. But when they examined the Fleming novels left to adapt, they could find no place for the Leiter character. And indeed, Leiter is absent for the next six movies.

    These days, Hollywood seems to do a much better job getting the old casts back for sequels and TV series, even with extremely minor characters. The odd casting change is necessary on occasion, but it doesn’t happen as much as it once did. Even so, though, Felix Leiter is a particularly extreme case.

  30. Stephen (221) said,

    February 15, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    We’re getting a weird bit of Felix Leiterism this summer, in that Iron Man 2 is swapping Terrence Howard for Don Cheadle. I like Howard, but talk about making an upgrade.

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