Sequels have been very prominent lately, particularly with the recent abundance of superhero movies like Captain America, X-Men, Iron Man and The Avengers (some being a series of movies rather than a true sequel, but similar enough) and sequels spawning from blockbuster hits such as Hunger Games, Divergent, Maze Runner, The Fast and the Furious, Pitch Perfect, Magic Mike, Transformers and so on. The list is quite long (as is sitting through some of those films…).
This abundance of sequels has been quite polarizing to movie lovers. Some can’t get enough of their favorite movie franchises, while others feel like they are witnessing the slow decline of creativity in film. And we can’t help but see both sides of the argument. Certainly some sequels are being made at the expense of new and creative ideas, as film studios are more frequently putting their money behind tried and true models of success that are almost guaranteed to turn a profit instead of risking profit in search of the next Charlie Kaufman.
This thinking has brought us some horrible sequels. Spider-Man 3 and the four sequels to Jaws immediately come to mind. But we’ve had some great ones as well. Think The Godfather: Part II, Terminator 2 and The Dark Knight. We just don’t want to live in a world without Heath Ledger’s Joker.
Regardless of our feelings about sequels in general, here is a list of the top 15 movies that we need to see given sequels (or prequels!), if done properly. And that’s a big “if.” We don’t want any of these movies to be Phantom Menaced. Please, no midi-chlorians.
Inception was one of those films that had people rushing to the Internet to find out just what they had watched. Plus, the production values are great and the acting is strong throughout, which is to be expected with an all-star lineup that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. We would definitely enjoy watching that lineup again, and if the filmmakers could even throw in another city folding in upon itself and a few more slow-motion action sequences where the gravity is thrown off because of events in the above level of reality (we think we got that right…). That would be great.
These are all good reasons to want a sequel, but the best reason is that ending. We’ve been left forever with that bloody, ambiguous spinning top. What does it all mean? Sure, Christopher Nolan has since mentioned something about how the ending is a statement on reality versus dreams, which sounds nicely poetic and everything, but we just want to see if that bloody top falls over or not. Until then, we’re left questioning everything. What’s real and what is merely a dream? Is this digital article even real? Would it be more real if we wrote it on physical paper? Are we real? For the sake of our sanity, just make a sequel already!
14. Fight Club
Well, now that we’ve been left not really know what’s real, it’s probably not a great thing that the next film on our list is Fight Club. Remember those flickering images of Brad Pitt appearing for a fraction of a second each time that you could only really notice if you paused the movie at the exact right moment? You probably do because this movie was awesome. So you probably also remember those flashes represented the fact that the narrator (Edward Norton) was actually Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) all along. Yes, our heads hurt too. But this movie is amazing and has a strong script and acting. There is lots of action we’d love to see duplicated and, yet again, the ending left us craving more. Spoiler warning! The narrator watches as buildings throughout the city explode and crumble, suggesting Durden’s planned anarchy has succeeded. But what happens to the world after? Inquiring minds need to know.
13. The Breakfast Club
Admittedly, we’ve gone a little bit older with this film from 1985. But that’s what makes this entry so interesting. The last time we saw Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald and the gang, they were had just left the school as their detention ended and “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds played. Judd Nelson’s fist pump is an iconic ending and we would hate for the sequel to ruin it, but we feel like the timing is right to revisit the group after so many years. What happened to them after their day of unlikely bonding in the school’s library? Did the popular kids continue their friendship with the misfits? Or did everything return to normal as that day in detention slipped slowly from memory? What became of them over the years? The audience got to know them so well during those 97 minutes that we miss them and reconnecting now would be like meeting a long lost relative, but a good one, not that liver-spotted great uncle with the weird cotton ball odor.
12. Safety Not Guaranteed
This is the first movie on our list that you are more likely to have missed than viewed. Safety Not Guaranteed was a low budget release in 2012 starring Aubrey Plaza (of Parks and Recreation fame) and Mark Duplass (from The League). The movie involves Darius (Plaza) being assigned the task of assisting with an article on Kenneth (Duplass), who has posted an advertisement looking for a partner to travel through time with. Romance ensues and the characters, as well as the audience members, are left wondering if this guy is crazy or if his plan to travel through time is just crazy enough to work. Major spoiler warning! In the final scene, we see Darius put her faith in Kenneth as the two actually disappear, presumably having travelled through time. It’s a wonderful ending, but we can’t help but wonder what happens next.
11. Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel
This entry completes a pair of thematically linked films that you’re likely to have missed when they came out. So please, try to avoid spoilers in these two posts and go watch them! It should get you ready for when our sequel suggestions inevitably find their way to various Hollywood bigwigs and get made. Don’t underestimate our influence. Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel is sort of a buddy movie starring Chris O’Dowd (from the hilarious The IT Crowd) that involves a trio of friends drinking beer in a British pub while a series of strange events involving the restroom (yes, you heard that right) begins to occur.
Anna Faris joins the cast as a time traveller from the future before things go life-threateningly wrong. Spoilers: Surprisingly, in a somewhat lighthearted comedy, the characters survive until the end, with Faris and O’Dowd’s characters disappearing into the future for more time travelling adventure. And that’s exactly what we want to see. The characters are so charming that we want to know what happens to them next. Or what happened to them before, we suppose. Queue the time travel headache.
10. The Shining
The Shining is a classic horror film. Actually, strike that. It’s not only a classic in the horror genre. It’s just a classic. Even if you haven’t seen this movie, you’ve probably heard someone quote (or quoted yourself) from it. Does “Heeeeere’s Johnny!!” sound familiar? Or maybe a creepy child voice whispering murder backwards: “Red rum! Red ruuuuuum!” The film is well acted, led by a strong performance from Jack Nicholson, but where it truly shines (pause for laughter) is in its excellent, slowly building suspense. We would love to watch a sequel set in the same hotel with the same style of suspense. It would be the perfect cure for the abundance of recent slasher films and torture porn movies. Sure, some contemporary scary movies have gotten this formula right. It Follows comes immediately to mind. But there’s a distinct lack of cerebral horror films, so we need something like this to corner the market. It will be tough for anyone to compare to Stanley Kubrick’s directing here, but we’d love to see someone try!
9. Spirited Away
We have arrived at the only animated film on our list. But don’t let the animation fool you into thinking this film is juvenile. It’s beautifully rendered and the storyline is rich, complex, and chock-full of symbolic goodness. Spirited Away comes from the popular Japanese studio, Studio Ghibli, and was directed by Hayao Miyazaki. The film is Japan’s highest grossing movie of all time, but if that isn’t enough to make you want to watch it (and its potential sequel), you may be happy to know that Studio Ghibli has often been referred to as Japan’s Disney. The main reason we want a sequel to this film, aside from its brilliance, is that it feels, well, magical. The atmosphere stays with you long after it’s ended, so much so that we took the time to visit Miyazaki’s inspiration for the film, a small town in Taiwan called Jiufen. We even enjoyed some afternoon tea at the teahouse that inspired the film’s main bathhouse setting.
8. The Big Lebowski
You should probably have seen this movie. And if you have, you almost certainly agree with our desire for a sequel. The Coen Brothers struck comedic gold and created an instant cult classic with The Big Lebowski. Plus, the Coen Brothers are still great filmmakers who have produced a few duds lately (we’re looking at you, Burn After Reading and Hail, Caesar!) and who would likely benefit from making a sequel for The Big Lebowski that lives up to the first. Plus, simply put: we need more of The Dude! Who has watched this movie and not loved him, maybe idolized him, and possibly even modeled his or her life after him, resulting in bad life choices like this article being written in a dirty housecoat with a half empty white Russian sitting nearby? One thing is clear, and that is that we need another adventure with Jeff Bridges, John Goodman and Steve Buscemi (we would even allow for some creative movie retcons to bring him back).
7. The Graduate
Sure, you probably had to watch this movie in one of your high school literature classes, but that doesn’t depreciate its value. Everything about this film is great, from Anne Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman’s wonderful acting to Simon and Garfunkel’s haunting soundtrack. And, not insignificantly, this movie gave us the original modern cougar, Mrs. Robinson, who you’ve undoubtedly heard so much about. But the main reason we want a sequel to this movie is that its well-considered script stands in stark contrast to about 99% of those used in today’s movies. The water symbolism is subtly done and the character development of Ben Braddock (Hoffman), as he works his way through this bildungsroman, is worth the price of admission. Watching this movie feels like reading a good book and we can’t wait to turn the first page of its sequel. Spoiler warning: Oh, and leaving the two lovebirds awkwardly sitting on the back of the bus, looks of uncertainty on their faces as they move toward an uncertain future, is too much for us to handle.
Alright, alright, you got us. There actually is a sequel in the works and Deadpool 2 will probably come out some time in 2018. But this list is about movies that deserve a sequel, and out of all the recent superhero movies, this one deserves a sequel the most. Deadpool can get pretty vulgar and it certainly isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but there’s no denying the fact that Ryan Reynolds’s portrayal of Deadpool is a fresh take on what today’s superheroes can be. Deadpool is far from your typical hero (think Superman). He makes mistakes, has major character flaws, and is more concerned with vulgar insults than he is with coming off with a good public image (we’re looking at you, Spiderman, narcissistically taking pictures of yourself for The Daily Bugle). Plus, we’re kind of into the whole postmodern, breaking the fourth wall, meta thing Deadpool has going for it.
5. Lost in Translation
We’re bound to get a little pushback for putting this movie in our top 5, but what can we say? We’re enamored with Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation. Bill Murray plays Bob Harris, an aging actor on a trip to Tokyo to film an ad for Suntory, a Japanese whiskey (we tried it and while it didn’t make us feel as awesome as Bill Murray, it was quite delicious!). Harris befriends Charlotte (played by the always wonderful Scarlett Johansson), a young woman accompanying her husband on a work-related trip. Their shared boredom and ennui brings them together for a heartwarming time in Tokyo before the end of the film (spoiler coming, if that wasn’t clear!) sees them part ways, after Harris whispers something into Charlotte’s ear that the audience can’t quite hear. Then, presumably, they never see each other again. There are tons of Internet theories about what was said, but we just can’t live with that. We demand closure in sequel form!
4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
You might recall that we mentioned Charlie Kaufman, so many words ago, in the introduction. Well, this is why. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a beautiful, mind-melding movie. The script is phenomenal and begs for multiple movie viewings. Kate Winslet is excellent as Clementine and Jim Carrey pulls off an uncharacteristically serious and often heartbreaking performance as Joel Barish. Spoilers aplenty to follow! The story involves Barish meeting Clementine on a train and the two being instantly attracted to each other. However, as events unfold, they come to realize that they have a past but had erased the memories of each other from their minds. However, during the memory erasing, Joel has a change of heart and attempts to hide memories of Clementine in other memories to keep her from being erased. Sound complicated? Certainly. But trust us: it’s a great movie and we are clamoring for a sequel!
3. The Princess Bride
The Princess Bride is one of those movies that you probably watched when you were younger but enjoyed so much more as you got older. Sure, it fills us with all kinds of nostalgia, but the jokes are so much better when you’ve matured. And who’s to say an adult can’t enjoy the occasional movie from his or her child? It doesn’t make us childish, right? Remember that dirty bathrobe and white Russian from before? Pretty mature. We rest our case. But back to the film, which follows the story of Buttercup, as she is forced into betrothal with the evil Prince Humperdinck, and Westley, a poor farmhand turned Dread Pirate Roberts who embarks upon a quest to win Buttercup back. And if that wasn’t enough, The Princess Bride has André the Giant in it. But the truly wonderful thing about this film is its world building and atmosphere, which we are enthusiastic about revisiting.
2. Ex Machina
We admit that we have gone a little off the beaten trail with our number 2 selection. This recent 2015 film may have missed your radar, but we are here to put it right back on there. Written by Alex Garland (writer of The Beach), Ex Machina is a dark exploration of the possibilities (and the perils) of artificial intelligence. However, in this instance, that artificial intelligence resides in the body of a gorgeous female robot named Ava. Nathan (played by Oscar Isaac), a reclusive tech genius, brings Caleb to his isolated home with the intention of using Caleb to test out whether Ava’s artificial intelligence has truly reached human levels of intelligence. Nathan increasingly exhibits signs of becoming unhinged while Caleb gets drawn further and further into a romantic entanglement with Ava. All the while, an air of distrust permeates every relationship. In the end, (spoiler again), Ava tricks Caleb and leaves him locked in the house, presumably to die, while she goes off to experience all the world has to offer. The final shot is of her walking through a city crowd and we need to know what Garland has in store once Ava is unleashed upon the population.
Now that we think about it, our first selection has a lot of similarities with the previous entry. Spike Jonze’s Her also involves an intimate relationship between a man and his (female?) A.I., in this case, an operating system that can learn and achieves consciousness. Joaquin Phoenix stars as Theodore, a man leading an increasingly lonely life, who finds himself falling in love with his OS, Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). The relationship even progresses to more intimate (physical?) endeavors, which provides for a very unique scene, as intercourse between man and voice is more than a little unusual, even for Hollywood. Spoilers coming! Eventually, Samantha’s intellect moves beyond Theodore’s and she leaves him in a movement with all the other A.I. operating systems, leaving us wondering: what next? Do they come back and enslave humanity? Do they simply disappear? Or do they return to help us, the embarrassingly unevolved beings that we are? Our tiny, biological brains need to know.