What Makes Some Movie Sequels Better Than the Original?

In the world of film, the sequel is often derided as a lazy attempt to generate new revenues from an existing piece of art. This is perhaps why there are endless think-pieces decrying the current state of Hollywood as oversaturated with sequels, remakes, and reboots. While a sequel can sometimes be a pale imitation of an original, this is not always the case.

Every once in a while, a sequel comes along that is so much better than its predecessor that it becomes the standout film that defines an entire franchise. Much like Thor: Ragnarok and the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder, the third and fourth installments are much better than the original. If you‘re wondering what the secret sauce is that makes a sequel outshine the original, let’s take a look at some of the best sequels ever made to see if we can uncover the answer.

The Dark Knight

The second installment in Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise is still considered to be one of the best Batman films ever made, one that catapulted Health Ledger’s joker to the status of legend and set the bar for every subsequent film in the canon. Today, almost any cultural representation or reference to Batman will nod to this film, be it in subsequent franchises or through video games such as the Arkham series. While the ultra-gritty film offers stellar performances all around, this sequel tells us that, sometimes, all you need to keep the momentum going is one flawless, original performance from a true master of the craft.

Captain America: Winter Soldier

The Captain America films, starring Chris Evans as Steve Rogers himself, all rank among the more critically acclaimed releases within the sprawling Marvel ecosystem. However, it is the second releaseWinter Soldierthat continues to stand head and shoulders above the rest. What directors Anthony and Joe Russo did here added a more serious, darker twist to the original happy-go-lucky story, without descending into overly gritty kitsch. The film’s inspired plot, which pits the Cap against a Cold War-style surveillance state, is a brave departure from the usual Marvel fare, one that shows how taking narrative risks in a sequel can really pay off.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day

Ask anyone to quote a line from the iconic Terminator films, and they are likely to give you a few words from Judgement Day. James Cameron’s second installment, which came a full seven years after the original, continues to be the enduring cultural touchstone for this now-massive franchise. The characters from T2, including Robert Patrick’s haunting T-1000, continue to be reproduced to this day. For example, fans of the film can now play an official branded Terminator 2 slot, in which the stellar cast all appear as icons on the reels, dispensing cash prizes to online players. Few other sequels have this kind of staying power.

Silence of the Lambs

Very few people are even aware of the fact that Silence of the Lambs is a sequel. However, it is a direct continuation of the 1986 film Manhunter, itself a critical darling (albeit one that fared poorly at the box office). In this sequel, Anthony Hopkins replaces Brian Cox as Hannibal Lecter, an inspired decision that transformed a sinister villain into an unforgettable and terrifying character that continues to haunt audiences more than 30 years on. What makes this example so noteworthy is the fact that Silence of the Lambs feels like a completely different film to Manhunter in terms of style, content, and themes. Sometimes, the original film is little more than a launchpad for a truly great work of art.

Logan

The bloated X-Men franchise is littered with films we would rather forget, including the two Wolverine installments that came before 2017’s Logan, which sees Hugh Jackman return as the steel-clawed, sideburn-touting antihero. Again, this is a sequel that manages to feel like a completely different film from anything that came before it. Logan is arguably the first film in the entire franchise that takes some of the burning political themes of the day head-on, grappling with authoritarianism, refugees, and the military-industrial complex with a raw panache that none of the other films attempted. For us, the real winner from Logan is Hugh Jackman, who came to the table prepared to perform a completely different type of Wolverine, one that represents a stark departure from his previous turns.

Before Midnight

Sometimes, you don’t need to make a dramatic departure from previous installments. This is aptly demonstrated by the 2013 film Before Midnight, the final release in the Before Trilogy which masters the art of continuity. The dreamy travelogue film follows Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, our star-crossed lovers from the original films, as a married couple on a family vacation on the Greek islands. The film grapples intimately with the ideas and themes explored in the previous films, reflecting on youth, ambition, and the manner in which our fantasies crumble in the face of reality. Despite being filmed a decade after the previous film, Before Midnight feels like it picks up right where we left off.

These stellar sequels tell us a lot about the art of one-upping your previous work. With the right combination of bravery, boldness, respect for the source content, and, of course, the help of incredibly talented actors, a sequel can outshine even the best original film.

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When does Thor: Love and Thunder’s review embargo lift?

The new Thor movie Thor: Love and Thunder will be the 29th movie in the MCU and after the critically-acclaimed Thor: Ragnarok film from 2019, Marvel fans are excited for the follow up comedy adventure from Director Taika Waititi.

A couple trailers have been released, advanced tickets for Thor: Love and Thunder will become available on Monday June 13th, 2022 a few weeks before the official release date of Friday July 8th, 2022.

The highly-anticipated fourth installment of the Thor franchise reportedly got an early screening and the “internal” audience LOVED IT. With all this excitement, the only couple things left for the film is to know when the review embargos will be lifted so we can get some social media and critic reviews of the film.

When is the review embargo lift for Thor: Love and Thunder?

Unlike Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, we don’t have to wonder or estimate when the embargo for Thor: Love and Thunder will be lifted as it was recently confirmed in tweets from a couple industry experts in the know.

This embargo date was first leaked by Collider’s Editor-in-Chief Steven Weintraub on the morning of June 6th, and that information was followed and confirmed later that same day by Erik Davis who writes for both Rotten Tomatoes and Fandango.

Okay so there’s a bit of a gap between when social media review embargo lifts and when full critical reviews can be published out. From June 23rd to July 5th, that’s 12 days between them. With Thor’s embargo date seemingly confirmed, let’s look at the embargo dates from the last few MCU movies

Marvel Movie Review Embargo Dates
Year Movie Social Media Review Release
2022 Thor: Love and Thunder Jun 23 Jul 05 Jul 08
2022 Doctor Strange 2 May 03 May 03 May 06
2021 Spider-Man: No Way Home Dec 13 Dec 13 Dec 17
2021 The Eternals Oct 19 Oct 24 Nov 5
2021 Shang-Chi and The Legend of Ten Rings Aug 17 Aug 23 Sept 3

Thor: Love and Thunder’s nearly two weeks is by far the longest wait for the last five Marvel movies. It seems like Marvel is testing out what works best in building excitement and momentum for a film. No doubt the short three days between the full review embargo and the actual wide release of the film is the studio’s continued attempts to avoid spoilers.

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When are the review embargo dates for ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’?

Now that advanced tickets for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness broke Fandango’s first day ticket sales records for any movie that has released in 2022, it seems that the second installment of Doctor Strange is going to be a success financially. How much money will the first MCU film of 2022 make after it officially releases on May 6th, 2022?

There’s no doubt that any MCU movie is going to do well at the box office, but how much it garners depends on several different factors. We know that fans are excited to see what happens after Endgame, we know that Strange played a huge role in 2021’s biggest box office film Spider-Man: No Way Home, we know that Wanda is going to appear in the film after the successful WandaVision Disney+ show, and we know that because it’s touching on the multiverse, there will be some surprising and unexpected cameos.

Another factor that shouldn’t be underestimated is how it’s received by critics and fans alike. How a film is reviewed determines how much legs it will have.

Reviews determine the long-term health of a movie

Critics get to screen films before they’re officially released in hopes of that their reviews will build momentum for a great opening weekend. Those reviews and the buzz they create will influence theatre-goers to see a film they might not be initially interested in. Just as when a movie wins the Academy Award for the best film, the ultimate review, drives demand shortly thereafter.

Nowadays it’s not just traditional critic reviews, but social media reviews (typically tweets) are allowed a few days before the more-detailed (and hopefully spoiler-free) reviews start coming out.

That all depends on when the studio decides to lift what they call an “embargo” on reviews of the movie.

When will the review embargos lift for Dr. Strange 2?

So when can we expect the reviews for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness to come out? As mentioned, movie studios have what they call review embargos meaning that no reviews are allowed until the embargo is lifted. The timing of these differ, but based off how movie timelines typically work the last few Marvel movies, we can expect the social media embargo to lift up to a couple weeks AFTER its world premiere. Take a look at the embargos and when they were lifted for the last three Marvel films.

Marvel Movie Review Embargo Dates
Year Movie Social Media Review Release
2021 Spider-Man: No Way Home Dec 13 Dec 13 Dec 17
2021 The Eternals Oct 19 Oct 24 Nov 5
2021 Shang-Chi and The Legend of Ten Rings Aug 17 Aug 23 Sept 3

Generally it’s not difficult to estimate when embargos will be lifted, but the Doctor Strange sequel is different. If The Average Socialite is to be believed, the red carpet world premiere for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will be May 2nd. That’s just four days before the it’s released to thousands of theatres.

Why is that important? Well because social media and full review embargos can’t be lifted until after critics have watched the film. Unless there are private screenings, that means it won’t be until after the world premiere.

Once the red carpet premiere is finished in Los Angeles (it’s set for 6:30-10:30 PM), we can expect the social media embargo to be lifted with immediate social media reactions on May 3rd in the early AM once the world premiere showing has completed. And we can expect full reviews shortly thereafter. On that shortened timeline, this is a very similar to the review embargo and social media embargo to that of Spider-Man 3.

Update: A couple tweets came out the last couple days confirms that the review embargo will be lifted Tuesday, May 3rd at 6:00am PT.

Keep in mind that none of this is official; we’ve just connected disparate data points on the internet, but May 2nd/3rd as the date when the review embargo will lift makes sense. This all lines up considering all the information that is available.

The short turnaround follows the timing that Spider-Man: No Way Home had for review embargos in relation to the full release which is if true, is an intentional move from Disney and Marvel Studios to prevent any spoilers from leaking seeing that the sequel is very likely going to have some crazy cameo after crazy cameo.

We’ll update this post as more information becomes available.

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Here’s the Sinemia coupon code for $20 off your monthly subscription

Like it’s more popular, drug-addled brother, Sinemia is a movie membership that gives it’s active users the ability to see multiple movies per month for a flat fee. Continue reading “Here’s the Sinemia coupon code for $20 off your monthly subscription”

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Sinemia launches $9.95 plan, setting up showdown with MoviePass

It’s a showdown — pun intended. With every high-profile misstep by MoviePass, Sinemia counters with a small update that takes advantage of their larger competitor’s struggles. Continue reading “Sinemia launches $9.95 plan, setting up showdown with MoviePass”

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My love/hate relationship with ‘Crazy Rich Asians’

I hated Crazy Rich Asians as much as I loved it.

Let me explain.

Admittedly, I am not a rom com guy. On the list of movie genres that I would choose my favorite movies from, rom coms would be at the end of that list somewhere above Will Ferrell movies, musicals and spaghetti westerns. Continue reading “My love/hate relationship with ‘Crazy Rich Asians’”

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Select AMC Theatres now serving churros, pork buns and mac & cheese

A large popcorn, M&Ms and a Coke? That’s so Cinemark in the 2000’s. AMC Theatres just announced that they’re stepping up their snack game at select theatres. Continue reading “Select AMC Theatres now serving churros, pork buns and mac & cheese”

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AMC Theatres announces HUGE discounts on movie tickets every Tuesday

Get matinee pricing at AMC every Tuesday through October via their new promotion. In a move to improve their slowest days, AMC Theatres are dropping their ticket prices on Tuesdays to just $5. Continue reading “AMC Theatres announces HUGE discounts on movie tickets every Tuesday”

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What are the differences between IMAX vs. Dolby vs. xD vs. RealD?

You used to only be able to choose from a small, medium or a large popcorn at the movies, now you can choose how big you want your screen to be and how immersive you want your experience to be. Continue reading “What are the differences between IMAX vs. Dolby vs. xD vs. RealD?”

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What happened to King-Sim Ng from the Manhattan Chinatown documentary?

Earlier this month, The Atlantic featured a emotional and powerful documentary called “Aging and Alone in Manhattan’s Chinatown“. Continue reading “What happened to King-Sim Ng from the Manhattan Chinatown documentary?”

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List of all 100 Marvel movies by release date, Rotten Tomatoes score (timeline 2000-2022)

Marvel has been killing it on the big screen. After decades of laughable movie adaptations of their most-beloved comic book superheros, Marvel has turned it around in a big way. Continue reading “List of all 100 Marvel movies by release date, Rotten Tomatoes score (timeline 2000-2022)”

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15 awesome images from ‘Attack on Titan’ movie trailer (screen captures)

Oh man, the live action Attack on Titan movie looks many types of awesome. Continue reading “15 awesome images from ‘Attack on Titan’ movie trailer (screen captures)”

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Jinx: HBO’s documentary on Robert Durst is one of the best docs I’ve ever seen

Very rarely does television surprise me, but Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst had me yelling “holy shit!” Continue reading “Jinx: HBO’s documentary on Robert Durst is one of the best docs I’ve ever seen”

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Kung Fu Hustle: The scene when Coolie, Tailor, and Baker defeat the Axe Gang

I rarely ever watch a movie more than once. Even in the case of movies that I’ve raved about don’t inspire me to watch them over. Continue reading “Kung Fu Hustle: The scene when Coolie, Tailor, and Baker defeat the Axe Gang”

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Destroy All Monsters

In honor of the new Godzilla movie that was just released (the one that I can’t believe I haven’t seen yet), I’ve dedicated this post to Destroy All Monsters, the ultimate kaiju battle royale film. Continue reading “Destroy All Monsters”

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12 Avengers GIFs for lovers, comic book nerds, fanboys

hulk roars in avengers assembles movie scene

I was stuck inside the last three days with the flu. Bad news for me, good news for my fellow comic book nerds because I just created all the GIFs you’ll ever want from the Avengers movie.