Just about any successful animated movie is bound to get a sequel (or several). Some live up to their originals better than others. The Roundtable this week picks out some good ones.
Sometimes, a Roundtable topic has such an obvious answer that it would be a crime to suggest anything else. This week is one such instance. Is there any other choice than the fantastic (and arguably superior to its predecessor) Toy Story 2?
The movie has our beloved Woody stolen by a toy collector and features some wonderful (and not so subtle) commentary about how toys should be played with and not left in the packaging. (Are you listening, Star Wars nerds?)
But the heartbreaking sequence comes when we’re introduced to Jesse and learn that she was abandoned by her owner, which has resulted in issues of mistrust and the fear of being left behind a second time.
While still a great romp for the youngsters, Toy Story 2 tackles adult themes about living and mortality in a fantastic way. It’s not just a great sequel, it’s one of the best animated films ever made.
M. Enois Duarte
The best animated sequel has to be Toy Story 3. In fact, the film could arguably rank as the best of the entire franchise, which is no small feat considering that the original and its direct follow-up had already become classics in their own right by the time this third outing hit cinemas eleven years after Part 2. The filmmakers did a marvelous job expanding on the themes of its predecessors and our collective love for childhood toys while simultaneously introducing fans to a host of new characters coping with feeling unwanted, discarded or unloved over time. And there’s definitely no disputing that the last quarter of this awesome film is guaranteed to bring fans to tears, like blubbering little children forced to give up their toys.
My favorite animated sequel is Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation, if you can believe it. The film came out in 1986, right in the height of my Care Bear obsession. I’m sure if I were to go back and rewatch it today, it might only be an exercise in excessive nostalgia for me, but at the time I thought it was the niftiest thing. In this sequel, the Care Bears all head to a summer camp to save it from an evil demon thingy by using their love and caring. I believe this was also the first appearance of the Care Bear Cousins, who are actually not bears at all. Even at a young age, I was uninterested in the goodness of the bears, but the demon Dark Heart was so cool. He had red eyes, and a track suit with hair to match. This version of evil was a little easier to digest than the outright terrifying red bull in The Last Unicorn, which helped ease me into a lifelong obsession with the darkness in cinema.
I really liked Incredibles 2. What impressed me most was how the creators could pick up the story without missing a beat after so much real time had passed. The characters still seemed fresh, the energy was fantastic, and the story featured just the right mix of thrills, comedy, action, and heartwarming moments. Enjoyable and exhilarating!
The Lego Movie 2 is a worthy follow-up to its predecessor, though I might argue that The Lego Batman Movie was also sequel and did a great job of expanding on the ideas of adapting the building toys and licenses into a movie. The Will Arnett flavor of Batman came into his own in a very focused movie that’s packed full of humor, great performances, fun references, and best of all, Lego builds galore. It’s pretty clever how the filmmakers wrangled in all the rogues gallery, the villains brought from other (WB) properties, and the Bat family. The animation is a real step up, and it has yet thus far to be topped by two subsequent movies.
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
I suspect that most admirers of The Castle of Cagliostro haven’t watched any of the other movies in the series. That it’s the second of the Lupin III films is practically beside the point. The movie is most notable instead for being the first theatrical feature helmed by director Hayao Miyazaki, years before founding the legendary Studio Ghibli.
While The Castle of Cagliostro is proto-Ghibli, with its rushed production not delivering nearly the fluidity or polish long associated with the studio, it’s essential viewing for Miyazaki fanatics just the same. This ridiculously fun heist action/comedy revolves around Arsène Lupin III, a master thief whose next target isn’t a what but a who. Lupin brazenly declares that he’s going to steal the princess of Cagliostro, although, no, that hardly makes him the villain of this piece. You see, the nefarious Count Cagliostro requires the princess’ hand in marriage to finish securing his power over the region, and he’s keeping her under lock and key until the big day. An inventive thief like Lupin is unsurprisingly pursuing his own goals as well, but he’s close enough to a hero here, and it’s not as if Clarisse has any other hope of rescue.
The Castle of Cagliostro is on Blu-ray now, and an Ultra HD Blu-ray release has been teased on amazon.co.jp, though an official announcement has not yet been made.
Nine years after his landmark anime Ghost in the Shell, and just one year after the spinoff Stand Alone Complex TV series he had no hand in, original director Mamoru Oshii returned to the franchise with a theatrical follow-up called Innocence, better known in America as Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. As if to really confuse matters, the second film ignores the TV show, despite featuring most of the same voice cast and character designs.
It also doubles-down on the abstract intellectual ideas and weighty philosophical themes, often at the expense of a clear narrative or rocking action set-pieces. Fans who just wanted to watch a half-naked cyborg chick kick ass again were left confounded. However, the film is a dazzling visual marvel, crammed with layers upon layers of densely-packed imagery. Not since the original Blade Runner has a view of the future been realized so completely down to even the most minute detail. The combination of stunning visuals and heady ideas make for a highly rewatchable movie, even as you struggle to make sense of what it’s about.
What are your favorite animated sequels? Tell us in the Comments.