So I saw Mamma Mia 2 over the weekend. Loved it. Love me some ABBA. Love musicals of any kind, really. But I’m totally sucked into the Mamma Mia-verse. I’m blasting ABBA all day and night. I’m dreaming of trips to fictional Greek islands. I’m falling in love with the cast. Hey, Lily James, I hear you like overweight guys with no money or self-esteem, ‘sup? You should take a chance on me (that’s an ABBA joke, folks). I briefly wondered which of the Big Three I’d be before realizing that, in both looks and personality, I’m nearly identical to young Bill.
Who’s who? I certainly can’t tell. I loved it so much I’m researching how much money it would take to purchase the IP rights to the franchise so I can start my own Jukebox Musical Cinematic Universe (look out for It’s My Life, the angsty coming-of-age story of a New Jersey teen struggling to connect with his new stepfather, featuring the music of Bon Jovi, in 2021). More than anything, though, it’s got me wondering where it ranks among the best movie sequels of all time. Gotta be near the top. I knew I needed to parse it out. Now, before we get started, there are some important qualifiers we need to add. First, this is second movies, only. No part threes, no Episode Sevens, only direct sequels. This was mostly a way to keep myself from putting Fast 5-8 as the top sequels and also narrow the field a little. Second, this only counts movies I’ve seen. Now, I’ve seen a lot of movies, but, sadly, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials didn’t make the cut for that reason. Third, while ranking individual pieces of any art form inherently defeats the purpose and robs them of their artistic value while also ignoring the different effects they have on each person, you should just assume that my word is law, here. Trust me, I know better than you. I thought about ranking every sequel ever made from 1-89,371, I decided to shorten it a little bit. Without further ado, the Official Top Ten Movie Sequels Ever Made:
10. 2 Fast 2 Furious
I’ll be honest, 2 Fast 2 Furious isn’t that good, but it would be really off-brand if I didn’t include a Fast and Furious movie in my top 10. Think of this as a stand-in for the greatness that comes later in the series (yes, I realize how stupid it is to include a movie I don’t like all that much because of my own self-imposed, arbitrary rule. You don’t need to tell me).
9. Pokémon The Movie 2000
I’m probably too concerned with my personal #brand at the moment, but who cares? Even though I’m on record as a Pokémon show h8r, I’ve spent too many words on the Pokémon universe not to include this in the ranking. Probably couldn’t tell you what the plot of this movie is or why Ash and Pikachu are the only ones who can save the day, but Lugia is always money and the opening short was high quality. There’s so many terrible sequels out there, anyway, so what’s one more
wasted darkhorse pick?
8. The Expendables 2
Just one of the most preposterous movie franchises ever made. In one of the greatest strokes of genius in Hollywood history, Sly Stallone decided to create a universe with every old action hero that’s still alive plus Jason Statham plus some random other guys and make himself the star. The plot isn’t that deep, but you know what? It’s pure. These are movies made for action movie junkies, and you can feel the genuine passion they put in. The Willis-Arnold airport scene will go down in history.
7. Godfather Part II
Listen, Godfather 2 is amazing. One of the greatest movies ever made. I prefer it to the first. But it just shows how deep the top part of this list is. Plus, the entire second act is a slog and my attention span isn’t good enough to make it through all the trial scenes and understand all of it.
6. Toy Story 2
If you ever really want to get in your feelings, watch a Toy Story movie after going through puberty. Essentially (I think) an ode to parenthood, the fact that a children’s movie franchise has its main characters constantly fear no longer being useful and being outgrown by the person they’ve dedicated their lives to is pretty heavy stuff. Also, I had a pretty sweet Zurg toy when I was a kid, so I’m pretty biased.
5. The Dark Knight
It just celebrated its anniversary, so I’m sure you’ve seen various takes floating around the internet in the last week or so. In recent years it’s become the In thing to try and pick this (and all the Nolan Batman movies) apart and point out the flaws and make it sound bad purely because everyone likes it and the Internet is a stupid place. Don’t listen to them. This movie rules. One of the best theater experiences I’ve ever had and spent a long time as My Favorite Movie. It’s not perfect, but unless you’re actively trying to not enjoy it to show everyone how cool you are, it’s a blast.
4. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
I dare you, I dare you not to come out of this movie with a smile on your face. It’s impossible. So many dynamite songs, so many dynamite dances. If you actually go into Mamma Mia 2 concerned about the plot you’re missing the point entirely. The plot only exists to shepherd us from one musical number to the next, and each one is better than the last. Cher is a legend, Andy Garcia is a legend, everyone involved with this picture is a legend. (Mamma Mia 2 Song Power Ranking: 1. Fernando 2. Why Did it Have to Be Me? 3. Dancing Queen 4. I’ve Been Waiting For You 5. My Love, My Life)
3. The Empire Strikes Back
Decent movie. The best Star Wars movie IMO and probably the most culturally important, Episode V is nearly a perfect movie. Not much else to say about it, really.
2. Lord of the Rings The Two Towers
I’m a LOTR stan. I can’t help it. It’s in my blood. I’m not who I am today without LOTR. Two Towers would be on this list no matter what because of that, but guess what? It’s one of the best movies ever made, and it’s not even the best in the series. The Uruk-hai “I’m starving” scene (the real ones can recite the entire thing from memory. Or maybe that’s just me) is one of the greatest ever committed to film. Helm’s Deep is the G.O.A.T. battle, and Treebeard is the G.O.A.T. tree. Only a truly iconic movie could prevent this from being the top second movie of all time.
1. John Wick Chapter 2
There was never any doubt.
So, to answer my question, no, Mamma Mia 2 is not the greatest sequel of all time. But number four ain’t half bad. Movie sequels are often bad and rarely original, but the good ones are pretty darn good. This may come as a shock to everyone, but there’s a lot of quality movies out there, so picking the top ten in any movie list is harder than it should be. What I’m saying is if I didn’t mention your favorite sequel don’t get #MadOnline about it. Get better taste. And try to tell me Mamma Mia 2 isn’t the most fun movie ever.