The Most Underrated Sequels Of The 1990s

List Rules
Vote up the sequels that were unfairly overshadowed by their predecessors.

Movie sequels often have a bad reputation, and it's often for similar reasons regardless of genre, time period, or the talent involved: Either the sequel lacks the special ingredients that made the original a hit (for example, not bringing back the main character), or it emulates the original without adding anything new. But despite their reputation, plenty of movie sequels have been just as good as their predecessors - and sometimes for the same reasons that other sequels have failed. It's an art and not a science, after all.  

Here are some of the most underrated 1990s movie sequels, which still hold up as some of the best entries in their respective franchises. 


  • The Rescuers (1977) is one of the all-time great Disney animated classics, with two main characters who are easy to root for - mice who rescue abducted human children. Its sequel, 1990's The Rescuers Down Under, largely follows the same format but swaps out the previous setting of Louisiana for Australia, just as the title suggests.

    Among the reasons The Rescuers Down Under works are its breathtaking depictions of the Australian Outback, its flight sequences, and the addition of comedy legend John Candy to the cast. One reason The Rescuers Down Under doesn't have the best reputation is because it had the misfortune of opening on the same day as Home Alone, which definitely hurt its box-office prospects. 

    568 votes

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  • To be fair to Desperado, few films catch lightning in a bottle quite like its predecessor, El Mariachi. Robert Rodriguez made his1993 directorial debut for just $7,000, and it was only intended for release on the Mexican home video market before it went on to become a smash hit. Two years later, Rodriguez made Desperado with a budget 100 times bigger and with established Hollywood stars like Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, and Cheech Marin.

    What it lacked was the element of surprise. For critic Roger Ebert, while the film demonstrated Rodriguez's gift for visuals, the screenplay didn't deliver. 

    652 votes

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  • Clear and Present Danger is one of the rare sequels that isn't afraid to take the story in a new direction. The first time Harrison Ford played Jack Ryan, he was a mid-level CIA analyst who foiled a terrorist attack and became the target of the Irish Republican Army. The second time around, Ryan has been promoted to deputy director at the Company, where he discovers that high-placed CIA officials are participating in a drug money laundering scheme with a Colombian cartel.

    Clear and Present Danger succeeds by bringing back the tense suspense and action of the original while giving Ryan a bigger and bolder story. It actually did slightly better among critics and fans on Rotten Tomatoes, netting scores of 80% and 74%, respectively. Patriot Games topped out at 73% and 72%, respectively. 

    482 votes

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  • Here's another sequel that wasn't afraid to alter the formula, and... reaped the rewards as a result. While it could easily have been another time-traveling romp through history, Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey instead finds our heroes journeying into the afterlife. There, they challenge the Grim Reaper to a series of games like Battleship and Checkers, in a parody of Ingmar Bergman's classic film The Seventh Seal.

    It might not be a classic comedy, but more than half of critics and audience members gave it a positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with scores of 57% and 56%, respectively. 

    750 votes

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  • Like a lot of sequels both good and bad, Die Hard 2: Die Harder follows the same basic format as its predecessor: New York City cop John McClane gets trapped in the middle of a hostage situation during the busy holiday season and has to pick off terrorists a few at a time until he gets the upper hand. Die Hard 2's biggest change is its setting, replacing the Los Angeles skyscraper of Nakatomi Plaza with a busy Washington, DC, airport during the Christmas rush.

    Die Hard 2 probably falls short with its choice of villain. With no disrespect to character actor William Sadler, who plays the treacherous Colonel Stuart, Alan Rickman's Hans Gruber was the role that launched his movie career. Still, Die Hard 2 gives you what you want out of a Die Hard movie: two hours of violence, suspense, and wise-cracking. 

    747 votes

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  • Escape from New York (1981) is both a cult classic and one of John Carpenter's best films. After a war between the Soviet Union and the US turns Manhattan into a prison, it's up to Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) to rescue the kidnapped president. It's also very much a 1980s movie, full of colorful punk rock-ish characters and a classic action hero leading man of few words.

    By the time Carpenter got around to making Escape from L.A. 15 years later, the element of surprise that made the original a cult hit was gone, and audiences' tastes had changed. But Carpenter did add signature elements satirizing the movie business, summing up his frustration with Hollywood. Escape from L.A. barely manages to crack the 50% benchmark among critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences have been even less kind, giving it a rating of just 39%. 

    696 votes