Paragraph Reviews Issue 2: Electric Boogaloo

Aidan Herklotz

Hello and welcome to paragraph reviews, where I review three good, bad, or classic films in one paragraph each. Today we’re doing the sequels to popular sci-fi films I reviewed last time. But before any of that, we first must consider the criteria for making a good sequel (not a good film, mind you, but a good sequel). So here those are:

  1. Expand the universe of the film in new ways.
  2. Introduce interesting plot points and character development (but also don’t stray from the character’s original personality/nature)
  3. Don’t contradict the rules of the previous films.

With those simple rules in mind, lets actually get into it. DISCLAIMER the following films will be spoiled: Blade Runner 2049, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, and Aliens. You have been warned.

Blade Runner: 2049 is a better film than the original. I know, saying this is a sin in many film communities, but it’s just true. Almost everything is better than the original (Rutger Hauer>Jared Leto). Even Harrison Ford beats out his own performance, Deckard is just a far more interesting character than he was in the film’s predecessor. And yes, the mystery of whether Deckard was an android in the first film is still great. 2049 still keeps that suspense, and increases it with even more of those ideas of humanity. Also, it introduces at least 5 new and interesting settings, reveals more about androids (as well as Al), and still keeps the robo-rules established in the original. 

Ranking: This movie is a 5/5, Blade Runner was a B-movie, 2049 is pure A.

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is what inspired most sci-fi movies and sequels in general today. When I said A New Hope was iconic, this blows that out of the water. I could go over all of the iconic points in this film, but I can sum it all up with one line: “No, I am your father.” I guarantee nobody saw that coming when Empire came out in 1980 (probably because Lucas didn’t have that in mind when he made the first film). It’s constantly ranked number one on best movie twists lists, and it totally holds up today–but anyway, back to the actual movie. This film introduced so many important characters and concepts to the Star Wars universe: Yoda, the Emperor, Lando, Cloud City, and not to mention the man himself, Boba Fett. It would be criminal to imagine Star Wars without any of these today. The entire reason the prequel and sequel trilogies exist is because of these movies. One may say this film is why Star Wars is a household name today.

Ranking: 5/5, true masterpiece.

Is Aliens better than Alien? This question has been asked for years; it is one of the biggest film arguments of all time (not quite as high as “who shot first” though). I don’t exactly think this argument is credible, mainly because Aliens and Alien are two completely different films. Alien was totally a horror, while Aliens is more action. Alien was entirely in space, while Aliens is mostly planet-side– but I digress, Aliens is actually a great sequel. It introduces so much Xenomorph-biology that just makes sense. Of course there’s a Xenomorph queen, face-huggers are born out of those weird eggs, and they even play upon the last film to go back to the Alien-infested planet. Plus the sequel focuses on Ridley as a character. Yes, Alien did end with Ridley as the hero, but the rest of the movie was very muddled in who exactly the main character was. Aliens is all Ridley, all the time, because she’s great. I remember the story of how Aliens was pitched: James Cameron walks into the studio, and present a poster from Alien with an “s” written in marker behind the title. I certainly can’t tell you if Aliens is better than the original, but it’s still one hell of a movie.

Ranking: Aliens is a big ⅘, it would be better if it didn’t still carry the legacy of the original with it.


So that is my final verdict on all those great sequels. I really like doing these paragraph review things, so hopefully you’ll see another one real soon.