6 Disney Sequels That Don’t Suck

These days, it seems like Disney is intent on developing live-action revisits to many of its most popular animated films. Though this year’s The Jungle Book proved to be a visually captivating and wholly entertaining take on Rupyard Kipling’s story, the more recent Alice Through the Looking Glass failed to match the success of its predecessor, Tim Burton’s 2010 Alice in Wonderland. While the Mouse House generally has a spotty record when it comes to sequels, there are a few exceptions to that notion. Here are six examples of Disney sequels that may be worth a revisit themselves. For the record, we’re focusing only on films that bear the Walt Disney brand, not those produced by Disney-owned companies like Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Marvel Studios. So don’t expect the Toy Story sequels, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, or anything from the Marvel Cinematic Universe on this list.

1. The Rescuers Down Under (1990)

The Rescuers Down Under, Disney sequels

The Rescuers Down Under | Source: Disney

One of the only Disney animated sequels to receive a theatrical release, this one is unfairly forgotten in large part because it hit theaters in the year between The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. While those two films are largely considered masterpieces, this sequel is considered the exception to the Disney Renaissance of the early 1990s. Regardless, there’s tons of fun to be had with The Rescuers Down Under, which features the return of stars Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor as the elite agents of the Rescue Aid Society.

2. D2: The Mighty Ducks (1994)

Emilio Estevez in D2 The Mighty Ducks

Emilio Estevez in D2: The Mighty Ducks | Source: Disney

The Mighty Ducks holds a special place in the hearts of a generation of children, but in some circles, the sequel manages to improve upon the original in some respects. Emilio Estevez and much of the first film’s cast return, as former peewee ice hockey coach Gordon Bombay (Estevez) is recruited as coach of Team USA Hockey for the Junior Goodwill Games in California. Despite a generous helping of cheese, D2 is exactly what some fans were hoping for and became just as successful as its predecessor at the box office.

3. Aladdin and the King of Thieves (1996)

Aladdin and the King of Thieves

Aladdin and the King of Thieves | Source: Disney

Along with The Return of Jafar, this one kicked off more than a decade of straight-to-video animated Disney films that almost universally paled in comparison to their predecessors. However, Aladdin and the King of Thieves serves as a solid conclusion to the trilogy, due somewhat to the return of Robin Williams as the Genie and the emotionally charged storyline that governs its hero’s journey. While the film and its original songs still fall short of the original’s magic, this third and final entry in the franchise is far better than anyone would have expected it to be.  

4. Fantasia 2000 (1999)

Fantasia 2000

Fantasia 2000 | Source: Disney

Released a staggering 59 years after the original Fantasia, this follow-up offers a set of visually imaginative animated sequences set to classical pieces of music, with The Sorcerer’s Apprentice the only holdout from its predecessor. Though there’s no over-arching narrative tying together the film, it does offer a satisfying series of vignettes that should delight both adults and children. Moreover, this newer film captures the spirit and vision of the 1940 original, introducing the work of composers like Beethoven, Gershwin, Stravinsky, and others to modern audiences.

5. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)

Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man's Chest

Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest | Source: Disney

The muddled narratives of subsequent Pirates of the Caribbean sequels At World’s End and On Stranger Tides may have overshadowed the relative success of the franchise’s first follow-up. While it isn’t as strong as the 2003 film that introduced audiences to Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow, Dead Man’s Chest goes to great lengths to deepen the established character relationships and mythology. In addition, it unleashes memorable monsters like Bill Nighy’s motion-capture performance as Davy Jones and the tentacled Kraken. Oh, and don’t get us started on the majesty of that Hans Zimmer score…

6. Tron: Legacy (2010)

Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde in Tron Legacy

Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde in Tron: Legacy | Source: Disney

By today’s standards, the original Tron sounds either hopelessly antiquated or downright silly (probably both). Yet, with this sequel, director Joseph Kosinski (Oblivion) took viewers back to the Grid 28 years later, with original stars Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner returning and a sleek new visual style in place. Though the response among fans and critics was decidedly mixed, Tron: Legacy triumphed in resurrecting a nostalgic property for a new era. Despite the fact that it earned $400 million worldwide, the studio remains uncommitted to a rumored third film in the series.

Follow Robert Yaniz Jr. on Twitter @CrookedTable

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