Throwback Thursdays: Sequels made long after their predecessors

Charles Liu

Some movies get sequels greenlit before they’re even released. Others tease potential sequels, then fail hard enough that their respective studios decide not to make good on their promises. Then there are the classics that get sequels — you just have to wait a couple of decades to finally catch up with their characters.

Here are four sequels to beloved movies that came out long after their predecessors were released.

“The Color of Money” (1986) – sequel to “The Hustler” (1961)

“The Hustler” cemented Paul Newman as one of Hollywood’s eminent leading men. In it, he played Eddie Felson, a pool hustler who grew disillusioned with his way of life and quiet by the film’s end. “The Color of Money” finds a wizened Eddie as a successful liquor salesman, but he gets back into hustling when he takes Vincent (Tom Cruise), a talented young pool player, under his wing. 

Martin Scorsese takes over the director’s chair from Robert Rossen, and Newman and Cruise spark like mad when they play off each other. “The Color of Money” improved the popularity of pool in the ’80s, and the charismatic Cruise himself performed most of his shots in the movie, having practiced at home for hours after receiving the part.

The film is about seduction. Eddie is seduced into hustling thanks to his nostalgic view of his younger days, and Vincent is seduced into pool by his love of winning. Both men have to overcome their faults to become a better surrogate father and son to each other. 

“The Godfather: Part III” (1990) – sequel to “The Godfather: Part II” (1974)

The first two “Godfather” films are often regarded as some of the best in history. “The Godfather: Part III,” however, is not, because Francis Ford Coppola only made it when he realized he was running out of cash.

And so the classic crime saga’s finale was reduced to a cash cow, and the story of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) ended with the wimpiest of whimpers. Throughout the overlong, melodramatic picture, Corleone attempts to redeem himself and improve his relationships with his daughter, Mary (Sofia Coppola), and his ex-wife, Kay (Diane Keaton), only to find the sins of the past are rarely forgotten.

Though they’re talented and engaging as ever, the film’s best thespians can’t elevate the convoluted story, and they certainly can’t save us from a wooden performance from Sofia Coppola, who has proven in recent years a much better director than actor. While “Part III” didn’t have to match the lofty heights set by its predecessors to be good, its weaknesses unfortunately drag it into the realm of mediocre.

“Fantasia/2000” (1999) – sequel to “Fantasia” (1940)

The original “Fantasia” was an entrancing work of animation, and its sequel is no different. From a vignette about flying humpback whales set to “The Pines of Rome” to a frantic depiction of city life scored by George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” “Fantasia/2000” is a beautifully crafted, masterfully executed tribute to art
and music. 

“Tron: Legacy” (2010) – sequel to “Tron” (1982)

In “Tron,” computer programmer Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) discovered the Grid, a digital world within computers populated by living programs. After the events of “Tron,” Flynn disappeared, leaving behind his son, Sam.

In “Tron: Legacy,” Sam (Garrett Hedlund), now a young adult, stumbles upon a doorway into the Grid and comes into conflict with his father’s rogue hacking program, Clu (also played by Bridges). Clu intends to lead an invasion into the physical world, and Sam, Flynn and the warrior program Quorra (Olivia Wilde) must stop him.

“Tron: Legacy” is not so much an improvement over the original as it is an update. The original “Tron” was popular because of its groundbreaking special effects, not its narrative prowess, and the same descriptor is proper for its sequel. Director Joseph Kosinski impressively develops the picture’s distinctive visual style, but his weaker grasp on plot and character reduce “Legacy” to passable.