Disney’s animated sequels often get a bad rap, but these ones were actually solid successors to the awesome originals…
Aladdin: Return of Jafar/Aladdin and the King of Thieves
To be honest, I haven’t actually seen the two direct-to-video sequels to Aladdin since I was a nipper but I remember them being core parts of the extended Aladdin story that also encompassed the animated series. Return of Jafar obviously sees the resurrection of the first movie’s villain while King of Thieves reunites Al with his long-lost father and saw Robin Williams once again lend his unique energy to the Genie.
Monsters Inc wasn’t the Pixar movie that was crying out for a sequel (GIVE US THE INCREDIBLES 2 ALREADY!) but in the result Monsters University was a very funny, very solid prequel to the original movie. While it never managed to replicate the heartfelt core of the original, with Sully’s relationship with Boo, it was fun to see how Sully and Mike went from college rivals to best buddies.
The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride
I’ve said before how The Lion King is the best Disney movie ever made, so naturally its two sequels struggled to live up to it. Simba’s Pride isn’t a bad follow-up, though, as it sees Simba’s daughter Kiara fall in love with Scar’s chosen heir Kovu. Some parts completely rip off superior moments from the first film but on the whole it is an enjoyable flick, with an above average musical score for a Disney sequel. Just avoid the sub-par The Lion King 1 1/2.
The latest entry on this list, following up to the universally acclaimed Finding Nemo was always going to be a risky business. I was especially suspicious when the title was revealed to be the very similar Finding Dory. While it does not quite measure up to the original, however, Dory is another great film from the ever reliable Pixar and, unlike Monster University, comes very close to matching the poignancy of Nemo.
Toy Story 2/3
Far and away Disney’s best sequels, though, are in fact two of the best sequels ever made. The original Toy Story set such a high bar for Pixar to match but somehow they replicated the success in Toy Story 2. And then, a whole ten years later, they only went and did it again with Toy Story 3. Sure, there were similar story beats and themes to previous movies but it was a terrific closer to the series and a brilliantly thoughtful mediation on growing up. The upcoming Toy Story 4 had better not muck up this unbroken run of amazing films.