5 Disney Sequels That Are as Good as The Original

During our time at university, keeping on top of course work and meeting our deadlines can be a struggle. Finding a balance between work and fun is the key to success, and taking some time out to watch a Disney movie (or two, or three) is the perfect form of escapism.

I love Disney. Since I was a child, my life has been full of Disney, in the form of the movies and several holidays to Walt Disney World. I would describe myself as a die-hard Disney fan, but I am definitely not a Disney snob. Some of my favourite Disney movies are sequels to the classics,  which I think are underrated. Here's five of them, and why I think they deserve more credit than they are given!

1.    ‘The Princess Diaries 2: A Royal Engagement’

I am a huge fan of Meg Cabot, I have read nearly all of her books, and her series, The Princess Diaries, is brilliant. This series spawned the first ‘Princess Diaries’ movie, which also began Anne Hathaway’s journey to stardom. The first movie is one I do enjoy a lot, but for me, the second is the best. It's a movie that is definitely worth a re-watch, or that must be watched for the first time if you haven’t seen it before! One common critique of this movie is the fact that it moves so far away from the plot of the book series, but for me this is a bonus. Disney never would have made movies of all ten of Cabot’s books, and the change in plot  means that the movie Mia can have a completely separate plotline to her book counterpart. Also, with an independent plot, it means that us avid readers cannot be disappointed when we miss out on our favourite scenes from the books. ‘The Princess Diaries 2’ tackles issues of inheritance and sets up a strong feminist stance against the masculine powers of government. As an audience, we get to experience Mia’s growth into a ruler and a woman who knows her own mind. But, Mia is not the only character that experiences a lot of development. My favourite subplot of the movie is the romance between Queen Clarice and Joe (not Joey, Joe). This new dynamic between their characters draws the audience in and shows that people can find their happy ending at any age. Julie Andrews is a true Queen, and so Queen Clarice's whole presence in this movie is just perfection. Her levels of sass, and her ability to mattress surf, serve to create some of the most memorable scenes of the entire movie. Alongside this, several new characters are added, who assist with both character and plot development, and provide a lot of the comedy. One example being Linus, who would gladly take a bullet for the Queen. And who can complain about a movie that includes Chris Pine in the list of actors? He is amazing, and the chemistry between him and Anne Hathaway is top class. It blows what was between Mia and Michael in the first movie, out of the water!

2.    ‘Monsters University’

Controversial opinion: I prefer ‘Monsters University’ to ‘Monsters Inc’. I am fully aware that ‘Monsters Inc’ came first and has a much more moving plotline, but sometimes light-hearted comedy can be just as beneficial for escapism. Not only did ‘Monsters University’ provide us with an image of young Mike Wazowski, who was truly adorable, it also came at a time for me when I was considering what was next in my life plan. Mike may only be a small monster, but his brains allowed him to follow his dreams of being a scarer (eventually). This movie provides so much comedy gold, and in my opinion, is as much a classic as the original. Also, as many of my friends and family members know, I am obsessed with Sulley. I have a Sulley onesie, pillow and socks, and any opportunity to learn more about his character is one I relish in! Alongside this, 'Monsters University' provided the world with some unforgettable moments and gifs, just like this one: 

3.    The Toy Story Trilogy

I will freely admit that all three Toy Story movies are wonderful. However, both the second and third movies add characters that are missed in the first movie. The introduction of Jessie, and her developing friendship with Woody and Buzz is so important for the latter two movies of the trilogy. Also, her past, shown in ‘Toy Story 2’ is something that has had a surprisingly large impact on my life. Her story of how she was left behind and forgotten by the child that she had brought so much joy to is so moving and heart-breaking, and the song of choice ‘When She Loved Me’, is one that always brings tears to my eyes. This scene has meant that I struggle to get rid of any of my cuddly toys and dolls, as it brings back the memories of Jessie and her suffering. The introduction of these emotions within the context of the toy characters is handled so well, and is clearly something that the creators thought was important, as it feeds into ‘Toy Story 3’. ‘Toy Story 3’ itself is just amazing. The creators have allowed fans, who watched the movies when they were younger, to grow up alongside Andy, also showing how growing up affects those around you – even when they are toys. Who can resist a movie where a group of much-loved characters almost get incinerated and then get saved and given to a new child? I believe no one can.

4.    ‘Finding Dory’

‘Finding Dory’ was amazing. I was so impressed by this movie when I saw it in the cinema, as it had been so long in the works and had a lot to live up to. It provided the opportunity for the creators to develop and deepen Dory’s character, and gave a sincere insight into the struggles of dealing with short-term memory loss. The movie revisits many fan favourites from ‘Finding Nemo’, such as Marlin and Nemo themselves, along with the turtles who get another opportunity to help with a quest to travel across the ocean. On top of this, we got to meet new characters, such as Hank the octopus, and my personal favourites, the otter family and their cuddle party. My undying love for otters might actually push ‘Finding Dory’ ahead of Finding Nemo in my ranking of favourite Disney movies, as the otters just made it for me.

5.    ‘Cinderella II: Dreams Come True’

What can I say about this movie, apart from I LOVE IT. The three storylines allow the audience another look at some of the secondary characters, such as Jaq and Anastasia, and it is much funnier than the original ‘Cinderella’ movie. This is the perfect movie to watch for some light relief from university studies (or any other stresses in day to day life). Personally, I find Cinderella too passive a woman in the first movie, and enjoy the way that Disney chose to portray her in this movie. I understand that some Disney purists dislike the way that sequels move away from the original storylines, so for anyone who is unsure, I recommend pursuing your love of ‘Cinderella’ through the beautifully shot live action movie that came out in 2015. The soundtrack alone makes the movie well worth watching.

Hopefully re-exploring these underrated gems will help forget the overwhelming stress of being a university student with mountains of work. Disney always makes things seem a little less difficult, in my opinion, and who doesn't love rediscovering their childhood favourites?