The Ten Best Movie Sequels
10. Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Star Trek is one of the most legendary television shows of all time, so there were a lot of expectations when the franchise decided to take its adventures to the big screen. Unfortunately, Star Trek: The Motion Picture was a huge disappointment and did not have a whole lot of cinematic value. A few years later however, they came back with Wrath of Khan and blew their expectations wide open. Star Trek was back with a strong narrative, a great villain, and heart-pumping emotion. Khan to this day is considered the best of the series. And for a franchise that contains 11 movies and 5 tv shows, that’s saying something.
9. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
The first terminator took the science fiction genre by surprise. It was a relatively small film with a large concept, one which audiences really held on to. Seven years later, there was a lot of hype around its sequel, and when T2 was finally released it gave audiences a lot more than they expected.
T2 did something very interesting by switching Arnie’s iconic villain role into being the hero, and giving us another equally good villain for him to go up against. T2 was also a marvel of special effects at the time and is one of the pioneer films of CGI. But more importantly, Cameron managed to give a lot of depth to the story, seen through the relationship between the terminator and John, and even John and his mother. It also deals with the question of fate and whether or not it is ours to control (a philosophy which the next film in the series completely decimates and reverse, but that’s a rant for another time…). One of the most beloved sequels of the last twenty years without a doubt.
8. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Horror movies are notorious for having a slew of awful sequels. Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Halloween, etc. But George A. Romero, in his sequel of Night of the Living Dead, actually managed to make a better film than his ionic first entry into the series. Dawn of the Dead is considered not only one of the best zombie films ever made, but one of the best horror films ever made. Dawn of the Dead reached for more than its predecessor, through acting, script and social satire.
7. The Road Warrior (1981)
The Road Warrior, sequel to the 1979 apocalyptic action film Mad Max, is the fulfillment of what many believe Mad Max should have been. The sets and costumes manage to bring this new anarchist society to life much more than its predecessor, and its action scenes are among some of the best ever filmed.
6. The Dark Knight (2008)
In the 21st Century so far, comic book movies have dominated Hollywood. Along with this new trend, audiences were also given a new set of Batman films. When Batman Begins was released, people really started to take notice as it seemed to take its hero more seriously than any other superhero movie thus far. And then when its sequel The Dark Knight came out, admiration for the film exploded. The action scenes were incredible, but the film also had a solid story foundation and some amazing performances. The Dark Knight is proof that any genre can reach excellence, even silly superhero films.
5. Aliens (1986)
Ridley Scott’s Alien is one of the masterpiece movies of science fiction. It was heavy with suspense and was a horror movie in space, albeit one of the best horror movies ever made. When James Cameron took the helm for the sequel, he decided to put the film into an entirely new genre; action. This was a brilliant move, as it separated itself from the greatness of the first film and managed to put its own mark onto sci-fi film history. Many consider it even better than the first (not myself personally, but there are many) and many more see it as being exactly what sequels of this type should be.
4. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
The earliest sequel on this list, Bride of Frankenstein had big shows to fill, following up one of the most iconic films of all time. How did it do so? By being a better movie. Acclaim for the film was slow growing, but as people started to realize that it was more than just another horror film, it earned more and more praise. Today it is considered one of Hollywood’s finest achievements.
3. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)
The third installment of the Man With No Name trilogy is also the best and most popular. Oddly enough, it didn’t open to great reviews, but appreciation for it grew over time. Now it is considered one of the finest westerns ever made and the other two films, Fistful of Dollars and A Few Dollars More, seem to actually be riding its coat tails, an odd thing for the third of a trilogy.
2. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Star Wars revolutionized movie-going in the 70s and spawned a fandom which is still going strong to this day. Yet it was the film’s first sequel which many of these fans profess to love more. Empire took these great characters that people had connected with, and stomped all over them. Empire was not simply a retread of the first Star Wars. The big battle scene was at the beginning, not the end. The main characters were split up for the majority of the film, and the ending left them broken and shattered. And over the whole thing, the weight of Darth Vader and the Empire could be felt much more fully and an impending sense of doom permeated throughout.
That’s not to say its a depressing film by any stretch. Somehow it still managed to retain the sense of fun, wonder and adventure as the first, it was just… deeper. And to this day it is still considered by fans and critics alike to be the height of the Star Wars saga.
1. The Godfather Part 2
Attempting to follow up a masterpiece of American cinema such as The Godfather must have been a daunting task, but Francis Ford Coppola was up to the challenge and somehow made a movie that some film aficionados actually believe exceeds the quality of the original. The Godfather 2 continues the story of Michael Corleone and his descent into darkness but also looks into the origins of his father and the Corleone family. This juxtaposition between the rise of Vito and the descent of Michael as he loses his family and his soul works brilliantly.
Everyone involved in this film was determined not to simply cash in on The Godfather’s popularity, but to honestly make a deeper and richer film. Both Al Pacino and Robert De Niro give incredible performances and Coppola’s directing is at the top of its game. Its the first sequel to have won the Best Picture Oscar and is certainly the most respected of its kind.