Top 10 Greatest Sequels of All Time
This summer has not been very kind to sequels. From NOW YOU SEE ME 2 to ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS and THE HUNSTMAN: WINTER'S WAR, sequels have been mediocre at best and doesn't bode well for franchises in the future. As much as we complain about sequels, there have been quite a few great films, some of which have been as good or surpassed their predecessors. Here is our ranking of the ten greatest sequels of all time. If you disagree or think we missed a great sequel, let us know in the talkbacks below.
While the change in director has resulted in two very different versions of SUPERMAN II, it is easy to say that this film is fantastic thanks to Terence Stamp's iconic performance as General Zod. When you think of Christopher Reeve's portrayal of Superman, you likely are remembering something from this film. While the slapstick elements in Richard Lester's theatrical version may have been a little goofy, check out the director's cut to see the film how Richard Donner intended.
After the very pensive and meditative STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE, Nicholas Meyer took a big budget cut and managed to deliver the definitive Star Trek film. A sequel to both the first film and a classic episode of the original series, THE WRATH OF KHAN is an action-packed thriller that set the bar for a very different kind of Star Trek movie, one that would serve as the template for all future sequels.
Originally conceived as a direct to video follow-up, John Lasseter and Pixar rescued this movie which would go on to surpass the original both critically and technologically. Pixar has not had much luck with sequels outside of the TOY STORY franchise but that seems to be because the simple and heartfelt tale of Woody and Buzz Lightyear works thanks to chemistry between the cast and crew who cannot help but tug at our heartstrings and make even the most hardened adult feel like a kid again.
Christopher Nolan made a good film with BATMAN BEGINS, but with THE DARK KNIGHT, he made a great one. While the film has some shortcomings, it manages to be more of a Batman movie than it's predecessor. Heath Ledger's immortal performance as The Joker has made it virtually impossible to criticize this film and for good reason. This is a damn fine work that is better scripted, acted, and executed than BATMAN BEGINS.
Possibly the best superhero sequel ever made, Sam Raimi's film embraces the pop and humor that makes comic books what they are. The cast is at their best here and Alfred Molina plays Doctor Octopus as both a menace and a sympathetic monster. From the train sequence to the final battle, SPIDER-MAN 2 is everything that sequels should strive to be.
Ridley Scott's ALIEN is a masterpiece of gothic horror. But, instead of making the sequel a carbon copy, James Cameron changed the tone and style and made ALIENS a military action film. While none of the further sequels managed to capture the raw energy of either of the first films, both ALIEN and ALIENS rank as some of the best science fiction films of all time. It is almost unfair to compare them because they are so dramatically different, but that should speak volumes about the achievement the sequel is in the world of movies.
Thirty years between sequels doesn't bode well for the quality of a film but fans were frantically anticipating George Miller's fourth Mad Max movie. While all three of the original films are good, none quite matched the scope and scale of FURY ROAD. Despite not having Mel Gibson in the title role for the first time, George Miller managed to create an astounding piece of action cinema and one that would go on to critical acclaim and an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. How many sequels can claim that?
Francis Ford Coppola's THE GODFATHER is one of the greatest films ever made. But, the sequel is superior in many ways. Going forward and backward in the saga of the Corleone family, THE GODFATHER PART II continues the story of the original film in an organic manner that almost makes it feel like it was made concurrently with the first movie. Unlike THE LORD OF THE RINGS, which is really sections of a larger novel, THE GODFATHER PART II manages to feel seamless with the original despite being made two years later.
THE TERMINATOR was the perfect mix of slasher movie and science fiction action. What it was not was a massive film in terms of scale. What James Cameron did with TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY was turn that slasher concept and make this film into a blockbuster summer movie full of memorable dialogue and cutting edge special effects. There are few films that hold up as well as TERMINATOR 2 but even fewer exceed the quality of their predecessor. TERMINATOR 2 is almost a perfect movie which is why it deserves this spot on our list.
Was there any doubt? THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK could be the perfect sequel. At no point does this movie try to up the ante or outdo the original STAR WARS but instead takes the story we came to love and continued it. The villains are back, the stakes are the same, and our heroes are growing, but we have new settings, new reveals about both sides of the Force, and an ending that doesn't end on a happy note. This is a movie that stands on its own as a great film but also manages to compliment what came before it. Few sequels can claim to do that as well as THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.