More often than not sequels are far worse than the original. Hollywood always has and will always be obsessed with milking every last drop of box office ticket sales. After all, it is easier to repeat the same thing than come up with an original idea. Every once and a while a sequel can be as good if not better than the original. These are my top 10 Movie Sequels of All-Time. These do not have to be direct sequels, but could also be part of a series.
10. “The Bourne Ultimatum” (2007):
Matt Damon ventured into the realm of action movies with “The Bourne Identity” and it was a hit. The second and fifth renditions with Damon were not very good. But with director Paul Greengrass at the helm the third go around, “The Bourne Ultimatum” is a shot of adrenaline. From beginning to end, the action rarely stops as Jason Bourne is on the hunt to finally get to the bottom of the organization that made him an unstoppable assassin. The filmmaking is chaotic in the most perfect way, highlighted by a rooftop chase scene that ends in a grueling fist fight in a small bathroom. If you’re looking for the best in spy action/thriller entertainment, look no further than “Ultimatum”.
9. “Back to the Future Part II” (1989):
When the hell are we finally going to get our damn hover boards!!! The original is a staple of pop-culture history. Michael J. Fox and company came to play with the equally solid family adventure “Back to the Future Part II”. Going in the opposite direction of time travel, “Part II” had so much enjoyment in making fun of trendy items and current phenomenons while taking us 30 years into the future. It also goes back to the past with a sports better’s book that makes the bad guy Biff the richest person in the world. While the third one in the trilogy is garbage, “Part II” is easily the most recognizable. The gigawatts were certainly pumped up here.
8. “Toy Story 3” (2010):
The original is still my favorite ever of Pixar, the second and fourth didn’t blow me away, but “Toy Story 3” was pretty close to a perfect children’s movie. When Pixar was moving away from original content and sequel-ing it up, nothing tops the third go around with Woody and Buzz. The stakes are raised when the toys are donated to a kindergarten now that their owner, Andy, is too old to play with dolls. They must escape the dictatorship of a giant pink stuffed bear (Voiced by Don Rickles) in hopes of returning to their kid. What makes “Toy Story 3” so great, especially for children, is the idea that we all grow up, but we can never lose our inner childhood imagination. The ending is so touching as you see one generation handing things down to the next. A concept any adult can understand.
7. “Three Colors Trilogy: Red” (1994):
While meant to be a trilogy based on the three colors of the French flag and set in multiple places around Europe, director Krzystof Kieslowski made his swan song with the third picture in “Red”. Each movie is different. “Blue” is the most tragic and “White” is the funniest. But “Red” is the big one that won all of the Foreign Film awards. The story of a young model and her accidental encounter with a retired judge who spies on people develops in a metaphorically romantic way. The story is all about two souls that met each other at the wrong time. The visuals are not flashy, they are simply beautiful. I have always said that if I was to make it as a filmmaker I would want to be the late Kieslowski. Not just a poet of cinema, a humanist and lover of all aspects of life.
6. “The Dark Knight” (2008):
One question, “WHY SO SERIOUS?”. Comic book movies are supposed to be fun. Director Christopher Nolan said to hell with that and went literally dark with his rendition of Batman. While the first in the series is respectable, “The Dark Knight” is arguably the best comic book movie ever. That is mainly because of Heath Ledger’s (R.I.P.) turn as the infamous Joker. Right out of the gate the opening bank heist is thrilling. Other action set pieces are solid, but what really stands out is Nolan’s choice to focus more on the dynamics between the two doppelgänger characters. When Batman interrogates the Joker it is edge of your seat cinema. Nerds can brag all they want about how popular the MCU is. “The Dark Knight” is the real shit.
5. “The Bride of Frankenstein” (1935):
“The Bride of Frankenstein” is one of the most oddly brilliant movies in film history. With the enormous success of the original “Frankenstein” as well as “Dracula”, the Universal Monster Universe was rolling full tilt in the 30’s and 40’s. Director James Whale, a man shunned for being a homosexual when that wasn’t ok, threw a curveball in the mix with “Bride”. Both Frankie and his creator the doc survived the events from the first movie somehow (Hey, it’s a monster movie). Dr. Frankenstein meets Dr. Pretorious, a crazy S.O.B. with shrunken humans that he keeps in little glass cages. The two hit it off over a bottle of Gin until Pretorious insists that Dr. Frank create a female mate. When he refuses, Pretorious kidnaps Franks’ wife which forces his hand. One of the most used halloween looks ever was born as the bride rises with lightening streaks in her hair. Director Whale got away with a lot of things that look tame by today’s standards. In 1935, the censors were rough. To quote the monster; “I Want Friend Like Me”…
4. “Terminator 2: Judgement Day” (1991):
He said that he would be back. And boy was Arnie back in the massive hit sequel “Terminator 2: Judgement Day”. With a much bigger budget and better technology director James Cameron blew audiences away, making the robot Terminator from the future go from cool to icon status. He was also facing off against a T-1000 robot made of liquid metal, and those effects somehow still hold up to this day. Actually having the supposed savior of humanity John Conner (Edward Furlong) along for the ride with his damaged mother Sarah and the emotional aspect is also there. “T2” is the blueprint to making a followup that does not suck. As far as the rest of the films following in the franchise; “HASTA LA VISTA, BABY!”.
3. “Aliens” (1986):
Director James Cameron is on a roll here. I am not a homer, simply call ’em like I see ’em. Before he went full on ego-tilt with “Avatar” Cameron was the marquee of re-inventing franchises. After the original “Alien”, a closed quarters horror movie, James decided to go full on action with “Aliens”. The first movie had one creature on a ship. This one had hundreds of creatures on a planet. The horror vibe from the original was still there, but intense action was plugged in for one of the top summer thrill rides ever. And of course there’s Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), the biggest female badass. But stop at this installment. The rest of the “Aliens” franchise is garbage.
2. “The Godfather Part II” (1974):
Arguably the best actual movie on this list, I could not put director Francis Ford Coppola’s epic sequel at number one because, in my opinion, the original is better. Still, “The Godfather Part II” is just epic and unbelievable. Also one of only two sequels to win the Oscar for best picture (“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”), the story of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) now in full command of the family business is compelling. What is brilliant about “Part II” is that it juxtaposed between his story as well as the tail of his late father coming to America and starting the mafia family. Robert DeNiro won his first Oscar in the role. “Part II” is certainly more layered than the original while also maintaining the same mystique in the process.
1. “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back” (1980):
There are so many “Star Wars” movies and TV shows at this point that have spanned more than 40 years. The peak and still best is number two (Technically Episode V) “The Empire Strikes Back”. The original blew people away. Number two had people shocked. Beyond the main group, great characters such as Yoda and Lando were introduced. The opening battle on the ice planet of Hoth with giant elephant like robots was great. But of course the great reveal was Darth Vader telling Luke “I AM YOUR FATHER”. In an age way before the internet, this was a shock that nobody knew was coming. While I do enjoy “Star Wars” as much as the next guy, “Empire” is the only one that is a hands down masterpiece whether one is a nerd or not.