10 movie sequels that were better than the original

It’s quite elusive for a sequel to outstrip its predecessor. Sequels are often panned for being lazy and derivative excuses to pinch more pennies out of an already exhausted idea. No matter how atrocious the predecessor is, if the cash is rolling in, a sequel more disastrous than its predecessor is probably in the pipeline. However, on a very rare occasion, a sequel will surpass the original; a brief respite for cineastes everywhere when faith is restored and we rejoice in the brilliance of narrative continuation. So here are 10 movies that were better than their predecessors.

Aliens (1986)

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James Cameron takes over the reins from Ridley Scott, surpassing his English counterpart in the process. Cameron ups the action and alien quotient in what is one of the most exciting movies ever made. A whirlwind of panic and violence ensues as US Marines drop like flies leaving Ellen “Get Away From Her You Bitch” Ripley to clear up the mess, cementing her place as the most iconic action heroine in cinematic history.

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

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Thanks to this gripping follow-up we now have the modern movie cliché that the sequel should be darker than the predecessor. The Empire Strikes Back is constructed of scenes awash with Lucas’s unworldly imagination, consisting of immense screen battles, none more memorable than the Hoth Battle; new characters including Yoda, Land and Boba and shock revelations (“I am your father”).

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)


Is Hannibal Lecter’s second outing technically a sequel? It certainly wasn’t marketed as one. But there is some narrative continuation from Manhunter to The Silence of the Lambs, so that’s enough for me. Its calibre is certainly undeniable. This deeply scary study in terror was the first film to scoop the Oscars and the Chainsaw awards and begun an ostensibly masochistic love affair between the audience and Anthony Hopkins’s Hannibal, and his screen time was only a total of 16 minutes.

Toy Story 2 (1999)


Originally intended as a straight to DVD movie, Toy Story 2 hits all the right buttons and asserts itself as the greatest animated sequel to have graced the big screen. This heart-warming family movie grips the audience from start to finish with fresh new characters whilst taking old ones into new territory. A tragic tale of a child growing out of toys, old-fashioned cowboy Woody is told to forget about being loved by kids forever and embrace his role in a retro toy collection.

The Dark Knight (2008)

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Christopher Nolan’s re-imagining of the Batman lore is simply tenacious and arguably the greatest comic-book movie ever made. This enthralling sequel is all the more haunting as we witness Heath Ledger, in his penultimate movie; give the performance of a lifetime, exquisitely portraying the psychotic Joker. Nolan’s rumination on the aftershocks of Batman’s origin belongs on the list of the greatest films of all time.

Godfather II (1974)

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Opinions are divided whether this sprawling epic outstrips its predecessor. Coppola’s reluctant return see’s him delivering a damning picture which capture’s the intensity of Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone in the way The Godfather simply couldn’t. The effectiveness of the two intertwining tales is sheer brilliance, following the rise of Pacino’s mobster as he gains the world but loses his soul, whilst simultaneously exploring the founding of the Corleone crime empire by Vito Corleone, played by De Niro.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)

Hasta la vista, baby, gravy

James Cameron’s pulsating spectacle keeps its chase-plot moving at breakneck-speed. T2 sees the coming of age of CGI, Cameron’s morphing metal villain is unprecedented from an FX point of view. Occasionally, incessant gun-fire and innovative special effects are pushed to one side as Arnie’s killer cyborg develops a touching and humorous relationship with John Connor as he adopts the role of surrogate date and bodyguard. But the T-100 isn’t the only hero here, like another Cameron sequel; a strong heroine shares the limelight this time in the form of gutsy Sarah Connor.

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

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The best of the Rings trilogy see’s the story carried briskly to the stirring battle of Helm’s Deep. This epic battle segment is arguably the greatest ever to grace our cinema screens and is intertwined effectively with the adventures of ring bearer Frodo and his faithful companion Sam. And of course, like all good sequels, a new fresh character is introduced. Andy Serkis is sensational as the manipulative Gollum, as a major advance in CG characters is made.

Mad Max 2 (The Road Warrior)


With Mad Max, George Miller created one of the greatest independent action movies ever made.  But when Warner Brothers came knocking for a sequel, Miller now had the funds to expand on his dusty post-apocalyptic world by accelerating the action with enthralling car chases,  darker sub-plots, whilst also creating a mythology and legend to give depth to his dystopian world.

Evil Dead 2 (1987)


Sam Raimi’s low budget cult film is essentially a B-movie come good. Evil Dead 2 made zilch when it opened in 1987, but has built up a diehard fan following due to its downright ridiculous and incomprehensible narrative.  So why is it placed? For one it’s hilarious gory. Also, star Bruce Campbell’s chainsaw/shotgun combo is outlandishly genius. But the main reason is the witnessing of a young Raimi demonstrates his undoubted potential with manic montages and genius camera work.

Aidan Donovan is an award-winning writer who produces articles for a number of companies who sell cheap dishwashers.

Comments

  1. Jennifer Wagner says

    Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan was much better than the first Star Trek movie. Same with Superman 2.

  2. VonHaig says

    In no way is Aliens batter than the original. Ridley Scott created a dark and terrifying gothic masterpiece that has inspired a generation of horror and sci-fi makers alike. Cameron made a cheesy but entertaining action movie with shitty dialogue but great action. I would respect your opinion but you give yourself away when you said “his British counterpart” proving that you are nothing more than an American Cameron fanboy.

  3. James Bain says

    See’s? Capture’s? Why not also toy’s, or Silence of the Lamb’s?
    Award-winning writer? The bar must be lower than I imagined. I would have been laughed out of my various school’s, er, schools, if I had ever been that careless.
    I suppose we could write it off to the evolution of English, no?
    Aside from that and others I’d rather not mention, the article does the job…it imparts information. I understand now why many older Chinese are so up in arms about Simplified Chinese, but progress grinds us all into dust, I guess. Carry on.

  4. OliverSudden says

    Please remove the unnecessary uses of apostrophe-s in this otherwise excellent article. They sully the whole thing. There are two “see’s” and a single “capture’s”.

    Rule of thumb: if you merely mean to pluralize a word, or in your case, make the verb agree with the subject, then an apostrophe is not used. Ever.

    Apostrophe-s is for contractions and possessives. Period.

  5. Kurt says

    Good list…but I absolutely can’t believe you didn’t include Back to the Future 2! I was SURE you would have it on the list.

  6. norm says

    I’m with VonHaig, Aliens is a fun movie but Alien is a masterpiece.

    Just to be a movie snob prick, I’ll throw in After The Thin Man.

  7. thejim says

    Empire Strikes Back and LOTR: The Two Towers IMO do count as sequels… Considering the fact that Lucas had the Star Wars saga already planned out way in advance, and all 3 LOTR were filmed back to back…

  8. mc says

    @ VonHaig – You beat me too it. Seeing Aliens ranked higher than Alien immediately discredited the author and the rest of his choices. While it’s not to say all the choices were bad, it is sad to see an “award winning author” fall for such cheesy commercialization of a franchise.

  9. ELBSeattle says

    ‘Alien’ is, far and away, better than its sequel. The story is original, the script very well-written, the action believable, the direction sure-footed and well-paced, the score magnificent. Plus, it is a very smart movie. ‘Aliens’ is its dumb, loud cousin who crashes into everything.

    I also disagree that ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ is better than the original ‘Star Wars.’ In my estimation, each Star Wars pic was at least twice as bad as the one before it, with the more recent three films upping the suck ration by a good power of 10.

    Yes on Godfather II and Terminator II. Big no on Evil Dead 2.

    It seems the thing that makes a movie ‘better’ on this list is simply ‘more things blow up.’ I think there are better things to rate the betterness of a movie by.

  10. jake says

    thank god back to the future was not on this list, i swear people always try and tell me 2 is better but it never comes even close to 1

  11. John says

    Neither Terminator 2 or Aliens are better than Alien or Terminator bigger yes more money spent on them yes two kick ass roles for a woman yes but in terms of story, originality, character, the originals trump their sequels in all counts.

    I Agree about Empire Strikes Back, and about The Dark Knight not sure about Toy Story 2 great movie, but the first one still feels like something special anytime i see it.

    I agree Wrath of Khan and maybe there’s a case for Back to the Future 2 being on here but personally the original is my favourite of the trilogy.

    I also disagree with Jennifer Wagner about Superman 2 being better than the first Superman.

    The others on the list Evil dead 2 saw it barely remember it or the first so no comment, Mad Mel, sorry Mad Max 2 good but can’t remember much about the first to compare them. LOTR The Two Towers, yeah maybe cos of the Battle of Helms Deep but didn’t like the talking trees or the resurrection of Gandalf cheapened his death in for me, I have not not seen any of the Godfather trilogy and don’t really want to so again no comment on the strength of Part 2 over Part 1

  12. Conor says

    Aliens was most assuredly not a better film than Ridley’s Scott’s 1979 Alien. To be sure, it was an extremely well-made sci-fi action/war movie with strong horror elements, but Scott’s was THE defintive sci-fi horror of the age, a masterpiece that was never likely to be bested – and to this day it has not been.

    I agree about The Empire Strikes Back. Both it and Return of the Jedi were better than the original Star Wars, which actually proved the weakest link of the original trilogy.

    I would dispute your categorisation of Silence of the Lambs as a sequel but I agree with you on Mad Max 2, Evil Dead II, The Dark Knight and (probably) Toy Story 2 as being superior to the films that preceded them.

    The Terminator and Terminator 2 I like equally, as I simply adore the gritty style and 80s feel of the original – even though the sequel is clearly a more elaborately-produced feature.

    Godfather Part II, better, equal to or weaker than Part 1. Hmm…Definitely not weaker, but better? I don’t know. I’d need to see the original again before deciding. It’s at least as good.

    Never much cared for the Lord of the Rings movies, so I have no opinions as two whether the first sequel is better or not.

  13. J says

    No way you can say T2 was better than T1, T1 was a far better movie all around. And the Godfather 2 was great because it expanded on the story but to say it was better than1 is a little short sighted. You can’t even put the evil dead 2 on the list, it wasn’t a sequel in the sense that it was a continuation from the last movie, it was essentially a remake. Although it was better than 1 because it had the whole dead by dawn angle and a bigger budget, but it wasn’t a sequel in the traditional sense at all

  14. lobo says

    I totaly agree with VonHaig, you can not compare the atmosphere in Alien with Aliens (cheapy and stupid story). Also the original (and only one creature in the Alien movie) alien creature created by Hans Rudi Giger is far more impresive than the aliens (why did he created a queen alien) in the Aliens movie.

  15. Lauren Glenn says

    How you can leave off Star Trek II is beyond me…. that movie was the best in the first 6 films.

  16. Ryan says

    I personally thought that LOTR : TTT, was the weakest of the three. Fellowship is my favorite.

    I will agree that Dark Knight was better than BB, and even though I do think Terminator is a solid film, T2 was better IMO. I definitely thought Aliens was better than the original as I found Alien to be a bit slow and overrated. Empire Strikes Back is more iconic, but I actually prefer the original Star Wars. First meeting Han Solo, Luke first meeting Yoda and discovering his Jedi capabilities with the help of Obi-Wan, etc..

    I will also add that I am one of the people who actually liked Back to the Future 2 better than the original. As good as BTTF is, I found BTTF2 to be more entertaining. If only for getting that many versions of Biff (my favorite character). My only gripe is that I really don’t like Elizabeth Shue as Jennifer. Claudia Wells was much better in the original. But they did manage to come up with a good workaround for the lack of. Crispin Glover that actually added to the story.

    Finally Superman II is better than the original. Kneel Before Zod!!!

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