Top-Rated Movie Sequels

Posted on 17 Nov 00:00


It can be a huge challenge for a sequel to a movie to out do the original by building on the original, expanding the story, moving it forward and make it different. Also, a franchise may be on the verge of fading out, needs to be resuscitated, hence, a block buster sequel. Unfortunately, many times, screenwriters recreate old plot points without actually doing any justice to the original with the sequel. However, there are times when sequels eventually come through and are referred to as 'the best' version by movie viewers. Examples of these movies are:  The Dark Knight, The Good, The Bad, and The ugly, and more. Movies like these are known to be better than their predecessors since they take the things that the audience is familiar with and fine-tune then to create mind-blowing results.

This time around, we go on to explore some of the top-rated movie sequels which actually outclassed the original. Here are a few: 


The Godfather Part II (1974)

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola

Cast: Al Pacino (Michael Corleone), Robert Duvall Tom Hagen), Diane Keaton (Kay)...

Released: December 12, 1974

Original: The Godfather (1972)

Cast: Marlon Brando (Don Vito Corleone), Al Pacino (Michael Corleone), James Caan (Sonny Corleone)...

Nominations & Awards: 11 Academy Award nominations, first Best Picture sequel, 6 Oscars

If you are ever engaged in a debate about great sequels, referring to the film drama,  'The Godfather, Part II' could actually put the odds in your favor. Released approximately 24 months after the original, 'The Godfather', which swept the Oscars, and tells a story about Michael Corleone's move from family man all the way to what his wife perceives as a monster who is, necessarily, both corrupt and cold-blooded. The Godfather, Part II has a larger scope and takes us back to the early beginnings of the Corleone's rise. 

Both the original and The Godfather, Part II are considered cinema masterpieces, but amazingly, the sequel, The Godfather, Part II is the better of the two. Sadly. The godfather, Part 3 did not live up to audience expectations. This would have ended up being arguably the best trilogy of all time.


Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan (1982)

Director: Nicolas Meyer

Cast: William Shatner (Captain Kirk), Leonard Nimoy (Spock), DeForest Kelley (Dr.  McCoy)

Released: June 4, 1982

Original - Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley (Dr. McCoy)

Nominations & Awards: 2 Saturn Awards (1982), Best Dramatic Presentation nomination in Hugo Awards (1983).

Many things make this sequel a stand out, but it is the villain, Kahn (Ricardo Montalban) who is the break out star of this movie. Also, what makes this film really good is that the first movie was really bad, a complete let down for Star Trek fans (me included).  Paramount overhauled the entire thing, and Star Trek II:  The Wrath of Khan received a better reception. It definitely deserves to be placed in the hierarchy of movie sequels that are better than the original.


Superman II (1980)

Director: Richard Lester and Richard Donner

Cast: Gene Hackman (Lex Luthor), Christopher Reeve (Superman), Ned Beatty (Otis), Jackie Cooper (Perry White)

Released: December 20, 1980

Original: Superman: The Movie (1978)

Cast: Marlon Brando (Jor-El), Gene hackman (Lex Luthor), Christopher Reeve (Superman/Clark Kent), Margo Kidder (Lois Lane)...

Nominations & Awards: Won the Best Science Fiction Film at the Saturn Awards (1982). Nominated for Best Actor, Beat Actress, Best Music

In Superman II, Clark Kent appears to become a fuller more developed character.  His relationship with Lois Lane displays more depth, as do all the characters (other than Jimmy Olsen who is otherwise fairly one-note gee-whiz in the first two films). Also, the question of time-travel in the first movie is appears to be somewhat of a cop-out, not because Superman shouldn't be able to time travel but because he cannot change events from his own past! There were hard-and-fast rules for this at the time in the books, to prevent Superman from doing just the sort of as he did in the film, and contrasted with the beautiful Krypton from the comics at the time.  This is not say that Superman I wasn't enjoyable, it was, but Superman II seems to have depth.  But that's just my opinion though.


The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Directed by: Irvin Kershner

Cast: Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia)

Released: May 17, 1980

Original: Star Wars (1977)

Cast: Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia)...

Awards & Nominations: 4 Saturn Awards, Hugo Award (Best Dramatic Presentation), Golden Screen Award, nominated for Golden Globe Awards and Grammy

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back hits all the emotional buttons. First it seems like the Empire is about be the galactic superpower. Then we have heroes who have unfortunate circumstances come up. From Princess Leia telling Han “I love you” only to have him frozen and taken to Jabba, and Luke finding out Darth Vader is not only related to him but actually, as in happy Father’s Day! Among the highlights, we meet Yoda and he dives deeper into the force. He begins to train Luke. We also get an Obi-Wan Kenobi force ghost. Not only a paranormal, but one who can interact with the living. Also, Darth Vader is at his cinema best. Storming the rebel base on Hoth. Tormenting Luke, both through the force and physically. Not to mention he chokes and kills his own officers. Filling the movie with flawed characters made the film more complete. The dark themes of loss, regret and betrayal paints this sequel of the beloved movie franchise in a corner that none has come close to. Though both movies are spectacular, it is in sequel to 'Star Wars', 'The Empire Strikes Back, that the characters have grown and developed into more richer characters, and, it is funnier than the original with seriously entertaining over the top plot twists!


Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Director: James Cameron

Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator), Linda Hamilton (Sarah Conner)...

Released: July 1, 1991

Original: The Terminator

Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator), Michael Biehn (Kyle Reese), Linda Hamilton (Sarah Conner)

Nominations & Awards: British Academy Film Awards 91’, Saturn Awards 91’, A.S.C Award

When it comes to storytelling as well as special effects, the original Terminator actually ranks very high. However, with the coming of Terminator 2, we see what is arguably one of the most outstanding action-packed films that will never see. Every single detail is improved upon by James Cameron. Surprising all of us, Arnold Schwarzenegger is a good guy who offers protection to Sarah Connor and her son, John Conner. This time around, Sarah transforms from a scared woman caught off guard by events (in the original), into a fierce warrior and the special effects are just superb. What really stands out in the sequel is how the good guys form a family that we, the audience begin to care for, which adds lots of heart to the story to 'Terminator 2', the sequel.


Toy Story 2 (1999)

Director: John Lasseter, Lee Unkrich, and Ash Brannon

Cast: Tom Hanks (Woody), Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyear)...

Released: November 13, 1999

Original: Toy Story

Cast: Tom Hanks (Woody), Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyear)...

Award & Nominations: 7 Annie Awards, Blockbuster Entertainment Award, nominated for Academy Awards and Saturn Awards

The basic premise of the The Toy Story Story movies very loosely form a series about raising children and coming to realize that as your children get older, you get older too, and a little closer to death with every passing year. The first Toy Story is basically about Buzz who, like a new dad, learning that his needs often have to come second to those of his child.  However, this idea becomes even more potent in the sequel, Toy Story 2 where Woody literally has to accept that his destiny is vaguely utilitarian, that he exists to fill a void in Andy’s life, and eventually, Andy will be done with him. But he can make Andy’s life better in that time, and that will have to be enough. The sequel, Toy Story 2 succeeds in moving the story forward, and adding even more depth to the characters. 


X-Men 2: X-Men United (2003)

Director: Brian Singer

Cast: Patrick Stewart (Professor Charles Xavier, Hugh Jackman (Logan/Wolverine), Ian McKellen (Eric Lehnsherr/Magneto)...

Released: April 24, 2003

Original: X-Men
Cast: Patrick Stewart (Professor Charles Xavier, Hugh Jackman (Logan/Wolverine), Ian McKellen (Eric Lehnsherr/Magneto)...

Awards: Best Science Fiction Film (Saturn Award), Human Rights and Peace Award, Best Dramatic Presentation (Hugo Award).

X-Men 2: X-Men United is an supremely successful successor to the original X-Men because it expands the story so much further, though both films are spectacular, the sequel outshines the original. 


Creating a successful movie sequel is a difficult process with built in audience expectations that must a the very least, match the original, and preferably surpass it surpasses the original, in the eyes of the critics and the public. These are just a few successful movie sequels that were even better than the original.

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