You can never have too much of a good thing, right? That’s certainly the view of some directors & production companies who capitalise on a film’s success and attempt to re-create it in parts 2, 3, 4, 5 and beyond. A good box office hit? You can almost be certain that there’ll be a sequel within the next two years. Inception 2, anyone?
Some sequels just don’t get it right (Grease 2, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Speed 2… Seriously?!) Some manage to however, and not only match the original, but in some cases surpass it. A sequel should not be immediately dismissed because of its status as such, and here are ten of the best that prove the point.
…when Harry Potter started to get good. As enjoyable as the first two instalments of HP were, it was the third that really managed to pique interest levels. It was dark, scary, involving, revealing, and a blueprint for how subsequent sequels would be. The Harry Potter series got darker and darker as it progressed, but The Prisoner of Azkaban was where it all started and where the ideal balance was achieved.
9. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
Eleven academy awards. Eleven. Surely that’s reason enough for it to be in this list alone? No? Ok. How about the mind-blowing battles, scary, but apparently helpful, ghosts, Gollum flashbacks, personal dilemmas, heartbreaking choices, stunning scenery, perfected special effects and of course the thing that started it all – Gollum’s ‘Precious’. A phenomenal sequel and ending to a trilogy.
Often said to be the best of the James Bonds, Goldfinger has everything that Bond and his audiences need; gorgeous women, gold (the two occasionally combined in a murderous fashion), fast cars, gadgets (including a wet suit that magically fits a tuxedo underneath… and keeps it dry), humour and, of course, Sean Connery.
7. Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom
Raiders of the Lost Ark set the tone. The Temple of Doom raised it and took us to new grotesque heights. If you don’t remember the ritual removing of human hearts, you might recall the meal including monkey brains, eyeball soup and snakes within snakes. Yum. Dark, twisted and deliciously evil, The Temple of Doom allowed Indiana to show us what he really can do.
6. Toy Story 2
Jesse and Bullsye are crucial to Toy Story 2’s place on this list. There’s always the risk that when introducing new characters into a sequel they won’t be as accepted as the tried and tested originals. However Toy Story 2’s additions seemed to complete the toy cast, and gave a beloved character his history. Toy Story was the idea. Toy Story 2 the follow through. And…
5. Toy Story 3
… the rightful ending. An ending which brought everyone’s last days of childhood crashing back. Tears, memories, and frantic searches for long lost plastic friends are what resulted from the final, and long awaited, end to the trilogy. The build-up was huge, and, thanks to Lee Unkrich, it didn’t disappoint. Mark Kermode says that Toy Story is the greatest trilogy ever made, and I might have to agree with him.
4. Batman: The Dark Knight
A name. Heath Ledger. That is all.
3. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
‘I am your father’. Gasp! Shock! Horror! With perhaps the most memorable, unsatisfying yet strangely brilliant ending of the franchise, The Empire Strikes Back gave us the most over-parodied line in history. And boy, do we love it. Add Yoda, a love/hate relationship with Leia & Han, and some of the greatest Star Wars-ian battles, and we have an excellent sequel.
2. Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Armed with bigger guns, more resilient metal work and an in-the-know teenager, Arnie came back. He came back big. Explosions, bad robot, good robot, a woman who can kick ass, a cocky teen, motorbikes, special effects and some brilliant one liners plus we’re now on the same side as Mr. Universe, and surely with those muscles that’s always the wisest place to be.
1. The Godfather: Part II
The first was ground-breaking. The impact, much like an earthquake, shook everyone who saw it to their core. Surely a sequel could not top it? Could not match or surpass Brando’s performance as the Godfather? Could not come close to its frank exploration of the Mob? Wrong. Part II topped it. Al Pacino made a brilliant but sinister Godfather, seeming to verge on the brink of psychosis with his belief of absolute power. As for the frank exploration of the mob, the flashback that ran parallel to Pacino’s storyline told us all we needed to know of the original Don Corleone. A brilliant film that continued on seamlessly from its predecessor, and surpassed it in many ways, put both Pacino & De Niro firmly at the top of their game, and the world of cinema today would be very different without it.