The perfect sequel enhances the characters, themes, and stories that were introduced in the first installment of a series. They should also incorporate the familiarity of the first film, but also offer growth that differentiate it from its predecessor. It seems common these days for movie studios to run series and franchises into the ground with superfluous sequels that are more of a money grab then anything else, but there have been exceptions to this formula, with sequels that have taken a film series to the next level of storytelling and entertainment.
5. Toy Story 2 (1999)
I‘ve talked about the “Toy Story” series in past Top 5’s, but this installment deserves recognition for being Pixar’s first sequel. Often overshadowed by the first and third films, “Toy Story 2” is actually a well developed sequel; it introduced new, likable characters and gave Woody a complex back story. Plus this sequel currently holds the top spot in “Best Movies of All Time” list on Rotten Tomatoes.
4. Aliens (1986)
Audiences couldn’t get enough of Sigourney Weaver blowing up aliens in Ridley Scott’s first installment of the series, leading to a highly successful sequel directed by James Cameron. A film with just as much action as the first, both of these film installments have become sci-fi classics and set the bar for sci-fi special effects.
3. Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004)
Tarantino’s noir, western, and kung-fu-influenced tale of bloody revenge provided an intense and satisfying sequel to “Kill Bill Vol.1.” Uma Thurman returned with a vengeance as The Bride as she got closer to the final showdown with Bill. A violent film with Tarantino’s signature twisted humour, “Kill Bill Vol.2” was a satisfying conclusion to series that also provided depth to Thurman’s character by showing audiences her complete journey from her training to the confrontation audiences were waiting for.
2. The Godfather Part 2 (1974)
The first sequel to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, “The Godfather Part 2” continues to follow the trials of the Corleone family as they operate and profit in crime. To heighten the history of the family, much of the film focuses on the early life of Vito Corleone to provide insight into his start in the world of crime. A large ensemble cast of containing legendary actors including Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Diane Keaton continue this sweeping saga of life in the mafia.
1. The Dark Knight (2008)
When “Batman Begins” opened in theaters, the world was introduced to a new Batman in Christopher Nolan’s gritty and realistic vision of Gotham City. No one expected how far he would take the series in terms of intensity, intelligence, and complexity in “The Dark Knight.” Much of this was in part to Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning performance as The Joker, creating one of the best villains ever to appear on film. “The Dark Knight” surpassed its predecessor with its action sequences and stunts, elevating Nolan’s “Dark Knight Trilogy” into the realms of psychologically provoking cinema.