Making a sequel can be hard work. You need new material, while still keeping just the right amount of what made the first one so special. So it’s no wonder that so many haven’t been up to par. But every once in a while you find one that is just as good, if not, even better than the first film. Here are 10 of the best sequels ever made.
10. Creep 2
Creep was a shocking delight of a film. Mark Duplass is normally such a charming actor to watch, but he turns that charm into a disturbing calmness in these films. The sequel doubles down on the found footage concept while also giving us a little more insight into the life… and deranged mind of Duplass’ serial killer Aaron (if that even is his real name).
9. Rocky II
The first film was a brilliant story about a down on his luck boxer who was given a shot at the title. Rocky Balboa won the hearts of millions and won the first film the Academy Award for Best Picture. While the second film didn’t win Best Picture, it was nominated, thanks to its human story of the once unknown boxer now trying to live a semi-normal life after becoming world famous, all while also training for the inevitable rematch.
8. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
While the first Star Trek film has some incredible sci-fi concepts, it is sorely lacking in the excitement department. But once Khan set his sights on Captain (now Admiral) Kirk in this sequel, all bets were off. Aside from giving us the truly memorable moment of Kirk shouting out “KHAAAAN”, this film also gives us three incredibly memorable performances (William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and Ricardo Montalban), an amazing starship battle in a nebula, and culminates in one of the most memorable death scenes in cinema history. “You have been, and shall always be my friend.
7. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
One of only two sequels to ever win Best Picture at the Academy Awards, the third Lord of the Rings film brings Peter Jackson’s trilogy to an epic, emotional, and wholly satisfying ending. Even without the awards, how many third films can say that?
6. Terminator 2: Judgement Day
“Come with me if you want to live”. That’s what Kyle Reese said to Sarah Conner in the first Terminator film and now Arnold is telling her son, John Conner, the same thing in the sequel. This film not only made Sarah Conner an even bigger badass, and ratcheted the action and machoism up to 11, but also broke CGI barriers by giving us the liquid metal T1000!
5. Evil Dead 2
If you thought the first film was a bloody and funny ride, then this film doubles, no, triples down on the laughs and the gore. This film starts as a slight re-telling of the first film, only to then deviate and give you one hell of a crazy, hilarious ride. Is your furniture laughing at you? It might be after watching this film! Evil Dead 2 brought both actor Bruce Campbell and director Sam Raimi to the forefront of horror history.
4. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Back when this was released, it was officially the SECOND Star Wars film. And oh boy, did it blow everyone’s socks off! Expanding on the plight of the Rebels, doubling down on the evil of Vader and the Empire, revealing the wisdom fo Yoda, and giving us one of the most iconic film moments of all time: “I am your father.” It’s perfect.
3. Paddington 2
This film is so incredibly adorable it is quite literally impossible to dislike. But don’t let the charm fool you. This is an extremely well written and overall well crafted film. It adds to the whimsical nature of Paddington’s world while still bringing all the sweetness, politeness, and tears fans of the first film could want.
This film does exactly what every great sequel should do: it drops your characters into new, yet somehow familiar territory, expands on the world, doubles the scares, doubles the action, and doesn’t forget to have incredible character development along the way. James Cameron gives us hundreds of aliens. And then, when we think he’s spoiled us enough, he gives us… The Queen, culminating in one of the most memorable ending action scenes ever put on film. “Get away from her, you bitch!”
1. The Godfather: Part II
The Golden standard when it comes to sequels. An epic of both forward and reverse storytelling, this is the only other sequel to have ever won an Academy Award for Best Picture. From the music, to the acting, to the cinematography, every element of this film is at the peak of its craft.