Last month we gave you the top 10 best sequels. Well this month, we’re continuing the countdown. So, without further adieu, here are the next 10 best sequels ever made.
10. Star Trek: First Contact
That’s right, another Star Trek film on the list. It’s funny how the second entry in the Next Generation film series is also the best. Star Trek: First Contact isn’t just a great Star Trek film, it’s a great sci-fi film all around. Delving deep into Jean-Luc Picard’s PTSD from his time at the hands of the Borg is a stroke of genius, giving us a fantastic and emotional performance at the hands of Patrick Stewart. Brent Spiner also shines as Data - when does he not? And Jonathan Frakes proves to be a very capable and efficient director. The time travel elements are extremely well done. Focusing on humanity’s first flight into hyperspace was a wonderful choice that delves deep into the lore of Star Trek while also echoing our own wonder and excitement for the future. And the action doesn’t disappoint either, giving us some of the best battles seen in any Star Trek media. Everything came together wonderfully in this film; it’s a shame none of the other Next Generation films could stand up to this one.
9. T2: Trainspotting
When they announced a sequel to Trainspotting 10 years after the first film came out, I was understandably worried. But I didn’t need to be, as Danny Boyle knows exactly what he is doing. T2: Trainspotting may not be quite as energetic as the first, but it’s not supposed to be. All of our crazy characters have aged in the past 10 years, and the film leans into that. This is almost a mirror to the first film, reflecting the themes of it, but now echoing them even louder because our characters are older, and have less time to fix their mistakes. Ewen McGregor is stupendous, as is the rest of the cast. Some have grown up, while others have not. It is their life style that will be their undoing, and it is Ewen’s embrace of the true joys of life that save him. This is a very mature and sobering sequel. And it was well worth the wait.
8. Back to the Future: Part II
Back to the Future is a classic film. So how do you follow up such an icon of cinema? Well, if you’re Robert Zemeckis, you double down on the time travel shenanigans and give us an incredible journey that birthed one of the now well-worn tropes of time-travel cinema. Starting off by traveling to the future was wonderful; going the opposite direction of the first film, and giving us a look at a near future we’d never seen before (until 2015). But it is the decision to create an alternate timeline which demands that Marty and Doc Brown go back into the first film itself that cements this film as a genius sequel. Biff-World is a twisted and hilarious satire of the American Dream. The way Marty and Doc interact and avoid with their past selves is hilarious. Everything now has even higher stakes because of the way the timelines have been altered. Countless films have tried to copy this idea since, and none of them are able to do it as well. We owe this film a lot.
7. Toy Story 3
Toy Story 2 is a wonderful film, and a fantastic sequel (look out for it on a later list), but the third film in the franchise really stepped things up. Toy Story 3 proved to be an incredibly emotional roller coast for an entire generation. I, along with my peers, grew up on this franchise. We were Andy. So seeing him grow up and move away to college made us realize how important Woody, Buzz, Jesse, and the rest of the gang truly are to us.
Lotso is quite possibly the best villain in the franchise - with a heartbreaking backstory, impeccable voice acting from Ned Beatty, and a cruel streak that challenges and scares both the toys and audience alike. Buzz’s developing romance with Jesse brings hilarious levity to what is a truly dark and emotional story, as Woody struggles with his feelings of self-worth. But the ending is what pushes the film over the edge, breaking every heart in the theater. And while we may say a teary-eyed ‘goodbye’ to Andy, we know that Bonnie will take great care of our favorite toys.
While From Russia with Love did come before (and it is a fine, fine film), it is Goldfinger that firmly established the look and feel of what a James Bond film should be. Starting off with a rollocking opening action sequence, followed by Shirley Bassey’s incredibly iconic opening song, gave birth to the now classic tradition which every Bond film since has followed. Sean Connery is at his most suave and sophisticated. We finally meet Q and get the very first ever modified spy car in the gorgeous Aston Martin DB5, now an iconic piece of cinema history. Auric Goldfinger is one of the greatest villains in all of film, with a wicked personality, and wonderful lines. His and Bond’s exchange is known throughout the world: “Do you expect me to talk?” “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.” Throw in Pussy Galore for a feisty and strong love interest with a ridiculously sexualized pun of a name, and you have all the ingredients for a classic James Bond film. “Shaken, not stirred.”
5. Kill Bill: Volume 2
When Quentin Tarantino wrote Kill Bill, it was intended as one large film. But by splitting it in two, be birthed one of the best sequels ever. Finishing off the story of the Bride, Quentin makes this film much more of a drama than the first half, focusing on the emotional side of revenge more than the action. It works incredibly well. That’s not to say the film has no action; the fight sequences in this film are fantastic. And the training scenes with Pai Mei are a wonderful homage to classic kung fu cinema of old. But Quentin exchanges a few set pieces for some really great emotional torture, putting Uma Thurman in a box and burying her alive for what was a grippingly tense sequence. Kill Bill: Volume 2 is a fantastic culmination of the Bride’s tale of revenge, and one of the best sequels made.
4. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
The middle film in any planned trilogy can be very tough to nail, but it ain’t no thang to Peter Jackson. Of course, he had help from the greatest storyteller of all time, J.R.R. Tolkien. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers stands tall as one of the greatest sequels ever made. Some might even argue it as being the best of the three films, and for good reason. Picking up at the fall of Gandalf, the film continues the journey of all of our heroes, now separated from each other. The addition of the Riders of Rohan and King Theoden bring a complicated new angle to our adventure, with the rebirth of Gandalf happening just in the knick of time to help. Mary and Pippin encounter the Ents, which are not only beautifully rendered characters, but also give us one of the best action set pieces in the flooding of Isengard. And the attack on Helm’s Deep very all may be the greatest battle ever put on film. But it’s Andy Serkis’ Gollum that steals the show, making the character now synonymous with the actor. There will never ever be a take on Gollum like Andy’s and we are forever indebted to him for it. Thank you Andy. And remember: “Meat’s back on the menu, boys.”
3. The Dark Knight
Christopher Nolan reintroduced Batman to audiences everywhere with Batman Begins. The film not only gave us a fresh new take on the Caped Crusader, but basically set the “realistic” tone for dozens of superhero films to follow. And he took that to the next level with The Dark Knight. Christian Bale may have a more gravely voice, but Health Ledger gave us one of the greatest performances in film history as the Joker. His take is now iconic, and a performance that every subsequent actor who has taken on the role must acknowledge. But it’s Joker’s beliefs that truly challenged not only Batman, but us as the audience as well. Top it all off with incredible IMAX action sequences, and Hans Zimmer’s now iconic score and you have the best Batman film made yet. “Wanna know how I got these scars?”
This is it people. This is the end of the line for Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. The man inhabited the role for 17 years and 9 films, 10 if you want to count the archival footage used in Deadpool. He WAS Logan. And while every film in which he played the character may not have been great, he found the perfect director for his final stretch in James Mangold. The man hasn’t made a bad film. Logan is the perfect send-off for Hugh’s interpretation of the character. Not only was it rated R, finally giving us the berserker Wolverine we always wanted, but it told the most emotional and personal story of all the X-Men films. Newcomer Dafne Keen holds her own next to two titans of acting, giving us a feral, broken, yet loving Laura (aka X-23). Patrick Stewart gives one of the most emotional performances I’ve ever seen. Professor X saying “I’m sorry” at the casino makes me cry every single time. And Hugh Jackman brings everything he’s learned in his entire career to the table, giving this final turn as Logan everything he’s got. He’s violent, dark, unhinged, but most of all, warm at his core. And it all leads up to an ending that is heartbreaking, yet beautiful. This film is a brilliant culmination to Hugh Jackman’s turn as the character.
1. Spider-Man 2
As you can now tell, the top 3 on this list all happen to be superhero films. But that’s alright, because Spider-Man 2 isn’t just one of the best sequels ever made, it’s one of the best superhero films ever made, and just a damn fine film all around. Sam Raimi hits the nail on the head in this follow-up to an already amazing first film (a film that has literally become a classic of the genre). Peter’s rejection of the role as a hero for a chance at normality is wonderfully told in this sequel, borrowing heavily from the classic “Spider-Man No-More” comic story. The cast is impeccable, and the addition of Alfred Molina as Otto Octavius is a stroke of genius. Harry’s obsession with making Spider-Man pay for the death of his father is heartbreaking, and culminates in one of the best scenes in the movie. Not to mention the music and action - particularly the train sequence, which has become an icon of superhero action scenes. This is a perfect sequel and deserves all the praise it can get.