There’s a common piece of wisdom which is applied to making entertainment products, and to life in general; you should never go back. You should never go back to a previous relationship, you should never return to an old job, and you should never make a sequel to a successful film unless it was part of the original plan. Hollywood history is littered with examples of producers and actors being tempted to go back and make a second film because of the success of an original production, and then wishing they hadn’t. If the whole story was told in the first installment, there’s often no justification in the plot for following up on it no matter how big the potential payday is.
As with all rules, though, there are exceptions. Sometimes, a sequel or spin-off can be bigger and better than the original. Compare the success and longevity of ‘Frasier’ to ‘Cheers’ in the world of television. In video games, ‘Street Fighter 2’ was a global hit on a scale that the first ‘Street Fighter’ never was. Mobile slots have exceptions too; the first ‘Rainbow Riches’ redefined the Irish genre of online slots, but its sequels are more innovative and equally popular. Even ‘Fluffy Favourites,’ – one of the most popular mobile slots in history – has been expanded and improved upon by subsequent sequels. Mobile slots websites lose money when they release bad slots, and so they only produce sequels when they know they have a quality product to offer. Thankfully, some movie companies share the same ethics.
Here are five brilliant movie sequels which eclipsed what came before them!
The Godfather Part II
Yes, this is an obvious one. It’s so obvious that we’re getting it out of the way early. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s not just better than the first film – depending on your tastes, you might even consider it to be the greatest movie ever made. It’s certainly the best movie Al Pacino’s ever made. What makes ‘The Godfather Part II’ so worthy of praise is that the original movie is also an all-time classic. It’s easy to improve on an original film if the original wasn’t up to much, but ‘The Godfather’ was fantastic. Somehow, Francis Ford Coppola managed to raise the game in the sequel. Maybe it was the incredible work of Robert di Niro balancing out Pacino. Perhaps it was the way it took everything that was good about the first film and expanded on it, making the gritty characters more three-dimensional. Maybe it was just cinematic magic. In any event, the Academy agreed – this was the first sequel film ever to collect the ‘Best Picture’ Oscar.
From Russia With Love
There have been so many James Bond movies that it’s almost odd to think of there being an original – the franchise is so old that it’s been around for longer than most of us have been alive. There was a first Bond movie, though, and it was ‘Dr. No’ in 1962. That made ‘From Russia With Love’ a sequel, and arguably one of the most important in the history of film. Think about this:- if ‘From Russia With Love’ had been awful, the Bond franchise would have stopped there and then in 1964. Someone else may have come and tried it again a few years later, but we wouldn’t have all those wonderful Sean Connery and Roger Moore films. In this particular film, Connery makes the role his own. Everything about his performance oozes menace and charisma at the same time, and a legend is born.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
‘Star Trek’ is a huge property these days. The TV show ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ drives sales for CBS All Access, there’s a new show called ‘Picard’ in the pipeline, and we’ve had well over a dozen films including a 21st-century reboot helmed by J.J. Abrams. It wasn’t always this way. The first ‘Star Trek’ TV series might be regarded as classic now, but it was canceled in the 1960s. The first attempt to turn it into a series of films with ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’ resulted in a gluey mess of a film that pleased nobody. It was surprising that it even got a second chance, but we’re glad it did. ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’ is an action movie in space. It has scale, drama, iconic quotes, and memorable scenes. It’s everything the first film wasn’t, and it secured a future for Gene Roddenberry’s creation that continues to this day. Without ‘Star Trek II,’ there’s no ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation,’ no Borg, and no stardom for Patrick Stewart.
The Dark Knight
This could all have gone so wrong. The ‘Batman’ franchise was in terrible trouble when Christopher Nolan took it over; Val Kilmer’s interpretation of the character in ‘Batman Forever’ had wounded it, and George Clooney almost killed it off two years later in ‘Batman & Robin.’ The new, darker Batman created by Nolan and played by Christian Bale brought it back from the brink in 2005. Three years later, ‘The Dark Knight’ was released, and became the greatest ‘Batman’ ever made. Bale was excellent as the caped crusader again, but Heath Ledger gave the performance of his tragically-short career as the Joker, and became the measuring stick by which all other Jokers will be judged. Ledger’s Joker is genuinely unsettling, and his insanity is believable instead of being played for laughs like so many of his predecessors. The film is brutal, uncompromising, and phenomenal.
Terminator II: Judgement Day
This, for us, is the definitive example of a sequel outperforming an original creation. There was nothing particularly wrong with the first ‘Terminator,’ but there was nothing outstanding about it, either. It was just another sci-fi thriller, no bigger than ‘Blade Runner,’ and largely seen as inconsequential. ‘Terminator II,’ by contrast, was a major cinematic event. Even now, there are still people trying to make ‘Terminator’ films which can stack up to this one. None have managed it so far, and the latest contenders don’t look likely to succeed either. This film took Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career to the next level. It gave the world the phrase ‘Hasta la vista, baby.’ It turned ‘I’ll be back’ into a meme long before anyone knew what a meme was. Yes, it was 90% special effects and things exploding, but it was things exploding done well. By turning the ‘bad guy’ from the first film into the ‘good guy’ in the second, it flipped the narrative on its head and became more than the sum of its (robotic) parts. ‘Terminator II’ is, in our eyes, the greatest movie sequel of all time.