When I was creating ‘The 4: Worst Movie Sequels‘, my research proved that the world of movies is full of mediocre sequels. There were some terrible sequels that ended up on the list, but for the most part, sequels just don’t live up to the original. Did you notice I used the word “most”? That’s because not all sequels are bad. Truth to be told, some sequels are far more superior than the original. When a sequel tops its predecessor, fans are sent into a frenzy! Its no easy task, but these four sequels managed to improve upon the last film. So without further ado, I give you the four best movie sequels of all time.
In 1979 the first Alien film was a box office hit that set the standards for Sci-Fi thrillers moving forward in the early 80s. There’s no way you can top the facehugger and chest bursting alien from the original. Wrong! James Cameron, whose name will be called again later on this list, turned the dark Sci-Fi thriller into an all out action extravaganza in Aliens. Cameron traded-in the single alien story for an alien army led by a queen that took over the planet visited in the first Alien. Everything is taken to the next level in Aliens with numerous shoot outs, double crosses and the breakout performance of Bill Paxton as Hudson. Aliens does not let up once the crew lands on LV-426 and doesn’t let go of your throat until the final showdown with the alien queen. Sigourney Weaver proved she can kick alien butt and get nominated for an Oscar while doing it. Aliens was also nominated for six additional Oscars and turned James Cameron into the “It” director.
Toy Story 3 (2010)
This is for all the people who say I hate all kids movies. Toy Story 3 is one of the best sequels of all time. For one thing, it’s a complete bummer which is an anomaly for kids movies these days. Woody, Buzz and the rest of the Toy Story gang have been abandoned by a much older Andy, just as predicted at the end of Toy Story 2. The toys seek refuge at a day care run by the ruthless Lotso Huggin Bear. The gang fight off brutal toddlers, a manipulative Ken Doll and almost get burned alive. Pretty crazy for a kids movie. Toy Story 3 also manages to have a very sad and happy ending at the same time. Not the easiest task to pull off without being too sappy. Most people think Nolan’s Batman franchise was the first perfect trilogy . They’re wrong. That feat was accomplished by the Toy Story Franchise two years earlier with Toy Story 3.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
Once again James Cameron is involved with a film on this list. What can I say? The guy knows how to make a great sequel. Just like Aliens, it had been seven years since Cameron’s cult classic The Terminator hit theaters with the future Governor of California playing the cyborg from the future on the hunt to kill Sarah Conner. Terminator 2: Judgement Day turns the story on its head when Schwarzenegger’s T-800 is sent back to help the Conner’s rather than terminate them. That honor is bestowed on the scene stealing Robert Patrick as the new T-100. A shape shifting liquid metal Terminator that is out to kill Sarah Conner’s son John. Cameron ditched the low budget stop motion effects for state of the art, computer generated effects that changed the ways movies were made. Plus for all the big action, T2 actually has a great deal of heart. I was crushed as a 14 year old boy when John Conner (Edward Furlong) had to lower his cyborg buddy into the vat of molten steel.
The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Last, but not least one of my favorite movies of all time. Sorry The Godfather: Part II... The Empire Strikes Back set the standard on making a great sequel that is better than the original. What makes The Empire Strikes Back the best sequel ever? Here’s a quick list. AT-ATs, Space Worms, Yoda, Boba Fett, Lando, Carbonite and Luke’s chopped off hand. The Empire Strikes Back also has one of the biggest reveals in movie history when Luke’s paternity tests come back Darth. But what makes The Empire Strikes Back is the bummer ending. The heroes do not prevail. Instead Luke, Lea and Chewie run for their lives after being defeated by the Empire. The guts of George Lucas to have a film end with a cliffhanger which was unprecedented back then. The Empire Strikes Back is the gold standard of sequels that many filmmakers look to as inspiration in their work.