Whilst the budget was bigger and the scope was larger, two words can be attributed to the runaway success of Christopher Nolan’s middle Bat-chapter: Heath Ledger. The Joker is the gloriously unhinged anchor on which the rest of the film pivots, and the power of Ledger’s performance is that his presence is felt even when he’s not on screen.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
You get the feeling the first Terminator was an audition for James Cameron to get to the main show, and to this day T2 remains one of the best action films ever made, with eye popping visual effects that for the most part still stand up today. The genius decision to flip Arnie’s character from bad to good cannot be understated, and you’ve got to admire a sequel that tells a full story, rather than cynically hinting at further sequels…whats that, they released three more of these things? Meh, not interested.
Although this marks back to back entries for James Cameron on our list, its a miracle the director was even chosen to continue the franchise Ridley Scott started seven years earlier, and it may never have happened if filming on the first Terminator hadn’t been delayed by nine months. Where the first film created a new space set horror sub-genre, Aliens would do the same for Sci-Fi action films. But while the list of imitators is endless, none have come close to surpassing its perfect mixture of action, horror and suspense, least of which the Alien films that followed.
The Godfather: Part II (1974)
Its an argument that sparks furious debate among many: is The Godfather Part II better than The Godfather Part 1? The fact of the matter is both parts are equally as good, and together they make up one of the all time great stories in cinema. For a long time Francis Ford Coppola’s follow up to his acclaimed original was the only sequel to ever win Best Picture at the Oscars, and it’s not hard to see why the Academy lost there collective shit when you’ve got powerhouse performances from all involved, not least of which Robert Deniro playing a young Don Corleone to memorable effect.
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Its hard to grasp just how colossal an impact this film had when it was first released, just as the original had done back in 1977. Hell, it basically set the template for all sequels that would follow, with everything from The Two Towers to How to Train Your Dragon 2 borrowing its plot structure and darker tone.
So why did it turn out so damn good? The decision for George Lucas to secure full creative control was an important one, as was his choice to relinquish his directing duties, leading the way for Irvin Kershner and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan to craft pure cinema magic. You only have to look at the films countless classic quotes to see that…
“Why you scruffy looking Nerf Herder!”
“Do, or do not, there is no try”
“I love you…I know”
“No, I am your father”
That’s all folks! What sequels do you rate up there with the original? Hit us up on Facebook or in the comments below.