Ten Best Movie Sequels

11 April 2017
M-Net Movies takes a look at ten of the best sequels in movie history.
independence day resurgence

Twenty years after the first movie was released the aliens are back to take over, in Independence Day: Resurgence, your Sunday night movie on 16 April at 20:05 on M-Net. Will it measure up to its predecessor? Here are ten sequels (in no particular order) that not only measured up, but (to many minds) surpassed the original.

  1. Batman Returns (1992)

Tim Burton and Michael Keaton proved their comic book mettle with 1989’s Batman. They topped their success three years later with the film’s sequel, which was darker, grittier and sported memorable characters like The Penguin and Catwoman perfectly portrayed by Danny DeVito and Michelle Pfeiffer.

  1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

The movies in the Marvel cinematic universe (MCU) are more hit than miss; but even when they’re not as good as The Avengers or Iron Man, they tend to deliver on some scale. Winter Soldier tipped the scale back to greatness with a carefully crafted storyline and its excellent exploration of character. Will this year’s MCU movies – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Thor: Ragnarok – measure up? We’ll just have to wait and see.

  1. The Dark Knight (2008)

Talking about excellent characterisation, when it comes to comic book movies no one gets it right quite like Christopher Nolan. The Batman trilogy director proved that comic book heroes can be broody without being camp, mysterious without being confusing, and that “some men just want to watch the world burn”. Nolan continued drawing the definitive Batman/Bruce Wayne out of Christian Bale in this sequel, which gloriously demonstrates the director’s preference for practical effects over CGI. And who can forget Heath Ledger’s depiction of the Joker that was a magnificent, if tragic, swansong to his career.

  1. X-Men 2 (2003)

We can perhaps attribute the current superhero movie mania to Bryan Singer’s X-Men. It set the standard for superhero franchise building on the big screen that could actually be good. It was closely followed by two Spider-man franchises (now going into its third), a brilliant Batman trilogy, the MCU, the DC cinematic universe, and of course, its own acclaimed sequel X-Men 2, which reunited former companions and current foes, Magneto and Professor X, in an action-packed battle against a common enemy.

  1. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

After Tim Burton’s dubious Planet of the Apes remake, fans of the franchise were suspicious of another attempted reboot when Rise of the Planet of the Apes was released in 2011. Much to everyone’s relief, and delight, their suspicions were laid to rest with the brilliant reimagining of the sci-fi classic, supported by excellent motion-capture performances and visual effects. It left fans eager for the sequel. Released three years later, it did not disappoint and will be followed this year by the eagerly anticipated War for the Planet of the Apes.

  1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Could the fantastic time-travelling, cat-and-mouse action of The Terminator be topped? Yes, it could. How exactly did director James Cameron get it right? By following on with his follow up (instead of just rehashing the good bits) and by instilling a time-honoured robot story trope: giving the T-800 some good, old-fashioned feelings. Combined with spectacular doomsday visuals and a tough-as-nails Sarah Connor that would cement the character's place in cinematic history, this is undoubtedly one of the best sequels ever made.

  1. Aliens (1986)

In hindsight, the masterfulness of T2 shouldn’t have been such a surprise, given Cameron’s success with the Alien sequel in 1986. The first film was already a legend in its own right, thanks to Ridley Scott’s slow-burn pace punctuated with explosive horror that gripped you with so much terror everyone could hear you scream. But Cameron upped the ante by avoiding the previously-mentioned pitfall so many sequels fall into – trying to recreate what made the first movie so good – and placing Sigourney Weaver’s tough yet tender Ellen Ripley front and centre of the action.

  1. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

This sequel is packed with emotional moments, not least of which is that pivotal father-son scene. It expanded its characters, ensuring they didn’t become mere pop sci-fi/fantasy clichés. They might exist in worlds other than our own, but they’re eminently relatable. Let’s not forget: it also includes Yoda’s first appearance! Better than that it does not get.

  1. The Godfather II (1974)

Michael Corleone, once so reluctant to join the family business, continues on his path with all the angst required of an anti-hero. Returning to the role is Al Pacino, with Robert DeNiro cast as a younger Vito Corleone. The latter allows us access into the making of a Mafioso, adding further depth to the character made memorable by Marlon Brando. The sequel also marked the first time acting rivals Pacino and DeNiro appeared in the same movie, although they wouldn’t appear together on screen until 21 years later, when they filmed Heat.

  1. Toy Story 2 (1999)

With Toy Story Disney did what Disney does best: they won our hearts. In the sequel, the entertainment giant again proved their ability to render a tale about toys heartwarming with the addition of Stinky Pete and Jessie, continuing its tradition of properly-developed stories and fully-realised characters.

Should Independence Day: Resurgence join this venerated list? Decide for yourself this Sunday 16 April at 20:05 on M-Net.

Alien invasions give you the creeps? Never fear. We have two more Sunday night movie selections for you.

On M-Net Movies Premiere at 20:30 you can watch John Travolta take revenge in I Am Wrath.

On M-Net at 22:35 you can watch the Amazonian-set, Oscar-nominated Embrace of the Serpent.

Which movie will you be watching? Share you selection on social media using #SundayNightMovie.