Creating a sequel that is better than the original, especially when the original is already a top-rated film, is no doubt a difficult task.
Sometimes the goal is simply to keep a franchise relevant, while other times they aim to revive a fading franchise. Sometimes screenwriters fall back on old plots and reuse them with some twist. Other times studios bet on visual and sound effects to lure moviegoers into theaters.
Some of the best sequels ever made are also among the greatest films ever made – “The Dark Knight,” “The Godfather: Part II,” are such examples.
Sequels that are better than the original build on what fans already know and love about the characters.
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
Like its two predecessors — “The Bourne Identity” and “The Bourne Supremacy” — “The Bourne Ultimatum” is also certified Fresh by Rotten Tomatoes. “The Bourne Ultimatum” is the top-rated film of the five Jason Bourne movies. Matt Damon plays the titular Jason Bourne, a trained killer with no memory on a mission to find out who he is and who is out to get him.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
The third film of the Indiana Jones franchise enlisted legendary actor Sean Connery to play Jones’ (Harrison Ford) father. This time, Indy and his allies must prevent the Nazis from acquiring the Holy Grail. The pairing of Connery and Ford met approval of critics who liked the fact that the sequel was “lighter and more comedic than its predecessor,” according to Critics Consensus on Rotten Tomatoes. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade received a Freshness rating of 88% from critics, while 94% of audiences liked the movie.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
James Cameron’s early directorial effort “The Terminator” (1984) was a huge success — it currently has a perfect Freshness score on Rotten Tomatoes. As he did with the first movie of the series, Cameron similarly delivered an action-packed and visually exceptional sequel with “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (1991).
The movie would win four Oscars in the visual, makeup, and sound effects categories.
The Dark Knight (2008)
Director Christopher Nolan reinvented the world of Gotham City with his dark and atmospheric “Batman Begins” (2005). He improved it with “The Dark Knight,” thanks in part to the work of actors Christian Bale, Aaron Eckhart, and the late Heath Ledger, who delivered an iconic and Oscar-winning performance as the Joker. On Rotten Tomatoes, both critics and audience members gave it a 94% approval rating.
The Godfather: Part II (1974)
The Godfather: Part II is widely hailed as one of the greatest films of all time. The film chronicles Vito Coreleone’s (Robert De Niro) rise to power in the Mafia along with the struggle of his son (Al Pacino) to maintain power decades later.
The film won six Oscars,including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor for De Niro, and Best Director for Francis Ford Coppola.
Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
“The Empire Strikes Back” built upon the smash-hit success of the original Star Wars film “A New Hope.” The film delivers classic lines, memorable characters, amazing new planets, and one of the greatest twists in film history.
“The Empire Strikes Back” is the top-rated entry in the beloved Star Wars franchise, based on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes ratings. The movie has a 94% approval rating on the latter site.