The LEGO Movie 2 is hitting theaters later this week, and it looks to be a strong follow-up to the critically acclaimed original released in 2014. Sequels, reboots, and remakes are common in Hollywood today, and it’s easy to identify many of them as money grabs if the first movie had box-office success. But there have been excellent sequels over the years, with the majority of great sequels coming out over a decade ago. Several classics lead the best movie sequels of all-time for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday.
10. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)
The only movie released in the last decade to make the list is 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. With a new director (Matt Reeves) and a different set of stars for the human characters—instead of being led by James Franco, the cast was stacked with Keri Russell, Jason Clarke, and Gary Oldman leading the way—from the first film of the rebooted trilogy (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), the sequel seamlessly picked up the action ten years later. As the middle installment, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes helped make this Planet of the Apes trilogy live up to the original films.
9. Batman Returns (1992)
Batman Returns had major expectations after the huge success and fever-pitch love for the Caped Crusader after Batman was a hit in 1989, but it’s now seen as a cult classic of sorts. Michael Keaton had another strong performance in his last as Batman, while Danny DeVito (as the Penguin) and Michelle Pfeiffer (as Catwoman) were very good villains, especially considering they had to follow up Jack Nicholson’s performance as the Joker in Batman. Many parents didn’t like the film, and some criticized Tim Burton for making Batman Returns too dark, but Burton himself doesn’t believe the sequel was any darker than the original.
8. The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
The Bourne Ultimatum was arguably the best Jason Bourne movie of the original trilogy, but The Bourne Supremacy was initially not going to happen after 2002’s The Bourne Identity. It did, and Matt Damon and the cast delivered high-speed and intense action while keeping things realistic compared to some of today’s action movies. Along with the action, The Bourne Supremacy had depth with politics and layered characters to build on the breakout start from the first film of the series.
7. Toy Story 2 (1999)
It’s hard to top a groundbreaking classic like Toy Story, but Disney Pixar followed up the 1995 hit with another classic four years later. Toy Story 2 built on Toy Story by doing deeper into the characters and their relationships with each other while still delivering nice and funny moments to continue making it suitable for all ages. Some even argue the second movie is better than the original.
6. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
After Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, the epic fantasy story picked back up with The Two Towers releasing just a year later. At 3 hours and 55 minutes, The Two Towers is slightly longer than the original, but all that time was needed to tell J.R.R. Tolkien’s story on the big screen—and the film was initially intended to be two films, so director Peter Jackson and the crew did a fantastic job of putting everything together into a widely praised feature.
5. For A Few Dollars More (1965)
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (the third installment) is arguably the best of Clint Eastwood’s Dollars Trilogy (as might be the case with a few films on this list), but this TTT focuses on the second films as direct sequels to the originals. For A Few Dollars More probably has the best villain of the trilogy in El Indio, but they’re all classic spaghetti westerns with good plots and characters led by Eastwood’s “The Man with No Name”.
4. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
For the most part, critics and fans appear to disagree on The Terminator versus Terminator 2: Judgement Day, as most critics seem to prefer the original while most fans are in favor of the sequel. Regardless, T2 is one of the greatest summer action blockbusters of all-time. T2 has amazing special effects, exceptional acting led by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, and Robert Patrick—and James Cameron was able to give a movie about futuristic robots some serious heart.
3. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
During its time, The Empire Strikes Back was not looked at by many the same way it’s looked at today (as one of the best movies of all-time). The second installment of the Star Wars saga after A New Hope introduced both Yoda and the Emperor, with the film mostly following the powerful Darth Vader tracking down Han Solo, Princess Leia, and the others before ultimately delivering a great lightsaber battle and one of the best twists in movie history.
2. The Godfather Part II (1974)
In the discussion for the greatest film of all-time, The Godfather Part II somehow pulled off the impossible and lived up to—if not surpassed—The Godfather. While the original featuring Marlon Brandon as the Don gets the nod as the better of the two for many fans and critics, the lack of Vito Corleone’s (and Sonny Corleone’s) presence did not diminish the present-day storyline featuring Michael Corleone, as Al Pacino had a legendary performance as the conflicted crime boss in Part II. And the past storyline of young Vito Corleone with Robert De Niro was perfectly woven into the story to help make the film another instant classic and the first sequel to ever win Best Picture.
1. The Dark Knight (2008)
While The Godfather parts I and II stand together as perfect cinema masterpieces, The Dark Knight clearly stands out among Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, which is aptly named The Dark Knight Trilogy after the second movie of the trio. Batman Begins was excellent and laid the groundwork for Bruce Wayne becoming Batman, but things were taken to another level with The Dark Knight. Heath Ledger posthumously won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his work as the Joker, as he delivered a jaw-dropping performance that might never be matched for any movie villain. Christian Bale’s conflicted performance in the lead is in some ways similar to Al Pacino’s performance in The Godfather Part II, and he’s remarkable as both Bruce Waye and Batman. The entire cast is truly exceptional, and the film can stand alone as one of the best crime dramas of all-time even without the Batman and Gotham City backdrop. The Dark Knight is so good that it doesn’t even feel like a sequel.