Top 10 Sequels Of All Time

Rodney Twelftree takes a look at the best sequels of all time and finds that many part twos are actually better than the films they follow. What is your favourite sequel?

Other Top 10s on that you might like: Top 10 1980s films that need a sequel | Top 10 Sequels of the 1980s | Top 10 Part 3s that are better than Part 2s

Do you recall that scene in “Scream 2”, where Jamie Kennedy’s character imparts his words of wisdom to a class of students (and so, to us) as to the rule of film sequels? About what must be done to achieve a perfect sequel? Admittedly, the “Scream” formula itself began to run out of puff after the first film, but it laid the groundwork for this top 10 list, namely the 10 best sequels ever made. Thankfully, this list automatically excludes the “Police Academy” and “Look Who’s Talking” films, so you can rest easy.

The art of a sequel is a formula that’s pretty rare in Hollywood circles. Of the multitude of sequels and remakes released each year by major studios, they usually follow the faithful Law of Diminishing Returns, that is, the film never makes as much money as the original, especially if the sequel is no good. However, sometimes, a sequel comes along that is actually an improvement on the original film. These rare instances are to be treasured, for while a good film is something to behold, a film that actually improves upon the original is akin to lightning striking twice in the same place. So, without further ado, let’s see what we can come up with as we list our Top 10 Sequels of All Time.

10. The Mummy Returns (Sommers, USA, 2001)

the mummy returns brendan fraser

As an unabashed fan of the original Karloff Mummy movie, I was quite jazzed to hear that Universal were going to retool the franchise for modern audiences. Advances in CGI and digital technology would allow for more realistic monsters and mummy’s to be portrayed on screen. Stephen Sommers’ take on “The Mummy” was an action/adventure smash hit, so it was inevitable that a sequel would be made. Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz had a genuine spark together on screen, and the storyline of the original film was well conceived, if somewhat corny. The cheese factor of “The Mummy” didn’t appeal to plenty of hard-core fans of the original Mummy movies, but I didn’t mind it. I was happy as Larry to hear a sequel would be made, not only bringing back the entire original cast, but also throwing in pro-wrestler The Rock (now known as Dwayne Johnson, a dreadfully dodgy moniker for Hollywood if ever there was!) and newcomer Freddie Boath. I’ll admit to being completely blown away in the cinema when I saw this: the film moves with the speed and ferocity of an out-of-control freight train, had the logic and common sense of a room full of skun cats, and is so cheesy and clichéd you can almost smell the fromage leaping from the screen. “The Mummy Returns” isn’t in any way, shape or form a great film, let’s state that right here. But by comparison to the original, it takes the characters and events of “The Mummy” and ratchets them up to 11, delivering an eye-candy spectacle that delivers on every Law Of Sequels imaginable. [Oh, there’s one possible caveat to that, and it’s the all-CGI Scorpion King in the film’s finale, which is quite possibly one of the most horrendous acts of digital eye-rape ever perpetrated on an audience (after Jar Jar Binks, probably). While you’d think this badly produced CGI character would see “The Mummy Returns” removed from our list, I think the sheer exuberance of the preceding two hours of film will mitigate any negative thoughts towards that result.]

9. Blade II (Del Toro, USA, 2002)

blade 2 vampire horror wesley snipes

Slick, well made follow-up film to Wesley Snipes-starring “Blade”, “Blade II” is helmed by former Hobbit director Guillermo Del Toro, a man with a penchant for the unique and bizarre. The original “Blade”, directed by David Norrington, had introduced cinema-goers to the half-vampire, half-human Blade, a man who hunted vampires with a lot more passion than Buffy ever mustered. With the sequel, Del Toro took everything Norrington nearly got right and improved it, including more fierce villains (the Reapers) and one of the best knock-down drag out brawls to climax a film I’ve seen since Van Damme did “Bloodsport”. Okay, perhaps not since then, but the finale of “Blade II” is pretty damn cool. The Blade character is near perfect actor-for-role casting with Wesley Snipes, the actor stepping into the hunters shoes effortlessly. Del Toro directs this film with every cinematic trick in the book. The camera sweeps and swoops through the film like a dervish, a breathlessly edited montage of blood, action and atmospherics. There’s a few of you who will probably sneer at the inclusion of “Blade II” in this list, but I think it’s a better film as a whole than Norrington’s original. The story is more epic, the action a lot more sweetly filmed, and the effects are first rate. In terms of spectacle, story twists and genuine cinematic chutzpah, “Blade II” is dynamite.

8. Spider-Man 2 (Raimi, USA, 2004)

spider-man spiderman film sam raimi 2 II

Take a hero, put him through the wringer, and give him a more powerful villain to face, and your sequel will be better than the original film. That’s the mantra of “Spider-Man 2”, the Sam Raimi-directed blockbuster following on from 2002’s “Spider-Man”. The sequel did a number of things to the “Spider-Man” film legacy: it was a direct continuation of the original film, with many of the original cast reprising their roles allowing for greater continuity and a development of story arcs, it gave us a more sympathetic villain in Doctor Octopus, a grieving scientist who tries to take revenge for the death of his wife, and a development of the Peter Parker/Mary Jane Watson love story. Cannily crafting all elements of this massive story together took class and balance, something Raimi achieved in the original film and perfected here. Unfortunately, “Spider-Man 3” saw Raimi’s (and the franchise’s) downfall, with it’s copious villains and decidedly cartoonish narrative, leaving “Spider-Man 2” as the classiest of the franchise’s sequels. Action packed and dramatically sound, “Spider-Man 2” is the best of the Raimi-directed franchise entries.

7. Superman II (Lester, USA, 1980)

superman 2 top sequels film movie richard donner

Buy the two-film set on DVD from that features the original version and Richard Donner’s abandoned cut – click here to be taken to

With Richard Donner’s blockbusting re-imagining of the “Superman” mythos in cinema in the late 70’s, a sequel was inevitable. So inevitable, that the producers decided to shoot two films at the same time, with the intent of releasing the second one a year after the first. However, problems behind the scenes (which are too complex to go into here) caused Donner to leave the sequel’s production schedule midway through, allowing fill-in director Richard Lester time to come in and claim credit for “Superman II”. Where the first film introduced Superman and the world he lived in, Lex Luthor and an aversion to Kryptonite, “Superman II” ratcheted up the action and pathos at the expense of character development and charm. Essentially a 2 hour action spectacle, this film features everything you’d want to see in a “Superman” film: powerful villains that Superman has no chance of defeating without being sneaky, a major fight sequence in a major city, massive special effects, the near-destruction of The White House, and copious footage of Superman doing super-things. Oh, and Lois Lane discovers his secret identity and sleeps with him. Yeah, that too. While further sequels gradually rob Christopher Reeve of the lustre playing this iconic role, “Superman II” is a near-perfect follow-up to the original film. Not only does it keep the characters introduced in film one, but it allows their characters to grow somewhat (although, with that controversial super-kiss at the end, makes everything redundant anyway) and provides a certain level of continuity. The Richard Donner-filmed action set-pieces still boggle the mind with their incredible realism, because unlike most action films of today, they actually filmed a lot of the stuff for real, instead of creating it in a computer. I believe this film has, to date, the best Superman Film Action Sequence ever made (the city brawl).

6. Aliens (Cameron, USA, 1986)

aliens james cameron best sequel film movie

Discover more on Full review of Aliens | Classic Scenes #5: Aliens | Top 10 Marines in Aliens

Ballsy, action-packed sequel to Ridley Scott’s “Alien”, sees the return of Ellen Ripley to the planet humanity first encountered the nasty, acid-for-blood killing machines. James Cameron, fresh from his stint directing “The Terminator”, came on board to steer the “Alien” franchise in a new direction, and he did so exceedingly well.

Cameron took what Ridley Scott had done, and injected a boat-load of testosterone into it, giving us a group of battle-hardened space Marines going to rescue some colonists on a distant planet. It seems they’ve gone missing, and the company which owns the colony seems to think they may have run into the alien life forms Ellen Ripley encountered on the Nostromo in the previous film. Ripley is persuaded to tag along as a consultant, although of course they’re all going to be stranded on the planet’s surface to face off against the alien creature. Oh wait. Cameron added something. It’s “creatures”, plural. Hundred of aliens now swarm through the colony outpost, and with limited ammunition and a rapidly decreasing time-frame with which to effect an escape, Ripley and her Marine buddies must simply try surviving long enough to find a way off the planet.

Much like its originator, “Aliens” is a slow burn exercise in terror, with Cameron not even getting to the first alien attack until at least an hour into the film. This build-up of tension is exquisitely handled, leaving the viewer to get to know the characters and their nuances, prior to them all being ripped asunder by the alien creatures. Cameron handles this with consummate ease, his ability to generate tension on screen by using the unseen (in this case, using the motion sensor plot device from the previous film a lot more eloquently than Ridley ever did) to heighten tension and terror; before exploding into the action and giving the audience the long awaited release of adrenaline. “Aliens” is relentless, a heart pounding narrative with delicate balance of character and action, and some of the most quoted lines in cinema history. This film is by far superior to the original, and remains one of the greatest science fiction films ever made.

5. The Matrix Reloaded (Wachowski Bros, USA, 2003)

matrix reloaded film top10films keanu reeves laurence fishburne

I know I’m going to cop some flack in the comments for this, but I really rate Reloaded as a sequel. The first Matrix film was awesome, let’s make no mistake about that, but the sequel allowed Andy and Larry Wachowski the opportunity to open up and let rip. Massive fight sequences, car chases and some state-of-the-art special effects, as well as continuing the mind bending storyline started by the first film, Reloaded was initially applauded by the fanboys and critics alike, before succumbing to general scowling and gnashing of teeth in the wake of it’s immediate sequel, “The Matrix Revolutions”, a film I have very little time for. “Reloaded” is bold, dynamic filmmaking, a blisteringly action yarn coupled with more of the Brothers’ trademark set-pieces. Epic in every sense of the word. Oh, and will somebody please make the Wachowski’s direct a Superman film at some stage? Thank you.

4. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (Cameron, USA, 1992)

terminator 2 judgment judgement day james cameron film top1 10 sequels

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Louder, more explosive, technically revolutionary and where possible just terrific entertainment, “Terminator 2: Judgement Day” (or more fondly known simply as T2) is the second sequel to be directed by James Cameron to appear in this list. Improvements in digital effects allowed Cameron to create a startling new villain in Robert Patrick’s T1000, a model much higher up the evolutionary ladder than the older Arnold Schwarzeneggar version from the original film. Convoluted time travel science aside, T2 is a superior film than it’s predecessor for simple scale and achievement. Buildings are destroyed, highways turn into shooting galleries, and Arnold once again strides into a bar to steal the right size apparel. Cameron’s mastery of action and tension in this film is incredibly powerful, his use of CGI sparing (considering how clunky it looks by today’s standards, I think it holds up well) but well executed, and the perfect use of Arnold’s physique and “acting” ability make T2 a defining schism in action movie history. A genuine classic.

3. The Empire Strikes Back (Kirshner, USA, 1980)

empire strikes back george lucas star wars film

Long considered the most complete entertainment venture of all the “Star Wars” films, “Empire” has often made Top 10 lists with relative ease. The Law Of Sequels is writ large with this entry into our list, as every possible element you could want in a follow-on film exists: ‘badder’ villains, more complex storylines and character development, greater danger and stakes, and better special effects. When George Lucas decided to hand the role of directing the sequel to his former collegiate professor, Irvin Kershner was immediately reluctant to take on the job, but was persuaded by both Lucas and his own agent. Of the Star Wars films, I consider “Empire” to be the most character driven, with Luke’s education about becoming a Jedi, and the love story between Han and Leia, being the most dominant elements. The “Star Wars” mythology is expanded without becoming “monster of the week”-esque, an issue Star Trek fans had often felt was the problem with the TV show and the following feature films. It is the film’s central character arc, however, that really makes this the best of the six Star Wars films: the journey of Luke Skywalker to discover who he is, who his lineage and ancestry is. Featuring quite possibly one of cinema’s greatest twist endings (now rendered moot by the more recent prequel trilogy), “Empire Strikes Back” remains one of the great science fiction films of all time, and justly one of the best sequels ever made.

2. Toy Story 2 (Lasseter, USA, 1999)

toy story 2 john lasseter pixar top 10 sequels film movie

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When the original “Toy Story” was released midway through the 90’s, it unleashed a revolution in digital filmmaking that’s been felt ever since. It also introduced the general public to Pixar Animation, a film studio which had, until then, remained hidden from mainstream audiences, but had been in existence in it’s current format sine 1986. With “Toy Story”, the first animated film created entirely inside a computer, audiences were amazed at what they achieved (and still are, to be honest!). Ever since, Pixar has continued to dominate the world of CGI animation, with hit after hit after hit released almost every single year. However, their first direct sequel, was originally never going to be a theatrical film. Pixar’s distribution partner, the Disney Corporation, initially wanted Toy Story 2 to be yet another of their cheap-and-fast DTV sequels; at least that was the plan, until they started to see the first results on screen. “Toy Story 2” took the original characters of Woody, Buzz and the gang, and improved on them from the first film, both story-wise and in the level of animation. It raised the bar not only for other studio’s to follow, but for Pixar’s genius storytelling wizards to aspire to. And, thankfully, they’ve been achieving greatness ever since. “Toy Story 2” remains one of the finest animated films ever made.

1. The Dark Knight (Nolan, USA, 2008)

the dark knight christpoher nolan best sequel films

Could Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises live up to the quality of The Dark Knight – find out in our review

Criminally robbed during the 2009 Oscar season for Best picture, “The Dark Knight” is one of the finest films made in the last decade. Christopher Nolan set the bar pretty high with his Batman revamp, “Batman Begins”, in 2005. The success of that film led to his rehiring as director in the inevitable sequel, which in comic-book film terms, was a genuine test for the British born Nolan, as the added pressure of not only continuing his remarkably well conceived new Gotham City story, but improving upon it led fans into a fever pitch. The cast from the original film were to return, allowing a sense of continuity (which has begun to become more commonplace in today’s world of multi-film contracts), as well as newcomers to the franchise Heath Ledger (as the Joker), Maggie Gyllenhall (replacing Katie Holmes as Bruce Wayne’s love interest) and Aaron Eckhart (as Gotham City’s DA, Harvey Dent). However, it wasn’t until early footage of Ledgers portrayal of the iconic Joker character was released that people began to get very excited. Indeed, up until Ledger’s death, most of the marketing and preamble for the film had been centred around his character. So when Ledger died, it added not only a somewhat melancholic tinge to the film’s release, but it also ensured an audience. People wanted to see Ledger’s final film.

Fortunately, the film not only lived up to expectations, it surpassed them. The Dark Knight was gritty, urban, violent and as far from Joel Schumacher’s “nipples on the bat suit” debacle from years prior as you could get. The story itself, of a maniacal Joker flitting about Gotham causing mayhem, with Batman caught up in a gang war as well as escalating public backlash, made this film quite possibly the finest comic book film ever created. How this film was overlooked for even a nomination for Best Picture at the Oscars should be investigated by the FBI as an offence against humanity.

Written and compiled by Rodney Twelftree

Your turn – what is your favourite film sequel of all time?

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Top 10 Sequels of the 1980s

About the Author
An Aussie lad with a love of cinema, Rodney Twelftree parlayed his interest in films into a website dedicated to reviewing them. Currently Editor In Chief at, Rodney spends much of his time watching films, television, reading science fiction novels and trawling the internet for news and reviews on all things film.

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  1. Avatar
    Encore Entertainment Reply

    I still say I really like Spider Man 3. Yes, it’s the worse of the lot but I still find it fun and well intentioned. (Shrugs)

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    Walter Reply

    Back to the Future 2?

    The Godfather Part 2?

  3. Avatar
    Dan Reply

    I’m glad Rodney tackled this one as I would have been hard-pushed to choose a list of 10, but I’m in agreement with many of his choices even if I would order them slightly differently.

    @Encore: Keep an eye out for another sequels top 10 that might interest Part 3 Lovers!

    @Walter: Back To The Future Part 2 is great ( – it’s in my Top 10 80s sequels list). Of course, Godfather Part 2 is a classic and I think I’d have to find a place for it in my own top 10 as I would for Mad Max II, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Dawn of the Dead.

  4. Avatar
    Castor Reply

    You made a terrible omission!! The Godfather II 🙂 Another one that people may not think of immediately: Clear and Present Danger (really underrated, loved it!)

  5. Avatar
    Darren Reply

    I probably would have included X-Men II over Mummy Returns. Loved the “original”, but the sequel fell flat for me. Good call on Donner’s Superman II – a better film in everyway possible. And Castor’s right, Godfather II.

  6. Avatar
    Dan Reply

    @Castor: You’re right about Clear and Present Danger – chalk me up as another fan of that movie. I would say it’s better than Patriot Games.

    @Darren: I’ve always thought both Mummy movies were good, enjoyable action-fantasy films. And Brendan Fraser (as well as the rest of the cast) is great. But I do enjoy the sequel a little more. However, like Rodney says above, that CGI’ed ‘The Rock’ Scorpion thing at the end is very off-putting. I think they must have run out of money and asked a child to design the effect on his Commodore 64.

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    Aiden R. Reply

    Alright, my jaw dropped a little when I saw Reloaded on this list, but since I’ve been meaning to watch that one again as of late, I’ll let it slide…for now. All I’ll say is this: Architect.

    Never seen Supes II though, something I’m very embarrassed to admit.

    Good list though, man. Would have switched the order around here and there, but with the exception of The Road Warrior, you singled out some choice sequels. Well done.

  8. Avatar
    Rodney Reply

    Hi all
    Just wanted to clear up the “glaring” omission of the Godfather sequel from my list. I had an opportunity to watch all three films on restored DVD a while back (thanks to the wife getting me the set for my birthday) and while I will admit that all three films are indeed of an exceptional quality, I personally found the three sequels to be of decreasing quality. Which flies in the face of popular opinion, I know.
    Now, for those who cry out that GFII won an Oscar for Best Film, that’s all very well and good, but in the long history of Oscar there have often been… choices which reflect the back-slapping histrionics of the time, and not the long term quality of the awarded films. Shakespeare In Love, off the top of my head, was a far inferior choice than Saving Private Ryan, back in 1998. There are probably other examples, were I to dedicate some time on Wikipedia to researching further, but this is the most recent I can recall immediately. Just because it wins an Oscar doesn’t always guarantee lasting fame.
    I thought GFII was a good film, don’t get me wrong, and is probably worthy of inclusion into many of your top ten films, let alone sequels. But it didn’t grab me like the films I’ve included in my list. So I didn’t include it.

    @ Walter – I’d be hard pressed to include Back To The Future II on any list involving a Top Ten logo, except perhaps if it was for a list comprising of sequels which didn’t quite live up to the original. I always felt (rightly or wrongly) that the middle BTTF film was the weakest (aren’t all middle films though?) of the series, and thus was excluded from my list.

    @ Aiden – I know what you mean about Reloaded, but think about it: for upping the ante over it’s predecessor, for being MORE action packed, MORE epic and delivering MORE overall spectacle than the original film (incomprehensible Architect babble notwithstanding) then Reloaded surely has to get a look-in? If you’re looking at the rules of sequels, then Reloaded ticks all the right boxes in my book! Oh, and the Mad Max films will always have a special place in my heart… just not on this list.

    Thanks for the comments, all!

  9. Avatar
    Shubhajit Lahiri Reply

    Great List there Dan. Though I might have shuffled it a bit, it surely shows that a lot of deliberations went into it. As a footnote, a more apt title might have been “Top 10 Hollywood/American sequels of All Time”.

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    Anna Reply

    You don’t mention The Godfather Part II??? You broke my heart.

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    Marc Reply

    I was going to stand up and defend the GFII omission but I Rodney did a pretty good job explaining it. So I’ll simply say I agree with him…especially compared to the above and beyond quality that all these films here encompass. That was epic in scale but just too long to get to where they were going (personally I think they could have done a lot more back story with young Vito).

    Also, I’m overjoyed that someone else out there thinks “Reloaded” is a great movie, and you totally hit on the “upping the ante”. It has it’s faults and people say they didn’t like it but that’s because they probably didn’t understand it. Seeing it a few more times helps clear somethings up. Oh and the freeway scene beyond awesome!!

    But Rodney, you’re on your own with The Mummy II:) However as far as the bad CG goes, the studio was running out of time and money just to make the release date and it looks bad because it’s simply not finished. Could have looked pretty convincing like the first film they just came up short. Story wasn’t bad though…

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    Róisín Reply

    Outstanding choice with T2! The initial impact of seeing that film when I was younger, with T1000 and Patrick – I remember just being in awe of it in every way. A great movie experience 🙂 Albeit a little terrifying at the time.

    Nice to see the inclusion of E.S. Back too – Generally a much more mature film than the initial attempt.

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    Olive Reply

    Love the inclusion of T2! Wouldn’t agree on The Matrix Reloaded though, and probably would put The Godfather 2 as Number 1:)

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    Dan Reply

    @Shubhajit: True, but then again, Hollywood loves to make sequels like nobody else.

    @Anna & Olive: I’m a fan of Godfather Part 2 too, but it’s nice to see a top sequels list that isn’t like the majority.

    @Roisin: T2 cemented James Cameron’s place as the king of the sequel. Out of Aliens and T2 I still prefer Aliens even though both are great.

  15. Avatar
    Rodney Reply

    @Marc – I re-watched Mummy II the other day, and you’re probably right about that last bunch of effects… but the previous 2 hours more than makes up for it. At least IMHO!

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    Anna Reply

    Well, as long as The Empire Strikes Back and The Dark Knight are on here, I shouldn’t complain.

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    Kaiderman Reply

    I’m actually fine with you leaving off the Godfather sequel. And I agree with most of these… I’d move Empire, Spiderman and Aliens up. And I would’ve probably ommitted Mummy and Matrix sequels. I enjoy them but they’re not best ever!

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    gelpi2010 Reply

    Sorry, but your list is weak, very weak. Here is mine, which is obviously much better [wink].

    (in order of preference):

    1. The Godfather Part II (1974, Francis Ford Coppola)
    2. Bride of Frankenstein (1935, James Whale)
    3. The Empire Strikes Back (1980, Irvin Kershner)
    4. For a Few Dollars More (1965, Sergio Leone)
    5. Dawn of the Dead (1978, George A. Romero)
    6. Aliens (1986, James Cameron)
    7. From Russia with Love (1963, Terence Young)
    8. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982, Nicholas Meyer)
    9. The Dark Knight (2008, Christopher Nolan)
    10. A Shot in the Dark (1964, Blake Edwards)

  19. Avatar
    Heather Reply

    I have to admit I have a problem with Matrix Reloaded being before Aliens and The Mummy Returns being included. Aside from that you’ve got most of the right movies, in an order that’s going to be subjective to taste.

    My list may look something like this:

    10.Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers
    9. Superman II
    8. Rocky II
    7. Star Trek II The Wrath Of Khan
    6. Toy Story 2
    5. The Godfather Part II (OF COURSE THIS SHOULD MAKE IT)
    4. Terminator 2
    3. The Empire Strikes Back
    2. The Dark Knight
    1. Aliens

  20. Avatar
    Heather Reply

    Oh and I have my own post from eons ago that is the antithesis of this list:

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    Red Reply

    Prettly glad to see The Mummy Returns on this list. I still refuse to watch the third one, but the first two are a couple of my favorite movies to watched over and over again.

    Got to agree with most people about Godfather II.

  22. Avatar
    James Ewing Reply

    I actually completely agree about The Matrix Reloaded. They went all out with it and I think it paid off as I think it’s a much better film than the first one.

    Aliens would be my #1 pick, a fantastic film that takes the horror classic and surpasses it in so many ways. Terminator 2 is another great one. I actually hate the original, it’s too corny and implausible for me. I wonder if Cameron should just stick to making sequels as they tend to be his best films. Maybe Avatar 2 will be brilliant (probably not).

    I’d swap out Blade II with Hellboy II, but I’ve got a soft spot for the red demon.

    The Dark Knight and Toy Story 2 are overrated, to me, but I get why people like them as sequels.

    I’m skeptical about The Mummy Returns and Superman II, but maybe that’s more because I didn’t like the first entries in those two series.

  23. Avatar
    gelpi2010 Reply

    I hate to say this but you guys need to realize that great movies were made before the 1970s. Branch out a bit, please! I’m not that old – I’m Ferris Bueller’s age [laugh] I know it is a matter of tastes but I’m sure you could find something better than Mummy Returns! [YIKES]

  24. Avatar
    Rodney Reply

    @ Gelpi2010 – fair comment, there ARE indeed plenty of great films made prior to 1970. However, I’d put it to you that there aren’t too many SEQUELS made prior to then, since the “franchise” mentality didn’t begin until the 70’s at it’s earliest. If you can give me an example of a pre-70’s sequel, I’d be happy to reassess!

  25. Avatar
    Rodney Reply

    Having now actually READ Gelpi2010’s earlier post, I stand corrected. my apologies sir.

  26. Avatar
    Dan Reply

    @Anna: Out of curiosity, what would your top 10 be?

    @Gelpi: Excellent list there Gelpi but as Rodney mentions (although you’ve highlighted some of those made before 1975) the sequel didn’t become the fashionable entity it is today until after Godfather Part 2. With so many to choose from made since the 1980s, it’s difficult not to populate a sequels list with so many from that period. However, I do agree with many of your choices, particularly the inclusion of Dawn of the Dead.

    @Heather: I’m with you on Aliens being number 1 but I’d drop The Dark Knight back a bit in favour of Empire Strikes Back and Godfather.

    @Kaiderman: Thanks for dropping by. I’m with you on moving Empire and Aliens up but no Spider-Man! 😉

    @James: I know what you mean in reference to The Mummy Returns but I do think Superman II deserves the plaudits it receives.

    @Red: Wow, I didn’t think The Mummy Returns had so many fans. But, having said that, I’ve always found it a very enjoyable film.

  27. Avatar
    Alex Reply

    Considering how difficult I’m sure this was to compile, this is a really good list! I agree with most, and I’m happy to see love for The Mummy Returns and Blade II (I would have expected both to be left out in other lists). I think mine would have included After The Thin Man (1936) and X-Men 2 instead of Superman 2 and The Matrix Reloaded, though. And probably Back to the Future 2 deserves to be in there.

    Generally I think that sequels can be judged separately depending on whether or not they were planned- for example, The Empire Strikes Back is part of a planned trilogy, so it doesn’t have the cash grab handicap something like The Mummy Returns does.

  28. Avatar
    Róisín Reply

    @gelpi2010 Although I agree with your stance on films like The Mummy Returns (as well as not being particularly fond of The Matrix Reloaded and so on) I’d have to disagree with your comment that the list is weak, particularly due to the fact that it includes not only five great sequels, but five stand-online classic pieces of work, namely Blade II, Aliens, Terminator 2, The Empire Strikes Back and The Dark Knight.

  29. Avatar
    Róisín Reply

    Stand-online? Stand-alone, even 🙂

  30. Avatar
    gelpi2010 Reply

    Dan, I politely disagree with you. It is simply inaccurate to say that the “sequel” phenomenon exploded in the 1970s, after the release of Godfather Part II. I used to believe that myth too. Hollywood had been exploiting a good idea since the 1930s. Here are some examples:

    1. MGM’s Andy Hardy franchise: A Family Affair (1937), You’re Only Young Once (1937), Judge Hardy’s Children (1938), Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938), etc.

    2. Universal’s Ma and Pa Kettle franchise: The Egg and I (1947), Ma and Pa Kettle (1949), Ma and Pa Kettle Go to Town (1950), etc.

    3. Universal’s Fancis The Talking Mule franchise: Francis (1950) Francis Goes to the Races (1951), Francis Goes to West Point (1952), Francis Covers the Big Town (1953)

    Other highly successful pre-70s films and their sequels:

    1. Boys Town (1938) and Men of Boys Town (1941)
    2. Young Tom Edison (1940) and Edison, the Man (1940)
    3. Going My Way (1944) and The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945)
    4. The Paleface (1948) and Son of Paleface (1952)
    5. Father of the Bride (1950) and Father’s Little Dividend (1951)
    6. On Moonlight Bay (1951) and By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953)
    7. Horror of Dracula (1958), The Brides of Dracula (1960), Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966), etc.
    8. Our Man Flint (1966) and In Like Flint (1967)

  31. Avatar
    gelpi2010 Reply

    Hi. I’ve re-read my posts and I think I’ve come across a bit snobbish – it is not my intention to sound like a know-it-all. I love the site (I’m glad I discovered it) and I think you guys/gals are awesome. I’ve watched all the films listed (yours and mine) and I just wanted to bring a new perspective into the conversation. It sounds that I’m a bit older than you guys/gals and I’m well aware that it takes years to explore different genres and types of films.

    Today’s movie fans are lucky. When I started exploring, there was no cable, no DVD, no widescreen, no nothing. It was very hard to enjoy cinema. The VHS explosion of the 80s, as imperfect as it was, changed the life of us movie fans. I’m so glad you guys/gals don’t have to go through the hardship we all had to endure. Now, it’s much easier, cheaper.

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    Greg Reply

    I was under the impression the sequel took off after Empire Strikes Back. Don’t think I’ve seen a sequel before about 1980. Having said that, the best film sequels have definitely appeared since Star Wars. Although my list would be different to the one above I think you’ve picked some great choices. Even The Mummy Returns is good, even though some people don’t think so – I’d say it is actually better than the first film. I don’t like the Matrix sequels though.

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    Raven Reply

    One sequel that surprised me was Scream 2 – an improvement over the original and a more telling deconstruction of the slasher conventions. A marvelous piece of work.

    The question of when and where the sequel started is redundant as the only films that matter are the spectacle-orientated blockbusters post-Empire Strikes Back for modern audiences bred on MTV. That means Aliens, T2, Back To The Future, Superman 2 are the sequels people want to see and talk about, not In Like Flint!

    I disagree with half this list but the other half is spot on.

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    andy Reply

    How about:

    10 Evil Dead 2
    9 Terminator 2
    8 The Colour Of Money
    7 Before Sunset
    6 Blade II
    5 Bride of Frankenstein
    4 Mad Max 2 aka The Road Warrior
    3 The Empire Strikes Back
    2 Aliens
    1 The Godfather part II

    It was so hard to leave The Bourne sequels out.

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    gelpi2010 Reply

    I’m sorry, but I take issue with your theory that only post-70s blockbuster films interested in targeting the younger demographic (16-30 years old), are valid considerations for this thread. Today’s young audience is a bit egocentric; they think that the conversation should always revolve around their own interests. However, the fact is that the idea of a Hollywood sequel has been with us since the invention of sound. One age group should not dictate what constitutes a legitimate/illegitimate mainstream sequel. That is a reflection of a segment of the movie viewing population; a large part of movie buffs remain unaccounted for.

    Coppola’s Godfather Part II simply invented the roman number after the title. But it was still a very adult film. I remembered movie theaters determined to enforce the restrictions of the R rating. Jaws, not Star Wars, created the Blockbuster summer film. Over the years, I’ve seen many respectable magazines and newspapers (Time, NY Times, etc.) and I have yet to see one publication that doesn’t list Bride of Frankenstein as one of the best sequels ever made. A few years ago, Moviefone, which is as mainstream as it comes, listed Bride of Frankenstein and Another thin Man (sequel to the 1934 film The Thin Man) among the best sequels ever made. They also listed Die Hard 2 and Terminator 2. It is not about eras, it is about the quality of the sequels.

    andy: Good call on The Road Warrior (it should have been part of my list) and The Color Of Money (very underrated sequel to one of the best films of the 1960s!). Two great additions.

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    rtm Reply

    Great post, and this is the kind of list we can keep making year after year. Totally agree with Superman II, though the first one is still tough to beat, too bad the last two are so dismal! Also agree with #2 and #1 pick, though as Castor would agree, Batman Begins is the more enjoyable one to watch. Oh, and good call Castor on Clear and Present Danger, LOVE that movie, probably the only movie where I don’t find Willem Dafoe repulsive! If I were to compose my own list, a Bourne and LOTR movie might end up on this list.

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    Dan Reply

    @gelpi: I think when I refer to the explosion – ‘fashionable entity’ – of the sequel I’m really talking about the blockbuster sequel. The regurgitation of plot and character through the high-concept template to make an easy buck largely through audience recognition. Which is what whe saw, particularly in the 1980s with the endless franchises, but has continued into the 1990s and 2000s. I’d say my point is valid – in how the sequel, generally speaking, became what it was post-Jaws. Our list does reflect the values of the sequel post-1975 which could arguably mean it shouldn’t be title ‘All time’. But it has certainly made for interesting debate, and you’ve highlighted many films I’m going to have to see.

    @Greg: Matrix sequels…Pah! Me too!

    @Raven: Although many of the sequels I love have been made since 1980, there are many made previously that I’m also very fond of. For example, Godfather part II and Dawn of the Dead.

    @Andy: Nice calls on Before Sunset and Color of Money (I have Color of Money in my 1980s sequels top 10: – where I even sing the praises of Halloween 2!).

    @rtm: I still can’t decide which of Nolan’s Batman films I prefer. I love them both. I’m leaning towards Begins at the moment. Take Ledger out of The Dark Knight and it would make the choice easier.

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    Peter E. Reply

    I would argue that Matrix is one of the very worst sequels ever made. Is Dark Knight a sequel – or is it meant to stand on its own? I can see adding T2 and Empire Strikes Back. Godfather II is perhaps the very greatest and glad to see so many people commenting the same. Any other film win more Oscars than its original — even besting it? An interesting list — tough because so many sequels are so poorly done.

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    Rodney Reply

    @ PeterE – The Dark Knight is a sequel: a continuation of an ongoing series of characters, ideas or similar themes.

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    Caz Reply

    Brilliant list!

    The Dark Knight followed by Toy Story 2 are very worthy first and second in this list! Brilliant sequel’s which are often argued to be better than the first.

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    Fitz Reply

    I’d be willing to be most people weren’t expecting Matrix Reloaded on this list.

    And it’s good to see someone else bothered by TDK’s snub.

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    Richard Reply

    Interesting list. I hated The Mummy movies, I have to say, so that would never have made my list. I’m with those contesting the omission of Godfather II, as well. And you were right about Matrix Reloaded, dude. You’re going to cop some flack for that. In fact, I did my own list of great sequels and bad sequels and Reloaded made the latter list. Take a look if you’re interested. 😉

  43. Pingback: » The Top 10 Best Sequels Ever Fernby Films

  44. Avatar
    Joel Burman Reply

    Nice list and a great discussion. I like that Spiderman 2 made the list. Its the best Spiderman film to this being the closest in tone to the comicbook.

    I am also glad for Empire Strikes back, Aliens, Toy Story 2 wgich are all great films. When it comes to godfater 2 its a great film but not better than the first one, i am not sure how the discussion goes but in my book that excludes it from a list like this.

    Finally Matrix Reloaded shuld not ever be listed as a top movie. Its one of the lagest disapointments I have ever had in a cinema.

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    Mobo Reply

    JAWS 2 – underrated.

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    vesus Reply

    The only offense against humanity is the omission of Godfather 2 from this list. The Mummy Returns?? Please. GF2 should be number 1. Forget sequels, it’s one of the greatest films of all time.

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    Lauren Reply

    Good list, but I’m in the group wondering where Godfather Part II is.

  48. Avatar
    fogsmoviereviews Reply


    I realize that putting lists together is going to draw ire no matter what, but including the Mummy Returns and omitting Godfather II is nearly unforgiveable…

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    DEZMOND Reply

    I’m a huge huge huge fan of THE MUMMY saga, and I absolutely loved MUMMY RETURNS as well. Those two film shows so much love for film and for what film stands for – weaving art out of dreams – that I’ve always held utter respect for them.
    I love how Sommers paid attention to all possible details with so much love and talent. He basically made movies which can inspire every little kid to become a director one day.

    My other favourite sequels are TWO TOWERS, which is my favourite part of LOTR, probably because it features the most of my beloved Karl Urban 🙂
    And another film in my all time TOP FIVE is ELIZABETH THE GOLDEN AGE in which Shekhar Kapur also managed to create a master piece out of every possible scene.

  50. Avatar
    Rodney Reply

    Phew. For a moment Dezmond, I thought you were gonna say something about the lack of Godfather II in this list….

    I too enjoyed the Mummy franchise, with the second film being my favourite. I think the mix of score and imagery is just about perfect.

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    DEZMOND Reply

    ah, not me, Rodney, unlike Orcs, we Elven people don’t watch mobster and crime films and anything overly dark and morbid 😛

  52. Avatar
    Mark Reply

    I am actually really glad to see The Matrix Reloaded in here. I too was a fan. Of course I would add The Godfather II and Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade (actually I would also add Temple of Doom to that) as well as Back to the Future Part II.

    I have to say, I probably enjoyed Iron Man 2 more than Spider-Man 2.

  53. Avatar
    moviesandsongs365 Reply

    I agree with many choices on your top 10 + mentioned in comments.

    Ace Ventura 2 ? I thought it was equally as funny as the original (I might be out on my own with that pick)

  54. Avatar
    Rodney Reply

    About the only decent bit of comedy in Ace Ventura was the shadow-nipple-tweaking scene. I very nearly wet my panst watching that, it was so funny.

    The rest of the film I could have done without though.

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    Niels Reply

    Sadly, I am going to have to join the rest in saying that the omission of The Godfather II is a serious crime. Not only is the Coppola saga one of the film’s greatest accomplishments, but the first two of the trilogy are masterpieces in their own right. Many say the first is the best one, and that might be a reason why you did not put it on the list. However, I’m one of those who think the climax of the series is reached in the masterful performance of Al Pacino in part II (not to forget a young Robert De Niro playing young Vito)

    If I may, I would also like to suggest Kill Bill: Vol.2, which is the great culmination of the saga and, in my opinion, the better of the two.
    I also agree with another comment that a couple of films like “Bride of Frankenstein” and “Dawn of the Dead” would be on my list.

    I will give you credit for creating lists like this because it takes courage and it is definitely not easy to please everyone.

    Check out my young blog. I have several continuing series in film like “Secret Films” (great relatively unknown films), “IMDB top 250 films of all time” (reviews of the movies on the list), “Best Moments in Film History” (recapping some of my favorite scenes and/or moments in great films) and “Cinema that matters” (a look at films that serve a purpose beyond art and entertainment).


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    The Focused Filmographer Reply

    I only have to say that I can’t agree on the Mummy, Matrix, and Blade sequels being on this list. Mediocre and forgettable at best for me.

    Spiderman 2, some would argue, is the best of the Raimi trilogy. And I sometimes forget to view The Dark Knight as a sequel. Great adds to your list.

    Yes, Godfather II would belong on this list, but I think I’d add Ocean’s Twelve, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and Bourne Supremacy.

    Nice post here!

  57. Avatar
    uk dvds Reply

    As many have said – Godfather II is a controversial omission!

    I’d also rearrange things and have The Empire Strikes Back as the number 1 sequel. Star Wars was immense and the second film was the best in my opinion.

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    mark Reply

    For those who believe Godfather Part II should be on the list, maybe they should read Vincent Canby’s New York Times Review for the film circa 1974. He hated it because he thought the first film was so great. From memory, I think he called it a Frankenstein of a movie. Personally I didn’t mind it, but it took a few viewings.

    Back to the Future II? It was a film I had trouble with – namely because it was a jumbled variation of the first film (as opposed to something with a life of its own).

    Superman II? Definitely better (and much funnier)than number one.

    Romero’s Dawn of the Dead … should have been included. Plus, one could argue that the 2004 remake could have made the list too if compared to the Tom Savini update of Night of the Living Dead.

    Possibly one which should have been on the list was Richard Lester’s The Four Musketeers – after all, it was really part of the same movie as its predecessor.

    Then there is Stuart Gordon’s Bride of Reanimator.

    Finally, the Australian TV show host Norman Gunston made me laugh when, during an interview with Elliott Gould back in the late 1970s, he told the less-than-amused actor that they should have made a sequal to Capricorn One and called it Capricorn One Two.

  59. Avatar
    Alex Thomas Reply

    Awesome. This just gets me even more excited for The Dark Knight Rises!

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    Dan Grant Reply

    I really like the list. I don’t agree with all of it, but why would I? We all have different tastes. But Reloaded, T2, Aliens, Empire Strikes Back, Spiderman 2, Superman 2 and The Dark Knight are all fantastic films. I think I would have added JAWS 2 and a few others, but your choices and your reasons why are very solid. Nicely done.

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    Neal Damiano Reply

    I feel a lot were missed here ie Back to the future 2, Terminater 2, Lethal Weapon 2, Rocky 2, Friday the 13th part 2. Sequels are hard to pull off!!

  62. Avatar
    Neal Damiano Reply

    Sorry T2 is included here but again Rocky 2 and FTH 13th part 2 should be on here somewhere.

  63. Avatar
    Dan Grant Reply

    I think mine would be: (just part 2’s, not other sequels)

    1) Aliens
    2) Empire Strikes Back
    3) Terminator 2
    4) The Dark Knight
    5) Superman 2
    6) Spiderman 2
    7) Beverly Hills Cop 2
    8) Jaws 2
    9) Halloween 2 (1981)
    10) Lethal Weapon 2

  64. Avatar
    Neal Damiano Reply

    Looking back on my comments here, I take back Rocky 2 from my movies overlooked It was a horrible sequel. I think I meant Rocky 3.

    But FTH13 part 2 should definitely be on this list,

  65. Avatar
    Neal Damiano Reply

    I just revisited this list. I agree with Heather and Dan S. Aliens should be before Matrix, if not at number 1. An incredible sequel great storyline amazing cast and plenty of action. Arguably , It might possibly be the greatest sequel ever made.

    Otherwise great list Rodney.

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    klaavir Reply

    The sequel to Mummy and The Matrix you can have. Yeah theyre both fun in a cheesy way but they didnt belong here. How in the name of all that is holy could you omit one of the greatest sequels ever in Star Trek 2: The Wrath Of Khan? Sacrilege,blasphemy,oh the shame!!! I was no fan of Godfather 2. I actually thought all of the young Vito stuff belonged at the beginning of the first one. I also thought Godfather 3 was better but it deserved a spot on this list. And The Dark Knight shouldve been on here as well. Other than that i guess it was okay.

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    Trevor "Tubby" McCrae Reply

    Gtfo with Matrix 2 and Mummy 2. Both are horrible and much, much worse than the originals.

    Godfather 2 should be on the list.

    John Wick chapter 2.

    The Transporter 2.

    Hellraiser: Hellbound.

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