However, Gareth Evans’ ass-kicking sequel The Raid 2 is currently smacking, stabbing and shooting its way through cinemas. The film is a real triumph and the perfect example of a sequel that manages to exceed the original in just about every single way.
But this is far from the only example of a quality sequel. Here are the top ten.
10. Final Destination 2
Of all of the ridiculous horror franchises, Final Destination is one of the most reliably entertaining. The plots make no sense and the deaths are laughable, but the series embraces its own stupidity in a really refreshing way.
The first film in the series didn’t have this attribute. It tried really hard to be a terrifying, serious horror movie and it really suffers from that. Final Destination 2, however, is consistently fun. The jokes are hilarious, the deaths are brutally inventive and the plot is completely nonsensical.
It’s just a shame about the next two sequels.
9. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
The Harry Potter franchise has a special place in the hearts of a generation. JK Rowling’s books are at home on the big screen and never more than in the fantastic third entry in the series, directed by Alfonso Cuarón.
Whilst the previous two films were light-hearted and child friendly, Prisoner of Azkaban begins the descent into darkness with great aplomb and benefits from a maturing cast as well as its visionary director.
The series did veer into middling fare later on, before a solid climax, but this entry remains a glittering high point.
8. Shrek 2
Poking fun at the fairytale conventions of Disney’s animated fare, Shrek was a massive earner for DreamWorks in 2001. But the 2004 sequel was even better, introducing a whole raft of new characters, including the Fairy Godmother and Puss in Boots.
Unlike many animated sequels, Shrek 2 really moves its characters forward after their fairytale ending in the first movie. They don’t live happily ever after and instead must face some very real struggles with personal identity and married life.
The franchise may have been dampened somewhat by the lacklustre threequel, but Shrek 2 still stands as one of the better sequels ever made.
7. Dawn of the Dead
As brilliant as George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead is, it’s exceeded in just about every way by the 1978 sequel. Following a group of the living who hide from the zombie hordes in a shopping mall, it’s one of the smartest allegories for consumer culture ever committed to celluloid.
Exploiting the age-old sequel formula of going bigger, louder and crazier, it ramps up the gore, the scares and the chaos. Tom Savini’s legendary special effects work makes some of the most innovative splatter work ever seen and the climax is bonkers in every way.
Flawed and a little bloated, but still rather brilliant, Dawn of the Dead is a great example of how a zombie film should be done.
It’s quite remarkable that a franchise spanning 23 films and 50 years still finds its pinnacle in only its third entry. Goldfinger features dozens of indelible moments that have left footprints all over popular culture and still stands as one of the greatest spy thrillers ever made.
Tense, tautly written and deliriously entertaining, it’s a film that lives up to everything that you could dream of from a Bond film. Sean Connery is on top form in the lead role, Gert Fröbe is a wonderful villain and Oddjob is a genuinely sinister henchman.
The franchise has reached iconic status since it began, but it has never managed to top its laser-firing classic.
5. The Silence of the Lambs
Following the lukewarm critical response to the 1986 film Manhunter, Hannibal Lecter needed reinventing if it was to become a successful cinematic franchise. Step forward director Jonathan Demme and star Anthony Hopkins. The result was the masterful 1991 thriller The Silence of the Lambs.
Hopkins is utterly perfect as Lecter, winning the Best Actor Oscar despite being on screen for only 16 minutes. His performance is the anchor at the centre of an expansive thriller. He is so memorable that the real villain of the piece – Buffalo Bill – is largely forgotten by many.
With Hopkins returning for another sequel in 2001, The Silence of the Lambs left its tooth marks in the neck of cinema. It’s a film with real bite.
4. The Raid 2: Berandal
Gareth Evans has, quite simply, played a blinder with The Raid 2. It’s an underworld crime drama, mixed with an ass-kicking martial arts movie. The violence is choreographed to perfection, with actors who can also handle the dramatic lifting required to push the plot along.
It seemed difficult to believe that Evans could possibly top the first movie in the series, but The Raid 2 is an instant classic of its genre. Iko Uwais and Arifin Putra give excellent performances, alongside prime supporting roles for characters as brilliantly named as Baseball Bat Man and Hammer Girl.
With a threequel in the pipeline, The Raid is a franchise set to make its mark as one of the greatest in action movie history.
3. Toy Story 3
The Toy Story movies might just be the greatest trilogy produced in the history of cinema. It reached its pinnacle with Toy Story 3, which is a heartbreak-inducing tale about the death of childhood, wrapped up in an animated comedy romp.
It’s remembered more for its touching moments and tear-jerking ending than anything else, but the rest of the film is a truly brilliant example of top drawer comedy for kids.
Rumours of a fourth film in the series couldn’t be less welcome. Toy Story 3 brings the journey of these characters to a fitting end, so resurrecting them for a financial kick would just be wrong.
2. Empire Strikes Back
Anyone who says that there’s a better Star Wars film than Empire Strikes Back is quite simply wrong. As far as middle installments in a series go, it’s the best by far, beautifully pulling all of the story threads from A New Hope together.
Everyone remembers it for the Vader twist more than anything, but it also contains the awesome opening scenes on Hoth and Luke Skywalker’s training at the hands of the instantly iconic Yoda.
Needless to say, Return of the Jedi failed to scale the same heights. And then the prequels arrived…
1. Bride of Frankenstein
Chilling, creepy and perfectly put together, Bride of Frankenstein was the perfect follow-up to James Whale’s first film adaptation of Mary Shelley’s monster tale. Starring Boris Karloff again as the square-headed creation, it manages to deal with scares aplenty as well as the surprisingly tender scenes between him and his eponymous lover.
Since its release, academics have questioned whether the film has a subtext about homosexuality and there’s a lot of discussion about themes, but at its heart, this is a proper horror movie.
Elsa Lanchester is nothing short of iconic as the Bride and the finale is a real gut punch. This is the best sequel ever.
Do you agree with this list of great sequels? Let me know if I’ve missed any in the comments section.