For cinephiles there’s an unspoken rule that specifically states that for every additional sequel, the series will get exponentially worse – we’re looking at you, Jason X. However, this is more of a guideline than a concrete rule and, occasionally, sequels have superseded the originals in every way. Look no further than the Star Wars saga, for instance.
Now coming up to its eighth film with the release of The Last Jedi on 14th December, the series is only getting better. We have every belief that The Last Jedi will carry on the tradition of improving the saga. If you still don’t believe us, take a look at these 5 sequels that were way better than the originals.
5. Troll 2 (1990)
Okay, we know we’re being a little cheeky with this one. It's technically not a sequel since it has nothing to do with the original Troll but, if we had to choose between them, we would always pick Troll 2 and we know you’d do the same.
Troll 2 sees a family go on holiday to the small town of Nilbog, where they discover that it’s inhabited by goblins (not trolls) disguised as humans who plan to eat them, but first must turn them into plants by tricking them into eating a strange green substance. If you think that sounds strange, you don’t know the half of it.
It’s got awful acting, laughably bad dialogue, a ghost-grandpa, and the most bizarre dance routine ever choreographed. There’s even a documentary (Best Worst Movie) celebrating and accounting for its spectacular failure. We could have put Spider-Man 2, Terminator 2, or Toy Story 2 on this list but when there’s a sequel as brilliantly bizarre and bad as Troll 2 we just couldn’t resist. It’s a terrible sequel but it's better than the original for all the wrong reasons.
4. The Dark Knight (2008)
More than just a great sequel, The Dark Knight is an outstanding film in its own right, as well as being one of (if not the) greatest superhero movie ever made.
In Batman Begins, Christopher Nolan brought the Batman series back to its darker roots and showed audiences that the genre can be taken seriously again but it wasn’t until The Dark Knight when we realised just how sophisticated and intense a superhero movie could be.
Of course, we can’t mention The Dark Knight without praising the late Heath Ledger’s iconic portrayal of the Joker. His Joker was psychotic, menacing and, with complex and uncertain motivations, utterly compelling. By turning a superhero movie into a suspenseful crime thriller, The Dark Knight cemented itself as the greatest superhero film to date.
3. Evil Dead II (1987)
The original Evil Dead put Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell on the cult horror map but it wasn’t until Evil Dead II when we fully experienced the over-the-top mix of gore and black comedy that the pair were capable of.
Whereas most sequels aim to continue the story of the original, Evil Dead II is somewhere between a sequel and a remake; it follows a similar plot line with virtually the same characters but it’s simultaneously a huge departure from the original.
What makes Evil Dead II superior is that it fully embraces its ridiculousness. While the original attempted to shock viewers with a controversial vine scene, the sequel makes us laugh with comical amounts of blood and a room-full of maniacally laughing furniture – not to mention it turned Ash into the smart-mouthed idiot he’s famous for. There’s only one word to accurately summarise this sequel: groovy.
2. The Godfather Part II (1974)
Many critics consider Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather to be a masterpiece of American cinema. After it won three Oscars in 1973, nobody would have thought that this work of cinematic perfection could be matched. But, in the following year, we were proven wrong by none other than the sequel, which won a whopping six Oscars.
Part II picks up a few years after the events of the original where Michael (Al Pacino) is running the family. In addition to being a hard-hitting crime thriller, Part II works as a compelling character study of a man struggling to keep power over his crime family and his real family as it falls apart in front of him.
Moreover, the intercut flashbacks to the early life of Vito Corleone (this time played by Robert De Niro) illustrating how he first seized power, create fascinating parallels between father and son and power and human decency. This is a sequel that you cannot refuse.
1. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
You knew this one was coming. Often acknowledged as the best of the original Star Wars trilogy, The Empire Strikes Back was the entry that proved to audiences and critics alike that the saga was here to stay.
Like all great sequels, Empire continued the story of the original while further developing the characters we grew to love (and still do) in A New Hope and their relationships with each other. It was darker, grittier, thought-provoking and a whole load more fun.
Most of all, it was the film that made Darth Vader the villain to love: he was fearsome, intimidating and, with one major revelation, he demonstrated that the concept of good vs evil wasn’t so black and white after all. The force is strong with this one.
Sequels are supposed to continue and expand upon the original and, when done right, they can sometimes be better than the original, as demonstrated by the above selection.
No series has done this better than Star Wars and we don't doubt that The Last Jedi will be way better than The Force Awakens. But to find out just how much better, we’re going to have to wait until 14th December.
Andy Murray is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.