Modern-day cinema is full of studios vying to make a quick buck from cashing in on long-running franchises, whether it’s the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Fantastic Beasts or even the new trend of making decade later instalments for old school favourites. As a series rolls on it can often lose its magic but that doesn’t mean that a great sequel can never be made. Two Beard Gaming has put together a list of ten great sequels that hit the mark of a great follow up.
Just to be clear, this is not a list of sequels deemed to be generically better than their originals, that’s a matter for personal preference, but sequels that tick all the boxes of taking what was great about the original and elaborating and building on the idea while further developing the world and characters. Let’s get started.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day
- Plot: As if the herculean cyborg from the future trying to kill an unsuspecting woman wasn’t sinister enough, Skynet now sends their most enhanced assassin back to kill her son. Fortunately, humans have an ace up their sleeve. Humanities nature to destroy itself is further explored in this thought-provoking action sequel.
- Character Development: Sarah Connor is almost unrecognisable from her everyday woman of the original to a haunted and desperate warrior determined to protect her son and change humanities fate. The T-800 returns, reprogrammed as a protector, with it’s learning capabilities activated it begins to understand the meaning and value of human life.
- Action: Where to start, from a bar fight beat down to the sound of hillbilly rock, intense chase sequence through the Bull Creek Spillway, to a daring espionage plan gone wrong followed by another high octane chase sequence before ending in an epic showdown in a steel mill. Terminator 2 has it all, respectfully overshadowing the short burst sequences of the original.
- Plot: Moving away from the confined space vessel of the original, Ripley awakes to face a new nightmare, a whole nest of Xenomorphs. This time it’s war as she and a team of elite marines head back to LV-426, where a colonist station has been overrun, to face a desperate fight for survival and an attempt to wipe out the Alien threat for good.
- Character Development: Ripley follows a similar path to Sarah Connor with her development from a regular women thrust into a desperate situation to a tough survivor willing to put it all on the line for the sake of humanity while seeking a dose of good old fashioned revenge against the nightmare that has taken everything from her. “The Company” a character in itself, also develop as an even more heartless and ruthless entity in this intense Sci-Fi spectacle.
- Action: Cranking it up a notch from the tense hide and seek elements of the original, Aliens builds its atmosphere before unleashing a brutal fight against the Xeno hoards. After the Alien’s cut the marines down to size a few remaining members desperately search for a means to escape the planet in a race against time before the true terror is unveiled in the form of the hulking Alien Queen. Just when everything looks safe the bitch is back! Now Ripley must stand alone and confront her nightmare if they are to survive. Tension, atmosphere and action have never been combined so well.
Lethal Weapon 2
- Plot: Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh continue to be a lovable combo. Fun and action build in this high stake follow up as the pair try to protect an annoying informant from a gang of ruthless South African drug dealers with diplomatic immunity. This time it’s personal as these villains have a dark link to Rigg’s.
- Character Development: Family man Murtaugh struggles to walk the line between by the book cop and loyal partner as the duo’s unsteady relationship develops into a tight bond of friendship. Rigg’s past is explored providing a sorrowful insight to his reckless and suicidal tendencies. New characters and relationships are introduced, most memorable is the introduction of Joe Pesci’s Leo Getz.
- Action: As if the original didn’t have enough bullets flying around, LW2 opens with an action-packed car chase before delivery bursts of action as drug lords go to war with L.A’s finest with nail guns, toilet bombs and another broken station wagon before culminating in a tense shoot out and fistfight. 90’s action at it’s best, better check that you are not standing on plastic.
Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior
- Plot: After losing it all to a psychotic motorcycle gang, Max Rockatansky turns his back on the last vestiges of society and heads into the wasteland. Haunted and running on the basic instinct of survival he happens across a settlement under siege. Is this a chance for Max to find peace or war?
- Character Development: Max is emotionally broken having witnessed the brutal murder of his family and friends. Mel Gibson portrays the ruthless intensity that drives the character perfectly. Although memorable characters like Lord Humungous and the Gyro Captain are introduced, this is a journey of Max trying to find his place in a broken world.
- Action: Forget Fast and Furious, Mad Max is the original vehicular warfare franchise. Riddled from start to finish with intense and brutal chase scenes the movie opens with Max against a pair of bikers before a series of settlement attacks, followed by two spectacular chase battles full of incredible stunts and memorable vehicles.
- Plot: The ultimate follow up to the classic underdog story. Rocky Balboa goes from rags to riches. After coming up short in the outcome of his battle with Apollo Creed, Rocky tried to step away from the ring but can’t escape the pull of the crowd, the press and his need to know, am I the better man.
- Character Development: The lovable and docile Rocky leads the story as he adapts to a new life in the spotlight, having money, overcoming health issues while juggling his personal and professional life with a great support performance by Talia Shire’s Adrian. Apollo creed almost steals the show as the prime time boxer determined to save his reputation and erase the only blemish in his career.
- Action: Rocky 2 isn’t a traditional action movie but the story and pacing build to the ultimate pay off of a final showdown between Apollo and Rocky. Cinematography is on point capturing every blow of the intense fight which tells an emotional story in itself. There’s no easy way out and no shortcut home for Rocky.
- Plot: Batman Returns delivers more stylish gothic architecture while upping the Ante in villains. The Penguin joins forces with a sinister businessman to claim Gotham City while Catwoman causes chaos becoming the fly in Batman’s ointment. Safe to say he’s no longer at home washing his tights.
- Character Development: Michael Keaton reprises his role in balancing the duality of Bruce Wayne and Batman. Bruce seeks to find romance with the charming Selina Kyle and attempting to unravel the schemes of Max Shreck and Oswald Cobblepot by day while Batman is put to the test against The Penguin with his gang of circus freaks and The Catwoman by night.
- Action: Comic book action may be a CGI fest these days but Batman Returns is full of great stunts and dark action. Batman comes to the rescue several times as the circus freaks attack Gotham while Catwoman turns the city into her own personal playground. Things intensify in a sequence of Ducks, Bats and rocket wielding Penguins for a dramatic showdown.
- Plot: Superman 2 continues the story of Clark Kent/Kal El finding his place in the world and hanging up his tights but an unexpected visit from General Zod and the schemes of Lex Luthor require a symbol of hope for the people of earth.
- Character Development: The story focuses on Clark wanting to share his life with Louis Lane and seeking a way to rid himself of his Kryptonian powers. Christopher Reeve continues his great performance of the mild-mannered reporter trying to find ways to reveal himself to the spirited Louis. Lex becomes even more ambitious with his plans to stop Superman by aligning himself with General Zod. As the people cry out for Superman to save them Clark must put his desire to be normal aside and don the cape once more before the whole world kneels before Zod.
- Action: Dated but classic effects deliver the goods providing plenty of Superman saving the day action. Things get explosive when Zod and his soldiers come to earth and start testing out their powers on the local authorities before attacking Metropolis in an effort to draw Superman out of hiding. Supes must stand alone against the three Kryptonians in a battle of brains and brawn.
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
- Plot: In the core Star Wars trilogy, following up from the phenomenal release of the original was no small task, TESB up’s the ante significantly by opening up the lore of the galaxy far far away and introducing us to new characters like Lando Calrissian, Yoda and Boba Fett plus classic locations from Hoth to Bespin.
- Character Development: Our lovable cast all get a fair share of treatment from the budding romance between Han and Leia, Han’s continued move from rogue scoundrel to rebellion hero and leader. Luke begins to mature into his role as a Jedi while Darth Vader strikes new terror into all who oppose him in his relentless quest to capture Skywalker and his friends.
- Action: Setting the standard for a movie opening with the battle of Hoth as the rebellion desperately fight off the empire onslaught leading into Han, Chewie and Leia having a desperate chase sequence against a compliment of star destroyers. The movie climaxes with one of the most memorable movie showdowns as Darth Vader unleashes his full power by handing Skywalker an ass-kicking, someone should lend Luke a hand!
Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn
- Plot: Following on from, though opening with a slightly altered flashback to the original, Evil Dead 2 continues the Story of Ash Williams and his friends as they unwittingly unleash an evil entity upon the world and try to survive the night.
- Character Development: Ash Williams spends the majority of the movie alone which is fine by us as Bruce Campbell delivers a career performance of excentric proportions while he struggles to overcome the death of his friends and lover, all while fending off hilariously gruesome monsters and save his soul.
- Action: From possessed hands, reanimated taxidermy, witches in cellars, headless zombie girlfriends, demon tree’s and a relentless evil forces it’s safe to say the party never stops when Ash Williams rents a cabin in the woods. This is zero to hero action in the most groovy fashion.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
- Plot: After a frosty reception to the modern-day, Captain America struggles to find his place in a world of technology and clandestine organisations. Uncovering a plot from SHIELD to bring the world under military rule, Cap and friends must become outlaws to save freedom while being hunted by a ruthless assassin, The Winter Soldier.
- Character Development: Captain America is a man out of time, literally and Chris Evans portrays the struggle of a man who came from the 40’s who sacrificed himself in a war to be awoken in the modern day where everything he knows and loves is gone, yet his sense of morality and determination to do the right thing wins out when trouble occurs. Bucky Barnes struggles with his own torments, believed to be dead yet now enhanced and resurrected as the Winter Soldier his new target rings a bell in his brainwashed mind. Nick Fury….well it’s Sam Jackson.
- Action: Winter Solider feels less like a slapstick comic book movie and more like a flat out espionage thriller in a similar vein to Bourne, Mission Impossible or 007. Hard-hitting close-quarters combat packs a brutal punch with plenty of gunfights, car chases and elaborate set pieces thrown in for good measure. Even people who don’t generally enjoy “Comic book” movies will love this.
So there it is, a list of ten great movie follow up’s. What do you think of our list? let us know your favourite sequels in the comments below and on social media. Don’t forget to download the TBG app to stay up to date with the latest news, reviews, previews and articles from the world of gaming, movies and beyond.