There’s a reason that a trope exists that sequels to movies are often terrible, with stinkers like Jurassic Park III (a depressingly high 5.9 on IMDb and 49% on Rotten Tomatoes) and Speed 2: Cruise Control (3.9 on IMDb and an abysmal 4% on Rotten Tomatoes) giving the impression to reasonable fans of the big screen that the original of every series is always better that the films that follow it.
While that may often be true, it can’t be said to always be the case, because there are three films in particular that deserve the spotlight as not only being considered among the best sci-fi films of all time (certainly within the second half of the 20th century), they all hold a very unique position by outshining the first movie in it’s series! This would make them among the best movie sequels of all time as well!
We’re talking about the hilariously brilliant Back to the Future Part II, the awe-inspiring Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, and the eyes-glued-to-screen story-telling of Terminator 2: Judgement Day. While these films are pretty old and almost everyone has seen them, just note that some of the following could contain spoilers for the two or three adults on Earth who haven’t seen these movies.
The Empire Strikes Back may not have been as well liked at the time of it’s release just three years after A New Hope hit screens, but over the years Episode V grew on fans of the beloved classic sci-fi series and the 2nd movie in the original trilogy has been safely cemented as the best Star Wars movie. (Eat your heart out Force Awakens!) Empire Strikes Back introduced the world of film to a vision of dramatic filmmaking that today people often simply take for granted and are both imitated and parodied, such as the iconic chase through the asteroid field, or in the battle on Hoth in the opening of the film. Episode V also introduces it’s audience to some of the most beloved characters, Lando Calrissian, Boba Fett, and ofcourse Yoda. The love story between Han and Leia is well-written and well-acted, as well as believable (unlike some other romantic plotlines in the series). Finally, Empire Strikes Back also contains one of the most jaw-dropping twists in film history that is so genuinely acted and directed it definitely deserves a rewatch.
Back to the Future Part II begins right where the first film leaves off and immediately launches the story forward in a near constant roller coaster of excitement and good humor. The time-traveling in the movie takes the hero Marty to the future, to an alternate and warped version of his present, back to the past to right the mistakes, and then back home in a corrected timeline. The use of time traveling and alternate timelines in the story is both interestingly complex, and at the same time reasonably easy for even a young child to understand. As the film came out in the late 80s, its unintentionally hilarious prediction of what the year 2015 would be like makes for a great laugh, although it is still considered by many to be a decently handled and not too on-the-nose parody of modern consumerism. What makes this movie truly rewatchable is it’s expertly well directed story which at times dramatically changes tone from light to dark to light again and yet there isn’t any whiplash to the viewer.
At the end of one decade and on the cusp of a next, T2 on release showed the world what a sequel can be by setting an entirely new benchmark for both action and suspense. While the first film in the series undoubtedly had a theme much more akin to the horror genre, the second film innovated on that tone by making it less of a classic monster flick that was popular in the previous decade, and more suspenseful according to the developing taste of contemporary moviegoers who craved more action. Judgement Day includes masterul direction of both action and dramatic scenes, especially convincing acting by the movie’s villain, spectacular stunts and chase scenes, one of the earliest and most excellent examples of feminine ass-kicking ever put to film, and some truly iconic moments so uniquely badass that they can easily be rewatched a hundred times without getting old.
These three films together make for an excellent blast-to-the-past for anyone in their early-30s to mid-40s because these ofcourse are very representative of the types of movies that they grew up with and would probably be a great option to watch on a 80s or 90s themed movie night. Sometimes people don’t really like rewatching old movies because they’ve seen them so many times, but that just doesn’t happen with these movies. Nobody gets tired of these three masterpieces and are happy to rewatch them over and over again.