by Jason F. Koenigsberg
Due to popular demand Pan and Slam is going to continue with the Next Best Sequels of all Time. So many great titles just missed the cut including Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, X2: X-Men United, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Star Trek: First Contact, Return of the Jedi, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Prometheus, Back to the Future Part II, The Color of Money, Day of the Dead, Land of the Dead, Before Midnight, Before Sunset, The Devil’s Rejects, 22 Jump Street, Rocky IV, and Creed. But without further ado here are the next 10 best sequels of all time.
20. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) Directed by the Russo Brothers
The first one felt like a good, old-fashioned All-American adventure film in the same vein as the first Superman and The Rocketeer. This one has a lot of those same elements but raises the bar with even better action, top notch performances and managed to surprise me with one of the main characters and their intentions. It is a smarter than average Marvel film and an undeniably fun action-thrill ride that surpassed the stellar first film and is one of the best sequels ever made.
19. Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) directed by Richard Donner
One of the best buddy cop movies from the 80’s also had one of the best sequels of any action movie. The addition of Joe Pesci was more than just comic relief and the villains being South Africans during the tumultuous final years of apartheid made Lethal Weapon 2 more than just another excuse for an action movie but a topical film with a political message. In terms of sheer, non-stop action and entertainment, it surpassed the original in the fun category. Removing the layers of depth and darkness, sacrificing drama for comedy, but it worked.
18. Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972) directed by J. Lee Thompson
The original Planet of the Apes (1968) is a bonafide science fiction classic. It’s sequels usually get a bad rep or forgotten in the discussion since the Fox update of the franchise with critically acclaimed Planet of the Apes films. Of the sequels to the original film series Conquest is the only one that deserves recognition and is worthy of being rediscovered. Usually a fourth film in a franchise is recycled ideas from the previous films and just an excuse to make money. Not the case here as it is like a prequel where we see the birth of the Planet of the Apes. Conquest of the Planet of the Apes is a social commentary about race relations and animal cruelty, concepts from the earlier films but done very well here. It also inspired immense controversy with a scene of the apes revolt against humans serving as a response to the Los Angeles Watts Riots making this the first film in the series to earn a PG-rating, a big deal at the time.
17. Die Hard With a Vengeance (1995) directed by John McTiernan
The third film in the Die Hard series takes John McClane to his home turf in New York City and what a fantastic thrill ride. When I first saw it I declared Die Hard With a Vengeance the best in the trilogy. That was because of it’s huge action sequences. Normally movies save the biggest action set pieces for the end, here it felt like every scene was the biggest action sequence. Now that I am older I am wise enough to realize as much as I love Die Hard With a Vengeance, it is no match for the original. The action sequences are copious and spectacular, some of the best to ever take place in the five boroughs. The banter between Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson as they race through the city to stop a mad bomber played brilliantly by Jeremy Irons makes this one of the best part 3’s of any film series.
16. Toy Story 2 (1999) directed by John Lasseter, Lee Unkrich and Ash Brannon
Nobody thought a sequel to Toy Story (1995) could be this good. In many ways it surpassed the narrative and character development of the groundbreaking first film. By doing so, it raised the bar for what all Pixar films and animated films could achieve. All the other Pixar sequels fail in comparison to the ideas and adventures Woody, Buzz and all their friends face in Toy Story 2.
15. Blade II (2002) Directed by Guillermo del Toro
The first Blade is an underrated masterpiece and important in the Marvel lexicon. The second one took Wesley Snipes and his Daywalker character to bold new places. Where the original excelled as an action picture, the sequel delved into the realms of horror and fantasy while still being action packed and filled to the brim with outstanding martial arts scenes. Blade is forced to team up with vampires to vanquish a deadly threat to both mankind and vampires alike. Guillermo del Toro brought his A-game to this sequel and delivered a movie nobody expected to be as great as it was.
14. The Karate Kid Part II (1986) Directed by John G. Avildsen
So many great sports sequels but for what it’s worth despite shortcomings in the screenplay, The Karate Kid Part II is the best of them all and delivers a heartfelt and rousing story adding to Pat Morita’s Mr. Miyagi mentor and giving Ralph Macchio’s Daniel LaRussa more mature scenes. They go to Japan where Miyagi is forced to confront his past and Daniel serves as a mentor, companion and friend to his surrogate father during a difficult time. The change of scenery in Okinawa is refreshing from the original’s L.A. surroundings, Bill Conti’s eastern inspired score is excellent and by the end The Karate Kid Part II is one of the best sequels to a sports movie of all time which says a lot about this film.
13. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) Directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik
I already spoke a lot about this film in my previous article of the best sequels of all time. Sequels to comedies are very tough to do and most people probably do not think of Christmas Vacation as a sequel to the Griswold families misadventures from National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983) but it is a continuation of that families foibles in a different setting and during a different time of year. A cable favorite during the holiday season people have probably seen Christmas Vacation more than any of the other Chevy Chase Vacation movies and for that it deserves to be mentioned among the greatest sequels ever made, and it is every bit as funny as the original.
12. Spider-Man 2 (2004) Directed by Sam Raimi
This film would tackle themes and develop characters to create the most mature and engrossing comic book movie ever made. That would change quickly, but for a brief moment in time, Sam Raimi’s vision of Spidey was one that captured audiences and critics alike and showed the world what comic book movies could achieve if they are done right. Most of what this movie accomplished would be forgotten by the time Christopher Nolan’s take on Batman would come the following year and Spider-Man 3 (2007) left a bad taste in many peoples mouths.
11. Superman II (1980) Directed by Richard Lester
The eleventh best sequel of all time that just missed the top 10. Superman II (1980) and I am not talking about the Richard Donner cut, that has it’s moments, but I actually love the Richard Lester original theatrical version. The original superhero sequel boldly took our Man of Steel places that we had never dreamed of seeing and was a thrilling adventure every bit as awe-inspiring as the original Superman (1978). The risks that it took paid off and to this day is one of the best sequels and best comic book movies of all time.