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Movie sequels that were better than the original

1/
Paramount Pictures

Movie sequels that did better than the original

If there are two unwritten laws by which Hollywood (nearly) always abides they are the following: 1) When a movie makes a ton of money at the box office a sequel (or numerous sequels) must follow and 2) Each sequel must abide by the same formula as the original film. Naturally by sticking so closely to such risk-averse principles any given sequel rarely captures the magic of its predecessor typically offering up instead a passable or downright pathetic imitation.

However every now and then an anomaly slips through the cracks in the form of a sequel or later installment that surpasses the original in terms of quality. As one might expect this phenomenon occurs most often in franchises where numerous installments allow for bigger budgets upgraded special effects and a greater degree of creative breadth. Meanwhile because the story itself is being continued and not necessarily regurgitated audiences feel like they’re witnessing a new chapter in an ongoing saga as opposed to the same chapter being told with slightly different visuals. 

All this talk of sequels might have you asking: which movie sequels are better than the original? For that Stacker is on the task. Starting with an initial list of the top 1000 English movies released in United States Stacker searched for films where the sequel rated higher than the original on IMDb. In order to qualify the film had to have at least 5000 user votes. We then listed out the top 30 results going from lowest to highest in terms of user rating. Don’t let any previous disappointments turn you off to Hollywood sequels for good. As this list proves there is hope yet.

 

2/
New Line Cinema

#31. Annabelle: Creation

Sequel's IMDb rating: 6.6
Sequel to: Annabelle
Original's IMDb rating: 5.4

This sequel to "Annabelle" is more of a prequel as it tells the story of the origin of the famous possessed doll. "Annabelle Creation" centers on the maker of the doll who is just getting over the death of his daughter. Similar to the original movie this doll never seems to die no matter what the owners do. 

3/
Dune Entertainment

#30. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules

Sequel's IMDb rating: 6.6
Sequel to: Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Original's IMDb rating: 6.2

Based on a bestselling book series 2010’s “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” follows the misadventures of Greg Heffley as he learns to survive in middle school. In the 2012 sequel “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules” Greg finds himself up against a new challenge: his own older brother. In the eyes of most critics the sequel was pretty much on par with the original if not a little worse. Audiences however felt that the sequel did a slightly better job at capturing the spirit of the book series upon which the films were based.

4/
MTV Films

#29. Jackass Number Two

Sequel's IMDb rating: 7.1
Sequel to: Jackass: The Movie
Original's IMDb rating: 6.6

As a movie continuation of the hit TV show “Jackass” 2002’s “Jackass: The Movie” introduced Johnny Knoxville and his gang of masochistic misfits to a much wider audience. Picking up more or less exactly where the original left off was “Jackass Number Two.” As one might expect the stunts were zanier and the production value a notch higher earning the film a warmer reception among critics and audiences alike. Proving just how committed he was to the cause Knoxville incurred serious injuries during the shoot getting knocked unconscious four times and being nearly killed during a stunt involving a big Red Rocket.

5/
Lafayette Films

#28. Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer

Sequel's IMDb rating: 7.2
Sequel to: Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer
Original's IMDb rating: 7

Over a decade before Charlize Theron played infamous serial killer Aileen Wuornos in “Monster” there came Nick Broomfield’s harrowing documentary “Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer.” Broomfield would follow that up in 2003 with “Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer” in which the filmmaker himself takes the stand to testify as to Wuornos’ mental state. The sequel is not only more focused but far more intimate diving beneath the vicious surface in an attempt to find humanity in the darkest of places.

6/
Channel Four Film

#27. Red Riding: The Year of Our Lord 1983

Sequel's IMDb rating: 7.3
Sequel to: Red Riding: The Year of Our Lord 1974
Original's IMDb rating: 7.1

Based on a four-part book series the Red Riding trilogy delivers a fictional account of the biggest manhunt in British history with investigators working tirelessly to capture the Yorkshire Ripper before he strikes again. In the process a range of corrupt practices and societal ills are exposed. Each film in the series was written by the same screenwriter but shot by a different director. In the third and final installment “Red Riding: The Year of Our Lord 1983” a guilt-racked police officer investigates the disappearance of a missing girl uncovering police corruption along the way.

7/
One Race Films

#26. Fast Five

Sequel's IMDb rating: 7.3
Sequel to: The Fast and the Furious
Original's IMDb rating: 6.7

After reading about illegal street racing in a Vibe Magazine article Hollywood producers optioned the write-up and the “Fast and Furious” franchise was thus born. The original was high on octane but relatively tame in terms of elaborate action sequences. That all changed with Fast Five when director Justin Lin consciously veered the franchise into blockbuster action movie territory. The result was a huge hit in every sense of the concept and the franchise has been utterly outrageous ever since.

8/
Bad Robot Productions

#25. Mission: Impossible--Ghost Protocol

Sequel's IMDb rating: 7.4
Sequel to: Mission: Impossible
Original's IMDb rating: 7.1

Adapted from a popular TV series Brian De Palma’s original “Mission: Impossible”--about the adventures of a government spy named Ethan Hunt--was as much a noirish thriller as it was an explosive action movie. And while the subsequent installments featured plenty of gripping set pieces the tone was discernibly less dark. Among those sequels Brad Bird’s “MissionImpossible--Ghost Protocol” stands out as the most accomplished in no small part thanks to a solid story and some truly death-defying stunts many of which actor Tom Cruise performed himself.

9/
Summit Entertainment

#24. John Wick: Chapter 2

Sequel's IMDb rating: 7.5
Sequel to: John Wick
Original's IMDb rating: 7.3

At first glance 2014’s “John Wick” might seem like standard Hollywood action fare. However the movie--about a retired assassin seeking revenge on the men who killed his dog--quickly distinguishes itself by way of a comprehensive and thoroughly realized mythology. Continuing that mythology with resounding effectiveness was 2017’s “John Wick: Chapter 2.” In the film Keanu Reeves is once again pulled back into a violent world that he thought he’d left behind this time to pay off a debt. While the sequel is ranked slightly higher on IMDb most fans enjoy both installments with equal relish.

10/
Lionsgate

#23. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Sequel's IMDb rating: 7.5
Sequel to: The Hunger Games
Original's IMDb rating: 7.2

Consisting of four films (based on three books) “The Hunger Games” series takes place in a dystopian society where oppressed citizens compete to the death for the enjoyment of the elitist class. The first film in the series--directed by Gary Ross--delivered a promising but uneven start to the franchise. By contrast Francis Lawrence’s sequel was more streamlined in terms of pacing and cinematography. It’s no wonder that Lawrence stayed on to direct the last two films in the franchise. Meanwhile the books and films alike were an outright cultural phenomenon so much so that a summer camp in Florida once offered a “real life version of the Hunger Games.” That camp has since closed down for (hopefully) obvious reasons.

11/
John Hughes Entertainment

#22. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Sequel's IMDb rating: 7.6
Sequel to: National Lampoon's Vacation
Original's IMDb rating: 7.4

Written by the legendary John Hughes 1983’s “National Lampoon’s Vacation” sees the wacky Griswold family embarking on a farcical road trip to Wally World. The movie was a big hit and it remains a cornerstone of comedy to this day. For the third film in the series “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” the Griswolds celebrate Christmas the only way they know how: by causing absolute havoc in every conceivable way. In an early unreleased version of the first film the Griswolds take a powerful businessman hostage at the end of the movie. While that sequence was eventually cut a very similar plot device would end up appearing in the third installment. 

12/
Dovemead Flims

#21. Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut

Sequel's IMDb rating: 7.7
Sequel to: Superman
Original's IMDb rating: 7.3

While relatively tame (if not campy) by today’s blockbuster standards Richard Donner’s original “Superman”--starring Christopher Reeves in the title role--represented a significant stylistic progression for big-screen comic book adaptations upon its release in 1978. Donner would return to helm “Superman II” only to be replaced during the shoot by Richard Lester. However in 2006 “Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut” was released to heavy fanfare restoring lost footage and providing a much tighter narrative. In the movie Superman turns his back on his own superpowers in order to be with Lois Lane just as three Kryptonian bad guys are descending upon the planet.

13/
Paramount Pictures

#20. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Sequel's IMDb rating: 7.7
Sequel to: Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Original's IMDb rating: 6.4

While the initial “Star Trek” TV series wasn’t a ratings smash hit it ended up spawning a massive following which meant there was a legion of fans awaiting the release of “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” in 1979. Unfortunately for those fans the first big screen adventure involving Captain Kirk and his crew aboard the USS Enterprise was a fairly disappointing affair. Duly making up for that initial misfire was the 1982 sequel “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” In the movie Captain Kirk squares off against an old nemesis Khan (played by Ricardo Montalban) who was first introduced in the original series. The film is rife with memorable characters and sequences and it remains an important benchmark in the franchise as a whole.

 

14/
De Laurentiis Entertainment Group

#19. Evil Dead II

Sequel's IMDb rating: 7.8
Sequel to: The Evil Dead
Original's IMDb rating: 7.5

In Sam Raimi’s original “Evil Dead” a group of cabin dwellers are brutally terrorized by malicious demons. Making the most of its low budget the film earned a healthy cult following with acclaimed horror writer Stephen King being one of its biggest fans. It was King in fact who helped secure financing for the sequel “Evil Dead II” which sees the spirits returning to polish off a batch of (mostly) fresh meat. Thanks to improved production values heaping amounts of gore and no shortage of twisted comedy the sequel was a massive hit with fans.  

15/
Marvel Studios

#18. Captain America: Civil War

Sequel's IMDb rating: 7.8
Sequel to: Captain America: The First Avenger
Original's IMDb rating: 6.9

2011’s “Captain America: The First Avenger” saw actor Chris Evans taking on the titular role playing a scrawny soldier who becomes superhuman after being injected with an experimental serum. The movie wasn’t considered one of Marvel’s best but it performed well enough to kick off its own series. That lead up to 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War” in which the all-American superhero has an explosive disagreement with Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man. Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo the film is rife with Marvel hero cameos and thereby considered the next best thing to a full-blown “Avengers” movie. 

 

16/
Eon Prodctuions

#17. Skyfall

Sequel's IMDb rating: 7.8
Sequel to: Dr. No
Original's IMDb rating: 7.3

Introducing James Bond (aka Agent 007) to filmgoing audiences for the first time 1962’s “Dr. No” starred Sean Connery as the iconic spy and sent him on the trail of a missing agent. A legion of sequels would follow as would lead actors and by 2012’s “Skyfall” it was Daniel Craig taking on the role. In the film Bond finds himself in the crosshairs of a diabolical villain played by Javier Bardem. According to “Skyfall” director Sam Mendes there was early talk about casting Sean Connery in a character role but Mendes decided that would be ultimately too confusing if not somewhat sacrilegious. 

17/
Marvel Studios

#16. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Sequel's IMDb rating: 7.8
Sequel to: Captain America: The First Avenger
Original's IMDb rating: 6.9

Before “Captain America: Civil War” there was “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” the second film in the series. Partly inspired by 70s conspiracy thrillers the film sees its titular hero being branded a traitor by his own government before doing battle against a superhuman antagonist. By tackling broader political themes the sequel effectively stepped outside its own formula-bound box with audiences and critics definitely taking notice.

 

18/
Marvel Studios

#15. Thor: Ragnarok

Sequel's IMDb rating: 7.9
Sequel to: Thor
Original's IMDb rating: 7

2011’s “Thor” is an engaging but relatively conventional flick that has the Marvel hero being cast off by his home planet and sent to live amongst us mere mortals here on earth. By contrast 2017’s “Thor: Ragnarok” flexed its creative muscles by embracing a more playful somewhat humorous tonality. In the movie Thor gets imprisoned on the planet Sakaar and he must escape before his own world is destroyed. As with “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” Marvel won over the crowd by upending audience expectations.

19/
StudoCanal

#14. Paddington 2

Sequel's IMDb rating: 8
Sequel to: Paddington
Original's IMDb rating: 7.2

A popular children’s book character leaps from page to screen in 2014’s “Paddington” about a Peruvian bear who finds for a new home in London. Bolstered by groundbreaking CGI technology along with poignant themes about immigration the movie earned over $250 million in worldwide grosses. That paved the way for “Paddington 2” which sees the beloved bear settling in with his newfound family and working a number of odd jobs in order to pay for a gift. Sadly the book’s original author Michael Bond passed away just six months before the sequel was released. 

20/
PT. Merantau Films

#13. The Raid 2: Berandal

Sequel's IMDb rating: 8
Sequel to: The Raid: Redemption
Original's IMDb rating: 7.6

Fans of ultra-violent action movies got more than could ever ask for upon the release of 2011’s “The Raid: Redemption” in which a S.W.A.T. team gets trapped in a building run by a mobster and his goons. Taking place just two hours after the original’s final showdown was 2014’s “The Raid 2: Berandal.” This time around the lead cop from the first film agrees to go undercover in a group of local gangsters where he discovers that officers from his own department are on the take. Both films were written and directed by Gareth Evans who spent six weeks planning the sequel’s final fight scene.

21/
Strike Entertainment

#12. Dawn of the Dead

Sequel's IMDb rating: 8
Sequel to: Night of the Living Dead
Original's IMDb rating: 7.9

Working on a shoestring budget director George Romero delivered “Night of the Living Dead” in 1968 and made bloodthirsty zombies part of the cultural lexicon. Ten years later Romero returned with “Dawn of the Dead” in which the walking dead descend upon a shopping mall terrorizing the humans therein. It was a film so gory that the MPAA initially slapped it with an “X” rating.

22/
Columbia Pictures

#11. Casino Royale

Sequel's IMDb rating: 8
Sequel to: Dr. No
Original's IMDb rating: 7.3

In 2006 the James Bond franchise received a substantial reboot with “Casino Royale” centering on Bond’s very first mission as Agent 007. In the film the savvy spy must prevent a criminal banker from winning in a game of high stakes poker. This was the twenty-first film in the Bond series and the first to see Daniel Craig playing the lead role in spite of widespread disapproval from fans when his casting was announced. 

23/
Universal Pictures

#10. The Bourne Ultimatum

Sequel's IMDb rating: 8
Sequel to: The Bourne Identity
Original's IMDb rating: 7.9

Doug Liman directed 2002’s “The Bourne Identity” which starred Matt Damon as a man who wakes up with amnesia and discovers he’s a trained assassin. In the wake of the original’s success Paul Greengrass took over directing duties on subsequent installments including 2007’s “The Bourne Ultimatum.” Whereas the first film was a taut but fairly straightforward actioner the third one was a non-stop surge of adrenaline bolstered by quick dialogue seamless pacing and lots of handheld camera work.

24/
Twentieth Century Fox

#9. X-Men: Days of Future Past

Sequel's IMDb rating: 8
Sequel to: X-Men
Original's IMDb rating: 7.4

The “X-Men” franchise got off to a promising start in 2000 when the first film introduced audiences to a clan of mutants with exceptional powers and no shortage of enemies. A smash hit at a time when comic book adaptations were no sure thing the film was followed by a number of sequels prequels and spin-offs. Among them was 2014’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past” which saw the original superheroes and their younger counterparts appearing in the same film. In the movie Wolverine must travel back in time in order to stop a scientist from unleashing an army of sentinels that will one day destroy mutants and humans alike. The time-jumping story casts a wide net but director Bryan Singer keeps a tight leash on the plot and pacing resulting in one of the franchise’s best installments. 

25/
Twentieth Century Fox

#8. Logan

Sequel's IMDb rating: 8.1
Sequel to: X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Original's IMDb rating: 6.6

When the first Wolverine movie debuted in 2009 box office receipts were healthy but audience reception was lukewarm at best. A 2013 follow up called “The Wolverine” bore similarly uneven fruit. Then 2017’s “Logan” came along and viewers were glad they stuck along for the ride. The film takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting and sees its titular character struggling to save both Professor X and a young mutant from being killed by a malicious corporate figure. This was reportedly Hugh Jackman’s final performance as Wolverine though fans are still hoping he might reprise the role for a “Deadpool” mash-up.

26/
Warner Bros.

#7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Sequel's IMDb rating: 8.1
Sequel to: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Original's IMDb rating: 7.6

Based on the wildly popular book series by J.K. Rowling “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone” made its big screen debut in 2001 and the film franchise has been raking in millions ever since (shady Hollywood accounting practices notwithstanding). Capping it all off in spectacular style was 2011’s “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” in which the iconic wizard and his peers wage a final battle against Voldemort. Just like its lead character the franchise had come a long way by the time it concluded.

27/
Warner Bros.

#6. Mad Max: Fury Road

Sequel's IMDb rating: 8.1
Sequel to: Mad Max
Original's IMDb rating: 7

In 1979 Aussie director George Miller released “Mad Max” about a vengeful policeman who tracks down the motorcycle gang that killed his family. Made for approximately $200000 the movie would go on to earn up to $100 million at the worldwide box office. Of course by 2015’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” $100 million wasn’t even enough to cover the production costs. Thankfully the big budget paid off resulting in a spectacle of post-apocalyptic proportion as Mad Max and his female counterpart Furiosa flee from an evil overlord.

 

28/
Carolco Pictures

#5. Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Sequel's IMDb rating: 8.5
Sequel to: The Terminator
Original's IMDb rating: 8

After plying his craft on B-movie fare like “Piranha Part Two: The Spawning” director James Cameron poured his heart and soul into 1984’s “The Terminator” about a futuristic cyborg who’s sent back in time to murder an important woman. While popular the movie was somewhat rough around the edges and lacking in major special effects. Of course whatever the original might have been missing the 1991 sequel “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” made up for in spades. Touching down on a variety of genres the film was groundbreaking in its use of CGI and executed to perfection.

29/
Paramount Pictures

#4. Mission: Impossible—Fallout

Sequel's IMDb rating: 8.7
Sequel to: Mission: Impossible
Original's IMDb rating: 7.1

The tagline for this year's installment of "Mission: Impossible" is "Some missions are not a choice." Well, making this movie was definitely a choice, and the producers obviously made the right one. It might be 2018, but critics and viewers are giving rave reviews of Tom Cruise's performance, as well as the on-screen action. While no sequel can ever give the true feeling of the original, it can still wow the viewers six movies later.

30/
Lucasfilm

#3. Star Wars: Episode V--The Empire Strikes Back

Sequel's IMDb rating: 8.8
Sequel to: Star Wars
Original's IMDb rating: 8.6

Inspired by everything from Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” to the work of mythologist Joseph Campbell filmmaker George Lucas unleashed “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” in 1977 and changed cinema forever. As popular that film was however it’s the follow-up “Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back” that remains the fan favorite to this day. In the movie Luke Skywalker continues to develop his powers as a Jedi Knight as he and his fellow rebels take on Darth Vader and the evil empire.

31/
New Line Cinema

#2. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Sequel's IMDb rating: 8.9
Sequel to: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Original's IMDb rating: 8.8

Giving J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic Lord of the Rings saga the big screen treatment it deserved was filmmaker Peter Jackson who kicked things off in 2003 with “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.” In the movie a hobbit named Frodo embarks on a quest to destroy an all-powerful ring. The adventure culminates in the third installment “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” which has the forces of good and evil squaring off in epic battle complete with mind-blowing CGI effects.

 

32/
Warner Bros.

#1. The Dark Knight

Sequel's IMDb rating: 9
Sequel to: Batman Begins
Original's IMDb rating: 8.3

With 2005’s “Batman Begins” Christopher Nolan delivered his creative take on the caped crusader and it was a dark and serious take at that. Apparently the director’s grim tonality was exactly what audiences craved as the film was a major success. According to legend Nolan was initially reluctant to sign on for next installment in the franchise but the lure of the Joker was too compelling to resist. The result was 2008’s “The Dark Knight” a legendary sequel that to this day ranks as one of the best comic book movies ever made thanks in no small part to a downright spine-tingling performance by the late and great Heath Ledger.

 

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