Top 10 Sequels: Better Than The Originals

Top 10 Sequels: Better Than The Originals

Remember the scene in "Scream 2", where Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy) explains to a class of students the rules of film sequels and what must be done to achieve a perfect sequel? Well, achieving the perfect sequel is no easy task. The art of the follow-up is often less art and more artifice in proving the law of diminishing returns. Most sequels are – lets face it – inferior to their predecessors. However, sometimes, a sequel comes along that is actually an improvement on the original.

A superior sequel not only has the task of staying true to the original story, but it actually has to exceed the original film in almost every aspect. The writer of a sequel has the daunting task to take the same world, same characters, and quite often a continuation of the same storyline, and somehow make everything better and different.

Since great sequels must meet such a high standard, we can learn a lot about screenwriting by studying them. Whether it's through character development, interesting plot twists, or witty dialogue, each of the films presented on this list improve upon the original film in a creative or innovative way.

10. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)

The third installment of any movie franchise is usually a bomb (case in point Jaws: The Revenge). However, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation escapes the usual fate of the third sequel with spot on humor.

The Griswold family was first introduced into the film world with the 1983 movie, National Lampoon's Vacation. With the success of the first film in the franchise, the sequel National Lampoon's European Vacation was created. Although each movie was a success in it's own right, the Vacation series didn't hit its full stride until Christmas Vacation.

John Hughes' screenplay portrayed the ridiculousness that is the holiday season. Christmas Vacation scored the perfect balance between slapstick humor – remember the squirrel – and wittiness that the former films seemed to lack. Clark Griswold's comments to his cousin Eddie were enough to set the film apart with lines like, "Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?" This humor, combined with the common identification of having the family over for the holidays, made Christmas Vacation more appealing to a wider audience and secured a top spot in almost every classic holiday films list.

9. Goldfinger (1964)

By 1964, the world had already been introduced to James Bond through the films Dr. No and From Russia with Love. But it wasn't until Goldfinger that James Bond's iconic status was sealed in cinematic history.

The film had a budget of $3 million, and it was earned back in only two weeks. And this was back in a time when we didn't have the multitude of cineplexes and massive wide releases on 4,000 screens. It's one thing to secure financial blockbuster success, but Goldfinger also secured rave critical reviews. Roger Ebert stated that Goldfinger "is a great entertainment, and contains all the elements of the Bond formula that would work again and again." The film outdid the first two movies in almost every way. The characters were memorable. Pussy Galore is the ultimate Bond girl and Auric Goldfinger is unmatched in Bond villain history. The gold smuggler is greedy, ruthless, and has some unforgettable lines like, "Choose your next witticism carefully Mr. Bond. It may be your last".

The dialogue is quick and witty with one-liners that now define the Bond series ("Shocking! Positively shocking!"). The characters and dialogue, combined with the right amount of stimulating action, helped set the standard for one of the most lucrative and successful films franchises of all time.

8. The Dark Knight (2008)

Based on the DC Comics character, Batman, The Dark Knight is the second installment of Christopher Nolan's reboot of the series. It's predecessor, Batman Begins, was well received although it lacked the sense of adventure usually promised in a superhero movie. While Batman Begins seemed weighted down at times, The Dark Knight jumps to life with intense action sequences and vivid characters.

In fact, The Dark Knight is a testament to the power of a single character. Heath Legder's critically acclaimed performance as the iconic Joker captured the horror and malice of a true villain – clearly one of the most memorable villains in film history. Even though it's undeniably clear that the Joker is completely bad, it's the uncertainty of the Joker's motives that force the audience to engage.

Nolan has been quoted as saying that "the Joker is an absolute. There are no shades of gray to him – maybe shades of purple. He's unbelievably dark. He bursts in just as he did in the comics". And burst in he did, wearing bright purple and green, with his face painted like a sadistic clown. The only thing more horrifying than his scars, creating that sinister smile literally from ear to ear, are chilling lines such as "Do you want to know why I use a knife? Guns are too quick. You can't savor all the... little emotions." Jeepers! The presence of this superior villain contributes greatly to the ongoing success of the film and demonstrates what an important role characters play within the story. The Dark Knight without the Joker would have been just another film.

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