7 Superior Sequels (And Some Runners-Up)
There are lots of pitfalls to avoid when making a sequel though: sequels may lack the spark of inspiration and enthusiasm which made the original so good in the first place; stories often suffer as they grow pretty convoluted, to allow the same leads having another adventure like the first one; and realism goes out of the window to get more spectacular visuals.
But the biggest problem remains that when you succeed in creating something exactly as before, the audience has already seen it! Sure, you can blow more things up (or blow things more up) but that only works sometimes. So movie-sequel-history is peppered with bombed groan-fests, artistically hollow successes, moderate failures and all-out embarrassments.
And, of course, there are exceptions. Here comes my list of sequels which, against age-old tradition, are actually considered to be BETTER than the movie which preceded it...
So how did this happen? The Godfather is generally known and loved as one of the best movies ever made. Wanting to make a sequel, you take the leftovers you didn't film, some flashbacks, you create a new storyline on top of this, which is a VERY convoluted one and seemingly unrelated. And you assemble the same cast, well... except the most famous member of it, who refuses to return even for a cameo.
Doesn't really sound like a recipe for success, does it?
But The Godfather: Part 2 does the unthinkable and succeeds in every way possible. Knowledge of the first movie is an absolute necessity, you need to know, love, hate, dislike these characters before you start with part 2. But as the main storyline shows the moral downfall of Michael Corleone from bad to evil, the flashbacks show how the family got to be this way. The killer acting of everyone involved is a thing to behold. Add that brilliant ending, with its final shattering flashback, and this movie just delivers an emotional hit with the force of a jackhammer.
It even pulls off the remarkable feat of making the first film even better, by explaining things which didn't need to be explained but enrich it nevertheless. A stunning achievement.