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The basic rule is that the sequel is never better than the original. However, though few and far between, there are some cases in which the sequel is better than the original.
1. The Bourne Supremacy
The Bourne series is pure badassness, and the fact that there’s a fourth film in the making gives me butterflies in my stomach. Doug Liman directed the first film, and he did it well. Bourne, however, needed a bit of Greengrass action to really get it going. Paul Greengrass directed both sequels, and in my opinion the third was even better than the second. Greengrass is also set to direct the fourth installment of the series. Hey, as long as the story is solid and Matt Damon is in it, I’m good to go.
2. Before Sunset
Before Sunrise/Sunset are two beautiful “slice out of life” films, and I love those. The first is about a pair of individuals that meet on a train in Europe and decide to spend the night walking the city. The second, about the same pair who meet 10 years later in the same place. Both films were directed by Richard Linklater, but Before Sunset was co-written by Julie Deply. I don’t know if this had anything to do with the fact that it was better than the first, but I felt like the dialogue in this film surpasses the first. And that’s really what these movies are; all dialogue.
3. Terminator 2
Yes, Terminator 2. I know I’ll get a lot of blow-back from die-hards for this one, but this is the better film. Terminator does a great job at setting up the mythology. It’s an amazing film on so many levels. T2, however, takes it many steps forward. Everything from the action, to the story development, to the fact that it pushed the standards for special effects forward at least 10 years. Films made today still can’t match the special effects of T2.
4. The Dark Knight
This is a tough one because obviously this wasn’t the second Batman film made. However, since the re-imagining of the franchise I would have to conclude that TDK is the better film. Nolan made Batman Begins, got a nice big budget for it, it was badass, and all of that. But TDK is Batman Begins on steroids. Everything that the first film had was taken to the Nth power. The action, the drama, the villains. My only hope for the third installment is that they don’t repeat the same mistake they always do; increase the number of villains to match the number of the sequel a la Spider Man.
5. Spider-Man 2
In my opinion the first Spidey was horrible. I never liked it. The second one, however really felt like it was a Sam Raimi movie. The classic scene in the operation table to remove Doc Ock’s tentacles (Army of Darkness style), Spider-Man revealing his identity, the action sequences, you name it.