The 5 Best Sci-Fi Movie Sequels of All Time
What makes a great sci-fi movie sequel?
Is it recapturing the magic of the original while expanding its cinematic universe?
Is it shocking your audience by improving on the first film?
Or is it all it takes tossing in some hoverboards and flamethrowers?
Yes to all of the above.
The best sci-fi movie sequels of all time mix all of these themes and never fret about breaking the old rules while inventing some new ones.
They mess with our expectations, introduce bold new characters, up their production budgets to include jaw-dropping action sequences and special effects, and then leave us begging for an inevitably terrible third franchise movie, because we wouldn't be fans if we weren't gluttons for punishment.
Here are our picks for the 5 best sci-fi movie sequels of all time. They mostly come out at night...mostly.
5) Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Cheesy? Yes. Melodramatic? Yes. One of the best sci-fi films of all time? Probably.
There's something genuine and lovable about the original Star Trek's campiness in the face of the J.J. Abrams sleek, action-packed Hollywood reboot, and it's not just due to the inevitable nostalgia.
The original Star Trek was at its best when it was mixing Shakespearean drama with sci-fi, and that's what the Wrath of Khan evokes.
Though the infamous "KHAAAAAAAAAN!" moment has become a joke almost on par with Darth Vader's "NOOOO!" in Revenge of the Sith, the fact that it's quoted by generations who weren't even alive to see Shatner and Nimoy in action speaks to the film's lasting impact.
4) Back to the Future 2
After the burst of bizarre cinematic genius that was Back to the Future (it sounds less cool when comedian John Mulaney describes it), the sequel had surprisingly big shoes to fill. Fortunately, it went with a pair of self-lacing Nike shoes.
Though it wasn't quite as memorable or tightly plotted as the original, Doc Brown's frenetic mad scientist routine and the novelty of pointing out all the crazy future stuff of the far-off year of 2015 made Back to the Future 2 a lot of fun.
Unfortunately, it also spawned a generation of self-entitled technophiles asking where their damn hoverboards are. Yes, we're still waiting.
3) Terminator 2
Terminator 2 has achieved legendary status as the greatest blockbuster action movie of all time.
Through unlikely circumstances, Ahh-nold's iconic, unstoppable engine of death finds himself on the side of the good, defending Sarah Connor from the most intimidating highway cop in cinema history.
Despite the distinct tinge of the '90s hanging around the film (and a snarky child actor), T2 is badassery turned up to 12, with enough explosions, gun battles and car chases to put Michael Bay to shame and enough character development to actually have a human heart beating in it.
Aliens has been called a straight-up action movie, mostly because all the hardware is there: it's got machine guns, flamethrowers, and power loader facing off a big boss monster.
But Cameron himself said Aliens wasn't meant to be a testosterone-fueled exploration of gun fetish—according to him, it was meant to be an homage to the Vietnam War.
The movie takes a long, long time to explore Ripley's psyche and character before the action kicks in, too.
The horror is less thick and oppressive than the original, but the movie as a whole is more multidimensional than Alien.
1) The Empire Strikes Back
We are required by law to put Empire Strikes Back on the top of this list.
If you don't remember which one it is, it's the one with Yoda's original training session, Luke and Vader's lightsaber duel, the AT-ATs, "I love you!" "I know," and "No, Luke, I am your father."
There's so much iconic stuff packed into it that you almost forget that it was one movie and not just part of the Star Wars aether.
Characters change and grow, a love story unfolds in the darkest of times, and Luke faces down Darth Vader at the height of the Sith Lord's power. Maybe there's a reason for the law.