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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Five Best: Part Twos

courtesy of

I've written about the best trilogies before, but the actual sequels get lost in the mix. Sometimes a sequel (even if it is part of a bigger series) is just as good or better than the original. That isn't necessarily the case with the movies below, but these are still the best films that are defined as "part two." They aren't necessarily better than the films they extend from, but they are the best of their kind. Here they are in chronological order.

Robert De Niro in "The Godfather Part II" courtesy of

The Godfather: Part II (1974)

Many argue that this is better than the first, but I won't go that far. Looking at the early life of Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro), while simultaneously showing his son Michael's (Al Pacino) rise to power, it is brilliant, moving, and the first sequel to win best picture. It's a gripping story of Vito's unintended creation of the crime syndicate, while showing how his family continues his plans after his death.

Mark Hamill in "The Empire Strikes Back" courtesy of

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

I'm one of the many to claim that this is the best in the series. It's the appearance of Yoda, Luke's (Mark Hamill) training, Han (Harrison Ford) as a more important piece to the story, and the final showdown between Darth Vader and Luke, ending in the "great confession" and Luke losing a hand. In the grand scheme of things, it's a dynamic Western set in space, with death, betrayal, and loss...and lightsabers.

Sigourney Weaver and Michael Biehn in "Aliens" courtesy of

Aliens (1986)

In the second of the series, director James Cameron took over for Ridley Scott, altering the series in an interesting way. While Scott's first film was truly a horror/suspense film, Cameron turned it into a satisfying action film, while maintaining the story already set by the first entry. Sigourney Weaver plays Ripley, who still may be the most badass chick ever on film. This was before James Cameron became the irritating man he is today. It's exciting, scary, and a great completion to a story that should have eneded here.

Viggo Mortensen in "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" courtesy of

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

I still like Fellowship of the Ring better than the second and third, but "The Two Towers" is a solid middle film in the trilogy. While the first was a wonderful character study and the third was a mystical finale to a landmark series, this second film gave you the meat. It has the effects, the battles, and the further expansion of the fellowship trying to defeat Sauron's evil forces and return the one ring. And Gollum...before he was insufferable.

Heath Ledger in "The Dark Knight" courtesy of

The Dark Knight (2008)

Yes, there has been more than one Batman film before this one, but this is the second of the revamped, astronomically better Christopher Nolan series. Heath Ledger's untimely death left this as his final performance, and it couldn't have been better. He won the posthumous Oscar for his portrayal of the Joker. I argue he would've won the Oscar anyway, as his work on screen is one of the most important performances of the past 25 years.

Though the sequels are usually the worst, they still occasionally hit the right notes. There are plenty more that are fine, but these were the best.

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