Five movie sequels that are better than the original

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When it was recently announced Pixar would be releasing a sequel to "Finding Nemo" called "Finding Dory," I’ll admit I was excited, especially because I felt I'd already been spoiled by the upcoming "Monsters University" film. Pixar is one of the few companies that I think does sequels well (aside from “Cars” because no thanks). While Disney hasn’t had a perfect track record when it comes to sequels (did we really need “Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2”?), they have also had some incredible successes, especially now that they’ve acquired Marvel. So here are my picks for top five movie sequels that were so good, they could rival the first film.

5. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

I’m starting with the least serious film but truly, it commits the most serious offense. Who forgets their kid at home when going on vacation not once, but twice?! Jeez, Kevin’s parents, get it together! This time Kevin is lost in New York rather than with all the luxuries he could ask for in his deluxe mansion, so there’s a bigger element of fear. It’s an amazing sequel for a few reasons, including the fact that Kevin’s traps get more sinister, he ruins his aunt and uncle’s NYC apartment, he saves a toy store from being robbed, and he’ll have enough fodder in therapy to last him the rest of his life. Plus, he has full access to his parent’s credit cards and he befriends a crazy bird lady in the park. I like it. (Also, this re-cut trailer of "Home Alone 2" as a horror film is great.)

4. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

The "Lord of the Rings" films heralded as some of the best cinematic movies of all time, and "The Two Towers" alone garnered almost $1 billion worldwide. Although it's best when viewed alongside the other two films, "The Two Towers" can absolutely stand on its own. I have a soft spot for Merry and Pippin, so perhaps that plays into it a little, but some of the most pivotal plot points happen in this film. [SPOILER ALERT] It picks up after the devastating death of Gandalf the Grey (whyyyyy?), where Merry and Pippin are kidnapped, the fellowship is broken, and things are about to go down. As the movie unravels, it introduces us to Gollum (so creepy, but pretty awesome acting), the power of the ring, an epic battle of Helm’s Deep, and the evilness of Saruman. And Gandalf returns!

3. Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back

The first "Star Wars" trilogy, released in the late 1970s/early 1980s, is hands down superior to the newest "Star Wars" trilogy. That said, there is debate about which film is the best, but I choose Episode V every time. That's the movie in which Jedi Master Yoda is first introduced to us. Since I think he’s adorable, this movie is automatically superior to Episode IV. It’s also given pop culture two wildly popular (and often misquoted) lines, with Yoda’s "Do or do not, there is no try," and Darth Vader’s "No, I am your father." Other reasons this movie is better than the first: Boba Fett, Han/Leia admit they’re in love, and Han totally gets frozen in some carbonite. Although "The Empire Strikes Back" opened in 1980 to mixed reviews, today it’s one of the highest-rated films in history. In fact, it’s the 12th highest-grossing film in the U.S. and Canada. In 2010, the movie was preserved by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant."

2. The Dark Knight

I liked "Batman Begins," but it wasn’t the strongest starting point for the rebooted Batman franchise, especially because they couldn’t even keep the same leading lady from films one and two. But so many people were excited to check out the second film, which had a campaign that went viral and would bring the famed villain, The Joker, to life. For months leading up to it, all we heard about was the eerie, but incredible, acting performance done by Heath Ledger. When the young actor died a few months prior to the film’s release, it made the performance that much more chilling. "The Dark Knight" lived up to its hype, and then some, with The Joker absolutely stealing the show (although Harvey Dent/Two-Face, played by Aaron Eckhart, was a great addition). The movie grossed more than $1 billion worldwide and received eight Academy Award nominations (of which it took two, for Best Sound Editing and Best Supporting Actor, which went to Heath Ledger posthumously). The film is the 14th highest grossing film.

1. Toy Story 2

The “Toy Story” franchise is undoubtedly the best animated trilogy out there. I’m not sure of too many other animated triologies, but if there were a bunch of others, this would be the best. It's possibly even the best trilogy of all time, but I won't make any definitive statements... even though Tom Hanks is in it, so that automatically makes it a tier above the rest. Based on the culmination of critics’ reviews, "Toy Story 2" is actually listed as the best movie of all time on Rotten Tomatoes, with "Toy Story" landing at number 6. While "Toy Story" is incredible, introducing us to Andy, Woody, Buzz, and all of the toys we grow to love, "Toy Story 2" is emotionally moving. It's where we start to see Andy grow up, and the toys begin to deal with not necessarily being needed anymore. It's horrifying, actually, but at least we get the adorable Jessie the Cowgirl. However... along with Jessie comes literally the saddest movie sequence you will ever see in your life, set to music by Queen of Making Us Cry Sarah McLachlan. "Jessie’s Song" is so heartrending that both Tom Hanks (Woody) and Tim Allen (Buzz) confessed to crying at it.

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