As usual, I applied all my usual standards for the list.
- X-Men 2 – X-Men was a really good movie, and helped to lay down the ground work for its sequels, which is why X-Men 2 is so great. With the basics set down, X-Men 2 was able to burst out of the gate at breakneck speed. With a new enemy in the form of Stryker introduced, allegiances now came a bit more mutable (pardon the pun).
- Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back – Probably the high point of the Star Wars movies (all of them), Empire advanced the story threads laid down in the first movie, while bringing in new twists. Was Vader telling Luke the truth, or was he just messing with him? Every thought went through out minds when we first saw that movie, making all too eager for the next movie.
- Dark Knight – Batman Begins set a high standard for the Nolan Batman movies. Thankfully, Nolan paid off big time with the sequel, introducing a version of the Joker that was increasingly difficult to get a read on. Was he really insane, or probably the biggest criminal genius that anyone, even Batman, had ever seen? It sure helped that Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker was just phenomenal.
- Road Warrior – Prior to the release of Road Warrior, I had never heard of Mad Max. And I bet if I ran a poll and asked who was in Mad Max besides Mel Gibson, most respondents would say Tina Turner, erroneously thinking of the third movie. When I think of a Mad Max marathon, it usually starts with Road Warrior, with Mad Max being an afterthought.
- Jurassic Park 3 – This one is a guilty pleasure entry. I liked the first movie with all its big dinosaurs, but the second movie completely fell flat for me. Then along came the third movie, which I think I saw either on DVD or on one of the movie networks. I found myself intrigued by the movie. Unlike the second movie, which followed the unlikely hero of Ian Malcolm, this one focused on one of the two characters who would feel the direct impact of the return of dinosaurs, Dr. Alan Grant. Jurassic Park 3 ends up being a fun thrill ride as Grant is pulled back into the world he hoped to leave behind.
- Return of the King – This one is tough to put on the list, mostly because all the previous movies (Fellowship of the Ring, Two Towers) are almost as good. But Return makes the list because it expertly brings the Lord of the Rings trilogy to an exciting and dramatic end.
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – This, I feel, is the high point of the Harry Potter series. this is the movie in which you really learn what is at stake on the Potterverse. We’ve seen hints of it in the first two movies, but it is in Goblet that not only does Harry’s world expand greatly, but we see the true darkness that will dominate the rest of the series.
- Evil Dead 2 – This movie is one of my personal favorites. Almost a remake of the first movie more than a sequel, Evil Dead 2 is just a much better film than Evil Dead.
- Goldfinger – This is a fudge point for me. Technically, this is a sequel to From Russia With Love, but since there have been so many James Bond films, it is tough to call any one a sequel of the previous… in most cases. But, taking it as a sequel for the moment, it is the quintessential Sean Connery Bond film.
- Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan – Khan was an excellent Star Trek movie. The return of a classic Trek villain, the spectacular space battles, just everything. We are even willing to overlook the fact that Chekov does not even appear in Space Seed, the episode that introduced us to Khan in the first place. Naturally, all of this would still hold true is Star Trek: The Motion Picture had not really been a television pilot that was pushed to the big screen by the success of Star Wars.