There is a saying that the 'first film is always the best' but that hasn't always proved to be the case over the years.

The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight

Cinema loves a sequel and we have been treated to some crackers... and there have been a handful that have really bucked this trend and turned out to be better than their predecessor.

We take a look at some of the sequels that have been better than the first film and really helped to push the franchise forward.

- The Dark Knight (2008)

When it comes to talking about sequels that are better than the original, The Dark Knight is up there as one of the best. It was back in 2008 when the second film in Christopher Nolan's Batman franchise hit the big screen, and it remains one of the greatest comic book movies of all time.

The Dark Knight, which saw Christian Bale back as Bruce Wayne and introduced Heath Ledger as the Joker, really did set the bar for this genre of movie and is the film against which all others are now measured... seven years on, and it is as still as riveting a watch as it was when I saw it in the cinema for the first time in 2008.

The Dark Knight was darker and more violent that Batman Begins. At the same time, Nolan has delivered a fast paced and intelligent movie that really does keep you on the edge of your seat. Nolan dissects the notion of good and evil and questions what makes a hero and villain. It is not simple a movie about good winning, but it explores what sacrifices have to be made to be the 'hero'.

I love the dark and very complex nature of the story and the characters - Nolan really did make this movie with an adult audience; which was a real breath of fresh air. The Dark Knight is just a triumph from start to finish.

Not only did The Dark Knight re-define the comic book movie, but it also re-defined what a summer blockbuster should be. The movie went on to gross over $1 billion at the global box office and should have been nominated for the Best Picture Oscar - for me, this movie should have won.

Nolan's Batman series was one of the best film franchises in recent years - I was a big fan of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises - but The Dark Knight really was the jewel in the crown.

- Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

I have to say, I was a fan of Captain America: The First Avenger when it was released back in 2011, but this solo Marvel franchise really did come to life when The Winter Solider was released last year.

The Winter Solider was the second film in the Captain America franchise and the first of his solo films that saw this World War II hero in the modern world. The movie saw Anthony and Joe Russo direct their first Marvel film and they really elevated this franchise and took it in a new direction.

Of course, Captain America is an action hero who is designed to save the world, but the writers and directors did not forget that Steve Rodgers is also a human being. We really see Rodgers adjusting to his new life and accepting the loss of his old one and the people that were in it -something that Joss Whedon did not have time to explore with Avengers Assemble.

Evans is terrific in the title role, a man who will not give up the things he believes in to fit into this new world. Events of the film also see Rodgers struggle to find who he can trust: plunging him further insolation and self-doubt. It is wonderful watching Evans balance all of these complex elements of this character.

Winter Solider is also a slick, action packed movie that has some great political undertones, which does set it apart from some of the other Marvel films. From the fight on the boat at the beginning, to Nick Fury's first meeting with the Winter Solider and Captain America and Black Widow's encounter with this new villain, this is everything that you want and expect from the MCU movies that we have come to love.

Captain America: The Winter Solider remains one of my favourite marvel films - second only to Avengers Assemble - and it went on to be both a critical and commercial smash. I am already looking forward to Civil War, which could be the first solo Captain America film that break $1 billion at the box office.

- Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

I know that the brand new Star Wars movie is generating a lot of excitement, but the original franchise still holds a special place in the hearts of many film fans.

The Empire Strikes Back was the second film in the series and we released back in 1980 - it is widely regarded to be the best in the trilogy and contained one of the best plot twists of all time. Not only is the twist truly fantastic, but George Lucas and co all managed to keep it a secret.

The Empire Strikes Back truly is an engrossing sci-fi film that takes us into another world and treats us to rich and interesting characters.

But works so well with The Empire Strikes Back, is that the tone is much darker than the first time around - it is great to see a franchise make such a change and do it so spectacularly.

Not only is the movie a visual spectacle, but the writers didn't forget about character development and the human emotions that really are at the very heart of this film. It is this very human side to this story that helps back an even greater punch when Darth Vader reveals his secret to Luke.

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back remains the most critically acclaimed chapter in the Star Wars franchise and is widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made.

- Toy Story 3 (2010)

We were introduced to Woody and Buzz Lightyear for the first time back in 1996 when Toy Story hit the big screen. It was the first Pixar movie and the first CGI animation film... to say it made a splash is a bit of an understatement.

Don't get me wrong, Toy Story is a wonderful movie that changed the way that animation movies were made forever but this is a franchise that has got better and better as it has gone along. For me, Toy Story 3 is the best film in the series and saw Lee Unkrich in the director's chair in 2010.

From start to finish, there is something magic about Toy Story 3 and it is an animation film that is as much for adults as it is for children. Kids will be swept away with the characters and the action, while it will tug at the heartstring of adults as we remember when we said goodbye to our favourite toys - I defy anyone to not get choked up when Andy does the same.

Toy Story 3 is a movie about growing up, moving on, and accepting that change in inevitable. There is something terribly moving about the way that these themes are explored throughout. However. this is a movie that mixes those elements with the humour and the action that we have come to expect from this franchise

Toy Story 3 was the first animated feature film to gross over $1 billion at the global box office and was the third animated feature to be nomination for the Best Picture Oscar; following in the footsteps of Beauty and the Beast and Up.

Toy Story 3 remains the seventeenth highest grossing movie of all time and is the third highest grossing animation film, behind Frozen and Minions.

- The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

We have been treated to quite a few different action franchises in recent times, but there are few that are better than the Bourne films. It was back in 2002 when we were introduced to the character of Jason Bourne for the first time and it was to be the role that turned Matt Damon into a global superstar.

But it was under the watchful eye of filmmaker Paul Greengrass - who directed the Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum - that this franchise really took off. It is not often that a franchise gets better with each film, but that is exactly what happened here... for me, the Bourne Ultimatum was the best of the trio and it was the last time that we saw Damon take on this role.

The Bourne Ultimatum is a non-stop, action-packed, and thrilling ride from opening scene to closing credits as Bourne finally gets the answers that he has been looking for. It never flags in pace and it really will keep you gripped from start to finish.

The handheld style of Greengrass really does put the viewer in the heart of the film and gives the audience a very visceral and heart-pumping film experience - it just looked fantastic on the big screen.

The Bourne Ultimatum really did take this franchise to another level and it is one of the best action films that we have been treated to in many a year. The first two movies really built up to this instalment and it delivers on every level - giving us all of the answers to the questions that we have been asking.

The Bourne Ultimatum was both a critical and commercial success and brought the franchise to a close with an almighty bang. However, Bourne will be back next year as filming is already underway on the fifth film, which will see Damon reunite with director Greengrass.

- Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

I think it's fair to say that the Terminator franchise has gone off the boil a little in recent years - quite frankly, I wish that they would just leave this one alone as they never seem to get it right.

It was back in 1985 when we were introduced to Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator and he uttered the words 'I'll be back for the first time.' However, it is Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which was released in 1991, that is regarded as the better film as James Cameron returned to the director's chair.

The film's special effects were a real breakthrough in computer-generated imagery and really took this area of filmmaking to the next level - something Cameron has made a habit of over the years.

And while the film looks fantastic with wonderful special effects and great action sequences, it is the emotional depth that we see in Terminator 2 that makes it such a terrific film.

Cameron has crafted a compelling story that is packed with interesting characters and is full of heart - he drags the audience into the action and keeps them there until the final credits have rolled.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day was a critical and commercial success and was the highest grossing movie of 1991. It went on to pick up four Oscars for Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Makeup, and Best Visual Effects.

Other sequels that were also better than the original include, The Godfather Part II, X2, Aliens, and Dawn of the Dead.

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