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(Photo by Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection)

Dune: Part One was a huge shimmering oasis amidst the pandemic-swept landscape, a sci-fi spectacle that audiences could get lost within, whether at home or in theaters thanks to Warner Bros.’ strategy at the time of simultaneous release. Here’s how the critics called it: “Dune occasionally struggles with its unwieldy source material, but those issues are largely overshadowed by the scope and ambition of this visually thrilling adaptation.”

Now director Denis Villeneuve and stars Timothee Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson and much more are back to finish the job adapting the rest of Frank Herbet’s landmark novel with Dune: Part Two. It’s currently much higher on the Tomatometer than Dune: Part One’s 83%, and now we’re taking a look into the legacy of first sequels that scored bigger numbers that the original entries.


Frankenstein (1931, 94% on the Tomatometer). Critics Consensus: “Still unnerving to this day, Frankenstein adroitly explores the fine line between genius and madness, and features Boris Karloff’s legendary, frightening performance as the monster.”

Bride of Frankenstein (1935, 98%): “An eccentric, campy, technically impressive, and frightening picture, James Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein has aged remarkably well.”


Star Wars: A New Hope (1977, 93%): “A legendarily expansive and ambitious start to the sci-fi saga, George Lucas opened our eyes to the possibilities of blockbuster filmmaking and things have never been the same.”

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980, 95%): “Dark, sinister, but ultimately even more involving than A New HopeThe Empire Strikes Back defies viewer expectations and takes the series to heightened emotional levels.”


(Photo by 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved.)

Alien (1979, 93%): “A modern classic, Alien blends science fiction, horror and bleak poetry into a seamless whole.”

Aliens (1986, 98%): “While Alien was a marvel of slow-building, atmospheric tension, Aliens packs a much more visceral punch, and features a typically strong performance from Sigourney Weaver.”


Mad Max (1979, 89%): “Staging the improbable car stunts and crashes to perfection, director George Miller succeeds completely in bringing the violent, post-apocalyptic world of Mad Max to visceral life.”

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981, 93%): “The Road Warrior is everything a bigger-budgeted Mad Max sequel with should be: bigger, faster, louder, but definitely not dumber.”


(Photo by Paramount. Courtesy: Everett Collection.)

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979, 53%): “Featuring a patchwork script and a dialogue-heavy storyline whose biggest villain is a cloud, Star Trek: The Motion Picture is a less-than-auspicious debut for the franchise.”

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982, 87%): “Considered by many fans to be the best of the Star Trek movies, Khan features a strong plot, increased tension, and a sharp supporting performance from Ricardo Montalban.”


The Evil Dead (1981, 86%): “So scrappy that it feels as illicit as a book found in the woods, The Evil Dead is a stomach-churning achievement in bad taste that marks a startling debut for wunderkind Sam Raimi.”

Evil Dead 2 (1987, 88%): “Less a continuation than an outright reimagining, Sam Raimi transforms his horror tale into a comedy of terrors — and arguably even improves on the original formula.”


(Photo by Paramount Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection)

Top Gun (1986, 57%): “Though it features some of the most memorable and electrifying aerial footage shot with an expert eye for action, Top Gun offers too little for non-adolescent viewers to chew on when its characters aren’t in the air.”

Top Gun: Maverick (2022, 96%): “Top Gun: Maverick pulls off a feat even trickier than a 4G inverted dive, delivering a long-belated sequel that surpasses its predecessor in wildly entertaining style.”


(Photo by Warner Bros./courtesy Everett Collection)

Batman (1989, 76%): “An eerie, haunting spectacle, Batman succeeds as dark entertainment, even if Jack Nicholson’s Joker too often overshadows the title character.”

Batman Returns (1992, 81%): “Director Tim Burton’s dark, brooding atmosphere, Michael Keaton’s work as the tormented hero, and the flawless casting of Danny DeVito as The Penguin and Christopher Walken as, well, Christopher Walken make the sequel better than the first.”


Scream (1996, 81%): “Horror icon Wes Craven’s subversive deconstruction of the genre is sly, witty, and surprisingly effective as a slasher film itself, even if it’s a little too cheeky for some.”

Scream 2 (1997, 82%): “As with the first film, Scream 2 is a gleeful takedown of scary movie conventions that manages to poke fun at terrible horror sequels without falling victim to the same fate.”


(Photo by Fox)

X-Men (2000, 82%): “Faithful to the comics and filled with action, X-Men brings a crowded slate of classic Marvel characters to the screen with a talented ensemble cast and surprisingly sharp narrative focus.”

X2: X-Men United (2003, 85%): “Tightly scripted, solidly acted, and impressively ambitious, X2: X-Men United is bigger and better than its predecessor — and a benchmark for comic sequels in general.”


(Photo by DreamWorks/courtesy Everett Collection)

Shrek (2001, 88%): “While simultaneously embracing and subverting fairy tales, the irreverent Shrek also manages to tweak Disney’s nose, provide a moral message to children, and offer viewers a funny, fast-paced ride.”

Shrek 2 (2004, 89%): “It may not be as fresh as the original, but topical humor and colorful secondary characters make Shrek 2 a winner in its own right.”


(Photo by New Line/courtesy Everett Collection)

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001, 91%): “Full of eye-popping special effects, and featuring a pitch-perfect cast, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring brings J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic to vivid life.”

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002, 95%): “The Two Towers balances spectacular action with emotional storytelling, leaving audiences both wholly satisfied and eager for the final chapter.”


(Photo by Columbia/courtesy Everett)

Spider-Man (2002, 90%): “Not only does Spider-Man provide a good dose of web-swinging fun, it also has a heart, thanks to the combined charms of director Sam Raimi and star Tobey Maguire.”

Spider-Man 2 (2004, 93%): “Boasting an entertaining villain and deeper emotional focus, this is a nimble sequel that improves upon the original.”


(Photo by Universal/courtesy Everett Collection)

Hellboy (2004, 82%): “With wit, humor and Guillermo del Toro’s fantastic visuals, the entertaining Hellboy transcends the derivative nature of the genre.”

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008, 86%): “Guillermo del Toro crafts a stellar comic book sequel, boasting visuals that are as imaginative as the characters are endearing.”


(Photo by Stephen Vaughan / © Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection)

Batman Begins (2005, 85%): “Brooding and dark, but also exciting and smart, Batman Begins is a film that understands the essence of one of the definitive superheroes.”

The Dark Knight (2008, 94%): “Dark, complex, and unforgettable, The Dark Knight succeeds not just as an entertaining comic book film, but as a richly thrilling crime saga.”


(Photo by Universal)

Mamma Mia! (2008, 55%): “This jukebox musical is full of fluffy fun but rough singing voices and a campy tone might not make you feel like ‘You Can Dance’ the whole 90 minutes.”

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018, 79%): “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again doubles down on just about everything fans loved about the original — and my my, how can fans resist it?”


(Photo by Marvel)

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011, 80%): “With plenty of pulpy action, a pleasantly retro vibe, and a handful of fine performances, Captain America is solidly old-fashioned blockbuster entertainment.”

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014, 90%): “Suspenseful and politically astute, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a superior entry in the Avengers canon and is sure to thrill Marvel diehards.”


(Photo by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved./Courtesy Everett Collection)

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011, 82%): “Led by Rupert Wyatt’s stylish direction, some impressive special effects, and a mesmerizing performance by Andy Serkis, Rise of the Planet of the Apes breathes unlikely new life into a long-running franchise.”

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014, 91%): “With intelligence and emotional resonance to match its stunning special effects, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes expands on its predecessor with an exciting and ambitious burst of sci-fi achievement.”


(Photo by Summit Entertainment/courtesy Everett Collection)

John Wick (2014, 86%): “Stylish, thrilling, and giddily kinetic, John Wick serves as a satisfying return to action for Keanu Reeves — and what looks like it could be the first of a franchise.”

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017, 89%): “John Wick: Chapter 2 does what a sequel should — which in this case means doubling down on the non-stop, thrillingly choreographed action that made its predecessor so much fun.”


(Photo by Warner Bros./courtesy Everett Collection)

Paddington (2014, 97%): “Paddington brings a beloved children’s character into the 21st century without sacrificing his essential charm, delivering a family-friendly adventure as irresistibly cuddly as its star.”

Paddington 2 (2017, 99%): “Paddington 2 honors its star’s rich legacy with a sweet-natured sequel whose adorable visuals are matched by a story perfectly balanced between heartwarming family fare and purely enjoyable all-ages adventure.”




97%


Dune: Part Two
(2024)
opens in theaters on March 1, 2024.

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