A tub of popcorn

The reviews are in and Top Gun: Maverick, the “edge-of-your-seat”, “irresistible… blockbuster sequel”, is a hit.

Arriving a mere 36 years after the original Top Gun defined 80s cinema, Top Gun: Maverick is one of the most long-awaited sequels in cinematic history.

Until that is, The Railway Children Return arrives later this year, in which Jenny Agutter will reprise her role from the 1970 original.

While the obsession – shared by moviemakers and cinemagoers alike – with big-screen sequels is clear, which ones are the best?

Keep reading for your rundown of the best film follow-ups from more than 50 years of cinema.

1. The Godfather Part II (1974)

Widely regarded as the best film sequel ever, this sprawling gangster epic picked up six Oscars. In so doing, it also became the first sequel ever to win the best picture award.

Francis Ford Coppola directs the continuing saga of the Corleone family, headed by Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone.

The film switches between Michael’s present – mired in greed and corruption – and the rise of his father in early-1900s New York. The role of Vito Corleone, played in The Godfather by Marlon Brando, is here taken up by Robert De Niro, who won the best supporting actor Oscar for his portrayal.

Over 3 hours and 22 minutes, this breathtaking sequel charts the rise and fall of the American dream. Diane Keaton, John Cazale, and Robert Duvall all reprise their roles from the original.

2. Mad Max 2 (1981)

The dystopian original, 1979’s Mad Max, helped to launch the career of its lead, Mel Gibson. Two years later, the sequel returned to the same world to find that society had disintegrated further, slipping into post-apocalyptic territory.

A gasoline-rich community is threatened by a band of leather-clad marauders leaving Gibson’s Max Rockatansky to take on the role of the Spaghetti Western’s “man comes to town”.

With sparing use of dialogue, impressive cinematography, and audaciously orchestrated car chases, this brutal Ozploitation sequel bettered the original.

In so doing, it spawned a third outing for Gibson’s Max, the Tina Turner-starring Beyond Thunderdome.

Thirty years later, Tom Hardy took up the mantle in Mad Max: Fury Road.

3. Aliens (1986)

In the original Alien (1979), Ridley Scott gave audiences “Jaws in Space”. A cat-and-mouse horror, set aboard the commercial spacecraft Nostromo, the movie is regarded as one of the best science-fiction films of all time.

For the 1986 sequel, James Cameron opted for something closer to a Vietnam War movie set-up. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver reprising her role) wakes from cryogenic sleep, only to join a band of marines as they journey to a far-off colony with who communication has been lost.

A wildly entertaining horror-thriller, the film expanded the Alien universe, paving the way for a raft of sequels, right up to 2017’s Alien: Covenant.

Aliens co-stars Bill Paxton and Lance Henriksen.

4. Toy Story 2 (1999)

Despite being planned as a straight-to-video offering, Pixar’s sequel to the 1995 original went on to achieve enormous critical and commercial success.

The whole gang return in a high-stakes adventure when Woody is stolen by Al, a toy collector and owner of Al’s Toy Barn. As Woody learns about his past – and meets the rest of the Woody’s Round-Up cast – the toys must band together, even as they look to an uncertain future.

With Andy growing up, what will happen to them when he no longer wants to play with them?

Starring the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, and Joan Cusack as Jessie, Toy Story 2 exceeded all expectations and has so far led to two more sequels.

5. Infernal Affairs II (2003)

The 2002 original – a Hong Kong-based action thriller – was the basis for Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-winning The Departed. The latter film starred Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg, and Jack Nicolson. It won four Oscars, including best picture and best director.

Infernal Affairs stars Andy Lau and Tony Leung. Lau’s Kin-ming is a triad mole in the police, while Leung’s Wing-yan is an undercover policeman who has infiltrated the triads. The taut thriller, which sees the pair become aware of, and then try to uncover each other, inspired two sequels.

A prequel to the original film, in Infernal Affairs II we follow younger versions of our recruits as they rise through the ranks of their respective organisations. Edison Chen and Shawn Yue star, mentored by Anthony Wong and Eric Tsang, reprising their roles from the original film.

As the danger mounts, Hong Kong gets ready for the 1997 handover.

The sequel, Infernal Affairs III, expands the universe even further, acting as both a prequel and sequel to the original film.