Ten scores that improved upon their predecessors


Back to the Future Part II (1989)
Alan Silvestri captured the same frenetic but optimistic vibe of his breakthrough first score for this installment of Robert Zemeckis' time-travel trilogy.

Batman Returns (1992)
Danny Elfman proved his powerhouse score for 1989's "Batman" was no fluke with this hugely atmospheric, pulsating second effort, complete with yowling string effects for Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman and a dirgelike mood for Danny DeVito's cave-dwelling Penguin.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes
Leonard Rosenman inherited the simian world from Jerry Goldsmith and eked out his own bizarre musical territory, including a satirical mass for the atomic bomb.

Bride of Frankenstein
Since 1931's "Frankenstein" boasted almost no music at all, Franz Waxman was the first to give the mad scientists and stitched-together monsters of Universal's famed series a musical identity. His "creation" scoring for the Bride is an early triumph of the form.

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Still the greatest sequel score ever written: John Williams provided bold new themes for George Lucas' landmark sci-fi franchise, including the famed "Imperial March" for uberbaddie Darth Vader.

The Final Conflict (1981)
Jerry Goldsmith's gargantuan score for the little-seen third movie in "The Omen" franchise turns a tacky apocalyptic thriller into a religious epic.

The Godfather: Part II (1974)
Nino Rota's hugely popular score for 1972's "The Godfather" was disqualified for Academy Awards consideration because Rota had reused some material from an earlier work of his, but the second time was the charm, and Rota and Carmine Coppola won an Oscar for their epic work on this revered sequel.

Goldfinger (1964)
John Barry invented the James Bond film sound with 1963's "From Russia With Love" but made it indelible with this 007 sequel -- from its unforgettable title tune to the ultracool, brassy big-band vibe of his underscore.

Return of the Seven
For years, Elmer Bernstein's energetic reprise for this sequel was the only way to get his score for 1960's "The Magnificent Seven" on record.

Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith
Williams' last prequel score is his best, often taking a remorseful approach to some of the series' biggest action-set pieces.