The best trilogy
Today it is officially Filmstalker's third birthday, and what a three years it's been. This is officially the fourth year and in terms of yearage, the trilogy is over, but the franchise continues, just without the box office takings!
So with the end of the trilogy it got me thinking, just what is the best trilogy out there? What series has managed to keep the levels of quality high enough and kept the feel of the first film throughout the franchise?
To start the week of Filmstalker's third Birthday I'll be asking is what is the best trilogy?
Well there's one that leaps to mind instantly and would be included in any trilogy write up, and that's Star Wars. Oh and I'm talking about the first three films that were made, or the last three in regards the story time line, I do wonder if the most recently filmed trilogy should be viewed as a completely separate series of films.
Anyway, I digress. Is Star Wars a contender for the best trilogy of all time? Well obviously it's a contender, it would be mad not to include it in the list, and yet I'm not so sure that it would be viewed as the best ever trilogy.
There are those that think Empire Strikes Back is the strongest part of the trilogy, and those that think that Return of the Jedi is the weakest. In my mind I find the strongest moments of the entire trilogy are in that second and third films, and yet the last film does suffer from those Ewoks. Overall the Star Wars trilogy suffers from the weak aspects of The Return of the Jedi, despite all the strengths.
How about another classic trilogy, Indiana Jones. Does the fact that there's now a fourth film in that series mean that it should automatically be excluded from the list? I'm in two minds, although even if we did include it then the second film would be responsible for dropping it in the stakes for the lead slot.
The first film is fantastic, the second film really does let the series down with some silly gimmicky moments like the mine shaft trolley sequences that felt like it was more advertising a new Disney ride than anything else.
However the third film captured what Indiana Jones was all about once again and really recovered the trilogy, only to see it taken right back down again with the fourth film. Poor show guys. No I don't think that Indiana Jones is the best trilogy there is.
Die Hard is another trilogy that kept going, but unlike Indiana Jones, Die Hard managed to have a great fourth film that really kept with the spirit of the whole franchise. What of the trilogy though? There's the undisputed fact that the second film is a bit silly and a bit over the top in places, however there's no doubting it does still retain that John McClane feel to it, that certainly hasn't been missed.
With the third film the franchise does take a little bit of a turn but it stills keeps the whole thing running strong, and in fact the third film is as strong as the original, and I would perhaps even say that the fourth is as well. So far, Die Hard is leading Star Wars with Indiana Jones taking last place.
Matrix. Now there's a trilogy that sounds like it belongs way up there, but so many of us loved the first film, were let down and confused at the second, and by the third tired of lectures and rather tired of the series. However there are some moments in the second film that really do capture the feel of the first and continue that on, as can be said by the third film too, it just handles them better and integrates them into more of a story.
However much The Matrix promised us though, the other films failed to deliver, and took us in a direction we didn't really expect or want it to go, and we were disappointed. The second and third films let the trilogy slide through out fingers. Above Jaws, but beneath Indiana Jones.
The X-Men is a good strong trilogy to judge here. A great story with a huge following, perfect for film, and with a huge cast. The first film set a great tone for the franchise and the second and third films took that forwards with ease.
Yes the third X-Men film is under some fire for, well, I'm not entirely convinced any more that I do know why it's under fire. It has taken some really strong mythology from the comic series and brought it to the big screen. There are hints of Wolverine's origins, and a great new storyline for Jean Grey, and all the other characters appear with Magneto finally getting his chance to pitch mutant against mutant.
Throw in some strong moral dilemmas for some of the characters, Magneto especially, and only the poor mismanagement of a few characters on the way, and this is still a strong X-Men film. What's surprising here is that as far as trilogies go, this is really ranked up high, In fact my initial thoughts of placing it just beneath the Indiana Jones trilogy have changed, and I think it might, as a complete trilogy, be better than Indiana Jones. What do you think? I'm going to mull that one over as I keep writing.
Superman, another trilogy that's just had another chapter dropped on the end. The first film is iconic and introduces a fantastic cast list to the film franchise, and it's a damn good interpretation of Superman in film. Marlon Brando, Terrance Stamp, Glenn Ford, Gene Hackman, Ned Beatty, Susannah York - that's a hell of a list isn't it? Plus it's a great film too.
The second in the series manages to recapture the power of the first, and I think takes Superman even further with a great challenge which also ties in closely with his earthly desire, Lois Lane. Superman III brings in some darkness to the franchise, and I think it does it rather well, but unfortunately in other areas it falters a little.
I'm now starting to struggle a little, I'm not sure where to place Superman, I think if I step back and look at it a bit coldly, it belongs above X-Men, but just beneath Star Wars.
Lord of the Rings. What can be said about that film which is perhaps the best adaptation we've ever seen, especially of such a difficult and literately rich series of novels. Each of these films live up to the promise of the novels and of each of the previous ones in the trilogy, although it has to be acknowledged just how much has had to be removed to make it onto the big screen in anything near a manageable time frame.
Is there any argument that this belongs high up the list? Trilogy wise you have to admit that the adaptation of all these stories to such rich, flattering and respectful films is a stunning achievement.
Spider-Man is an interesting trilogy, and one that is hugely let down by its closing segment, a film that just had too much studio influence pushing too much into the film. The first is a strong comic adaptation of the much loved character, and although some casting met with a little negativity, the film was overall well accepted. The second did much the same, and had a great villain in Doc Oc and a strong battling relationship between Parker and Osborn, the film does really well to increase on the franchise. However that last film dropped the ball and delivered a typical studio film. Not such a good trilogy and that slips down the list.
Jurassic Park? Well I think the whole premise of these films stinks, since it's a rework of the story Westworld which Michael Crichton wrote and reworked into each of the Jurassic Park stories. That said the first film is great fun and starts off the trilogy well, but the second is a pale imitation of “let's do the same again” with an island no one knew about. The third, well, it's a stretch of the story even more and it just doesn't work as well as the others, not at all. For me, Jurassic Park belongs well down that list.
There's one more I'm going to look at before I hand it over to you, and that's Blade. I love the first film of the Blade trilogy, it really does set-up the hero and the franchise superbly well. The character is wonderful on screen, and they've cast the roles really well, okay the closing fight sequences turn a little odd, but apart from that it's all great. Blade II does very well, perhaps even improves on the original in places, but I can't help but feeling that there needed to be a bit more meat around the vampires and the reapers, still it's a promising run for the franchise.
Then there's Blade: Trinity. This film dilutes everything that Blade had been built up to be in the previous two films, and it gives more screen time to the duo assisting him than to the character leading the franchise, a fatal flaw for the film. Then there's the rather daft plot, even for this fantasy kind of film, and some pretty poor lines for the characters too. This film causes the Blade trilogy to drop down the list somewhat.
So what's the standings for the trilogies that I've chosen? Starting at the top with the best, here's the rundown:
Lord of the Rings
I think that list is pretty surprising, looking at some of the title I find myself concerned that I've made some poor decisions, but then I step back and remember that we're talking about all three films together and how they work as a complete trilogy.
Now what do you think? Is that list in the wrong order? Can you argue a different one? Or are the more trilogies that you think deserve to be on the Filmstalker's third birthday trilogy list?