A MOVIE TRILOGY is a great way to spend a rainy day, a sick day, a day when you just don’t feel like moving too much. Grab your remote, your popcorn, your slippers and relax your way into fiction. Pick the right trilogy, and you’re in for at least six or so hours of cinematic bliss. But beware, pick the wrong trilogy and you’re doomed. One would think that if a movie is good enough to warrant two more added to its story, it’s worth checking out. Wrong. There are far more bad trilogies than those that pass The Man F.A.Q.’s test. Here’s a breakdown of our not-so-scientific findings. We broke the films down into four categories, ranging from the five trilogies that can’t miss to the ones that never should have been made. Here are our results, keeping in mind that we purposefully avoided cartoon and kid-flicks.
THEY GOT IT RIGHT
This group’s trilogies all went 3-for-3. They are great examples of what trilogies should shoot for. They are all not only congruent but dependent on each other for the story’s completion.
5. Pirates of the Caribbean
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006), Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)
Mark’s take: This is an example of you-get-what-you-asked-for movie making. If you want three films about pirates and ghost stories without the made-for-TV dropoff in quality toward the end of the series, then you won’t be disappointed with Pirates of the Caribbean. The storylines in the third film are a bit lacking from the first two films — thus its No. 5 ranking — but all in all this is a series worth following through until the end.
4. The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
Mark’s take: Again, you’re getting just what you asked for — short creatures trying to destroy a ring. Like many of the “trilogies that made it,” this is a series that was planned for three movies right out of the gate. It follows one story from the start of the first movie through until the end of the third movie. If the fantasy genre is your thing, here are damn-near nine hours you shouldn’t miss.
3. The Godfather
The Godfather (1972), The Godfather Part II (1974), The Godfather Part III (1990)
Mark’s take: Not only is this one trilogy every man should watch, but this threesome features two of the best stand-alone movies of all time. The third installment catches shit from some people, and others list it as their favorite. This film series ranks pushes itself into the top three because not only does the series carry one overall story throughout, but each film stands on its own as a quality piece of work. Sometimes, a man’s just in the mood for a little Godfather II, sometimes he’ll sit back and watch the whole thing.
2. Mad Max
Mad Max (1979), Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981), Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
Mark’s take: Did this series get better with each new installment? Some people think so. Many, myself included, list the second film as their favorite. Some people pan the third film, but come one “two men enter, one man leaves,” you can’t beat that. The Thunderdome scene is enough to warrant the film’s existence. It’s a bit of a niche genre, but as I’ve said before, if films about a post-apocalyptic future are what you’re looking for, you won’t be sorry.
1. Star Wars (Original Trilogy)
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977), Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
Mark’s take: The trilogy that set the standard for all other trilogies. To be honest, putting Star Wars at No. 1 in the list is also something of a “lifetime achievement award,” based on the ground that the films broke. The first film broke the mold for the entire science-fiction genre. The action and special effects soared to heights never before seen by other SciFi films. The second movie eclipses the first in story and excitement for many, and is almost the unanimous answer to the question, “What’s you’re favorite Star Wars movie?” The third movie, albeit the weakest of the three, is a fitting conclusion to the story. It was probably your favorite as a kid — what with all the fun creatures — and likely carries fond memories with it.
ALMOST MADE IT
This group’s trilogies all went 2-for-3, as in great first movie and great sequel, but an epic failure of a third installment. The trilogies in the group are basically ranked in order of how steep the dropoff is in the third movie.
Friday (1995), Next Friday (2000), Friday After Next (2002)
Mark’s take: This rough-around-the-edges ghetto comedy struck a cord with movie viewers all over the spectrum. It was fresh and somewhat witty. Even the second movie showed that repeating the same types on one-liners can carry a film but so far. There was a steep dropoff from films No. 1 and No. 2, but people mostly enjoyed seeing the same characters one more time. The third movie, however (and especially with even how stale the second felt), wasn’t even worth the bother for viewers and shouldn’t have been worth the bother for the makers, either.
Blade (1998), Blade II (2002), Blade: Trinity (2004)
Mark’s take: Oh snap! A vampire hybrid that can go outside in the daytime? Good thing he’s a good guy. The first two Blade movies had a moving-comic-book feel that seemed fitting to the story. About the only thing we got from the third movie was Jessica Biel (hot) and seeing what Ryan Reynolds could do with a year in the gym. Not worth the price of admission, in my opinion.
3. The Matrix
The Matrix (1999), The Matrix Reloaded (2003), The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
Mark’s take: The first film made us ask the question,”What if all this isn’t real?” It’s a question we’ve all asked, similar to “What if we’re all just inside someone’s dream?” Well, we’re not. We’re too self-aware for that. But The Matrix added a diabolical twist to that age-old question. The first movie really could have stood alone. But it was such a boom at the box office, with critics and just about everyone else in the world that a second movie just seemed like an inevitability. The story continued, and still drew our attention. But the third installment was as disappointing as the first was ground-breaking. It seemed like the last five pages of a term paper that had waited until the last night to be written. It seemed like the characters and their development took a back seat to the fact that the movies creators just wanted to get done with their project on time. Still made a shit-ton of money, though. Movie-goers likely had the same excuse for shelling out the cash for the third movie, “Hell, I saw the first two so I had to see how it ended.”
Goal! (2005), Goal! 2: Living the Dream… (2007), Goal! 3 (2009)
Mark’s take: This series sought to fill a void in the film world — soccer movies. There just aren’t that many out there (and, quite frankly, there aren’t that many people in America who seek out soccer movies). But for movie fans who also love the beautiful game, myself included, the first Goal! movie was eye candy. It was a story about a kid from the slums of Los Angeles, and illegal Mexican immigrant, who found his way onto an English Premiership team. He meets a girl, falls in love and scores some goals. In the second movie he strikes it rich with a deal to play for a Spanish team. This film is more about the main character’s development as an individual rather than as a soccer player. The second film also ends in a helluva cliff-hanger. And it was a cliff-hanger that was barely referenced in the third film. And, in fact, our beloved main character? We’ll he’s hardly even background noise in the third film that is both lacking in quality of the special effects and writing of the first two films. It’s about the quality of a home video made by a fourth-grader for his YouTube account.
1. Major League
Major League (1989), Major League II (1994), Major League: Back to the Minors (1998)
Mark’s take: If you want a corny take-over-the-world sports movie about a team coming together to achieve what’s possible, you’ve got it in Major League. Hell, you’ve got it in MLII. Take the first movie, they clinch the division and a spot in the playoffs. In the second movie, the Indians take it a step further, beating the White Sox in the ALCS and make it to the World Series. In the third movie, world champs, right? Wrong. It’s the little Twins vs. the big Twins, completely abandoning our beloved Indians and their quest for a World Series ring, and instead we’re in for an hour-and-a-half of “that guy from Quantum Leap” and “that guy who was the neighbor on Married With Children.” FFS.
SHOULD HAVE STOPPED AFTER ONE
Going just 1-for-3, these trilogies should have each been an only child.
5. The Transporter
The Transporter (2002), Transporter 2 (2005), Transporter 3 (2008)
Mark’s take: Fast cars and hand-to-hand fighting plus a closed-off, by-the-book character played by Jason Statham made the first movie something of a hit. But in the last two installments, we’ve got Statham babysitting and falling in love? Lame-o.
4. The Addams Family
The Addams Family (1991), Addams Family Values (1993), Addams Family Reunion (1998)
Mark’s take: OK, so maybe people remember watching the Addams Family on TV when they were a kid and fondly remember the series. Curiosity added to nostalgia are good enough reasons to watch the first movie. But like so many trilogies, there was simply no need for two more films. After the first movie, viewers had already seen Thing and Cousin It on the big screen. After that, there’s nothing to add.
3. Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park (1993), The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), Jurassic Park III (2001)
Mark’s take: As the start, the first film gave its viewers a classic humans-vs-dinosaurs matchup without introducing time travel. A novel idea. I mean, DNA from mosquitoes, pretty cool. But that’s all it was, a pretty cool idea for a movie. No need for two more. But, there were. And they’re bad.
2. From Dusk Till Dawn
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money (1999), From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter (2000)
Mark’s take: The first movie was directed by Robert Rodriguez and written by Quentin Tarantino. Sweet. The next two movies were simply produced by Rodriguez and Tarantino, and were both written and directed by people who are neither Rodriguez nor Tarantino. That pretty much says it all right there. The first movie, like many from Tarantino, has something of a cult feel which is “liked” by the masses and “loved” by a few. The last two movies in this trilogy simply don’t live up to the standards of films movie-goers usually associate with Tarantino.
1. Slap Shot
Slap Shot (1977), Slap Shot 2: Breaking the Ice (2002) , Slap Shot 3: The Junior League (2008)
Mark’s take: First movie=awesome. And for 25 years, that’s just what fan of this movie thought it was. A perfectly awesome sports movie, and that’s saying something considering the sport involved is one that many Americans couldn’t give two shits about. But, 25 years and the dumb Baldwin brother later, and Slap Shot was on it’s way to becoming the worst 2/3 of a trilogy ever.
NEVER SHOULD HAVE BEEN MADE
Quite frankly, 0-for-3. This group of movies should have all been aborted. Surely, there are actually even worse trilogies out there, but these all make the list because not only are they each a combination of three awful movies, but in each case there was either massive amounts of build-up and pre-release exposure or an unwillingness to simply die after the first failure … and the second.
5. I Know What You Did Last Summer
I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997), I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998), I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer (2006)
Mark’s take: The first movies was somewhat interesting with it’s “Oh, shit” moment. For half-a-second, you imagine yourself as one of those teenagers trying to complete the ultimate cover-up. But after the first few minutes, you realized this is a dumb movie about a bunch of dumb teenagers. But wait, they made two more! Super for movie-goers everywhere.
4. The Skulls
The Skulls (2000), The Skulls II (2002), The Skulls III (2003)
Mark’s take: Suspense and intrigue on a fourth-grade level. This movie takes what most cerebral thrillers do well, and did it horribly wrong.
3. Legally Blonde
Legally Blonde (2001), Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (2003), Legally Blondes (2009)
Mark’s take: It wasn’t until I started researching this article that I even realized they made three of these movies. The first movie is an insult to anyone who ever got admitted to Harvard. Surely, we can’t be made to believe that a cute video and a perfumed-scented entrance essay can get you into an Ivy League school.
2. Maniac Cop
Maniac Cop (1988), Maniac Cop 2 (1990), Maniac Cop III: Badge of Silence (1993)
Mark’s take: OK, it’s a nice try. There are plenty of people out there who are afraid of actual cops. So, take a crazy killer cop, and you’re got a perfect thriller, right? Wrong. The first movie was a failure. So they made a second. Fail. And a third. Fail.
1. The Cutting Edge
The Cutting Edge (1992), The Cutting Edge: Going for the Gold (2006), The Cutting Edge 3: Chasing the Dream (2008)
Mark’s take: Holy shit. A movie about a hockey player becoming a figure skater … times 3. Really? Wow. The only thing worse than these movies is the titles for these movies.