Lets face it, sequels are rarely better than the original. Usually, the higher up in numerical sequels a film goes, the quality drops exponentially. However, sometimes the third in a series, while perhaps still not as good as the first, is better than the sequel. So I’ve compiled a list of 10 franchises where the third film is better than the second. For example: THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE was the third movie in the series and much better than the sequel THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON, so it could be a nominee for the list. However, since that film is still terrible, it can be quickly discarded. And while STAR WARS: RETURN OF THE JEDI, LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING and TOY STORY 3 were fantastic films in their own right, even far better than many films on the list, I can’t in good conscience say they were necessarily better than their predecessor. Understand? Let me know what I left off.
Honorable Mention: THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY – There seems to be a bit of discrepancy on if Sergio Leone’s The Man With No Name trilogy qualifies as true sequels. So to appease everyone, I wanted to hold a special spot for it and assure you that the third film is clearly the best of the Spaghetti Westerns. It’s as if the first two (A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS and A FEW DOLLARS MORE) were practice rounds to fine tune his fascinating cinematography combined with an unforgettable score. Let me not forget, Mr. Clint Eastwood’s performance as the man with no name, no allegiance, no commitments and no fear, writing the book on how to be a man’s man. For the record, if this were on the list it would be in the top 3.
10. OCEAN’S THIRTEEN – George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and the rest of Danny Ocean’s gang are back. After perhaps the best remake of a film in history from the original OCEAN’S ELEVEN, the second comes back with all the fun and none of the intelligence. This was a case of everyone on the film having more fun than the audience. Director Steven Soderbergh somewhat corrects the issue by bringing the crew back to the casinos in an elaborate heist pitted again Al Pacino. It’s not gold but it fills the spot for lack of a better option.
9. JURASSIC PARK 3 – Neither sequels are particularly good but both are still kind of fun. JURASSIC PARK 3 beats out the very silly acrobatic kick to the Velociraptor face from the second with the ultra cool Pterodactyl bird cage scene.
8. MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME – Sometime it’s a lasting impression that lends itself to a great sequel. And I don’t think anyone can forget Tina Turner’s villainous role as she yells “Two Men Enter One Man Leave” at Mel Gibson’s Mad Max entering the epic battle of weaponry and bungee cords in the primitive Thunderdome. I think they structured all their laws around catchy phrases. “Bust a deal and face the wheel.”
7. BACK TO THE FUTURE 3 – Marty McFly AKA Clint Eastwood (Michael J. Fox) and Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) head to the wild west in a complete new direction for the series. While the second film’s jaunt to the future was cute, it doesn’t come close to the humorous new heights our characters take when their modern idea of the old west is faced with the actual old west.
6. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3 – When I first saw MI2, I actually enjoyed the cool slow motion and crazy action with colorful cinematography that director John Woo typically does so often. But upon repeated viewing, it is pretty tough to stomach the dated style and lack of substance. MI3 on the other hand, was directed by the very clever J.J. Abrams (before resurrecting Star Trek and the upcoming Star Wars) putting the espionage back into the Mission Impossible story. Philip Seymour Hoffman as the ruthless villain is an added bonus. What’s crazy is the fourth installment is even better.
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