Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Ranking Trilogies, Revisions Necessary

Gawker ranked movie trilogies and, well, performed miserable in the effort.  The Madagascar movies might be swell, but number #1?  Hmmm.  To be an excellent trilogy, all three movies have to be very good to excellent.  The weakest cannot suck even if the two others are fantastic.  So, here's my first over-thinking of pop culture in 2014 (yes, I am still procrastinating about some grading).

Oh, and a couple of key caveats:
  • If I am surprised that a third movie exists, such as "there was a third Addams Family movie?", then you are not a top ranked trilogy.
  • If there are movies beyond #3, then the series of movies can count if the extra movies are forgettable.  We call this the Crystal Skull addendum.  However, this can only be done once--which means that Rocky is a quadrilogy with us forgetting about Rocky V.  If they had stopped at three or four, then that entry would rank pretty highly.
  • I cannot rank a bunch of them on the Gawker list as my watching, like Luke's training, is incomplete (hence no Before Sunrise/Sunset/Dusk/whatever).  And no Twilight because I didn't see a single one of them. 
  • Original ranking in []
  1. Star Wars/Empire/Return of the Jedi [5].  People complain about the third one, but in a competition of trilogies, the weakest Star Wars movie is far better than most of the second best movies in most trilogies.  Folks might not like Ewoks, but the speeder sequence, the Tatooine stuff (including that most famous Leia costume), the space battle (amazing in its time), and so on are all pretty terrific.  Yub-yub indeed.
  2. Toy Story [7].  Could have been the top ranked.  Not a stinker in the bunch.  Some would argue it is the same movie three times, but only if one is blinded by the tears as Andy drives away in the third one. 
  3. Raiders of the Lost Ark/Indiana Jones [-].  If adventure has a name, it must be Indiana Jones.  People are critical of the second movie, or were, until the fourth one made them realize how good the second one was.  The second is the only where Indy truly makes a difference, as only the Russians and Ike could stop the Nazis.  Anyhow, Raiders is
  4. Godfather [2].  Done in by the tragically lame third movie.  Otherwise, it would be number one here.  But its weakest is very weak.
  5. Back to the Future [3].  People may quibble about the second movie or the third, but it told a pretty coherent story that involved time travel. Do not try this at home.  As 2015 approaches, we are wondering where our hoverboards might be.
  6. Lord of the Rings. [6] They only made three of these?  Each one was so long, with the last one being simultaneously endless and chockful of endings.  Still, an amazing depiction of a hard story to tell.  Others would rank this more highly, but that is because they like endless panorama's of  New Zealand scenery.
  7. Spider-man via Sam Raimi. [-]  The third was a mess, but the first and second were just terrific.  Molina as Dr. Ock was fantastic.  The train scene in the second was just so very Spidey.  Nice depictions of New Yorkers' reactions in the first two: you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us!  Indeed. 
  8. Iron Man. [4]  The second was a mess, the third was good but not great, but the first was a Marvel-ous movie.  Great casting, not a bad origin tale. 
  9. The Cornetto Trilogy. [-] Loses points because it confuses people since they don't realize that Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World's End are actually a trilogy--same actors, different characters.  Well, sort of.  The first two are eminently re-watchable and the third probably is--just have not re-watched much yet.  But brilliant takes on classic genres of movies: the zombie movie, the buddy cop movie, the alien invasion/old crowd gets together movie.  [Omitted by some sort of tragedy from the Gawker list]
  10. The Bourne movies. [15] They tend to blend together, but Matt Damon was amazing, the fight scenes were terrific.  Just not sure which one was which.
  11. Austin Powers. [24] All three movies were pretty entertaining, but only the first one really holds up.
  12. X-Men (hard to count as a trilogy since we now have more than three, but the first three are a sequence). [-]  People forget, but the first two were pretty swell movies.  The third was, again, a bit of a mess, but it still addressed major X themes. 
  13. Beverly Hills Cop. [20] The first one was so very, very good.  The second ok, the third meh. 
  14. Ocean's 11-12-13. [11] First one was delightful, last was pretty good, middle was meh.
  15. Batman Returns, Dark Knight, etc. Not on the list and I forgot until reminded on facebook.  This series reaks of darkness for the sake of being dark.  And despite a delightful game of prisoners' dilemma in the second movie, the antics of the bad guys were so incredibly stupid (the Joker could place explosives everywhere, Bane was ... so Bane-ish), the good guys were dumb, too.  Just incredibly stupid plots that were saved by some great performances--Heath Ledger, Anne Hathaway, JG Levitt, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, etc. I would rank this series higher but I so hate how overrated these movies are. 
  16. Blade. [-] I am fuzzy on the details, but remembered all three to be silly but entertaining.
  17. Harold and Kumar. [17] The first entry was really, really strong, and then progressively weaker but still some fun stuff along the way.

Worst Trilogies
  1. Tie between the Matrix [13?] and the Phantom Menace/Clones/Revenge of the Sith [23].  Both faced huge problems about expectations although the Matrix movies got progressively worse while the Star Wars prequels got progressively better.  Still, each trilogy only had one good/semi-good movie and two awful-tragically awful entries.
  2.  The Hangover [10].  The first was fun.  The second was complete replay.  The third was pretty unnecessary but had its moments.  But no way it is better than Austin Powers, Beverly Hills Cop, Oceans, or Harold and Kumar.  Recency bias?
Mad Max is not ranked here as I didn't see Thunderdome (a grievous omission, of course), nor is Ace Ventura as I don't remember the third movie.   Same goes for Robocop--didn't see the third one.  I plead the fifth on Porky's.

No comments: