There’s nothing more epic than a movie trilogy done right. Then again, there’s nothing more disappointing that a movie trilogy done wrong. A prime example is The Matrix Trilogy. It had an amazing first movie that blew everyone away. Then the Wachowskis followed that up with two of the hardest to follow, most uninspired excuses for cinema greatness ever committed to DVD. Some trilogies are one continuous story; others are simply sets of movies involving the same characters. Either way, here are seven examples of how to do trilogies right.
7. The Bourne Trilogy
Based on the books of the same name, this is Matt Damon portraying a sort of real life James Bond type special ops solider. It departs pretty heavily from the books, mixing and matching action sequences from the pages so much that they completely leave out an entire book and skip to the ending. Consider the fat trimmed because these movies are amazing. If James Bond hasn’t been rebooted into a Bourne-type fashion, I would have bet money that this action hero would have stolen the torch.
6. Toy Story
Just like death and taxes, Pixar always delivers, and this is the granddaddy, mother ship, Alpha and Omega of Pixar’s already classic lineup. All three of these movies are so good that it’s impossible for me to even begin to choose a favorite. The nostalgia factor has never been higher with number three so if you haven’t completed your Toy Story circuit yet, DO IT!
5. Die Hard
Before you say anything, I know, there’s a fourth one…and even talks of a fifth in the works, but since the first three are the only ones really worth counting, it’s a trilogy. As far as straight up action movies, there has never been a better set. Not only are they un-toppable as far as action goes, but they have the greatest action hero of all time in John McClane.
4. The Man with No Name
Sergio Leone westerns are westerns done right. No one has the mastered the slow, epic, tense buildup quite like Leone. These are also the movies that started Clint Eastwood’s meteoric rise to the stuff of legends. It’s almost impossible to choose which Blondie adventure is best with a lineup like A Fistful of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More, and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
3. Indiana Jones
I’m enacting the Die Hard rule one on Indy. Yes, there are four movies, but no, the fourth one doesn’t count. The first three in the Indiana Jones franchise are some of the best movies ever made. No adventure movie before or since has been able to capture the perfect balance of action, adventure, heart, comedy, and then tie it all together with such unforgettable characters. The fourth one lost a lot of steam, for a lot of different reasons, but you can’t go wrong with Indy 1-3.
2. The Lord of the Rings
In Clerks 2 there was a massive argument on whether or not LOTR or Star Wars was better. Seeing this as number two, you see which side of the argument that I fall on. However, I’ll admit that I go back and forth. It’s almost like I choose the one that I watched most recently, and since LOTR isn’t that, she’s sitting the silver medal spot…this time. These movies are as epic as you can get. It’s also one of those rare occurrences where the movie is head and shoulders above the book. Everything about this movie is perfect. Don’t waste your time with the theatrical cuts, though. Go big, or go home with the 12+ hours of combined cinematic brilliance on the extended cuts.
1. The Original Star Wars Trilogy
This movie holds a special place in everyone’s heart. We all remember the first time we sat down and watched these movies as kids. I still remember that feeling of being a fifth grader and meeting Luke on Tatooine, following him all the way through Hoth and the Dagobah System, until his final encounter with his father and the evil Emperor. Each time I sit down to watch the saga, I look forward to recapturing some of that wonderment and that sense of adventure. These movies really are unparalleled. Nothing has quite been able to match Star Wars mix of storytelling, epicness, and down right genuine love of the characters on so many levels. At one point Yoda says,” Adventure. Excitement. A Jedi craves not these things.” Well I do, and that’s why Star Wars sit atop this list.
Honestly, there haven’t been a ton of great movie trilogies, but this is the top shelf for me. Is there anything on my list that you feel is undeserving of a spot? That’s fine, as long as it’s not the Matrix.
Top Photo Credit: Flamenco Sun