The third Hunger Games installment is set to smash box office records this week. It’s part of that rare brotherhood of series where the sequel is stronger than the original, like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. We’re eager to see what they can do with #3, which got us to thinking about our favorite trilogies. Today we are counting down the best trilogies in film.
10. Dead Trilogy
George A. Romero may have gone to the well a few too many times, but the first three installments of his Dead series – Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead – were groundbreaking achievements that created the pattern for all future zombie films. Packed with social commentary as well as bloody entrails, they are as weirdly compelling today as they were when they were first released.
9. Back to the Future
Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd head to the 1950s, back to the Eighties, back to the Fifties, and eventually to the Wild West in a charming, funny, nostalgic time travel fantasy.
8. Evil Dead
Truth be told, the 2013 reboot is a worthy addition to the franchise. But it’s Bruce Campbell and the 1981 goretastic Stoogesque original, its 1987 reboot/sequel, and the epic third installment Army of Darkness that create the three headed monster we love.
7. Godfather Trilogy
Honestly, this is here on the merit of the first two films alone. Though the third installment is not the debacle it is often labeled, it is certainly comparatively weak. But since I and II are among the greatest American films ever made, we’ll let that slide.
6. Dollar Trilogy
Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly stole from Kurosawa, established Clint Eastwood, and changed the landscape of the American Western. Morally complicated and full of violence, Leone’s trilogy is a landmark in cinema – American, Italian or otherwise.
5. Vengeance Trilogy
Korean filmmaking genius/madman Chan-wook Park unleashed three riveting, bizarre tales of vengeance beginning in 2002 with Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, the unnervingly merciful tale of kidnapping, compassion and revenge. He followed it the next year with his masterpiece, Oldboy, a revenge fable so bizarre it defies simple summarization. He capped the trilogy in 2005 with Lady Vengeance, another twisted and human tale of vengeance and unattainable redemption.
4. Star Wars
If a trilogy ever had as much impact as the first three Star Wars films, we don’t know of it. Yes, there are weaknesses in Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi (Ewoks, for example), but it’s a galaxy we’d return to regardless of its distance.
3. Lord of the Rings
Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy is a majestic, gorgeously filmed and beautifully crafted nerdgasm. Scary, heroic and genuinely epic, it’s a fantasy world that offsets the magic with enough authenticity to give the trilogy compelling urgency. Jackson’s vision is magnificent. (But enough already, please?)
2. Dark Knight
Christopher Nolan recast superheroes with his dark, brooding Batman Begins. Provocatively written and fascinatingly cast, the film spun into the superior sequel The Dark Knight, proving that a superhero movie could be among the very best films made in any year. Then he capped it with The Dark Knight Rises and the kind of excitement, revisiting of themes and satisfying closure required of a genuine cinematic trilogy. Nicely done!
1. Toy Story
When Pixar unleashed Toy Story in 1995, the world changed for animation, family entertainment, and movies on the whole. What a glorious achievement – too good for a sequel. And yet John Lasseter revisited Buzz, Woody and gang in ’99 with new buddies and a toy-centric plot that was as riveting as the first film. And then, showing true genius, Lasseter returned to Andy’s house in maybe the most honest and heartbreaking coming of age film ever digitally created. Tell us you didn’t cry during Toy Story 3 and we’ll label you a sociopath.