If making a sequel is sometimes impossible, then making a threequel can be even trickier. After all, having the ability to make a threequel typically suggests that the first two films worked well enough to generate demand for a third.
Making a threequel can also be liberating, though. At this point, a franchise can shift or change, and the creative minds behind it can start to experiment. The best threequels do exactly that, and their gambits often pay off exquisitely.
As it turns out, Hugh Jackman may not actually be done playing Wolverine. Even so, Logan served as a fitting end to his 17 years playing the character. The movie, which was famously rated R, took the character to new and darker places.
Not every plot choice in the film works perfectly, but Jackman’s performance anchors everything so beautifully. There’s a reason the screenplay for this movie was nominated for an Oscar and became one of the first superhero films to do so. Logan is a movie about pain and hope, and it changed what superhero movies could be.
Raiders of the Lost Ark was such a triumph that it felt foolhardy to even try to replicate that film’s success. While Temple of Doom is a bit of a mixed bag, though, The Last Crusade validated Steven Spielberg’s decision to make Indiana Jones a franchise.
This third installment, which famously features Sean Connery as Indy’s father, makes the entire enterprise into something close to a farce. There was a careful balance between comedy and seriousness in the first film, and while The Last Crusade still has plenty of great actions, the jokes are what ultimately make it last.
Peter Jackson’s entire Lord of the Rings franchise is great, front to back. Return of the King might not be the strongest movie in the series, but it’s nonetheless a wonderful capper to the story. Does it have at least four endings? Sure, but can you blame Jackson and the cast for wanting to take a bit of a victory lap?
The story of the fellowship and the destruction of the ring is moving, and the battles that make up this final installment are genuinely thrilling. In the end, as Frodo realizes he can’t go home again, we’re reminded that it’s not easy, and sometimes impossible, to actually leave your trauma behind.
Harry Potter wasn’t the franchise it would eventually become until The Prisoner of Azkaban, which brought in director Alfonso Cuaron to take the entire series in a decidedly more stylish direction. Azkaban is perhaps the smartest movie in the series, and it’s the first one to realize that slavish devotion to the books didn’t have to be the ultimate goal.
The young actors at the center of the series also fully proved that they could see these characters through to the bitter end. Add in a couple of new, thoroughly captivating characters, and Azkaban cemented itself as one of the best Potter films.
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