As Hollywood logic goes, if you liked something once, you’ll like it even better three times or more. For this week’s Roundtable, we take a look at our favorite movie series that have had at least three entries.
Honestly, my favorite film series (at least that I can currently conjure forth from the boggy depths of my memory) is the ‘Psycho‘ franchise. Yes, the original Alfred Hitchcock film is a masterpiece for sure, one whose influence still reverberates (loudly) to this day. But the ‘Psycho’ franchise as a whole is just as interesting. The second film, directed by underrated Australian auteur Richard Franklin, is a tight little mystery and a solid follow-up to the original. The third (directed by Anthony Perkins) is a seedy, psycho-sexual delight. The third film’s elaborate, theater-ish embellishments gave way to a stricter TV budget for the fourth entry, which originally aired on the Showtime premium cable network. The movie (directed by genre stalwart Mick Garris) is one of the rare horror movie origin tales that doesn’t disappoint. (Hear that ‘Hannibal Rising’?) Even Gus van Sant’s 1998 remake starring Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates is a bold and fascinating experiment – one that doesn’t quite work, but is still a wonderful little doodle. The franchise, for the most part, also seems to be over. Universal gave the remake a shot, it didn’t work, and no one seems keen on repeating that mistake.
Maybe it’s because I just rewatched them all to review the Blu-ray box set (for my other job at Home Theater, not here), but I really love the ‘Alien‘ series. Yes, all four of them. (I’d rather pretend that those awful crossovers with the ‘Predator’ franchise never happened.) The first film is a straight-up masterpiece. The second is a perfect expansion of the concept.
Admittedly, the third film is flawed, but I’ve always appreciated its nihilistic vision, and found it to provide a fitting end to the Ripley storyline. Well, until the fourth movie came along, anyway. ‘Alien Resurrection’ is undeniably an unnecessary cash-in, and is sullied by an incredibly goofy creature effect at the end, but director Jean-Pierre Jeunet brings a warped funhouse atmosphere to the proceedings that I find appealing. The screenplay by Joss Whedon (who reportedly hated the final product) has some snappy dialogue, and that underwater scene is really cool.
Mrs. Z and I put our heads together to try and come up with good chick-flick series, and really didn’t do too well. Granted, we could think of quite a few, but not many we’d say “favorite” about… save one: ‘Anne of Green Gables‘. We don’t need sunbursts or marble halls, but puffed sleeves are a must.
On the classic movie front, my all time favorite is ‘The Thin Man‘ series. William Powell and Myrna Loy have an effervescent on-screen chemistry that is truly magical, and the detective stories are good too.
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
A lot of my all-time favorites are parts of long-running franchises, although just about all of those series have at least one or two clunkers in ’em. One of the few I find consistently satisfying from start to finish is the ‘Evil Dead‘ series. A huge part of the appeal for me is that rather than settle into some kind of comfortable formula the way a lot of horror franchises do, these really are three completely different movies.
The first ‘Evil Dead‘ is an unrelentingly grueling horror flick. ‘Evil Dead II‘, meanwhile, is a splatter-comedy. There are elements of horror, sure, but the point is really to slather every square inch of the frame in slime and blood…to be as dementedly ridiculous as Sam Raimi and company could possibly get away with.
The series is capped off by ‘Army of Darkness‘, and by this point, anything that looks even a little bit like horror is a fuzzy blur in the rear view mirror. No, Army of Darkness plays kind of like a cross between a Technicolor Harryhausen adventure and a bunch of ‘Three Stooges’ shorts. It’s one of the most surreally fun and endlessly quotable movies I’ve ever stumbled across. The kind-of amazing thing is that despite these completely different tones, the three movies somehow manage to gel together as a series too.
I really tried to think outside the box on this one. You’ll notice I said “tried” and not “succeeded.” When Josh sent out the topic this week, he asked us for our favorite trilogy, series, or franchise. Like Pavlov’s dog the word “trilogy” triggers a certain response in me. After I saw that word, all I could think about was the holy three. No matter how dreadful the new movies are, or how many changes get made to the originals, there’s something so wonderfully pure about ‘Star Wars‘. We know who the good guys are and we know who the bad guys are – we don’t get shades of gray. Even Lando goes from pure good to pure bad and then to pure good again. His loyalty is never called into question. It’s a simple theme. Good triumphs over evil.
The original trilogy also has a sort of grounding effect on me. No matter where I am or what’s going on, when I watch ‘Star Wars’ I feel like I’m home and safe. Try as I might, I just can’t think of a movie series that means more to me.
I keep thinking through all the famous trilogies, and can’t really put a finger on my favorite. Most trilogies that I’m thinking of have two amazing films and one that’s pretty subpar, like ‘The Godfather‘ and ‘Back to the Future‘. My favorite trilogy has to be infinitely watchable. It has to be a group of films that will never get old to me – a series of movies that will never gather too much dust on my shelves before I stick them in and watch them all again.
I had three trilogies in mind, and had to whittle them down to one. I started with the original ‘Indiana Jones’ films, before the bastardized fourth movie came into being. I think we can all agree that Peter Jackson’s ‘Lord of the Rings‘ is a masterpiece. And, last but not least, there’s the ‘Toy Story‘ trilogy from Pixar.
I love ‘Indiana Jones’ and I think I could watch each one of those movies over and over again without getting annoyed by them. My only apprehension as picking it for my favorite is that sometimes I find myself watching this trilogy and picking out all the silly and nonsensical things that happen. Plus, the addition of Short Round, while funny at times, is pretty irritating.
Next up is ‘Lord of the Rings’. I adore this series of films. Jackson did a brilliant job creating the world of Middle Earth. He took some of the most famous books of all time and made them into three of the best fantasy films of all time. There’s one thing that holds me back from picking this trilogy, though. The amount of time it takes to watch it, especially the extended editions, is daunting. The movies stay on my shelf, unwatched, because it’s hard to commit half a day to watching them all.
Lastly we have the three ‘Toy Story’ films. After a lot of deliberating, this is my pick for favorite trilogy. You can watch them any time, anywhere. They never get old. Each one of them is fantastic and enthralling, without a downer in the bunch. They’re short enough not to be a huge time commitment. Plus, I’m an animation nut. Hands down, ‘Toy Story’ gets the nod.
Like most guys, I’ve loved the James Bond movies since I was a kid. The first installment I saw was ‘A View to a Kill’, certainly not the greatest 007 movie –not even the best Roger Moore 007 adventure – but I was hooked from the start. That movie was released in the heart of the ’80s, so windbreakers were a popular article of clothing for all of the characters involved. Fortunately, I happened to have my own kid-sized windbreaker, complete with a “French Toast” tag on the front, which I’d don and run around the house pretending to be a spy.
My father was a Sean Connery man, while I liked Roger Moore, and later Pierce Brosnan, and still later (after a bit of a fight) Daniel Craig (who still sort of reminds me of ‘The Great Mouse Detective’). In grade school, I stayed up late watching Bond marathons on TBS. In college, I counted down the days until the release of the next installment. For my 30th birthday two years ago, my wife rented out a theater so I could watch ‘Quantum of Solace,’ drink White Russians, and see the latest theatrical release with my friends.
In terms of pure escapist entertainment, Bond is my fave, which is why I hope MGM and the folks at Eon Productions can get their acts together and get the series back on track before we wind up losing out on anymore Bond adventures! I really don’t want another painfully long gap, like the one we suffered between the Dalton and Brosnan 007s!