This week Pixar’s Cars 3 arrives on BluRay – a celebrated chapter in one of Pixar’s anchor franchises, one that even has some Best Animated Film Oscar buzz…
We’ve been thinking about Pixar a lot lately – okay, so Coco‘s the reason for a lot of that, but that’s another blog for another day! – and it lead us to thinking of rebound films in franchises that we love. Cars 2, most would say, wasn’t the best received of the series and so Cars 3 has been embraced as a return to form.
For today’s Friday Five, we’re looking back at five films that were the third installments in their respective franchises and are largely seen as improvements on their predecessors, if not the best of all sequels. (NOTE: Leaving a few potential candidates out on purpose here – for example, while I love The Return of the King, I personally feel like the Lord of the Rings trilogy is solid from beginning to end so it doesn’t fit the mold for me!) Join for a run-thru of the greatest threequels!:
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Look I like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, actually – especially the 1930’s nightclub opening sequence – but there’s no denying it’s got some serious flaws of character development and archetypes. Most fans would cite it as their least favorite, though some don’t like Last Crusade either. The latter, however, would be mistaken. 😉 Exactly what Indy’s classic formula needed was a different emotional chord to strike, this time in trying to save the world while also repairing his utterly broken relationship with his father. (Sean Connery is in fact only 12 years older than Harrison Ford so in no way could he actually be his dad, but the two had such fantastic chemistry that no one batted an eyelash.)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
See the thing about book adaptations, right? – you kinda know what you’re in for before this kicks off. We knew we’d have at least seven Harry Potter films; we ended up with eight, but this is hardly an exact science. One thing’s for certain, though – most critics, and many die-hards (though not all; man, some people are passionate about Goblet of Fire!) consider the third Harry Potter film to be the best. Based on JK Rowling’s slimmest, most concise entry in the series, Alfonso Cuaron brought an appreciated dose of both gothic dazzle and adolescent realism (bring on the teen angst!), when Chris Columbus’s first two films had been enjoyable, if rather by-the-numbers.
Back to the Future Part III (1990)
No lie, I can still remember the excitement at knowing Back to the Future was getting two sequels shot simultaneously – what did we do to deserve this bounty?! Overall the entire saga garners a lot of love from fans, though it wouldn’t be off-base to point out that despite the many opportunities for great comedy that Back to the Future Part II’s alternate timeline plot provides, the second film does ultimately function mostly as a bridge between the other two. Meanwhile, the Old West setting and delightfully daffy science-nerd love story of Doc and Clara makes Marty’s third and final time-travel journey feel fresh, and a fully-rounded capper to the story.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors (1985)
Every mostly-maligned film in a franchise has its fans, at the end of the day. A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, has some, but man are they thin on the ground; the second Freddy Krueger film is usually considered one of the worst. So it was a thrill for horror fans that the third film was not only better, it’s legit fantastic. The return of Nancy (Heather Langenkamp)! Terrifying but inventive setpieces! The first big film for future Oscar winner Patricia Arquette! It’s no surprise that The Dream Warriors came from the pen of Frank (The Shawshank Redemption; original showrunner of The Walking Dead) Darabont.
It’s that Connery fella again! Considerably younger, way back in the early days of the James Bond film era. While neither 1962’s Dr. No nor 1963’s From Russia With Love are exactly considered sub-par – the latter, especially, has some passionate fans amongst Bond lovers – it’s the super-spy’s third outing on the big screen that many consider to be his first real pinnacle. It definitely sets the tone for the entire franchise to come in a way the first two do not, from the blush-worthy names (Pussy Galore) to the over the top spectacle (Bond girls painted gold from head to toe!), to the OTT, monologuing villains we all know and love.
Have any other Threequels that are your absolute favorites? Tell us on social with the hashtag #ThreequelLove!