While cinema has had it’s fair share of franchises which stretch to many, many films, there is always something special to me about a trilogy. The beginning, middle and end of a story that comes full circle can truly be magnificent when told right, so here are the twenty-five best trilogies of all time, ranked in my own personal opinion!
25. The Transporter!
A classic action film that turned into a franchise, the premise of The Transporter was simple yet elegant. One guy, who has an incredible set of skills for hire and an important set of rules. What more than that do you really need? This franchise held strong for three films that are all worth watching, although the recent reboot didn’t quite hold up.
24. Oceans Eleven!
Proving a reboot can hold up to the original was 2001’s Oceans Eleven. Based on the 1960 film of the same name, this brought together eleven people to rob three Las Vegas casinos simultaneously. This epic trilogy of heist films redefined the genre and has one of the great plot twists named after it now.
23. Evil Dead!
The Evil Dead films. Campy, weird, but brilliant all the same. Bruce Campbell became a pop culture icon in these cult classics as Ash, the fighter of the undead hordes with the shotgun for an arm. It’s pretty self explanatory why this deserves to be here, these films were able to take ridiculous notions and ideas and somehow make them work all the same, mostly because they didn’t take themselves seriously and Sam Raimi is a genius.
22. Mad Max!
The original Mad Max trilogy started a legend, with Kurt Russell defining the character for a generation. Current technology and an incredible performance from Charlize Theron may have delivered the franchise a huge six oscars and much success in the latest instalment, but you can’t forget the original genius of George Miller with this franchise, especially the second instalment, proving sequels aren’t always worse!
21. The Hobbit!
Yes it still makes the list. After Lord of the Rings, everybody had high hopes for the Hobbit adaption that Peter Jackson had planned, and it could have joined Lord of the Rings up on that legendary platform it sits on, if it hadn’t been a trilogy. This was a children’s book, it was only a couple hundred pages to begin with, that is not something to create three films out of I’m afraid. Nevertheless, it’s still very well made and enjoyable to watch, and Jackson did put just about everything from the book in, he just also added a lot of stuff that nobody wanted to see.
20. The Matrix!
Yes the second and third films may not exactly be on the level of the first one, but with the unbelievably legendary status that the first Matrix film has achieved, are you really surprised that they tried to follow it up and continue that story? Not at all, and despite the poorer performance of the sequels they weren’t exactly bad films!
19. The Hangover!
The problem sometimes with sequels is that the later films are too similar to the first, and that was certainly a problem with the Hangover films. The second film was a repeat of the first with a different location leading to slightly different events, and the third got crazy and totally ridiculous, but the premise and the brilliant way they were done kept us watching right to the end, and you have to appreciate that!
18. Original X-Men!
The first three X-Men films may not have had the scale of the later films in the series, but they helped kickstart the successful age of superhero films we all love today. Without the likes of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine and Patrick Stewart’s Professor X, we may well have never gotten Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man or Chris Evans’ Captain America. Let’s just ignore that The Last Stand ever occurred.
It isn’t often that a horror franchise will be able to keep itself from becoming a laughing stock after the first film, but the Scream films managed it. After a stellar and genre defining first film, the series kept it all going with the second and third films, which remained solid throughout! In my mind this is to date one of the best horror trilogies of all time!
16. The Terminator!
Yes this is a franchise that lost it’s way recently, with both Terminator: Salvation and Terminator: Genisys going horribly, horribly wrong. But the first and second Terminator films were excellence itself, with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s terrifying robotic villain earning him true Hollywood fame, and his turn to help John Connor being a brilliant twist for the sequel. The third film remained, in my mind, a good one, despite being flawed, which allowed this franchise to round out a strong trilogy before everything went horribly wrong.
15. New X-Men!
The later films created by Fox and featuring the likes of James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender went beyond the confines of the original trilogy, where Magneto was basically the main villain the entire time, and changed the X-Men universe for the better. While they aren’t done, these films have so far been far superior, bringing huge comic book storylines to life and bringing in many much loved characters in a much closer to comic book form than originally. It also worked well as a trilogy, despite stretching its span over about twenty years, and rounded itself off in a solid fashion with last years X-Men: Apocalypse.
Another franchise that lost its way in films like The Bourne Legacy and Jason Bourne, it nevertheless started with an excellent trilogy full of suspense, action and mystery. The genius of the Bourne films, and the team of Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass, made an excellent trilogy that tied itself up in a neat bow and was unfortunately pulled apart slightly with Jason Bourne.
13. Iron Man!
While there are always complaints about Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3, these are the films, and Robert Downey Jr was the performer, that brought the Marvel Cinematic Universe from an idealised dream into reality. Iron Man was an excellent tale, and had what could be to date the greatest ending teaser in Cinematic history. The second and third films developed Tony Stark further and we’re great enjoyment; even if they didn’t deliver to the high standards that the MCU had resting on it!
And that’s the end of part one folks! If you’re interested in checking out part two of the list click here! For more of my articles and random thoughts check out The Comical Theory on Facebook and @ComicalTheory on Twitter!