It has been observed recently that any movie which achieves any small degree of success is immediately considered fertile grounds for a sequel- sometimes several sequels. And as often as not, the sequel falls far short of the original and feels like nothing more than a halfhearted grab at more money in an attempt to capitalize on the success of the first. At the same time, some big films have been rolling out some highly successful sequels- Spiderman and the new Star Wars films come to mind. In the contemplation of successful franchise movies, I’ve decided to put together a Cinematical Seven list of trilogies. In order to do full justice to this list, I’d really need at least a top ten, but “Cinematical Ten” just doesn’t have the same alliterative flare. So without further ado, Cinematical presents the Top Seven Movie Trilogies (in ascending order).
- Musashi Miyamoto- The Samurai Trilogy. Based on the epic novel by Eiji Yoshikawa, the Miyamoto trilogy is a sweeping epic in the finest tradition of Japanese storytelling. The scenery of the film is gorgeous and the story is of truly epic scope, perfectly capturing the part-historical, part-mythological legend of Japanese sword master Musashi Miyamoto. Eastern narrative (in storytelling, literature, and film) has a style to it that is unlike anything you can find in the west, and these films are a great example of that style.
- Evil Dead- The B Rated Trilogy. Don’t you just love how I can go from sounding all pretentious and discussing the nature of epic Japanese literature to talking about bad zombie flicks? Well that’s just the kind of skill that I bring to the table. I realize that the Evil Dead films are sheer B movie quality, but they also represent what is possibly the biggest cult success in cinematic history. Bruce Campbell with his chainsaw is a fantastically recognizable icon- moreso than a thousand characters and images from a thousand “higher quality,” more successful films; and the tremendously cheesy one-liners (particularly those of Army of Darkness) are pure quotable gold.
- Back to the Future- The 80s Trilogy. Michael J. Fox is just pure fun to watch. His boundless energy and enthusiasm give powerful life to any character he plays, tops among them Marty McFly. Add to that a convincingly zany mad scientist character played by the marvelously eccentric Christopher Lloyd and you’ve got a fantastic on-screen chemistry carrying a hilariously fun story.
- The Godfather- The Mafia Trilogy. The paradoxical nature of the Corleone Family is a work of narrative genius. They are warm and loving, while at the same time vicious, violent, and cruel. The balance between these two disparate natures is achieved to perfection, and it pulls on the emotional strings of the audience like a world class puppet master.
- Lord of the Rings- The Fantasy Trilogy. The beauty of these films is still freshly imprinted on the minds of all movie-goers. In his novels, Tolkien crafted an enormous, masterful, gorgeous world that anyone who happened upon the books immediately and irrevocably fell in love with; and the movie translation was nothing short of brilliance (go away Mr. Gimli’s-Beard-was-two-shades-too-light, I don’t want to hear from you). A flawless story presented with stunning visuals results in a top notch trilogy.
- The Dollars Films- The Western Trilogy. When Italian director Sergio Leone gave the world the man with no name he not only redefined the nature of the Western, he played a huge part in transitioning the traditional American concept of a movie hero. Cowboys were no longer happy-go-lucky guitar toting minstrels of the plains; they had become wry, gritty, and edgy, with a strong capacity for violence. The influence of the films’ complete lack of sentiment, open acceptance of serious violence, and often unlikable heroes can be obviously seen today in modern cinema. I don’t want to overstate the case and suggest that these are the only films responsible for this trend, but they certainly deserve a great deal of the credit.
- Star Wars- THE Trilogy. I don’t think it can be denied that Star Wars has had a more profound impact upon American culture than has any other movie trilogy in Hollywood’s history. It simply engulfed the entire country in its mythos and never released its grip. “Jedi,” “Death Star,” “The Force,” “wookie,” “Millennium Falcon,” “lightsaber;” these words are all immovable parts of the American lexicon, as familiar to most people as words like “spoon” and “chair.” The story is truly epic in scope, the characters are intense and appealing, the scenery is imaginative and vivid, and the musical score has no equal. All together, Star Wars created a movie marvel that stands as one of the greatest cinematic feats in American history.
So there you have my not so humble opinion on the seven best movie trilogies. I’m sure you disagree on a few (or perhaps all) of them, and are ready to let me know just where I went wrong. As I said in the intro, there are several movies I really felt should get mentioned, but I just didn’t have room for them all. Get to commenting, kids, and let’s hear your lists!
(p.s. Please don’t kill me, Matrix people. Maybe some day I’ll write a top seven list of the worst trilogies, and then it can be on the list, I promise!)