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The Trilocorn! Trilogies that work as a whole and apart
#1

Watching the largely successful new Planet of the Apes trilogy as a triple feature the other night made me wonder, "How many trilogies have there been where each film is good AND the trilogy as a whole is good?"



By which I mean that each individual film gets a positive review on its own merits, without depending largely on its connections to the other two. But also that all three films connect together enough to where the trilogy has its own overarching story that plays out successfully.



I realized that I could only really come up with four examples.



Lord of the Rings - obviously.



Planet of the Apes - I prefer the first film, but all three are good to great films, and Caesar's arc across the three feels like a giant biography of a historical person.



The Dark Knight - The second and third are more closely intertwined, but obviously the first sets up dominoes that fall in the others.



Pirates of the Caribbean - Opinions will vary, but I enjoyed the first three films to varying degrees, and found the conclusion of the third a really strong one that should've ended the story.



Any others?



Notable omission: Star Wars. I just don't find RotJ to stand up as a good film on its own. It's almost wholly dependent on story beats from the first two films, and our love of those films. Without them, it's a film that dies on the vine after the escape from Jabba.

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#2

ROTJ peters out after the escape from Jabba's, but roars back to life in the 3rd act and brings the whole trilogy to a satisfying close.  It deserves the spot much more than POTC.

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#3
AAre the "Man With No Name" movies a trilogy for this thread's purposes? It's not at all clear whether the Man With No Name is one consistent character, or something more like an archetype. He answers to a different name in each of the three films. Maybe they're just three terrific stand-alone movies.
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#4
AI'd go ahead and say Back to the Future. Obviously there are some pieces missing from the later films if you haven't seen the preceding ones, but overall they work nearly as well separately as they do together.
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#5
Quote:

Originally Posted by Schwartz View Post
 

ROTJ peters out after the escape from Jabba's, but roars back to life in the 3rd act and brings the whole trilogy to a satisfying close.  It deserves the spot much more than POTC.


The epic space battle and the Luke/Vader/Emperor scenes are some of my favorite bits of the whole series. Yeah, Jedi isn't as flawless as its predecessors, but it still has enough good stuff for me to forgive its weak points.  I'll take it over The Force Awakens anyday.



I feel like the I'm the only poster with mixed feelings towards POTC 2&3. They certainly have fun moments, but both are too damn bloated. Still love the original.



For a choice that hasn't been mentioned yet, I choose The Naked Gun Trilogy. Yeah, the first is the best, but I feel the two sequels are very underrated. All three films add up to a good time for me.

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#6
AMad Max (the Gibson trilogy)
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#7
A[quote name="Ravi" url="/community/t/159479/the-trilocorn-trilogies-that-work-as-a-whole-and-apart#post_4322533"]I feel like the I'm the only poster with mixed feelings towards POTC 2&3.[/quote]
You're not. They're absolute messes with varying degrees of redeeming elements.
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#8

Based on the criteria from the first post I don't think either RotJ or Pirates 2&3 can count. RotJ doesn't really work as a self contained piece because it's entire first act is dedicated to wrapping up threads from Empire. Same with Pirates. 2&3 are both half films.



I'd put forth Iron Man 1-3. They're fairly standalone, but there's still a clear character and thematic throughline.



Also the Kung Fu Panda trilogy, where they're more clearly connected narratively, but you don't need to have seen all of them to get them.

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#9
Quote:

Originally Posted by Fafhrd View Post
 

Based on the criteria from the first post I don't think either RotJ or Pirates 2&3 can count. RotJ doesn't really work as a self contained piece because it's entire first act is dedicated to wrapping up threads from Empire. Same with Pirates. 2&3 are both half films.




That was my main thinking on Jedi. It's just not as much of a film as it is an epilogue.



I mean, suppose you hit your head while reading this thread and forgot all three Star Wars films. Then you read about Jedi and decide to watch it without having seen the other two. Does it work? I'd argue that it'd be a weak, incomplete film on its own. All of its best moment are pay-offs to the previous films. Without them, you have characters who don't have arcs and plots that are half-baked. The only part of Jedi that really stands on its own is the Ewok stuff, and that's the worst part of the film.



I can see the same argument sinking Pirates. It's been a while since I've seen #2, so I'm fuzzy on exactly how well it functioned before I saw #3. As I recall, I felt the Swann/Sparrow stuff especially worked w/o -needing- the 3rd film. It ends on an obvious To-Be-Continued note, but if they stopped there, the conflicted ending would've been an interestingly open-ended one. As opposed to something like The Matrix, where films 2 and 3 are basically incomplete without the other.

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#10

As a kid, I saw ROTJ before the other two films, and it blew me away.  Yes, it's wrapping up strands from earlier films, but it has a helpful text crawl at the beginning to catch up the uninitiated.



We had a lot of this discussion a few years back in the Trilogy KO. I would say that the Ocean's movies make for a solid, if lightweight, trilogy while still being essentially standalone romps.  Bourne has consistency, but the later films don't do a ton of handholding (for the initiated or the un, really).  But actually, the very best example of working in isolation while also being enhanced by seeing the whole is Linklater's Before series.

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#11

I'll put forth the GODFATHER trilogy.  Parts 1 and 2 are obviously masterpieces, but the 3rd one isn't terrible.  I used to think it was but a recent rewatch changed my mind to realize that it's a 'good' movie.  It can't live up to the first two but, taken as its own thing and viewed as its own movie, it works.  There are issues with it (mainly with some acting and casting choices), but I don't feel that they sink the ship any longer.



I'll also absolutely second the MAN WITH NO NAME trilogy, adding ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST in there as a nice bonus.

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#12

I'd argue Two Towers and Return of the King, as much as I love them, don't really work if you haven't watched Fellowship.  It's still one of the crown jewel trilogies, but its strength is in its whole.

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#13

I'll also submit the first three BOURNE movies.  They work as a trilogy and the 2nd and 3rd entries aren't entirely reliant on knowledge of the prior films to 'work' for the viewer.  It HELPS to see them in order in order to get overall thematic cohesion with Bourne's arc, but it isn't essential.

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#14
Quote:

Originally Posted by Richard Dickson View Post
 

I'd argue Two Towers and Return of the King, as much as I love them, don't really work if you haven't watched Fellowship.  It's still one of the crown jewel trilogies, but its strength is in its whole.



Yeah, I'd agree with this.  A viewer coming into TTT or ROTK wthout seeing FOTR would absolutely be lost.

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#15

I hold out hope that JOHN WICK CHAPTER 3 will allow that trilogy to take its rightful place in this thread.  Same with the eventual THE RAID 3.



Another trilogy that I'd put in here: The Harry Palmer movies:


THE IPCRESS FILE


FUNERAL IN BERLIN


BILLION DOLLAR BRAIN



The Three Colors trilogy would probably qualify.



Would the Cornetto Trilogy qualify?  They aren't really related in terms of plot/character.

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#16

I'm surprised no one's mentioned the TOY STORY trilogy.

I might have been born yesterday sir, but I stayed up all night!
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#17
Quote:

Originally Posted by Evi View Post
 

I'm surprised no one's mentioned the TOY STORY trilogy.



Toy Story 3 felt a lot like Toy Story 2 with the Buzz and Woody roles reversed.  It gets a ton of credit for the furnace scene and the ending, but up to those points, it's pretty ordinary for me.



Since we seem to be adding trilogies that disregard later films in the series, I'd add Alien/Aliens/Alien 3, which work as a nice character arc for Ripley.

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#18
Atoy story 3 also has that awfully creepy andy ending
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#19

With Bourne, Iron Man, Toy Story and Naked Gun: Are there really enough cohesive story/arcs across all three films to consider them trilogies? Or are they basically three good to great movies using the same characters? Iron Man for example feels more like the Bond films to me; a sequence of separate stories, where they could've done two, or twenty, or anything in between.



As the inspiration for the thread, the Apes films are absolutely telling a longer-form story across the three films while also telling a distinct, complete story within each.



Side note: A series of films longer than three could count as well, if anyone has managed to pull that off. They're trying with Star Wars, but it got disqualified at The Phantom Menace. Heck, you could even pick three or more films out of the middle of a series (like Bond), if they are telling a long-form complete story.



With Lord of the Rings, the question isn't whether people would be lost without Fellowship (I think they'd manage), but whether The Two Towers has anything to say on its own. I think the siege makes it feel complete to me, but I can see the argument against it. It definitely acts as more of a bridge than many sequels.

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#20
AHuh TS3 is actually my favorite of the bunch. If there's a weak link it would be Toy Story 2
I might have been born yesterday sir, but I stayed up all night!
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#21
Aeugh creepy chibi andy

simpering twitch when little bonnie reaches for his woody

WHAT A WEIRDO

the furnace sequence is great though!
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#22

I haven't seen them yet, but would the BEFORE series work?   BEFORE SUNRISE, etc?

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#23

Does everyone have me on ignore now?


Quote:

Originally Posted by Schwartz View Post
 

As a kid, I saw ROTJ before the other two films, and it blew me away.  Yes, it's wrapping up strands from earlier films, but it has a helpful text crawl at the beginning to catch up the uninitiated.



We had a lot of this discussion a few years back in the Trilogy KO. I would say that the Ocean's movies make for a solid, if lightweight, trilogy while still being essentially standalone romps.  Bourne has consistency, but the later films don't do a ton of handholding (for the initiated or the un, really).  But actually, the very best example of working in isolation while also being enhanced by seeing the whole is Linklater's Before series.

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#24
A(Trying to dance around spoilers) If he can keep up his newfound artistic and commercial success with his next film, M. Night Shyamalan will have a pretty neat trilogy.
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#25
A[quote name="Farsight" url="/community/t/159479/the-trilocorn-trilogies-that-work-as-a-whole-and-apart#post_4322648"]With Bourne, Iron Man, Toy Story and Naked Gun: Are there really enough cohesive story/arcs across all three films to consider them trilogies? Or are they basically three good to great movies using the same characters?[/quote]
With Toy Story, at least, I think the three films have enough of a thematic link to count, as they're all different angles on the question of the toys' relationship to their God-figure. The first movie has Woody feeling that he's been abandoned because Andy likes Buzz better; the second, that he will be abandoned because of his own brokenness. The third sees Woody finally freed from his doubts in Andy's essential faithfulness and trying to convince the other toys not to give up their trust and abandon him (right to the point of climaxing in a descent-into-Hell sequence!)

That fulfillment of the series's subtextual conversation is the main reason why I'm still as favorably inclined towards Toy Story 3 as I am, despite (as Richard Dickson points out) basically being the second movie with the roles swapped around, plus a side of Cool Hand Luke.
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#26
Jackie Chan's POLICE STORY trilogy.


I also like Part 4 (FIRST STRIKE), but its links to the first three are tenuous.
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#27
Quote:

Originally Posted by Judas Booth View Post
 

I haven't seen them yet, but would the BEFORE series work?   BEFORE SUNRISE, etc?



Yeah, those are a good example. I'm shocked no one brought them up before! Kudos to you!

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#28
Quote:

Originally Posted by commodorejohn View Post


With Toy Story, at least, I think the three films have enough of a thematic link to count, as they're all different angles on the question of the toys' relationship to their God-figure. The first movie has Woody feeling that he's been abandoned because Andy likes Buzz better; the second, that he will be abandoned because of his own brokenness. The third sees Woody finally freed from his doubts in Andy's essential faithfulness and trying to convince the other toys not to give up their trust and abandon him (right to the point of climaxing in a descent-into-Hell sequence!)

That fulfillment of the series's subtextual conversation is the main reason why I'm still as favorably inclined towards Toy Story 3 as I am, despite (as Richard Dickson points out) basically being the second movie with the roles swapped around, plus a side of Cool Hand Luke.

Yeah, Toy Story is accepting that you are a toy (there is a higher power); Toy Story 2 is accepting that eventually you won't be played with anymore (someday you'll die); while ironically 3 flips this all on its head by having the toys learn they can have a new owner in Bonnie.



Essentially they reach a kind of nirvana by realizing they're in control of their own destinies. If the first two are about never losing faith in Andy/God, then the third is a humanistic message about becoming your own god. This is highlighted by the scene when the martians take control of THE CLAW to save Woody & co. from the furnace. It's a very humanistic message with a bit of spirituality in that at the end they get to basically be reincarnated.



So life>death>rebirth.

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#29

Who's this Schwartz guy?

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#30

I have a few personal picks I won't mention that I know wouldn't fly with everyone, but Indiana Jones perhaps?

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#31
Quote:

Originally Posted by wd40 View Post
 

I have a few personal picks I won't mention that I know wouldn't fly with everyone, but Indiana Jones perhaps?



You have my sword.  Indeed, for shits and grins I gave CRYSTAL SKULL a re-watch about 2 weeks ago.  It's not quite the cinematic shitstain that everyone makes it out to be.  It's the weakest of the 4 but it's actually fairly watchable.  The first three are great, with RAIDERS being a perfect film and my favorite film of all time.

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#32

You are mean people.

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#33

Kieslowski's Three Colors trilogy wins this thread. Trust me.

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#34
Quote:

Originally Posted by Mangy View Post
 

Kieslowski's Three Colors trilogy wins this thread. Trust me.



I mentioned it first!  I win!!!!!!

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#35
Quote:

Originally Posted by Judas Booth View Post
 


You have my sword.  Indeed, for shits and grins I gave CRYSTAL SKULL a re-watch about 2 weeks ago.  It's not quite the cinematic shitstain that everyone makes it out to be.  It's the weakest of the 4 but it's actually fairly watchable.  The first three are great, with RAIDERS being a perfect film and my favorite film of all time.


I cannot seem to make myself watch Crystal Skull again and I was a very slight defender of it when it came out. (I still cannot stand several scenes)



Considering the first three Indy's though, I don't know if it counts because there really isn't anything connecting the three movies besides the main character.

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