Top 10 series-redeeming threequels
#10 – GoldfingerShoving this one in at number 10 because, to be fair, Goldfinger‘s predecessor From Russia With Love was pretty great too. Putting the stamp on the concept of the modern film franchise when it landed back in 1964, Goldfinger introduced many of the most dearly beloved aspects of Bond – an irrelevant opening sequence, an absurdly OTT villain with kooky henchmen, and more gadgets than you could shake a stick-that-turns-into-a-hovercraft at. Not so much a series-redeeming threequel as one that set the tone for the next few decades of high-camp Russkie-baiting, Goldfinger is the spiritual parent of this entire blog.
#9 – Mission: Impossible IIIJJ Abrams’ debut film was a welcome return to form after the stunningly plotless anarchy of John Woo’s Mission: Impossible 2. We’ve still got a soft spot for insane, alien-worshipping, wife-bullying, child-brainwashing homunculus Tom Cruise, and Abrams’ take on the Impossible Missions Friends or whatever was so gloriously stuffed with explosions and superb actors (PSH doesn’t just do any old franchises) that we didn’t even dread Ghost Protocol, which was actually really good. Good old Ethan.
#8 – Toy Story 3We know, we know, it’s illegal to badmouth any Pixar film ever because what’s fashionable right now is pretending you’re a child and can, therefore, justifiably sate yourself on childish culture. Whatever. We don’t much like Toy Story 2 (OR Up, you pathetic snivelling wretches, OR the fish one), but the third instalment did a truly elegant job of resolving a story arc that had, for people within about three years of my age, progressed and grown up pretty much as we did. Also, there may be a day when we’re mature enough to not get excited about Timothy Dalton playing Mr Pricklepants the irascible luvvie hedgehog, but it is NOT THIS DAY.
#7 – Rocky IIIIf we’re being totally honest, Rocky III isn’t as good as Rocky II. You know that, we know that, but it was an absolute bugger trying to think of ten films for this list so we’re going to justify its inclusion somehow. Rocky III has THAT SONG, it has Hulk Hogan playing a character called Thunderlips and, best of all, it has Mr. T as the brilliantly mental Clubber Lang. Any time we feel in need of an injection of sass, we watch the clip above and imagine telling Sly Stallone that he’s a big girl’s blouse who can’t keep his woman happy. Then we kick over a bin.
#6 – Iron Man 3We actually quite enjoyed Iron Man 2, but obviously that isn’t an opinion you’re allowed to have outside your head unless you want to be mocked so WE HATED Iron Man 2, HOW DARE IT BE FUNNY AND LIGHT-HEARTED WHILE STILL ALSO HAVE LOTS OF ACTION AND MICKEY ROURKE WAVING HIS THINLY VEILED ALLEGORICAL LIGHTNING PENISES. (Fun fact: first time round we typed ‘thinly veined’. Ain’t no way Mickey Rourke’s penis is thinly veined – we sort of imagine it looking like one of those ropes they use to hold down hot air balloons.) Anyway, poor old Jon Favreau took all your bitching to heart and went and made Cowboys and Aliens, a film crying out for a little self-aware comedy, into the most po-faced flick ever to involve James Bond, Han Solo and lasers, so Shane Black came and made Iron Man 3 and it was, admittedly, better. We hope you’re happy.
#5 – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of AzkabanGary Oldman with tattoos. Emma Watson in a pink cardigan. TOADS IN A CHOIR. Alfonso Cuarón doesn’t give a toss, mate, and even if he didn’t physically beat Chris Columbus up behind Pinewood Studios he definitely did it in both their minds. The Prisoner of Azkaban was the highlight of the generally awful Harry Potter series right up until the surprisingly excellent two-part finale, because it’s got everything – not only a relentlessly, ridiculously dark aesthetic, but also time travel, Draco getting mauled by a Hippogriff and the chilling realisation that Timothy Spall the rat almost certainly watched Ron have his first one off the wrist.
#4 – A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream WarriorsBisexual slasher carcrash Freddy’s Revenge could have sunk the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise permanently – and, looking at the most recent six films in the series, that probably would have been for the best. But if Freddy had never made it into a third film we’d not have Dream Warriors, which rises above its awful title to claim a confident silver medal in the Elm Street Olympics. Wes Craven was back on set, Dokken did the theme song, ZSA ZSA GABOR was there for literally no reason at all – these are pretty much all the things we want from 80s horror.
#3 – Die Hard with a VengeanceIt’s a shame very few of you have met my sister, because she and I are very similar to Die Hard and Die Hard 2: Die Harder; I’m two years older, she got a better reception than me at the time although many critics have since eaten their words, and although we share exactly the same DNA she’s a lot less coherent. Also, Alan Rickman has never been in her. I hate Die Hard 2 and, like all right-thinking people, I nightly thank God for the quirk of fate that brought Bruce Willis, Samuel L Jackson and Jeremy Irons together for one of the most thrilling action threequels of all time. Alas, after my sister was born my dad had a vasectomy, so this is where the analogy collapses.
#2 – Indiana Jones and the Last CrusadeSean Connery is the only actor to star in two of the films on this list, unless Tim Allen is in Army of Darkness and nobody told us. Boosting the Indy series back into top form after the generally awful Temple of Doom, The Last Crusade manages to handle backstory, family drama, Nazis AND the Holy Grail with all the aplomb you’d expect of a man in a checkered hat who casually quotes Charlemagne. Marvellous.
#1 – Army of DarknessWhat do you do when you’ve run out of ways to make Bruce Campbell kill Deadites in the woods? Make him do it in the middle ages! We won’t hear a single word against Army of Darkness, unless the words are Klaatu Verada… noodle? Something like that, anyway. And to hammer home just how much we love it, the above video is of the WHOLE FILM. Good luck getting anything done this afternoon!