I’m not sure what started the trend of the movie trilogy, but the idea is epic in concept. Three parts give creators time to tell their story, set up grand finales, and flesh out character actions and motivations. Dozens of movie trilogies mention one good entry, even fewer can say two out of three were good, and only the rare few can claim that every film in the series is incredible. The Mighty Duck Trilogy is okay, but the last one isn’t the same with the team all grown up and Coach Bombay missing in action. Sam Raimi almost got the original Spider Man Trilogy right, but the last one was a bit to over the top with to many villains. The Matrix had a incredible start but got progressively worse with each entry. And the first two Godfather films are considered perfect, but Part III hurt the whole package. A series that got it right might be Toy Story, which has three nearly perfect films in its cannon, with part two probably being the weakest. Obviously, the original Star Wars Trilogy is the pinnacle of science fiction and a fine trilogy. As a fan of films I thought it would be fun to share my personal favorite trios in films. These aren’t the best movie trilogies ever, but the ones I enjoy the most.
3. The Dark Knight Trilogy
Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Batman is possibly the best superhero because of how well he has been interpreted in TV and films. Fine actors from Michael Keaton to George Clooney have donned the mask, but none embodied Bruce Wayne better than Christian Bale in the The Dark Knight Trilogy. After several years of attempted reboots director Christopher Nolan and writer David S. Goyer created Batman Begins, a more realistic take on the billionaire vigilante. The film showed us Bruce becoming the Batman we know through comics & popular culture. He’s trained by Ra’s al Ghul and nearly brought into The League Of Shadows before learning their true intentions. The process of a man creating a symbol was done with almost pinpoint authenticity. Their were even legitimate reasons for something as ridiculous as The Batmobile. The Dark Knight is an achievement of not just comic books movies, but cinema in general. Many writers more capable than me have written about the performance of Heath Ledger as The Joker, but credit is due to a plot that allowed for such a chaotic character. Lastly, The Dark Knight Rises gave an old Bat a young and better fighter in Bane. There is far to much plot in the movie, and they barely pull it off… but they do. The first fight scene between Batman & Bane is one of the best of the series. Christopher Nolan is credited as creating the greatest superhero trilogy of all-time.
2. The Back To The Future Trilogy
Back To The Future (1985), Back To The Future Part II (1989), Back To The Future Part III (1990)
As a young man in high school I watched tons of TV and Back To The Future was always on. After what seemed like a hundred viewings I realized that whenever it aired I would watch as if it was the first time. The first two movies are perfect to me regardless of how they mishandle time travel. That argument doesn’t Marty McFly with me because time travel doesn’t exist yet. Michael J. Fox was literally born to play Marty and who other than Christopher Lloyd could play Doc Brown? These movies are pure joy and entertainment. Marty waking up half naked in his young mom’s bed. Her watching him sleep. His reaction when he wakes up. Priceless. Or in Part II when he getting chased by Young Biff while riding the hover board down that tunnel. Part III is the weakest entry in the trilogy, but it wraps everything up in a nice bow. The entire adventure spanned three films, but technically lasts an afternoon. And after going to the past three times and heading to the future twice, all Marty seems to learn is not to react when being called chicken… Life lesson learned.
1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy
The Fellowship Of The Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002), The Return Of The King (2003)
This is the obvious choice and I would be lying if I put any other group of movies here. The Hobbit is solid, but shouldn’t even be mentioned when speaking of the originals. Three films, over ten hours of footage, and one ring to rule them all. Peter Jackson will have no greater achievement in his life than these films. Shoot all at once and basically acting as one movies, The Lord Of The Rings is far and beyond the greatest trilogy ever created on camera. The simple story follows Frodo and Sam as they travel to Mordor to destroy a legendary ring. I know it sounds silly, but the journey is far from it. Epic battles, political drama and the promise of Good Vs. Evil are what keep things moving. You learn to really care about all member of the fellowship, and despite the melodrama of Frodo and Sam towards the end it hard not to get emotional. I will not try and pick a favorite, and while some criticize the epilogue in Return Of The King, I see its necessity. Obviously you need a certain affinity for Fantasy. If you’re not interested in wizards, orcs or elves then you shouldn’t bother. The length of the film might be jarring, but its worth it. You will likely benefit from having read the books, but I didn’t, and I enjoyed every minute of it. This is a triumph that may never be topped and that is a testament to the source material, the vision of Peter Jackson, and the pockets of New Line Cinema.