Brought To You By The Number 3: Andy Burns Explores The Curse of the Threequel Part 3

Over the last few days the number three has been on my brain. It started with finally reading The Ultimates 3, a Marvel comic book series that wasn’t what myself or other fans of the first two Ultimates runs were hoping for. That got me thinking about all the failed threequels we’ve had hoisted upon our pop culturey selves throughout the years. But even though there has been some serious tripe with III after it’s title, not every offering is Bat Out Of Hell III (please don’t yell at me, Meat Loaf). So, here to wrap up my own trilogy, are a selection of my personal favourite third films (some of which are part of larger series and none of which are Return of the King, I should note):

Star Wars Episode Three – Revenge of the Sith: The best of the second trilogy and arguably the third most accomplished film out of all six Star Wars flicks, I thought George Lucas really delivered with ROTS. I’m guessing he may have heard all of the (justified) criticism levelled at him for The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones and decided to pull out all the stops in converting Anakin Skywalker to the dark side. The special effects, dark tone and strong performances from Ewan McGregor and Ian McDiarmid nearly make up for the poorly cast Hayden Christensen and I find I enjoy the film more with every repeat viewing.

Back To The Future Part III: This is one of those films that seems to draw a line down the middle for fans. Some despise the Wild West setting and the fact that the focus is more on Christopher Lloyd’s Doc Brown rather than Michael J. Fox’s Marty McFly, while others love the film’s frivolity and bright tone, especially on the heels of the dark and sometimes convoluted Back To The Future Part II. Count me in the latter category – I dig the love story, the ingenuity and the way Part III ties all aspects of the trilogy together. Plus, ZZ Top’s Doubleback is almost as good as Huey Lewis and the News’ The Power of Love. Almost, but not quite.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 – The Dream Warriors: I have to admit, it’s been a while since I’ve watched this one, but it has a special place in my heart since it was the first Freddie Krueger film I actually saw. While it definitely has it’s horrific moments, The Dream Warriors also gave us some laughs and a group of institutionalized teenagers who actually posed a bit of challenge to Freddie when he was haunting their dreams. Not that the outcome was ever in doubt.

Rocky III: Another sentimental favourite, but even still, Rocky III is a classic, thanks to a badass opponent in Mr. T’s Clubber Lang, a great cameo from Hulk Hogan as Thunderlips and the debut of a classic bit of 80’s hard rock – Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger.

Terminator III – Rise of the Machines: This one makes my list simply because of the absolutely fantastic ending it gives us. Few mainstream Hollywood movies are willing to go as bleak as T3 does and for that, this film has always stuck in my memory as a fine third flick. I would have loved to have seen Nick Stahl continue on as John Connor in later films.

The Godfather Part III: The final film on my list, and likely the most controversial, since most feel it pales in comparison to the two previous entries. And you know, it’s true. The Godfather Part III never does reach the glorious heights of either Part I or Part II. However, as compared to most other movies it is still a fantastic achievement in filmmaking. There are a series of brilliant set pieces (the hotel helicopter hit, Joey Zazza’s assasination and the final half hour in the Opera House in Corleone), Andy Garcia is a strong addition to the lore as Vincent Mancini and Al Pacino has moments of brilliance as Michael, still trying to make peace with himself and his demons. While the movie suffers both from the absence of Robert Duvall and the presence of Sofia Coppola (who is not nearly as bad as people who would have you believe), The Godfather Part III is a good film and a fitting end to one of the greatest trilogies in cinematic history.

Wow, I was actually worried for a moment that there wouldn’t be enough threequels to fill an article. But luckily for me and for you, there are some great ones out there. Next summer, with the release of The Dark Knight Rises, the third and final entry into Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, we can hopefully add another to this small but mighty list.

Let’s just pray it’s not Batman Forever.

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