Let’s not get into how trilogies function. There have been some great trilogies and I vehemently respect the filmmakers’ ambitions to expand their horizons to construct a cinematic world, which they probably dreamed of during their careers. But the whole concept of a trilogy has now become synonymous to failed franchises.
Most trilogies are a set of three films because the critics and audiences were left restless by the shenanigans on screen, and the producers decided to drop future plans. And in most trilogies the third film is the final straw, and has the potential to even mess up all the love you had harbored for the trilogy. They just serve as an exercise in minting money with directionless substance that is intentionally left inconclusive so that a follow-up can be materialized. I’ll be looking at some disappointing final films in trilogies that may not have been bad, but were surely very disappointing after the standards the original had set. Here is the list of 15 most disappointing third parts in trilogies:
15. Blade : Trinity (2004)
Directionless third movie plot? Check. No definitive style? Check. Bad Luck Gosling? Check. Rhythm-less fight sequences? Check. David Goyer maybe a good writer but it didn’t make any sense when he succeeded Norrington and Del Toro to direct the final film. The move only reeked of the producers’ decision to not put any effort because the first two parts had already cemented a solid brand name.
14. Home Alone 3 (1997)
Home Alone 3 is a funny little film with silly slapstick humor you find in almost every child related comedy flick. The first film didn’t essentially focus on a superhuman kid who successfully beats a group of hitmen, working for a terrorist organization. Yes, you read that right, an 8 year outsmarting a team assigned to steal a $10 million computer chip. The third part swiftly loses the essence of Christmas and the importance of relationships, which the original immortalized.
13. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
The Bourne Ultimatum is an intolerable watch. Though a lot of people may have liked it, owing to the blind admiration for action movies in today’s era, the final piece is just incredibly poor direction. The shaky cam was adopted to present an active observer’s POV, but with the overblown sound design, choppy editing and directionless plot, this came off as nothing but a gimmick to decorate a film that does nothing but paste its source material.
12. Back to the Future 3 (1990)
Roger Ebert said the film’s western motifs are “a sitcom version that looks exactly as if it were built on a back lot somewhere”. And I agree, Back to the Future was a great movie but the story ended right there and the sequels only served the incentive of selling mediocrity under an established garb. This scenario could’ve worked very well as a TV series but as a movie, it provides nothing more than just another setting for just another movie sequel.
11. X Men : The Last Stand (2006)
An extremely ripped Wolverine holding Jean Grey’s lifeless body in his arms, while standing amidst debris and bodies of countless other mutants might melt some hearts, but doesn’t deviate from the fact that Fox’s heavy handed approach to the Dark Phoenix Saga was laughable. The script was underdeveloped and was the sole reason why Bryan Singer didn’t continue to direct this one as well. The relationship between the mutants was profoundly explored in the earlier two films and the solemn mood was disrupted by the politics sub arc and the imbalance between emotional and action sequences.
10. Poltergeist 3 (1988)
If the second part already did a messy job of continuing the original’s legacy, the third film was just Poltergeist for namesake. Nobody from the original was involved at all with this film, and no wonder the film had its own campy horror vision, with no addition over the first two. The film also suffered from the death of Heather O’Rourke’s death before the release and had to endure a subdued marketing process.
9. Pirates of the Caribbean : At World’s End (2007)
‘At World’s End’ would probably top the chart for the most pointless post credits sequences in films, but I can overlook that while describing how disappointing it is with its story. POTC is loved for its thrilling adventures and worlds that expand on the iconic Disneyland ride. But the closing piece of the trilogy decided to soak in melodrama and a love story that destroyed the conception of one of my favorite cinematic villains, Davy Jones.
8. Alien 3 (1992)
Yes, Alien 3 succumbed to the production house’s extraordinarily dumb demands and left Fincher handicapped, but at the time of its release it was a bad film, and hence makes our list. Reports state even the script wasn’t ready by the time they had started production, and the producers were so muddled up in their decisions, every part of the film feels like a detached entity from the concept of the series.
7. Jurassic Park 3 (2001)
How forced was this really? Probably featured the worst sub plot in a Jurassic Park film. Billy Brennan nicking off dinosaur eggs, why? Absolutely no explanation provided except for the clichéd “curious and dumb” character trait in a monster film. Instead of expanding the world, what we got was a topsy-turvy plot, with twists after every 15 minutes to keep the audiences hooked. And the movie also inculcated a very premature form of CGI, which was laughable in comparison to the original’s revolutionary animatronics technique.
6. Terminator 3 – Rise of the Machines (2003)
Probably the only reason why this movie isn’t a stinker is because, well, Arnie is a badass, and watching him blow the evil cyborgs to nuts and wires is just exquisite. The third part was supposed to deal with Skynet, its motives and extent, but what we got instead was a story filled with plotholes and scientific terms that would’ve sounded realistic in the 50’s.
5. The Godfather Part III (1990)
The Godfather Part III should’ve been a heartbreaking ode to cinema’s most iconic mafia family, but it couldn’t separate itself from its intentions. The decision to induce an underlying sense of nostalgia through Michael Corleone’s downfall, and some very questionable casting that weren’t able to express subtlety backfired for Coppola. It’s also believed Coppola dished out a very commercially benefitting version, because of his bleak financial condition.
4. Hangover 3 (2013)
I’ve never found the hype behind the Hangover films, but to an extent the original was enjoyable and was not a regrettable decision unlike the final film. The final film completely forgets the motive of the trilogy’s existence and decides to work as a badly written stoner thriller. The same unfunny jokes and repetitive character traits are played out against a serious situation, which affects the overall screenplay. And even worse, the scenes that do not concern themselves with the heist are induced with forced nostalgia.
3. Ocean’s Thirteen (2007)
Ocean’s Eleven is probably the finest heist movie of this century, and though the sequel did try to retain the charm the original was famous for, the final one turned into a complete mess. With ever increasing characters, and bland storylines that gave away the coy secrecy associated with the protagonists, Thirteen is nothing but fanfare payoff. Even George Clooney’s Danny Ocean comes off as tiring while the likes of Pitt, Damon and Garcia are too busy playing their own selves. Which makes you look at the whole trilogy and wonder if there’s anything we obtained from the characters, apart from their flawless and chic attitude.
2. The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
The Wachowskis in my opinion are good screenwriters, but what separates them from the best is that they can’t really build up on the premise. They have some great ideas, but lack in setting a definite pacing in their stories and as The Matrix grew, the Wachowskis couldn’t handle the world and its multiple dimensions of good and evil. Where the original was adamant on building a dystopian mythology, the final narrowed it down to a predictable war between Neo and Agent Smith like every other mainstream fare.
1. Spiderman 3 (2007)
Now, Spiderman 3 might not be the worst third movie from all the trilogies that have been released, but I believe it was surely the most disappointing one. Following up what was probably Marvel’s greatest achievement with a story that was in complete splits was a terrible mistake. For the first time in his career, Sam Raimi looked to have no control over the direction of his final chapter. The role of the symbiote was very poorly constructed with distracting focus on the Sandman arc, and Toby Maguire’s evil turn being an inspiration for Internet jokes and memes.
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