The best movie trilogies
What makes a good film trilogy? As this list shows, there are many ways to approach it, but no hard and fast formula. Some of cinema’s most beloved trilogies were born by accident.
Some trilogies stick to Screamjokey formula, increasing the threat and the spectacle while adding callbacks and twists. Others have chosen non-filmable book sequences and simplified their adaptation.
But there are rules. As these trilogies cross genres, and their success has at times made additional sequels and franchises inevitable, they must form a cohesive three-movie streak. Of course, many are disappointed with their conclusion. Others miss the opportunity of a trilogy to let the second film hang, not limited by a conventional beginning or end.
However, it is essential that a trilogy takes us on a journey and brings a sense of conclusion after their long three-act structure. Of Three colours To Two towers to one Black Knight, these are the best movie trilogies.
The Trilogy of the Dead (1968-1985)
George Romero made six Night of the Living Dead movies, but the initial trilogy redefined the zombie horror genre. Shot over three decades, the films are loosely connected, but each explores a distinct set of themes as humanity slides into the apocalypse. The first movie, 1968 Night of the Living Dead, is an atmospheric black-and-white siege that draws social commentary from seven survivors embarked against the threat of the living dead on a Pennsylvania farm.
By the third film, 1985 The day of the Dead, the outnumbered humans have fallen back into complexes, where Romero delves into their self-destruct ability and the suggestion of a cycle as the zombies begin to relearn. The Star is the Middle Movie, 1978 Dawn of the Dead. A gripping and tense action film in a mall, its satire on consumerism has secured it its place among the most influential zombie films.
The Hellish affairs Trilogy (2002-2003)
This Hong Kong trilogy caused a stir when it hit theaters in just over a year. The story of two secret moles infiltrating the Triad Society and the Hong Kong Police, respectively, has an emotional complexity that many crime films would stab themselves in the back for. Western audiences may be more familiar with Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of the first film, which he renamed. The dead. That says a lot that the American remake didn’t continue to explore the timeline of its Hong Kong inspiration. Even the translation of the original trilogy’s title pun lacks the intensity of Chinese. “The nonstop path” refers to continuous hell in Buddhism.
The Toy story Trilogy (1995-2010)
Toy story couldn’t stop at three movies, but it’s the first three that make this an almost perfect trilogy. Each combine to explore the agony of growing up in a way never seen in a movie before. The onset of adolescence and the reality of death are both there. Undeniably adult, brilliantly funny and expertly interpreted, Toy story is the perfect example of Pixar’s extraordinary gift for imaginative, emotional, and quality storytelling.
The Three colours Trilogy (1993-1994)
Each of the Blue, White, and Red explores the virtues of the French tricolor through a different genre: freedom, equality and fraternity. After the tragedy of the French language Blue, White is a Polish comedy, while Red is a Franco-Polish romance. Alternatively, they can be seen as contradictions of these kinds. By the time you reach RedIn conclusion, the connections and the redemptive power of Krzysztof Kieślowski’s emotional masterpiece are clear. The director retired after Red‘s in Cannes and died two years later.
The Dollars Trilogy (1964-1966)
Accidental trilogy, director Sergio Leone had no intention of linking the films. Clint Eastwood’s central anti-hero, popularly known as “The Man with No Name,” has a different nickname in each movie. Actors appear playing different parts, and Ennio Morricone’s memorable scores are distinct. Yet the films fit together naturally.
Even when the triumphant conclusion, The good the bad and the ugly, goes back in time to a framework of civil war, the continuity is not interrupted. The inconsistencies quickly become part of a trilogy that has changed cinema through the scope of its thematic vision. Coming as the western genre was losing its popularity, Leone’s masterful reinvention launched the term “Spaghetti Western” and a hundred other films with “dollar” in their title.
The Extraterrestrial Trilogy (1979-1992)
It’s a flawed trilogy with a controversial third installment, but it was the uneven fourth film that made the flaws of the Extraterrestrial clear franchise. The three original films have a perfect escalation. The first two are still raised in the age-old debate about whether a sequel can outperform its original. Each operates on a distinct side of the horror spectrum: haunted house and action assault. David Fincher’s third installment has been compromised, but his intention to simplify the odds on a prison planet, originally designed as a wooden satellite, is a brilliant reaction to Aliens. Alien 3 provides a witty, iconic ending to the trilogy, whether you love it or hate it.
The Black Knight Trilogy (2005-2012)
Like many comic book characters, Batman struggled onscreen at times. The film’s three-act structure doesn’t lend itself to the strengths of long-running storytelling and recurring comic book characters.
Medium film The black Knight is the mature action thriller that dominates the trilogy. This raised the bar for comic book movies, thanks in large part to Heath Ledger’s revealing performance as the Joker. The third film The dark knight rises would always strive to live up to its predecessor. He’s hampered by one of the most famous storylines in comics, but provides a solid connection. Nolan pulled off the near impossible: telling the full, painful, and short story of the most realistic Batman in cinema with a typically ambiguous ending.
The Indiana Jones Trilogy (1991-1989)
This is another trilogy that has been extended, but in many ways the 2008s Kingdom of the Crystal Skull confirms why the three original films work so well. Not conceived as a trilogy, the first three strike an accidental balance. Reminiscent of a period of old soap operas that never really existed, the films add spiritual weight by placing a major religion at the heart of every plot: Judaism, Hinduism, and Christianity. While Cursed temple is the weakest link, it is difficult to choose between the almost perfect realization of The Raiders of the Lost Ark concept and exquisite pace and filmmaking of The last crusade.
The Godfather Trilogy (1972-1990)
Another trilogy with a late and disappointing conclusion, the fame of this trilogy is ensured by the first two films. Mario Puzo’s detective story proved that cinematic masterpieces can emerge from the early days of the pulp. He is massively helped by the performances of legendary actors who define two generations. The bridge between Marlon Brando and Al Pacino was only improved when Robert DeNiro joined the sequel. Filled with literary references, it has contributed to the history of cinema with iconic scenes and enduring quotes.
The Back to the future Trilogy (1984-1990)
Back to the future success depended on his straightforward and fun approach to a complex plot, but it wasn’t planned that way. The sequels didn’t become inevitable until after the success of the 1984 original. The two films that followed were shot back to back in the distinctively innovative style of director Robert Zemeckis with stories dictated by how the creators had it. left the cliffhanger of the first film. Not that the public complained. It was an instantly influential trilogy, not least because it presented its time travel paradox as a fact that many films have had to follow or respond to since.
The original Star wars Trilogy (1977-1983)
Few trilogies were as unexpected as the original Star wars. Creator George Lucas was in hiding during a beach vacation when the film was released in 1977, convinced he had made the last film of his career. The box office splash and the cultural phenomenon that followed speak for itself. Star wars tried and failed to repeat the trick twice. Even when John Williams is on duty to score, the original trilogy’s simple plot, classic character rhythms, and inspiring mythology are hard to find. Yes, its fast-paced production resulted in contradictions and accidental slip-ups, but those have become part of the franchise’s allure. There was a kind of Force running through this trilogy.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)
Sit on Extended editions of those movies alongside the three volumes of JRR Tolkien’s fantasy epic and you’d think it was a straightforward adaptation. But that’s exactly how Peter Jackson and the machine he built to bring this beloved story to life made him look like. Choosing from Tolkien’s dense lore and extensive material to shape a cohesive narrative was no easy feat. The only certainty was when Return of the king swept the Oscars in 2004, immediate recognition that the Lord of the Rings is one of the outstanding achievements of popular cinema. Jackson’s horror track record didn’t promise much, but his ingenuity, enthusiasm, and ambition were essential. Each film stands, but The two towers brilliantly showcases the freedom that every middle part should enjoy in a trilogy.