I’ve heard a lot of chatter about something called a trilogy
“curse” this week.
As a movie and television addict, I was surprised that I’d
never heard of it before.
Basically, the theory says that the third part of a trilogy
is always the worst part of a trilogy.
There are a lot of different reasons bandied about, but the
biggest is that expectations are usually so big for the third movie that there’s
nowhere to go but down.
It’s an interesting theory.
The first trilogy of note to support this theory would be
the original three ‘Star Wars’ films. There’s a consistent debate amongst fans
about whether ‘A New Hope’ or ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ is the best film in
As a huge ‘Star Wars’ fan – I always vote with Empire, but I
happen to love them both. There’s no doubt that ‘Return of the Jedi’ is the
weakest of the three. My question is, though, is it because of the ewoks, the
unbelievable reveal that Luke and Leia were siblings or because it was the end?
I think it was actually a mix of all those things.
People then bring up the ‘Alien’ franchise. Technically,
there are four movies in that franchise (five if you count ‘Prometheus’ and
even more if you count those bad ‘Alien vs. Predator’ movies) – but a lot of
people always focus on the core three.
Again, just like ‘Star Wars,’ I prefer the middle movie ‘Aliens’
as my ultimate favorite. I love ‘Alien’ as well, though. ‘Alien3’ was a
steaming pile of crap – I’ll admit that – and ‘Alien Resurrection’ wasn’t much
I’m not sure that’s proof of a trilogy curse, though.
Yet, when I think about it, there are countless examples of trilogies
that fall apart in the third movie.
Other examples? Look below:
* Jurassic Park: The first movie is magical. The second
movie is still interesting – and yet lacking. The third movie? Yeah, it was
pretty bad. ‘Jurassic Park’ suffered from the classic monster movie curse. They
thought all they had to do was keep bringing in bigger dinosaurs. Fans like the
dinosaurs, sure, but they like a decent story too.
* The Matrix: I’ve got to be honest, I didn’t like any of
these films. As a general rule, I think Keanu Reeves is pretty much the worst
actor in Hollywood (‘Parenthood’ and ‘Bill and Ted’ notwithstanding). That
being said, the first movie was clearly the best in this trio. I’m not sure if
the second or third movie was worse but, for me personally, I’m going with the
third one. The Christ motif just got to be way too much.
* Pirates of the Caribbean: Again, this is one of those
trilogies that actually has four movies. It was originally a trilogy, though,
before Disney decided that they hadn’t bled enough profit out of it yet. The first
Pirates movie was clearly the best. In fact, I think if most fans are being
honest, they’d say that film took them by surprise. No one thought that a movie
based on a Disney theme park ride was going to amount to much. That’s why the
first Pirates movie was such a surprise. The next two? Yeah, they had moments
that were fun but they were pretty much a big disappointment. Then there’s that
fourth movie (shudder). That was just a steaming pile of crap.
* Back to the Future: This is a hard one. I actually like
all three films. And, while the first film is clearly a classic, the second two
films don’t see a drastic drop off in quality. And, truth be told, I prefer the
third film to the second one. However, I think that’s a matter of choice. I know
a lot of people that loath the third film. There’s still a question mark,
though, when it comes to the trilogy curse.
* Godfather: If there was ever a classic example of the
trilogy curse, this would be it. There’s always debate amongst fans about whether
the first or second ‘Godfather’ movie is the best. Personally, I go with the
second here, too. However, the first is still a classic. The truth is, they’re
both practically flawless. The third movie, though? Yeah, that’s awful on just
about every level imaginable. This definitely proves the trilogy curse.
* Terminator: Again, we now have four films instead of three
– but originally this was a 3-part movie trilogy. Most fans agree that the,
while the original ‘Terminator’ was a classic, the franchise didn’t really
takeoff until the second movie. That second movie was practically flawless. The
third movie? I don’t hate it as much as other people, but I don’t love it
either. I don’t find it endlessly rewatchable and there’s no heart to the film –
like there was in ‘Judgement Day.’
There are a ton of other franchises we could look at that
aren’t technically trilogies – but can still prove the theory. They would
include ‘X-Men,’ ‘Jaws’ and ‘Rocky’ – but that would take up more time than I
I would like to point out the one film, though, that
actually disproves the trilogy curse.
That, of course, is ‘Return of the King.’
Everyone has their favorite ‘Lord of the Rings’ film. Mine
is ‘The Two Towers’ – mostly because I love the battle of Helm’s Deep. However,
I absolutely love all three films – and there’s no weak spot in this trilogy.
It doesn’t matter what film is your favorite, none of the
others are bad. In fact, none of the others are anything less than spectacular.
However, an argument can also be made that ‘Lord of the
Rings’ is merely one long movie and not a true trilogy – especially since it
was filmed at the same time.
So, back to the original question, will ‘The Dark Knight
Rises’ be the typical third part of a trilogy?
If the trailers are any indication, I would say no. The
movie looks to be just as gripping as ‘The Dark Knight.’
However, I want to caution those with high expectations for
The truth is, there’s probably no way it can be anywhere
near as perfect as the last film. The last film was also elevated because of
Heath Ledger’s untimely death.
All that being said, I think ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is
going to do great business at the box office. I just hope that it leaves fans
satisfied. After all, miffed comic book geeks get rabid when disappointed.
I’ll tell you after the midnight showing tomorrow.
What do you think? Is there a trilogy curse?