Top 7 movie franchises
Some movies are fantastic and deserve sequels, but never get them. Other movies are terrible, but movie after movie of the same franchise gets released. This list is about neither of those examples. This is a list about the good movies that got good sequels. A series of movies has to have at least four movies in the franchise for it to qualify, otherwise it's just a trilogy. Settle in to your favorite chair, cook yourself some popcorn and enjoy the 7 best movie franchises.
Number 7. Star Wars
It's a sad day when the Star Wars franchise barely makes the list, but if the prequels were as good or even close to half as good as the original trilogy, Star Wars would be much higher on the list. Couple that with that with the fact that the only way to get a high or even decent quality transfer of the original trilogy is by buying editions filled with CGI and unnecessary tweaks to scenes that didn't need updates. Still the original 3 movies are strong enough to carry the weakness of the remaining movies.
Star Wars: A New Hope
Most people will say that Empire Strikes Back is the best movie in the franchise and when I was a kid, I agreed with them. As a kid I loved darker elements in movies and Empire is certainly the darkest. However, after watching the original Flash Gordon series (which Star Wars borrows heavily from) and falling in love with the sci-fi pulp serial, I gained a greater appreciation for the original Star Wars. Just like Flash Gordon, the original Star Wars feels most like an adventure. Sure its not as complex and emotional as its sequel, but when it comes to pure sci-fi adventure, the original Star Wars was at its entertaining best. I'd recommend this movie, but everyone and their mother has seen it already. If you can find the pre-special edition version, then that's the version to get. I got a copy of the entire original trilogy on VHS for about 3 dollars.
Attack of the Clones
The worst movie in the franchise was hard to decide because without counting the original trilogy, they all suck. Yes even Revenge of the Sith. Some people will say that Revenge of the Sith was the one that was actually good in the prequels. It's not. It may be the best in the franchise, but that's like being the best of 3 World War II dictators. Fans just latched onto the least sucky of the three and called it good. That doesn't make it good. Back to the topic though. As bad as The Phantom Menace is (with Jar Jar and all), the award for worst in the franchise goes to Attack of the Clones for several reasons. First, we're introduced to Teenage Anakin Skywalker, and as annoying as the kid is in the Phantom Menace, teenage Anakin is just as annoying with his constant whining and brooding. It stings even worse now that he's older because it dawns on us that this whiny wimp is supposed to represent one of the coolest villains ever made. As a kid you chock up anything he does to being a child. When he's 17, it's a little harder to forgive. The second reason this is the worst is because at least Phantom Menace used quite a few sets in addition to CGI. This movie is almost all digital and I can't stand CGI. The third and final reason is Yoda fighting with a lightsaber. I was in my early teens when I saw Attack of the Clones and I still thought Yoda flipping around like a Ninja was stupid and character ruining. Yoda was a valuable character because of his patience and wisdom in Empire Strikes Back. He's the character you least want to see physically fighting. I always assumed if Yoda did have to defend himself, he'd calmly use the force. Watching him do endless somersaults was probably the most goofy moment in what's one of the goofiest 3 movies ever made. That's pretty dang goofy.
Number 6. Harry Potter
Some say that this is this generations Star Wars. In at least one way it's better. There's a much better hit to miss ratio when it comes to quality then the Star Wars franchise. The main reason it makes the list is, even though it's based on a book, few movies have as engrossing worlds. The Harry Potter universe is both dangerous an inviting. Despite being full of seemingly ordinary objects that could potentially kill you, few worlds seem so...well magical, and that's why the series makes the list.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
I was surprised to find that the people don't care for the first two Harry Potter movies in retrospective. They complain that it was made for kids and took a long time to get the plot, focusing on taking a tour of Hogwarts instead. This is exactly what I love about the movie. Give me the bright and cheery kids version of Harry Potter over the gritty version of the later movies any day. I don't care for grittiness and this movie is the opposite of that. It's magical, fun and entertaining. It has an innocent quality as if you're truly looking at things through Harry's eyes. Plus the original Dumbledore is far better then the replacement that he got. He has a kind and gentle look to him and seems to radiate wisdom and patience. These are all the reasons I prefer the first movie over any of its sequels.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
If the first two movies are for kids and the later movies are for adults, then Goblet of Fire is a movie for your awkward teenager. Filled with embarrassing dialogue delivered awkwardly by young wizards, this felt more like a teenage romantic comedy (a bad one) then a magic filled fantasy adventure. There's so many cringe worthy moments in this movie. A few include, the introductions of the wizarding schools, Moaning Myrtle coming on to Harry in the girls bathroom, Hagrid copping a feel of an equally hideous giant, or my favorite, a crappy and decidedly modern band playing a pop-rock song for dancing wizards. That scene alone was enough to put the movie on the list. For a universe that seems not out of place in the 17th century, there is something very out of place about a modern rock band playing at a high school dance. To top it all off, the nice things I said about the original Dumbledore, the opposite is true for the new one, played by Michael Gambon. Whereas the Dumbledore in the first two movies seemed completely genuine, this Dumbledore seems like he's intentionally acting theatrical. Everything about him, from his annoying quirkiness, to the way he chews the scenery, all lacks the wisdom of the previous Dumbledore. The absolute worst scene with him, comes from when he suspects Harry cheated and put his name in the Triwizard cup. How does he respond to this? Does he calmly and patiently ask Harry Potter this and refuse to act until more information is present? No, don't be silly, that's what old Dumbledore would have done. New Dumbledore throws Harry against a trophy case and shouts at him like a madman. I'd tell you to skip this movie if it didn't introduce such an important plot point involving Voldermont.
Number 5. Alien
Besides having what might be the best creature design, let alone alien design, in any movie, the series has some incredible atmosphere. Often claustrophobic, the movies act as a cat and mouse chase, where humans are the mouses and the cat happens to be a horrifying, acid bleeding monster. It's had its highs and lows, but when an Alien movie is good, its great.
A lot of people prefer Aliens to the original and in this case, I agree with them. While I love horror, movies, I have a softer spot for action movies and the Alien franchise proves that it can do both genres justice. Starring Sigourney Weaver (though we all know Bill Paxton is the real star) we follow a group of space marines sent to a planet infested with the xenomorphs. The action is chaotic and its nice to see the aliens get a little dose of revenge for all the terrorizing one of their family members did in the first movie.
Alien vs Predator
The idea of Aliens fighting Predators is a solid one. The culture before this movie proved that. There are several video games and comics pre-dating this movie, all infinitely better than the garbage that we got. The movie follows a bunch of researchers who discover an ancient pyramid beneath the ice in Antarctica. This is the setting and battleground of this movie. Don't get your hopes up though because the battleground is also the setting for some really disappointing fights between the two alien species. There's a real lack of tension to the whole movie which carries over to the lackluster fights. The worst moment of all has to be when the Predator teams up with the female protagonist. You heard that right. The unstoppable and unmerciful Predator that blew himself up in the Predator movie just to try and kill Arnold Schwarzenegger, shows mercy and even sides with a human in this movie. For all the fan support leading up to this movie, it seems awfully rude to slap us in the face with this trash.
Number 4. Mission Impossible
For as high profile as Tom Cruise is, its surprising that this is his only franchise. The Mission Impossible movies, based on the TV show, follow Ethan Hunt in globe trotting spy romps. The movies are fun popcorn adventure full of twists and some good set pieces.
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
The latest also happens to be the best for several reasons. While its probably the furthest in tone from the original movie and TV series, its definitely has the most thrilling action and entertainment. The movie moves at a breakneck speed never stopping for air. The set piece that has Ethan Hunt scaling the largest building in Dubai is one of the most tense I've ever seen. It also happens to be the funniest with a lot of comic relief coming from Simon Pegg's character. Along the way are some really cool gadgets, explosive action and one of a fantastic opening in a Russian prison.
Mission Impossible 2
While not a terrible movie, it is definitely all style no substance in a series that isn't exactly lacking style. This is John Woo's take on Mission Impossible and that fact is obvious. How much you enjoy John Woo is about how much you'll enjoy this movie. It's got all his trademarks. unrealistic, yet stylish action that is overly choreographed, melodramatic acting and yes, there are doves. Me; I don't care for John Woo's style that much unless we're talking about Hard Boiled. It's still a watchable movie, but not one that gets many repeat viewings.
Number 3. Indiana Jones
My childhood consisted of The Neverending Story, Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Gumby, but my favorite of the four was the Indiana Jones trilogy. Sadly it's not a trilogy any more, but at least it qualifies the series to make the list. Indiana Jones is the person every guy wants to be; He travels the world, women love him, and he finds himself constantly in gun fights. Archeology may not be as cool as it is in this movie, but that shouldn't for a second detract from the amazing quality of the majority of these movies.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
As controversial as this pick is, I had to stay true with what I felt and not gone with popular opinion. As far as I can remember, this was my favorite movie and re-watching the movies...It still is! When I discovered IMDB for the first time and realized that public opinion for this movie was overly negative, I was shocked. Yes there are some flaws to this movie, flaws that are missing in the best Indiana Jones movies, but the entertainment level (the level I base most things on) is off the charts. I know that George Lucas and Spielberg hate the darkness of this movie, but I love it. In this movie the danger that Indiana Jones faces is palpable. I always worried about what would happen to Indiana Jones if he failed. In Raiders of the Lost Ark and Last Crusade, I figured he'd be shot at worst, but in Temple of Doom, a guy gets his heart pulled out of his freaking chest. That always meant for me that these guys meant business. If you add some of the craziest action scenes in the franchise, like the mine cart chase or the opening club scene and you've got a recipe for an awesome blockbuster action movie. Yeah its got its flaws. Willie can be annoying, but she's written that way for a purpose. Indiana Jones is meant to be the straight man to her constant worrying and complaining. Some suggest that this is the worst in the franchise. Even if this weren't in my opinion the best, that statement would still be proven wrong due to this movie...
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
I won't even mention the hiding in the fridge during the nuclear explosion scene. As bad as it is, there's far more wrong with the movie that I won't have to. First of all, Marion was never so annoying and soccer mommish. It seems as though the writers (read George Lucas) forgot how to write a spunky character. Next we have Shia Lebeouf who brings nothing noteworthy to the dynamic. Dropping occasional greaser lines along the way, he adds nothing to a bland and flavorless mix. The worst offense though is what they did to the character of Indy. He's clearly the person we came to see, yet the only time he controls the action is in the beginning at the warehouse (one of the few good scenes). The rest of the movie, the action scenes just kind of happen where Indiana Jones is an observer at best. In the other movies, Indiana Jones wasn't involved in the action, he was the action. Usually things would be calm until Indiana Jones causes something to happen for the fate of the world. This is what made his character strong. He's proactive. In these movies things falls in his lap and he responds averagely. That alone makes this the weakest link, but you could list dozens of other things wrong with it. Any CGI at all goes against the rugged nature of Indiana Jones much less the constant CGI that ended up on the cutting room floor. Mutt swinging with monkeys, an unsatisfying conclusion and bad writing are just a few of the many things wrong with this terrible movie.
Number 2. Rambo
While the first three Indiana Jones movies are some of my favorite movies of all time, Rambo is a series that is notable for not having a single bad movie in the franchise. That's sadly more than I can say for Indiana Jones. It also happens to be the most testosterone fueled series of movies out there. John Rambo is a trained Vietnam veteran that doesn't like to be pushed around. When you push this guy around he retaliates with bullets and knives bigger than your entire head. The ultimate guy flicks.
I had a tough time choosing between this movie and the 2008 one simply titled Rambo. I finally settled on this one for the characters. While not as action packed or bloody as the 2008 movie the story is one that resonates more with me. It's about a Vietnam veteran who, when treated unfairly, doesn't simply take it and move on, he retaliates. In this movie it explores his consequences and gives as much time to resonate on his enemies as it does on Rambo himself. In the 2008 movie, the enemies are evil, but one dimensional, whereas the antagonist in this film is portrayed as a human being who happens to be a douche bag. The characters and the motivation given to the characters is what makes this the best movie in the franchise, even if it is a little short on action.
While many people would list Rambo 3 as the worst in the franchise, I have to choose Rambo 2. Rambo 3 was incredibly entertaining and its action value was second only to Rambo (2008). Rambo 2 was the worst of both worlds. The action wasn't as good as its sequels and the character depth and storyline wasn't as good as the original. That's my biggest and really only complaint. It's still an entertaining movie that despite being my least favorite in the series, has been re-watched several times by me. Rambo really is a franchise with no bad movies.
Number 1. Batman
The world's greatest detective has also been the star of the world's greatest series of movies. Yeah there's a few movies that aren't that great, but even at their worst, they still pack entertainment value in at least a campy way. The good movies that it has are excellent. The real stars of the show are the villains and each movie has its take on Batman's most famous villains. Filled with action set in a Gothic and visually awesome city, you can't go wrong with The Bat.
With the overwhelming praise given to The Dark Knight, I wasn't conflicted in the slightest when giving the best Batman movie award to the 1989 movie. My main problem with Batman Begins and the Dark Knight is that the city lacks personality. It just looks like Chicago. I also do not care for the grittiness of the movie. The Michael Keaton batman was as dark as I care for the series to get. It was dark, but had a sense of fun. Jack Nicholson's joker is arguably the star of the show. When contrasted with Heath Ledgers joker who has no joy in anything he does, I always have to lean towards 1989 Joker who has glee in every dirty deed. This is the pinnacle of Batman movies.
Batman and Robin
You saw this one coming, but even this movie being the worst is still entertaining in a colorful and campy sort of way. The problems with the movie are cheesy dialogue, overacting, and bad characters. Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze and Bane are the villians. This movie takes the camp factor to an unhealthy level. The puns delivered from Mr. Freeze played by Arnold Swarzenneger are painful. In one scene Batman and Robin use built in ice skates in their shoes to skate around in a frozen museum. Use that as an indicator of how serious this movie takes itself. As bad as the movie is, it doesn't commit the worst movie sin. It's not boring. It's like the Adam West TV show. Laughable, but fun.
There you have it. The 7 best movie franchises. I realize that Star Trek and James Bond are franchises worthy to be on this list, but I have a very limited experience with those two, so I couldn't write about them. Alright thanks for reading.