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FEATURE: FTN looks at movie trilogies

July 28th, 2013 by Marc Comments

With the release of The World’s End, the final part in the Blood and Ice-Cream trilogy by Director Edgar Wright and starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, we take a look at some of the best – and perhaps not-so best – trilogies in specific genres.

As Shaun of the Dead/Hot Fuzz/The World’s End is in the action comedy genre, I have selected two trilogies that kind of fit into this. First off is the brilliant Richard Lester Musketeers Trilogy. The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers (filmed at the same time) were first released in 1973 and 1974. These two action comedies were box office gold and contained a star studied cast including Oliver Reed, Richard Chamberlain, Charlton Heston and Christopher.

They seamlessly blended action with comedic moments and with the cast performing their own stunts it only added to the realism. Sadly, this was to lead to fatal consequences during the filming of The Return of the Musketeers (made in 1989) when, during filming, Roy Kinnear died on set from a tragic accident. The film, which was only partially completed before his death, never fully reached the peaks of the first two films and sadly Director Richard Lester never directed another feature film.

My second choice in the comedy genre is The Naked Gun Trilogy. Starring the silver-haired Leslie Nielsen as Detective Frank Drebin (Police Squad) and George Kennedy as his superior, The Naked Gun trilogy was slapstick comedy at its simplest.

From the writers who brought you Airplane!, these three films brought a new high (or low) to the term parody. From Monarchs to Presidents, movies Ghost to Star Wars, it seemed that nothing was spared in the name of a cheap comedic moment. And yet with repeated viewings , these films still make us laugh with in-jokes and lewd references and let’s not forget the ever present visual jokes, The Naked Gun trilogy rightly deserves a spot in this list.

For Westerns, there could be a number of trilogies that could be mentioned (so many starring John Wayne), however I have decided to go for Sergio Leone’s The Man With No Name Trilogy, aka A Fistful of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

Filmed during the series breaks of Rawhide, Clint Eastwood forever changed the Hero of the west thanks to the expert direction of Sergio Leone with his portrayal of The Man with No Name – incidentally, his character did have a name – several in fact. In A Fistful of Dollars he was called Joe, in For a Few Dollars More, his name was Manco and in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, he was dubbed Blondie.

The Dollars Trilogy encompassed sweeping landscapes, extreme close-ups against an operatic style of visuals blended by the music of Ennio Morricone. The true stroke of genius was that Sergio Leone made The Good, The Bad and The ugly as a prequel, with Clint Eastwood’s character collecting his trademark outfit and accessories and only at the end of the movie is he fully donned in Poncho, cheroot and quick draw revolver; a true masterstroke of writing and directing.

From The Wild West, we move swiftly to a land of fantasy, where elves, dwarves, goblins and wizards (oh and Hobbits) dwell in fear of The Dark Lord. Indeed, there could be only one entry in the Fantasy genre and that firmly belongs to The Lord of the Rings. Much has already been said about this award-winning trilogy; from the breath-taking escape from the Mountains of Moria, to the beauty of Rivendell, to the fires of Mount Doom, it is easy to believe that Peter Jackson’s original trilogy will most likely be his most praised and fan loved work; For the Shire!

Sadly though, not all trilogies are worthy of such praise. Indeed, it seems that no matter how much money is thrown to bring the latest in CGI images to the screen, there is no substitute for a decent storyline/script.

This has sadly been the case for the Transformers Trilogy. Director Michael Bay brought the much loved comic and cartoon Robots in Disguise to the big screen, but as impressive as his Robots were, the films just seemed to fall a little flat. The plots and scripts sadly lacked any real character development and all that was really left was one giant CGI image fighting another giant CGI image with over the top explosions and sadly a leading actor that displayed very little charm, charisma or even sympathy on the silver screen.

Even the Horror genre isn’t spared from the curse of the trilogy. Blade, Marvel’s vampire hunter, seemed the perfect blend in both horror and action. Despite Wesley Snipe’s sterling portrayal as the title character, the films had some great touches, but just never seemed to be above the average. The action was great, but the plots and scripts seemed a little too unbelievable; something rare in a comic book adaption.

There are however two trilogies that have been regarded as the greatest 2/3rd’s trilogies ever made, indeed, the first two parts of both of these trilogies are even regarded by themselves singularly as The Greatest Movies Ever Made.

The first in the highly acclaimed The Godfather Trilogy, Directed by Francis Ford Coppola. To this day, many critics are still divided as to which part is the better: The Godfather Part One, with the award-winning performance by Marlon Brando as Don Vito Corleone was painstakingly brought to the silver screen from the novel by Mario Puzo. With superb acting matched by the blood splattering across the screen, The Godfather set the box office on fire as crowds filled the streets queuing to see this masterpiece.

Two years later, The Godfather Part Two continued the rise of Michael Corleone (once again played brilliantly by Al Pacino). So perfect was this film that to this day many critics, film schools and fans still declare that The Godfather Part Two is the first film to equal (or even surpass) its original. That is praise indeed and sadly whilst The Godfather Part Three was in itself a good film, when compared to its predecessors, it’s sadly just a pale footnote in The Godfather Legacy.

Concluding this Tale of Trilogies, there really is only one film trilogy left that we must cover. Its about simple farm boy, who although having Daddy issues (his Father walks around in leather pants and has a touch of asthma), saved the galaxy thanks to two knock-off robots, a pile of junk and its pilot and a cute Princess who gives him a kiss or two, that just happens to be his sister – leave it!

Of course I am talking about Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of The Jedi – The Greatest Science Fiction Trilogy Ever! No other film trilogy (or fantasy film) has emblazoned itself into the public’s consciousness like it and it’s virtually impossible to view any futuristic film, modern action film or even toy shop without seeing the fruits of George Lucas’ labour of love.

Whilst some may argue that Return of the Jedi is slightly weaker than its predecessors, that is only because Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back were so perfect in visual splendour and storytelling that to this day you can walk into any bar and say any number of a hundred quotes from the film and people will instantly turn their heads and acknowledge you (true, in some instances they may moan, but others will appreciate it).

So there you have it my fellow nerds and nerdettes. This is just a sample of some of the better, and not so better, trilogies – and before you jump down my exhaust shaft and fire two photon torpedos at me, Back To The Future was not included as there was a spin-off cartoon series that even starred The Doc himself and therefore can not be included as a trilogy, so there!

Marc is a self-confessed nerd. Ever since seeing Star Wars for the first time around 1979 he’s been an unapologetic fan of the Wars and still believes, with Clone Wars and now Underworld, we are yet to see the best Star Wars. He’s a dad of two who now doesn’t have the time (or money) to collect the amount of toys, comics, movies and books he once did, much to the relief of his long-suffering wife. In the real world he’s a graphic designer. He started Following the Nerd because he was tired of searching a million sites every day for all the best news that he loves and decided to create one place where you can go to get the whole lot. Secretly he longs to be sitting in the cockpit of his YT-1300 Corellian Transport ship with his co-pilot Chewie, roaming the universe, waiting for his next big adventure, but feels just at home watching cartoons with his kids….