Thirds That Aren’t Turds: the 5 Best Threequels of All Time

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It’s a safe bet that whoever said “œthird time’s the charm”probably didn’t work in Hollywood, or never had to sit through Superman III, Halloween III, or The Godfather Part III, which the author still isn’t sure wasn’t a production by the Lifetime Network. But what of the those occasions the third entry in a film series manages not only to not embarrass and destroy a series’ legacy, but actually provides a worthy and viewable chapter in its own right? Let’s examine the best part threes in cinema.

5 Return of the Jedi (1983)

Nothing was going to match Empire, but this third Star Wars flick gave us more Boba Fett, introduced us to Jabba The Hutt and the Ewoks (as well as Carrie Fisher’s agreeable physique), and closed out the first trilogy in the saga with due satisfaction.

4 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

As fun as Temple Of Doom is, we can all probably admit it’s a step down from 1980s immaculate Raiders Of The Lost Ark in many, many ways. What’s the solution? Pretty much, to remake Raiders, but add in a deft opening flashback with the late River Phoenix as a young Indy, and our old friend Sean Connery as the hero’s father, the adventuring archaeologist who showed him how. Spielberg chose”¦ wisely.

3 A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: the Dream Warriors (1987)

Another case of a third film providing a franchise best, this inventive, spooky and funny horror classic is the quintessential Freddy much as Goldfinger is the quintessential Bond. Containing many of the series’ best-remembered nightmare scenarios and kills weaved around a strong plot that lets us deeper into the mythology of everyone’s favorite charred child-killer, Dream Warriors also features early work from Patricia Arquette as a young girl sent to a psych ward for her recurring nightmares, and Laurence Fishburne as a streetwise (what else) orderly.

2 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

The Harry Potter franchise grew up when Alfonso Cuaron (Y Tu Mamá También) took the reigns over from Chris Columbus for this stirring, gothic adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s third novel in the series. No other film in the series moves with such efficiency or keeps you in its grip so firmly, and we can thank the addition of Gary Oldman as fugitive/werewolf Sirius Black, Timothy Spall as a treacherous man-rodent, the presence of the soul-sucking Dementors and of course, the strength of the returning cast, not the least of which is Alan Rickman’s Professor Snape.

1 Goldfinger (1965)

Yes, this third outing for Bond wins by managing to be the undisputed best in a series now numbering 23 and counting. Every last thing here screams “œclassic”: the “œshocking”opening sequence, the brilliant titles and rousing Shirley Bassy theme song, the eloquent yet slimy titular villain, top bond girl Pussy Galore, a badass Judo fight with bowler-hurling henchman Oddjob in Fort Knox, and Sean Connery clocking in one of his best and breeziest bond performances. The feel and aesthetic of the Bond mythos really solidified with this iconic, campy flick, and even last year’s quite awesome Skyfall remains in its shadow.

Craig Johnson II was born in Los Angeles and is a resident of Brooklyn, NY. In addition to writing for Top 5, the lifelong film and comic book nerd is a freelance illustrator and graphic novelist whose work can be seen at http://craigj2.blogspot.com.

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