When I thought of doing this list, it seemed like it would be… exactly as hard as it ended up being. But for the opposite reason as the one that ended up proving true. I figured there would be about five really strong contenders, and then I’d be filling out the list with two-star flicks I enjoy in a more guilty manner.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. Cinema actually has a proud history of excellent third entries into a series of flicks, and I ended up leaving strong contenders like Die Hard With A Vengeance, Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade, Captain America: Civil War, and Toy Story 3 off my personal list entirely!
Those are all really good films!
So what DID make the top ten? Well, let’s see…
10. Return Of The Jedi
Yep, this is an unpredictable pick from me because I am notoriously NOT a Star Wars guy. So what gives?!
Well, I have always kind of liked Jedi. It’s the only movie of the original trilogy I have definitely seen beginning to end, and I like that we get just a suddenly bad-ass Luke who opens the movie by big dick swinging his way right into a trap so he can rescue his friends. When Jabba’s about to chuck him into a hole, and Luke says something like “This is your last chance to do what I say”? That is awesome.
From there you’ve got Ewoks and some space pew-pews, sure, but you also have Luke’s great infiltration of the Death Star where he fights, then chills out, the fights again with his father, Darth Vader. All while the Emperor is cackling away about his plan coming to fruition.
So yeah, fuck it. I actually like this movie! My favorite Star War. It makes the list!
9. Prisoner of Azkaban
Much like how the first two Harry Potter books set up a fantastical universe for kids to lose themselves in before really ratcheting up the tension and establishing larger circumstances, the first two Harry Potter movies were good, but they were coasting on the precociousness of the child actors and the effects bringing the Wizarding World to life.
The Prisoner Of Azkaban is where things got exciting, however!
We have werewolves, the kids acting more like teenagers for the first time, betrayal, and the mystery of Sirius Black at the heart of this one. Oh, and that Buckbeak creature looking just god damn glorious. STILL a great effect!
Prisoner is just a huge turning point for the series, and the movie did that justice.
8. The Dark Knight Rises
Time was, there’s no way this would have made this list.
I spent YEARS thinking this flick was the unwanted stepchild of the Christopher Nolan Bat trilogy. I saw it once–in theaters–and thought it was middling.
It wasn’t until Ian from Best Film Ever drew it for an episode of the Stew World Order where I was forced to watch it again and realize… holy broken city, Batman; this movie is extraordinary!
Check out our review for deeper thoughts, but yeah… I was definitely wrong about this for almost a solid decade.
7. Back To The Future Part 3
Back To The Future Part 3 is not as good as the original. I mean… few movies are. Back To The Future is ironically timeless.
But this third entry IS a step up from its immediate predecessor.
While Back To The Future Part 2 isn’t “bad” or anything, it takes a decent sized step down from its forefather. I felt like the 2015 stuff was too goofy, and the 1955 stuff was just a rehash of what we had already seen. The second act, where Marty returns to a dark and twisted 1985, is solid, but the rest of the flick lets it down.
Thankfully, BttF3 went back in line with part one by giving us a more original tale that is balanced and fun throughout. By going to 1885, the series finally delivered something that wasn’t just different to what Marty knew, but REMARKABLY different. He had to deal with cowboys and the old west! Yee-haw, pardner!
Nice to see the trilogy end on such a high note.
6. Dream Warriors
DREAM WARRIORS…. I DON’T WANNA DREAM NO MORE!
Dream Warriors at #6?! I thought this would be MUCH higher when I initially came up with this idea! But, like I said, I was wrong about how many great ones there have been.
By the time this list sees publication, it’s likely that I’ll have already discussed this movie on the Pint O’ Comics livestream series we are doing on Nightmare on Elm Street. I already know John and Larry don’t like it, and I’m ready to be aghast.
With Nightmares one and two, you have a foreboding, scary Freddy. With entries 4, 5, and 6, Freddy becomes a silly goof and a shadow of his original self. With Part 3, the franchise momentarily gets the formula perfectly balanced: Freddy is monstrous and terrifying, but Robert Englund’s personality is allowed to shine through.
After seeing this and thinking of Dark Knight Rises back there, it dawns on me that my podcast has covered a lot of very good Part 3’s! Three out of my top five have been on the show before! If you are so inclined to listen to our Logan episode, here you go!
Logan and our next movie on the list have a weird thing in common: Neither of the first two movies of the franchise were all that good! But luckily, they were part of bigger successful franchises, so we kept getting at-bat’s until we got it right.
Origins was painful. The Wolverine was just a base level comic film. Then Logan came along and gave us a true piece of film-making in the CBM genre. A nuanced, deep, and emotional tale of a hero whose time is running out.
Wait, here’s this one, too!
Thor Ragnarok, man. I’ve talked about this at length to the point where I’d feel bad tossing it on this list, too, but I simply can’t leave it off. It’s way too much fun, and like Logan, it’s the home run that came after strikes on the first two swings.
3. Infinity War
I actually forgot this movie existed, which is embarrassing. It’s why I thought something like Dream Warriors would end up higher on the list. I forgot AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR. Jeez! Where is my head sometimes?
Avengers was great. Age Of Ultron was underrated, but felt like a bridge movie. Infinity War finally started the storyline the MCU was building towards for several years: Thanos seeking to acquire the Infinity Gauntlet!
Remember the wonderfully deceptive trailers for this one? That showed us both scenes that did not happen at all and scenes that were heavily edited to not show us everything involved? THAT is how you advertise a movie that half the world was going to see anyway! Just flat out trick us. Now we can’t complain about trailers showing too much; we don’t even know if what we’re seeing is real.
2. No Way Home
The last, and highest ranked, of my run on comic book movies, and YET ANOTHER ONE I covered in depth for my show. Damn. I’ll try to do more lists that don’t feature as many comic book movies to keep this from happening again.
1. Army of Darkness
This is purely sentimental. Is Army of Darkness really better than, say Avengers: Infinity War?
Yes, yes it is.
I regret nothing.
I loved this movie from an early age, and I’ve watched it probably as many times as I’ve watched any other movie in my life. It’s one of the funniest movies ever made, and it stars an actor at the height of his power in his very best role.
Army of Darkness is essentially One-Liners: The Movie. How many IMMEDIATELY spring to mind?
“Hail to the King, baby”
“This is my boomstick”
“Shop smart, shop S-Mart”
“Good? Bad? I’m the guy with the gun”
“Gimme some sugar”
It goes on and on. Bruce Campbell shines like the sun in this movie, and the entire story revolves around his riffing and just being relentlessly charismatic.
That was fun, and now I’ve very eager to do a Best Part 4’s. Is THAT where the quality will drop off dramatically? There are several trilogies that never came out with a fourth offering. No Back To The Future 4. No Thor or Wolverine 4. Spider-Man has never seen a part 4 (yet!).
Maybe what I thought would come true here will be the case there.
Or I’ll surprise myself again.
Until next time… take care!