Third Time is Not The Charm: An Essay


Oliver Barnfield, Cool Guy/Entertainment Editor

The Internet was abuzz with The Last Jedi. This brought up many questions about sequels and their place in cinema. Are they necessary? Are they a curse on movies that are cash-grabs?

I think not. Sequels have their place, but ultimately they are not bad. They can be great, in fact. Some would even argue as saying that sequels are better than the 1st movies. Examples of this include: The Empire Strikes Back, Aliens, The Dark Knight, Terminator 2, Mad Max: Road Warrior, X-Men 2, Spider Man 2, and Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. So what makes a sequel good? Well, they usually have to expand on the idea’s of the original and introduce new concepts and characters. Take the endless sea of Transformers sequels. They add nothing but more explosions and disposable characters. They are BAD SEQUELS, in addition to being BAD MOVIES.

So what about so-called “threequels?” That’s a word used to describe the third entry in a series, and these movies carry a very specific trend, as well: They are all inferior to the sequel.

Take Return of The Jedi. It’s great, and it ties up the loose ends and ends the original Star Wars trilogy perfectly. But it just doesn’t have the epic adventuring, the romance, the humor, the great visuals of Empire Strikes Back. It’s a great movie, but it’s still an example of an inferior third film. Examples of these include: Alien 3, The Dark Knight Rises, Terminator: Rise of The Machines, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, X-Men: The Last Stand, Spider Man 3, and Godfather part III, as well as many others too numerous to count.

So why are sequels always pretty good, if not better, than the original, and the third movies always suffer in comparison? It’s simple: The Work.

With the first movie in the franchise, the creators and directors are finding their footing. They are figuring out their style and ideas, and while some of these ideas are great, some can be not fully formed. When the time for a sequel rolls around, the directors know what their mistakes are, but also what makes the movies shine, a perfect mix. They can get rid of the extraneous bits and keep the greatness of the first, and come up with a great sequel.

So how do the third films fail? Well, when a director puts all their work into creating a great sequel, they can get a bit tired, leading to one of two things: They give it off to another director, or they continue as director despite their fatigued state. Both of these are bad. When the franchise is handed off, the new director might not have a perfect grasp on the franchise, and if the original director continues, this causes the film to seem lackluster and rushed. So ends my argument and explanation about why third movies are always worse than the originals.

So will the 9th Star Wars movie be better than The Last Jedi? I doubt it. But we can all hope for the best…


(The one exception to this little rule is Toy Story 3, a movie that is better than the first two in my opinion.)