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Top 10 Best Third Installments in Movie Franchises

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Richard Bush. Sometimes, studios complete a hat trick with much aplomb, and these are the proof. In this video, WatchMojo.com counts down our picks for the top 10 best third installments in movie franchises. For this list, we’ve picked the third films in a franchise that were able to match or exceed the expectations of fans following the memorable or iconic movies that preceded them. Or, in some cases, the third film in the franchise was just brilliant in its own right, regardless of the quality of the two movies that came before it. Special thanks to our users jwiking62, Daniel John, inzanemclain, adamhughes531@gmail. and cleatus16 for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Richard Bush.

Top 10 Best Third Installments in Movie Franchises


Sometimes, studios complete a hat trick with much aplomb, and these are the proof. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 best third installments in movie franchises.

For this list, we’ve picked the third films in a franchise that were able to match or exceed the expectations of fans following the memorable or iconic movies that preceded them. Or, in some cases, the third film in the franchise was just brilliant in its own right, regardless of the quality of the two movies that came before it.

#10: “Army of Darkness” (1992)

Continuing Ash’s gruesome and at-times hilarious story, we travel down a wormhole into medieval England in this dark fantasy comedy. Jam-packed with terrifying cackles, ridiculous fight scenes and plenty of boomstick moments, “Army of Darkness” retains the outright farcical nature of its “Evil Dead” siblings. It also manages to carry more of a storyline, unlike the others that were more like down-and-out gore fests. Plus, it deserves kudos purely for its Bruce Campbell-on-Bruce Campbell battle sequence.

#9: “The Dark Knight Rises” (2012)

“The Dark Knight Rises” concludes Christopher Nolan’s rebooted Batman trilogy that kicked-off back in 2005 with “Batman Begins.” Though Heath Ledger’s Joker portrayal in 2008’s “The Dark Knight” set the bad-guy benchmark quite high, Tom Hardy’s Bane in “The Dark Knight Rises” successfully matched it. As well as giving us an intense and notorious villain, the epic superhero film is also cinematically brilliant; keeping in-line with the IMAX extravaganza of which Nolan is particularly fond.

#8: “Goldfinger” (1964)

To some, Sean Connery is and always will be the best James Bond. His performance in 1964’s “Goldfinger” was his third appearance as the British secret agent as well as the third addition to the Ian Fleming-inspired Bond series. With the action thriller came a heady amount of gadgets, classic quotes and sophistication. The gold-smuggling bad guy, hat-throwing henchman and Bond swagger not only make “Goldfinger” a terrific third entry, but also one of the best Bond films, ever.

#7: “Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi” (1983)

We could have chosen ”Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,” but nothing beats the original epic space opera trilogy. After evil prevails in “The Empire Strikes Back,” Luke Skywalker picks up his light saber once again to fight back. Giving us the fantastic uprising story of our protagonist, “Return of the Jedi” was able to smash expectations with everything that makes the franchise great, including lengthy light saber fights and elaborate space battles. Thanks, George Lucas, you did us proud.

#6: “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (2004)

It’s another year on, and Harry, Ron and Hermione are more attuned to the wizarding world, and even more fearless than their younger selves. The third addition to the “Harry Potter” film series was where things took a darker turn. But like the other Potter films, “The Prisoner of Azkaban” was able to keep pushing the boundaries and successfully pulled off new themes, like time travel, long-lost family and werewolves. Plus, Gary freaking Oldman is in it.

#5: “The Bourne Ultimatum” (2007)

Some may have been a bit skeptical as to how Jason Bourne’s story could possibly get any more chaotic in film number three. Well, “The Bourne Ultimatum” certainly did not disappoint. Keeping the pace going from the two previous movies, expert killer Jason Bourne continues his search for the truth, with everyone out to get him – including a new CIA nuisance. Shifting between countries and ducking cameras, we follow Bourne alongside brilliant leading lady, Julia Stiles, as the movie manages to keep us guessing right to the very end.

#4: “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (1966)

Completing Sergio Leone’s “Dollars” or “Man with No Name” collection, this spaghetti western follows the trials and tribulations of three gunslingers, which are The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of the film’s title. Lathered in Leone’s trademarks, such as extreme close-ups, eerie characters and killer soundtracks, this 1966 Italian movie gives us a shoot ‘em up story of cat and mouse. Not only does it keep Clint Eastwood’s character as kick ass as ever, it also retains the eye-shifting shoot outs from the first two movies.

#3: “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989)

Foiling a black magic cult, unearthing the Ark of the Covenant – what can Indy possibly do next?! How about going on a quest for the Holy Grail? Indiana Jones is at his best in this third installment as he battles Nazis to reach a sacred treasure, joined by his father – who just so happens to be played by Sean Connery. With its quick wit and thought-provoking take on history, “The Last Crusade” is arguably the best Indy addition of the lot.

#2: “Toy Story 3” (2010)

Although it took Pixar 11 years to finally churn out a third ”Toy Story” film, the third one was certainly worth the wait, and fortunately, none of the family fun-flair from the original movies had been lost. With Andy about to go off to college, Woody and the gang are mistakenly sent to a daycare center, which forces them to do whatever it takes to get back home. Featuring Tom Hanks and Tim Allen yet again, “Toy Story 3” is so consistent; it makes those 11 years seem much shorter than they really were.

Before we reveal our pick for the number one trilogy-completing movie, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “Back to the Future Part III” (1990)
- “Die Hard with a Vengeance” (1995)
- “Mission: Impossible III” (2006)
- “Before Midnight” (2013)
- “Son of Frankenstein” (1939)

#1: “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003)

“The Return of the King” gives us two stories for the price of one. In the third and last installment of Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, Aragorn and his army go toe-to-toe with the orcs while Frodo and Sam trudge all the way to Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring. With Academy Awards for everything from its adapted screenplay to its visual effects, the epic fantasy film gives fans, and “LOTR” author J.R.R Tolkien, everything they could possibly want in a movie conclusion extravaganza. As hobbit Hamfast Gamgee liked to say, “All’s well as ends better!”

Do you agree with our list? What triad-completing movie was your favorite? For more adventurous top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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