Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Curse of the Number 3

I've been wanting to do this post for a while now, and I've discussed this theory with my friends and anyone who would listen for years now. My theory is that the number "3" is bad for movies - that the number three is cursed.

"What do you mean?" you may ask, and thank you for asking. Well, I personally believe that if a movie has the number "3" in the title, and it's the third installment of a film franchise, then it's going to be a bad movie. Sequels are usually bad enough (I'm looking at you, Teen Wolf, Too), but it seems by the time the writers and actors get to the third film, they've run out of creative ideas, hence they put a "3" or "III" in the title because they can't think of anything better. This does NOT apply to such films as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Bourne Supremacy or Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, because they do not have the number three in the title. It also does not apply to films like Three Amigos or 3:10 to Yuma, which DO have the number three in the title, but it's not the third movie. I'm talking about films like these ones:

Back to the Future: Part III

Back to the Future? Classic! Back to the Future: Part II? Hoverboards! Back to the Future III? A sappy romance between Doc Brown and Clara Clayton. By the time we got to this sequel the reoccurring jokes are getting old (how many times can Marty run into a relative of Biff Tannen??) and you can tell the filmmakers just wanted to get it over with, that's why they put "The End" in the closing credits instead of "To Be Continued..." Now, I know that the second installment of this franchise can't stand on it's own, since it leaves us with a cliffhanger, but you can't deny that Back to the Future III is inferior to its predecessors.

Rocky III

The first Rocky film is an academy-award winning drama. Rocky II was a well-thought out follow-up to that story with a satisfying ending. In Rocky III, we get a hyped-up, pseudo-dramatic story with no real substance. Yes, we get the timeless work-out song "Eye of the Tiger" from this film, yes we do (SPOILER ALERT) get the drama of Mickey dying (END OF SPOILER), but that doesn't make up for the shameless cameos by Hulk Hogan and Mr. T, nor does it make up for the tube socks, nor does it make up for Apollo and Rocky as they sweatily run in slow-motion along the beach for an hour. This, in my opinion, is the weakest film of the Rocky franchise (not including Rocky V, because no one really counts Rocky V as an actual "Rocky" movie). Thank heavens the next Rocky movie was so cool.

Jaws 3-D

Do I really need to spell this one out for you? The first Jaws movie is one of the best horror films ever made. I also believe that every single sequel should have changed its name because they don't deserve to have the name of Jaws. However, at least the second one still had Roy Scheider in it, and at least it still dealt with Amity island and somewhat related to the first movie. By the time we got to number III, we've moved to an amusement park in Florida. I think the writers knew that this one was going to be a stinker, so they made it 3-D to seem cooler than it actually was. They'd obviously run out of other ideas.

High School Musical 3

I haven't actually seen this one, but my nieces tell me that this isn't as good as the first two and I trust them.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

The first Terminator movie was a spectacular horror film. Terminator 2 was an awesome action film. The only thing that Terminator 3 had going for it was a hot female lead (no, I'm not talking about Claire Danes, I'm never talking about Claire Danes). This movie was so bad that the new Terminator movie completely ignored that the third one had ever been made. They even named it Terminator Salvation because it was trying to save the franchise from the damage done by T3.

Spider-Man 3

I still don't know how it's possible to make a movie with Venom as the villain and have it be horrible. In fact, the whole Peter Parker vs. Eddie Brock storyline in this film was actually watchable. But when I saw "Dark Peter" emerge and quickly turn this superhero movie into a musical, I knew the filmmakers were out of ideas. Bad move, Spider-Man franchise, bad move. Superheroes should NOT sing and dance. . .ever.

Superman III

The Superman films, though cheesy, were a delight to watch. The first one introduced us to Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel. Superman II gave us General Zod and the Phantom Zone (plus, it made me scared to death of Niagara Falls, as a kid). In Superman III I guess they felt that they needed some comic relief to balance out Kal-El's seriousness (what? Jimmy Olsen wasn't enough?) so they brought in Richard Pryor, who. . .didn't do much in this film. Yes, this film gave us synthetic kryptonite and the cool fight between Clark Kent and Superman. Yes, this film also gave us a terrifying robot lady (she still scares me to this day). However, when the bad guy in your film is using a weather satellite to CONTROL the weather, you know it's time to hang up the tights.

Shrek the Third

Yes, this "3" title counts. I wasn't too impressed with the first Shrek movie, but at least it was original. Shrek 2, I feel, was funnier and more clever and I would even consider owning that member of the franchise. But I fell asleep mid-way through this third one, so it can't be that good.

Scream 3

The first Scream film was a clever satire on the horror film industry. The second one, though not as good, was mocking horror sequels in general. By the time they got to the third movie, however, the franchise had become the very kind of film they'd been making fun of. You can also tell that the actors who reappeared in this film didn't really want to be there, even the dead ones.

The Godfather: Part III

Everyone knows that The Godfather is one of the most critically acclaimed films of all time. The Godfather II is sometimes said to be better than the original. In fact, this is one of the FEW times when you CAN actually argue that a sequel is better than first movie. But you may also notice that no one seems to include The Godfather III in this argument. This red-headed stepchild of the Corleone family failed at the box office and failed to win over critics. Many people have their theories as to why this film didn't work, but me? I blame Sofia Coppolla.

Home Alone 3

The first two movies are practically the same movie, and we, as an audience, were okay with that. We accepted the fact that Macaulay Culkin could outsmart Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern both in Chicago AND in New York. But another kid that is wise in the ways of booby traps? Psssh! Surely you jest. Here's another angle to ponder: in the first movie the villains were simple house burglars, in the second movie, the same burglars were out for revenge, in the third movie it's a matter of national security when a group of thieves steal a "valuable missile cloaking computer chip for a North Korean terrorist group." Baby steps, filmmakers. Baby steps.

Alien 3

I guess this one should be called "Alien Cubed," technically, since the three is small in the title. Alien = horrifying. I mean, who can forget that iconic popping-out-of-the-chest scene. Aliens is equally as scary, especially since they throw a little kid into the mix. And while Alien Cubed made a pretty cool Sega Genesis Game, it did not work as a movie. I will always be scared of those face-huggers, but I am even more terrified of the crappy writing of this horrible movie.

Rush Hour 3

The "gimmick" of this movie got old in the second Rush Hour installment. This one was just overkill.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III

Ok, none of these TMNT films are award-winning, but, as a kid, they were pretty fun to watch. It was cool to see our heroes in live-action. The second movie even gave us Vanilla Ice doing the Ninja Rap and you know you can't resist dancing along with that catchy tune. But while we were able to suspend our disbelief that these turtles (and the rat) mutated into crime-fighters, the concept of them traveling through time in the third movie was a bit much, even for me.

Jurassic Park III

I actually had a friend remind me of this one since I had, apparently, blocked it from memory. The first film of this franchise changed CGI as we know it. Those dinosaurs still look good, even today. The second film wasn't that good, but at least it brought the dinosaurs to a new setting. In Jurassic Park III, however (even though it includes parts from the first Jurassic Park book), features a terrible story. I mean, we're supposed to believe that a spunky little kid survived on his own on an island full of killer dinosaurs? And, I'm sorry, but I will NEVER forgive them for showing us a talking raptor, even if it was only a dream.

Other bad "threequels" could include Nightmare on Elm Street III, Rambo III, Friday the 13th: Part III, and Spy Kids 3-D. All inferior to their counterparts, most not worth talking about.

"But, The Former 786," you may say, "There are good '3' movies out there like Mission: Impossible III!" Well, I do acknowledge that there are some (but very few) exceptions to this theory. This also explains why sometimes a sequel doesn't have to say "3" and it will still stink (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, anyone?? BLAH!). That is why this is only a theory - a word of caution, if you will.

So now, faithful readers, you may know that when the movie makers put a "3" in the title of the movie sequel you're going to see, you can, at least, have lowered expectations and may not be as disappointed.


--jeff * said...

high school musical 3 counterpoint: i am not a teen. i am not a girl. i say number 3 is the best of the series.

Hilti said...

I'm glad you made the exception for Mission Impossible III -- By far the best of the series. And I'm also glad you made the exception for The Bourne Ultimatum... That series just gets better as it goes along. Can't wait for number four!
And I can personally attest that you've never seen Rambo III, because I tried to get you to watch the new Rambo on your ClearPlay, and you rejected me on the basis that you've never really seen any. (First Blood is great!)
But I must say that you are correct for the most part. Darn you, #3s!

The Former 786 said...

Jeff, I'll have to watch that movie to actually see if I can trust your counterpoint.

And Hilti, I have seen First Blood - it's a well-done dramatic film, but every sequel after that one was poorly made.

Ponczoch Family said...

I have to agree with Jeff... HSM3 is the best... apparently you weren't talking with the right neices because my daughters also love it. Not to mention it's the only one of the 3 that was made for theaters, which means the quality was better than the original 2.

The Former 786 said...

Not necessarily, Ponczoch family. It just means they spent more money to make it. That doesn't always make it better quality.

But I'll still have to watch it before I take back my claim.

But still, having seen the first one and second one, I have to say that the first one is going to be hard to beat.

Sara Ann said...

I love Back to the Future III, I liked it waaay more then II. But as for The Godfather Part III, I also blame Sofia, blech. I am glad you didn't include Three Amigos, that is just a classic. Also, HSM III, NOT as good as the first two, I almost fell asleep...

Bryon said...

Scary Movie 3. Best of the franchise. Mostly because of this scene: (This scene they are spoofing the "Signs" flashback to the car accident.)

The Shark said...

I'm with Sara Ann. The only example you give that I disagree with is Back to the Future III. Don't get me wrong -- it's DEFINITELY inferior to the first, but I still like it more than the second one. I thought the dilemma was interesting...

My only real complaint about #3 is that I did not care at all for the Doc/Claire love interest. I thought she was annoying more than anything else.

Ah, but the props I will give to #2 is the Clint Eastwood reference that sets up the several Spaghetti Western references in #3.

The Former 786 said...

Sara Ann, The Shark, I'm not saying that I didn't like Back to the Future III, I'm just saying that it was the weakest film of the Back to the Future series. And, The Shark, it is exactly because of Doc Brown's romance with Clara Clayton that I docked it down so far. It does have its good parts, but the lovestory takes up too much room.

Thanks for backing me up on the High School Musical 3 thing, though, Sara. For a while there I thought my nieces were lying to me.

Bryon, you got me on Scary Movie 3, which I found hilarious. However, #3 was the first one made without the Wayans Brothers, and I think that made it a whole different movie franchise.

MikeyMo said...

Your #3 list includes a couple of movies that have been succeeded by even worser installments:

Rocky V. Way worse than 3 which was actually a fun movie imho.

Jaws 4: The Revenge. Now the sharks hunts the bordy family all over the globe

Superman III was bad, but nowhere near as atrocious as part 4 with Nuclear Man

Home Alone 4 same story

I thought Back To The Future was a fun installment. Less complex than the more darker 2. And 3 even had a hovertrain :D

Teemu said...

What about Halloween 3? That one didn't even have Michael Myers in it...

RLR said...

Superman III was reasonable fun (how many times did you want Supes to chase Lex?), Nightmare on Elm St 3 is perhaps the best of the whole series, Rocky III defined the timing and pacing for action films from then on, Jurassic Park 3 was intended as, and indeed is, a fun adventure film, stayed awake you would have seen what good fun Shrek The Third was and Back To The Future 3 was easily superior to the tedious, dull second one. oh, and at least in Terminator 3 there was no "i swear i will not kill anyone" nonsense or whining kid that you hoped the robots would kill.

otherwise, spot on list mate!

Hornacek said...

How does Terminator Salvation (aka T4) ignore T3? They're written by the same screenwriters, T3 ends with [SPOILER] nuclear war [END SPOILER] and T4 is the aftermath of that war, and T3 introduces Catherine (Claire Danes) who is John's wife in T4

There's nothing to support your theory that T4 ignored T3

And IMO, while T3 isn't as good as T1 or T2, there's still some good stuff in it.

Dug said...

Back to the Future III and Rocky III are both good. Your theory is a good one, (and a widely believed one), however there are always exceptions to every rule (and you can never account for taste)

cappa_j said...

"I mean, we're supposed to believe that a spunky little kid survived on his own on an island full of killer dinosaurs?"

We did believe that a disheveled little kid survived on her own on a planet full of perfectly-evolved alien monsters.

Maybe it's the same problem as the unbelievability of TMNT III--the premise is cool, it just wasn't believably written.

And I really liked Rambo. (Note: Not Rambo 4 or IV. Just Rambo.) A treatise on the futility of trying to make a difference plus Rambo cuts a guy's entire head off. With just his knife. In one swoop.

Peter said...

Mission Impossible III only seemed decent because of how badly the second one sucked. It really was only okay.

Andrew said...

Someone already mentioned this, but Nightmare on Elm Street 3 is the best of the series. This isn't saying much, but it is undeniably true.

JPIII is the worst movie ever made. I really think they tried to take a cool subject (dinos vs humans) and see how bad they could make it. Unfortunately they were successful.

Bedore Family said...

I actually think that Mr T. made Rocky III an all right movie. I know it may seem odd, but at the time I thought he should have received some Academy mention. He was pretty believable as Clubber Lang. Just my thoughts... But you pretty much nailed the rest of them.

Maybe "3" will become something like "13" is for buildings... it's best just to pretend the number isn't there and go on...


Keith is Good! said...

I'll fight for Back to the Future 3; what you'd argue as con I'd point to as pro. Being more saccharine than Part 2, it makes for better Saturday Afternoon viewing. AND it has ZZ Top. Need I say more?

Midgard Dragon said...

Actually, Nightmare on Elm Street 3 returned the franchise to its winning formula, and Comedian Freddy hadn't quite completely taken over yet as he did in later sequels. It was the incredibly inferior NOES2 that was the problem in that threequel (and let's not forget it went on much much longer than three movies). As for the moron who said it's "not saying much" re it being the best of the series, go jump off a building you tool, NOES was an excellent horror movie and there were some great moments throughout the series, even if it did turn into some really stupid crap there towards the end. There's a reason Freddy is one of the most iconic horror villains of all time.

Anonymous said...

Terminator 3, while not a superb film, still has Terminator Salvation BEAT, no two ways about it. Furthermore, Salvation did not - as some reports say - 'skip' the third. Take, for example, the presence of Kate Brewster, the character Claire Danes introduced us to in 3, also the prophecy that John Connors would be killed by the Arnold model - something the fourth film tied into (sort of).... just saying

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3 is one of BEST in the franchise right after #1. I've never heard anyone say that Dream Warriors is a bad sequel (for those who enjoy the films) so excuse me for being completely flabbergasted by your comment.

And yeah Jurassic 3 is ridiculous but I can at least stand to watch it without being incredibly bored. The stupidness of the movie I actually enjoy. At least with 3, I remember things, whereas with #2 I completely forget the plot because it's so boring.

STIR FRY LAD said...

I have to weigh in with the following:

Back to the Future: Part III was in every way, shape and form more fun and satisfying that Part II could hope to be. In fact, Part II could have been done as a ten-minute prelude in Part III and not one single thing would've been lost.

I wouldn't necessarily put Rocky III up against Rocky II as a superior film, but it delivered on its premise. Sure, it's campy and manipulative, but Rocky's redemption from a flaccid, pointless existence is often gripping and, in the final scenes, truly exhilarating.

Jurassic Park III is the sequel that should've come out after Jurassic Park.

And as for Nightmare on Elm Street III, it's the only NIghtmare flick that I've ever bothered to see more than once. Perhaps it was just the fact that in this one the victims got on the stick and [spoiler!] put some of the hurt back on Freddie.

Anonymous said...

I think your missing one threequel that should be on there even w/o a 3. x-men: the last stand is perhaps the worst sequel ever made.

fringelily said...

GodfatherIII is inferior to the first two, but not only because of poor, hapless Sofia Coppola who, though a bit sappy, didn't deserve to be burnt at the stake the way she was.

I think that equally at fault were the much less involving story, the half baked attack on the Vatican/Mafia connection, (if you're going to screw the Vatican, do it properly, it deserves a whole movie film). The other glaring fault is the insufferable oily smugness of Andy Garcia.

Another young actress who was blasted as being hopeless in her debut was Angelica Huston, in the beautiful "A Walk With Love and Death" ... fortunately, she persisted.

Andrea said...

The Neverending Story 3 is bar far the best of them all. So is The Land Before Time 3, and the Beauty and the Beast Christmas Special 3 is the best movie ever made.