May 23, 2010

thirds

So a brief topic for the hours between now and the next thing…

Having just watched Exorcist 3 again for the first time in a bit, I was stricken by its craft and the quality of its dread. Sure it’s edited by a trio of real idiots, jumping around like a fucking rat on a griddle – but Brad Dourif as the Gemini Killer is fantastic, ditto Scott Wilson’s zoned-out Dr. Wilson – not to mention a nice little cameo by Jason Miller that’s never failed to freak me out. George C. Scott looks like he’s about to die at any moment from some kind of congestive, stress-related event, and in his defense I have to say that the film is one of the few that earns its jump-scares. The ending is compromised, but the build-up is exceptional and honorable, and having just logged a review of the genuinely awful Legion, it’s nice to see a thinking-person’s horror film done well.

So the brief topic… on the eve of the third Toy Story: best second sequels.

I’ll start us off with this film, the third Children of the Corn flick with f/x by Screaming Mad George, and the just awesome Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

40 comments:

DJR said...

JT Petty's Mimic 3: Sentinel comes to mind.

I didn't care for Beyond Thunderdome all that much, which I thought grew cumbersome and overly cutesy in its second half.

Hugh said...

Cuaron's entry into the Harry Potter Saga. Still the best one in my opinion

Bill C said...

Still think TREK III is pretty great--better than any of the subsequent sequels, mostly because of Christopher Lloyd. ("I'll give you two minutes for you and your gallant crew.") ROCKY III is an underrated gem; ELM STREET III is all you could ask for in an Elm Street sequel; and THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY ain't too shabby, is it.

Bill C said...

I can't believe I forgot one of my all-time favourite "thirds": SON OF FRANKENSTEIN.

Anonymous said...

Goldfinger. Nightmare On Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors. Alien 3. Die Hard With A Vengeance. The Return Of The King.

Is anyone at all excited about the prospect of a Ghostbusters 3?

Dan said...

Mission Impossible III? Well, I found it better than John Woo's sequel, anyway.

I remember reading a few years ago that Army Of Darkness is actually the #2 most successful "second sequel" (in terms of percentage change from its predecessor.) #1 is Goldfinger. But maybe that's all changed now.

Jonathan said...

It may be deeply flawed, but I'd go with Fincher's Alien Cubed, which is arguably the most thematically rich entry in the series.

Hugh's mention of Cuaron's The Prizoner of Azkaban is also a good choice.

Walter_Chaw said...

Goddamn, Good, Bad, Ugly is amazing. Just watched that again, oddly enough, and I'll second (third?) that Dream Warriors is probably the best of all the Freddys. These two, I'd say, are better than the originals even... Also Harry Potter 3 and Mad Max 3.

And, no, I'm not looking forward to Ghostbusters 3. The third Creature from the Black Lagoon is pretty amazing, too.

Jason said...

Second/thirding Goldfinger and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and I'd like to revisit Alien 3 and Thunderdome, see if they've grown any in my estimation.

Going for a slightly different one: Saw III. It wasn't a particularly good film, but I like that it actually made a point of testing a character's morals rather than their willpower. This, coupled with an actual focus on Jigsaw's character, and the inherent hypocrisies of a dying man using extreme violence to preach the morality of living well to people who he sees as having wronged him, makes this one stand head and shoulders above its brethren. (Again, not hard, but it was also interesting to see Saw VI more or less ape everything about this one in order to make a stab at some kind of legitimacy. This is why I consider those two entries as the only worthwhile ones in the Saw franchise.)

Also, we already had a Ghostbusters 3. It was called Ghostbusters: The Video Game, and if you don't LOVE you some Ghostbusters, I doubt you'll get anything out of it. It was just narrow minded fanwanking, with Family Guy-style train-spotting of famous stopovers and characters, and it just got tedious after a while.

renfield said...

Stretching the topic a bit to grind my own agenda:

Seasons 3 of The Wire and The Sopranos both breathed life into series that were threatening to stagnate in their second seasons ... Wire continues the trend with two more superb runs, whereas Sopranos, to quote Bryant Frazer, "would too often threaten to disappear up [David] Chase's asshole".

And yeah, I still admire Exorcist 3's courage in making so central to the action long, extended conversations in a dark cell.

KayKay said...

Ok, I'll admit it, The Matrix Revolutions, for me, improved on repeat views.
I still feel like ramming an ice-pick into The Oracle's eye everytime she opens her mouth to deliver another portentous, cryptic and pseudo-philosophical pronouncement, but there was something a little brave about the movie abandoning it's glossy effects-laden VR world for large stretches and to then proceed to blind and martyr it's chosen One.
Seemed a nice change of pace and a dour,fitting end after the CGI excesses of Reloaded.

KayKay said...

The Return Of The King, inspite of it's 25 different endings, packed genuine emotional punch for me, pivoting around the tragic Gollum and redirecting the focus back to the little furry-legged guys the way Tolkien intended as opposed to yet another chapter in the Adventures of Aragorn & Friends.

renfield said...

Day of the Dead. Oh! and Mother of Tears! Though my loyalty to Suspiria remains unshaken, I really can't get behind the utterly incomprehensible Inferno. Yeah, the first scene is cool, but did you guys see the same ending as I?

DJR said...

The ending to Inferno is ridiculous, but it's packed with spectacular set pieces, and of all Argento's movies, it's the one for me that most successfully evokes the logic of dreams. Mother of Tears is trashy and for the most part poorly made, but it's very entertaining as schlock. Of his efforts generally considered mid-upper tier, the one I have difficulty getting behind is Phenomena, which I tend to enjoy in retrospect more than I do actually watching.

I can get behind Alien 3, which is my favorite movie in the trilogy on many days. And contrary to popular opinion, I'm referring to the much-maligned theatrical cut. I wish a cut combining the best elements of the theatrical cut and the producer's cut could be made.

John said...

Off-topic: What did you guys think of the Lost television-finale? I say that because the story clearly isn't over yet.
I'm not a huge fan but the last couple of minutes were great. The way the sideways stuff intercut with Jacks death made it seem less like an alternate reality then the last hopes of a dying man. That was really sad.

Ryan said...

I'm not a huge fan but the last couple of minutes were great.

See, the last couple of minutes really spoiled it for me (moreso than the show can usually spoil itself) with the unneccesary introduction of a disgusting theistic tie-up that really made no sense. I can completely get behind the idea of the last moments being "the last hopes of a dying man" except they made it pretty blatant that the alt timeline was just a purgatory before everyone (who wasn't black) got to enter Heaven. And this is after some pretty interesting stuff that seemed to follow along the same thought The Constant had, about Desmond being able to save everyone from the nightmare of the island by bringing their conscious from that unpleasant universe to a much happier one where the island was sunk (I mean, we SAW the fucking sunken island in the season premiere - it makes no sense whatsoever for it to be in magical happy nirvana purgatory). It all came down to a bit of nifty audience manipulation by moving several emotional set pieces front and centre to hide the fact that they had no good answers for their "real world", which was just as awful and useless as ever (Hurley's gunna be the island protector? Really?) that then climaxed with a shoddy rip-off of the Six Feet Under ending that they clearly failed to understand. That said, I thought Battlestar's moron theistic ending was worse.

Ryan said...

Incidentally, I'd love Bill to weigh in on it in full, maybe in another blog post establishing a proper talkback? As shitty as Lost is the finale was still an event, for better or worse.

Bill C said...

I may just do that, Ryan, after I watch the series finale of "24". We could do a double talkback.

John said...

@Ryan: I see the entire show (concepts, characters and setting,including scenes not including Jack) as an extremely elaborate fantasy in Jack Shephards mind. It would explain only his father and nobody elses is in the church at the end. He's a doctor with a messiah complex: He wants to everyone in the world to be happy, even those who he doesn't understand (explaining the racial stereotypes), wants there to be more to the world (explaining the sci-fi stuff), and wants to make his father proud. Maybe in reality he tried to stop a criminal and was stabbed, creating the one true image of the show: A man dying, with a dog as his only company.

Gabe Toro said...

I would dare throw in the recent "Universal Soldier" Regeneration" into the second sequel discussion, in that even though it's only the best in a questionable franchise, but it also has it's own ghostly aura, taking a more primal approach to the ideas of the "Bourne" films without the glib politics. It also works as a meta-commentary about the newly-serious-actor Van Damme, who wants to be a real person despite still being in demand for another round of kicking and punching. I would rank it as the best direct-to-DVD action picture I've seen yet.

Patrick said...

Universal Soldier Regeneration is awesome, but isn't it part 4 or 5 while playing as if it was part 2?

DaveA said...

Yeah, it's actually Part 5, but it doesn't care. One should watch it for the location shots alone.

And please, people, Alien^3 is actually a good movie, we can all agree on that, but it doesn't even come close to the first one. You can crap as much on Scott as you want, but at that time, he just knew what he was doing.

Also, Fellowship is much better than Return.

And now I'm outta here, cause - shitty as it may be - I'm terrified of Lost spoilers...

Anonymous said...

Halloween 3: Season of the Witch is, I think, the best sequel in the series. I'm disappointed that the movie bombed, since Carpenter's idea of having Halloween-related movies every October is a great one.

Also, perhaps an unpopular choice, but I've always liked Rambo 3 the best in that series.

- David H.

Anonymous said...

Kieslowski's Red.

Patrick said...

David H.: You're talking about the film where the Irish use Stonehenge to fashion Halloween masks that will implode their wearers? This one?

I mean, you're also talking about the Halloween Series, and you specified best sequel. But surely at least that H2 qualifies?

Mike A said...

I'd go with Bourne 3, Day of the Dead and Superman Returns.

The awesome new Universal Soldier would count but, under the Superman Returns rule I just invented, it's better off being a "Part 2" - or even just a standalone film.

Alien 3 also functions much better as a standalone film. The problem with it is that we know there's a real alien and we know that Ripley is the hero. It totally defuses the murder mystery / "is she insane or even the killer?" intrigue that covers half the film's story. Seeing A3 on TV before having seen the originals, it worked like gangbusters. It's just too much off in its own world that tying it in with a franchise is more of a detriment than anything.

On a related note, I'm really looking forward to Predator 3 AKA Predators, especially given the possibility that it'll overwrite Pred 2.

brandon curtis said...

Bloodfist III: Forced to Fight, starring none other than Don "the Dragon" Wilson and Richard Roundtree.

John said...

Halloween H20 counts as the third Halloween film. It retcons all but the first two.

John said...

A Ghostbusters 3 would be good if it was done po-mo, like Son Of Rambow, with Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd appearing as themselves.

Anonymous said...

Psycho III is a minor masterpiece. Even Ebert gave it 3 stars in what may be his best review of a genre movie.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous nerd says
Return of the Jedi.

I think Alex wrote in his review something like it being the ideal balance of the maturity of Empire and the juvenalism of New Hope. I have to go with that assesment. The deliciously creepy three way of vader/luke/emperor still makes my head tingle every time

Anonymous said...

X men 3.
(Hear me out)

It took an MTV hack like Brett Ratner to finally play the characters set up from thr previous two installments for all they were worth: no more eulogizing for the poor homosexuals of the planet, no more fine restraint and boring self importance, just lean & mean all the way; all that pomposity worked better for Superman, where Singer finally seemed to get it right and mount superhero art film he had in mind in the first place. For the X-series it always felt like the guy was holding back.

As a result, I dont think I've ever seen a more boring, bloated comic book film than X2. Want some more bland with that bland? Stop talking already and blow some shit UP! The laughbly arbitrary death of the most underdrawn character in the series-Cyclops-was a perfect gob of spit in the face of the wussy first two films

Thankfully, Last Stand offered up the rampant ass kickings and mutant powers a'plenty the audience had to wade through 3 films to finally see. Three's the charm: an actualy flavor, even if a bad one.

And besides, that Juno chick was in it too

Jason said...

The above post just makes me really, really sad. Though now at least I know who exactly X-Men 3 was geared towards... Before I just couldn't figure out who the target audience actually was, or why they would bother sitting through something so terrible.

Anonymous said...

"Thankfully, Last Stand offered up the rampant ass kickings and mutant powers a'plenty the audience had to wade through 3 films to finally see."

Even on this level, I don't see how you can even remember any action scenes from the third one that come anywhere close to the opening attack on the White House, Pyro's rampage against the cops, Wolverine's fight with Lady Deathstrike, and so on. The action sequences are all a billion times better in the first two movies.

You really did not make a good case for your cause.

Gabe Toro said...

Was it Walter who mentioned about the third film that, with six X-Men in the final battle, two of them based in metal, Magneto could have taken only a second to thin their ranks by 33%? I could've sworn Singer's movies didn't make you ask those questions.

Anonymous said...

Die Hard with a Vengeance.

First two were ok yet limited. The third went in a different direction and still seems the only one worth re-watching ad=fter all these years. Sam Jackson & Bruce Willis are hilarious together

& Less said about the fourth one the better

Anonymous said...

totally unrelated, but I watched the Incredibles again tonight and noticed for the first time that it bears a striking resemblance to an Ayn Rand novel. Anyone else see that?

Patrick said...

I think using superheroes really hurts Brad Bird's message because it's not about people being special for what they do or achieve – otherwise Syndrome really would be the hero, hard-working inventor that he is – but for how they are born superior. Dash winning every race is worse than doping, it's a "superman is a dick" joke.

It's better in "Ratatouille", but even then, we have the Rat who is born to be a great cook, not the woman who worked harder than anybody else.

Of course, there's also the traditional roles for women, but Pixar's track record there isn't good, anyway, and I also just wrote a guest review for Heroine Content about exactly that (published some time in the near or far future), so I won't write about it again so soon :)

permazorch said...

I feel like the crazed old man on the street when I say this, especially here, but, ALIEN 3 sucks. I know there's a lot of good in it. I know the insanity of money & egomania it had to contend with in the process of being made, but you weren't there when it came out. Such disappointment, such mediocrity, in the face of its predecessors! Take out Ripley & the Alien, and it'd be okay, like PITCH BLACK.
But, all is context. I was promised, "In 1979, we discovered in space no one can hear you scream. In 1992, we will discover, on Earth, EVERYONE can hear you scream." I was given retardo, repetitive Alien-cam twisty-turns through the haunted house (again) prison planet. I was given incoherent action during the 'climax'. I was given instantly dated generic Japanese corporate overlords + evil genius roboticist. That was good for two dry yucks (yuck-yuck).
Die Hard with a Vengeance?
Yes.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors?
Fine.
Alien 3?
Fuck. No.
Killing off the Newt and Hicks wasn't some brave move, it was cowardly greed. Don't kid yourselves.

Dan said...

I don't get the love for Die Hard With A Vengeance. Fun movie, nothing to hate about it, but I much prefer Die Hard 2.

At least that one stuck to the franchise's USP of a confined space, swapping a tower block for an airport. Why did those movies get increasingly bigger, btw? Who decided that?

And if it was by design, can we get a prequel with John McClane trapped in a cardboard box now, please. Maybe it should have been Bruce Willis in that Ryan Reynolds movie Buried, only with the extra twist that there's a German terrorist in the coffin with him. And a bomb.