Tuesday, October 4, 2011

10 Movie Series and the Best Movie Within the Series

Looking at 10 movie series with three or more movies in the series and my pick for the best in the series and why.

Series Premise: Misadventures of sex-hungry teens
Total Movies in Series: 3 core movies, 4 spinoff Presents movies, 7 total
Best Movies in Series: American Pie 2. One of the characters is allowed to truly grow in the series. Lots of funny bits. The rudest character in the series has just the right amount of screen time, not too little like the first one and not too much like he in the 3rd one and his family members in the Presents movies have.

Series Premise: The strange relationship between a troubled, fierce woman and an ultra-liberal reporter
Total Movies in Series: 3 plus one upcoming remake which will make it 4 total
Best Movie in the Series: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (original). This is where the characters are at their most fresh and also the movie with the most complex (but not complicated) plot.

Series Premise: The adventures of a British secret agent
Total Movies in Series: 19 prior to a reboot of 2 movies, totally 21 movies. If you count two non-canonical big screen movies and a TV movie, the total is 24.
Best Movie in Series: From Russia with Love, the 2nd movie. It features the best Bond (Sean Connery), it’s just starting to move into the fantastic without the gadgets taking over, it has nods to the previous movies, and it has some of the more interesting “quieter” moments of the series.

Series Premise: A supernatural madman kills people in their dreams
Total Movies in Series: 7 solo, 1 with Jason, 1 remake, so 9 total
Best Movie in Series: Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (the 7th movie). Freddy invades the real world and the main actress (not character, actress) from the first film must try to stop him. It examines the nature of fiction, particularly horror fiction.

Series Premise: The adventures of an underdog boxer/
Total Movies in Series: 6
Best Movie in Series: Rocky. I have affection for Rocky Balboa, the 6th one, as well, but this one is the most heartfelt, with Rocky at his most everyman facing impossible odds. The romance with Adrienne is sweet as well.

Series Premise: An intelligent madman, Jigsaw puts people in nasty traps. If they survive (which is probably Jigsaw’s hope), they’ll be maimed, but they’ll have learned a valuable lesson.
Total Movies in Series: 7
Best Movie in Series: Saw III. I don’t want to spoil things for people who haven’t seen the first two, but suffice it to see that big things happen in this one, and Jigsaw gets into a morality debate with another character, even going so far as to claim that he’s not a murderer.

Series Premise: The voyages of an exploratory government starship.
Total Movies in Series: 6 focussing on the original crew, 4 with the Next Generation crew, 1 remake with the original characters, so 11 total
Best Movie in Series: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. The crew heads back in time to what was the present when the film was released. Lots of funny bits and some nice character moments, plus a save-the-whales theme.

Series Premise: Time-travelling androids trying to protect their future
Total Movies in Series: 4
Best Movie in Series (note: haven’t seen the 4th one yet): T2: Judgment Day. An odd family dynamic between the human characters and a heroic android who resembles the killer from the first movie. Also, some interesting effects with the villain android.

Series Premise: A bullied janitor is transformed into a heroic monster by radioactive waste
Total Movies in Series: 4 so far plus an animated movie compiled from a TV series; an upcoming sequel and an upcoming remake will raise the total from 5 to 7
Best Movie in Series: While the fourth one pulled out all the stops, my favourite is still the original Toxic Avenger.  The mix of comedy and horror is at its most energetic and I really like the looks of the villains in this one.

Series Premise: A group of superhuman mutants try to act as goodwill ambassadors for mutantkind, facing less noble mutants
Total Movies in Series: 3 original, 1 solo (Wolverine), and 1 prequel (those there’s some debate on if it’s a prequel or reboot).
Best Movie in Series: Granting that I haven’t seen Wolverine yet, my pick is X-Men: First Class, the apparent prequel.  Set mostly in the 1960s, it examines the gradually souring relationship between the idealistic Charles Xavier and the more cynical Erik Lensherr. It’s compelling because even Erik, doomed to become a villain, is allowed one or two moral victories or Charles, making this action movie one with interesting ideas.

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