Have you ever wondered why the third part doesn’t always hold the landing?
I love a great trilogy of films. There is something about going on a journey with a range of characters that takes you not only through the breadth of their journey, but also through years of your own life that feels wondrous and beautiful.
Still, one of the biggest disappointments in the cinema experience is getting really hyped after the first two films, only to be utterly disappointed with the third. There are a lot of bad third movies out there. I don’t need to list them here, you know what they are. For each Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, there are a dozen X-Men: The Last Stands.
The third too Godfather Film is a hotly debated topic.
I was really looking forward to a new video from Patrick (H) Willems pop up on YouTube discussing trilogies and their unfortunate endings. I think this is a great topic, especially with Holywood suddenly pushing so many franchises. Check it out and let’s talk afterwards.
Why are trilogies so hard to nail?
First I want to say how much I like videos from this YouTube channel. I think Patrick does an amazing job breaking down complex topics with reservations that make his arguments more valid and give more direction to the discussion around them.
As in the video, let’s just talk about trilogies that work as three parts of the same longer story. The reason for this is that it’s actually commonplace to make three films now. There are three there Ironman Movies, but they all serve a stage in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and while they build on Tony Stark as a person, his true development, character, and ending don’t even feature in his own films.
Instead, let’s focus on movies like Lord of the ringswhere we experience the characters journey on a mission without the added help of other features of the franchise. While that means leaving out things like the Cornetto trilogy, I feel like I write enough about it that you can search for them on this website.
Okay … why do many trilogies fail?
In the video we hear a series of “guidelines” for how trilogies work. At its core, the idea is to build characters across three films to see how they correlate with a mission that takes a long time to complete. We have to see the ups and downs of this journey and see how our protagonists deal with these trials as they move from film one to film three.
This is of course all subjective. But for the sake of reasoning, let’s say every film in a trilogy follows the three-act structure. Film one is the beginning, film two is the middle, and the third film is the end. But it’s not just the end of one movie, it’s the end of three. So the pressure is high. You need to sum it all up in such a way that the audience is happy and the sequence is over in all of the films.
The third part has to explain the ultimate meaning of all the films that came before … it’s not easy!
Since the third film is responsible for making the other two work, the story for the third film has to do three times as much work as the other two. In many cases, the third episodes get so overloaded with story and plot that they never really work out the core character issues and just use a lot of exposure, or sometimes not enough, to tell us where everyone ends up.
Think about it like the third matrix The film was about compromises between humans and machines when audiences wanted humanity to win.
Another big hangup is that the third installment often takes themselves way too seriously or changes the tone of the franchise because they know it’s coming to an end. This tonal change can neutralize what the franchise was actually enjoying in the first place. Or it can feel too serious and also saturate the message.
As in the third Pirates Film when we don’t really get the jokes or the succinct pun to keep up the whole plot about what happens at the end of the world.
These stresses become cumbersome and can stop storytelling. Still, film trilogies like that In front Films glue the landing, so it’s not impossible.
But it helps to have a singular definition of “what it’s about” that the film can go for. One problem that arises is that the first film in a trilogy was often written and made as a one-off piece, so there is no plan for the next few episodes. That said, you have to find a way to find shoehorns in detail that was never meant to justify what was to come.
Instead, films should focus on building on what the first left and following the path so as not to sum that up, but rather building the narrative further into something cohesive. Think of it as the basis for more, not something to be copied.
All in all, sequels are a tough nut to crack. What do you think are some of the hardest parts of writing? Which films do you think got stuck upon landing? And how did you like the video?
Let us know in the comments.