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Cops O: Between a Bush and a Hard Place
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Cops O: Love Bites
Cops O: Strange Encounters
Cops O: Too Many Cooks
Cops O: Step Away from the Cutlery
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Cops O: Tell It To My Wife

Riddick: Rule the Dark and the 9 Best & 9 Worst Threequels of All Time

by Kevin Marshall   September 06, 2013 at 12:00AM  |  Views: 6,137
Source: Universal Pictures

This weekend's top opening, "Riddick: Rule the Dark," is the third installment in the trilogy that started with the surprise hit "Pitch Black." For years the "threequel" has gotten a bad rap, mostly because of the litany of cheesy horror sequels in the eighties. But threequels aren't always miserable failures. In fact, sometimes they're the best installment in a series.

Let's take a look at nine of the best and worst examples of Hollywood threequels, from Clint Eastwood's epic bad-assery to Superman III's epic badness.


9. "Back to the Future Part III"

Source: Universal Pictures

Not everyone's likely to agree with the inclusion of this movie. In fact, a lot of you might rank this among the worst threequels.

Making the third "Back to the Future" movie a Western was a bold choice, particularly after the second film set it in the future and gave audiences fantastic tech to ogle. But if you're a fan of Westerns, you appreciated this send-up and were able to enjoy the ride.

8. "Army of Darkness"

The "Evil Dead" films got better as they progressed, even as they got goofier. It culminated in "Army of Darkness," which had the biggest budget of the three and was more of a straight action-adventure comedy. Sure, the jokes and one-liners are cheesy, but that's part of the charm.

7. "Return of the Jedi"

The third "Star Wars" movie is a bit of a drop in quality from "The Empire Strikes Back," particularly with the manufactured cuteness of the Ewoks. Despite its faults, "Jedi" remains a fine film and wrapped up the series pretty well, especially the climactic moment involving Luke, the Emperor, and Vader.

6. "Toy Story 3"

An entire generation grew up along with the protagonists in "Toy Story 3," so the decision to make this a heartfelt analysis of growing up and moving on hit close to home for a lot of people in the theater. More people cried at this animated film than probably all other live-action films released that year combined.

5. "The Bourne Ultimatum"

The third and arguably best in the series, which benefitted from the filmmakers making you care about – not just root for – Jason Bourne.

4. "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban"

Source: Warner Bros. Pictures

The change from family friendly director Chris Columbus to Mexican arthouse auteur Alfonso Cuarón indicated that the films would change in tone as the characters got older. It was a risky move, but it paid off.

3. "The Return of the King"

The final installment of Peter Jackson's adaptation of Tolkien's fantasy epic is the one that won all the major awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture. Even though some dismissed it as the Academy basically awarding the entire trilogy, "Return of the King" was still the best of the three films.

2. "Goldfinger"

Probably the best of the Bond films, featuring a memorable villain and theme song.

1. "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly"

Source: United Artists

Not only a threequel, but a prequel. And yet this final film featuring "The Man with No Name" is one of the best Westerns of its era and one of the greatest films of all time.


There's no shortage of awful threequels out there, and to list and rank them all would be next to impossible. Instead, we'll focus on the ones that weren't straight-to-video schlock and really should have been much better given the success of their predecessors.

9. "The Godfather Part III"

It took sitting in the director's chair and garnering awards as a filmmaker for people to forget Sophia Coppola's terrible performance in this film, and even then, people still remarked how happy they were that she decided to drop the whole acting gig. Still, the failure of this film was far from her fault. It was an uninspired effort from all involved, who should have known better than to rest on their laurels coming off one of the greatest film epics of all time.

8. "Robocop 3"

God knows why this film was even made after the second film proved to be such a critical and commercial disaster. Perhaps they thought they could redeem the franchise. Frank Miller thought so. The legendary comics scribe ("Daredevil," "The Dark Knight Returns") returned to write the third film despite the frustration of having his script for "Robocop 2" butchered into something he barely recognized. It happened again. Like so many others, including viewers, he should've known better.

7. "Jurassic Park 3"

Source: Universal Pictures

"Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World" seemed like a hollow cash grab, but at least it had a reason to exist. The third movie was senseless and barely had a plot. Even Sam Neill seems to all but turn to the camera in the middle of takes and ask "are we done yet? Can we take lunch?"

6. "Batman Forever"

On paper, this film should have worked: it had Jim Carrey as The Riddler, Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face, and the addition of Robin. Unfortunately, director Joel Schumacher turned it into a neon nightmare, visually inspired by midnight bowling promotions at the local lanes and about every bit as intellectually stimulating.

5. "Matrix: Revolutions"

Source: Warner Bros. Pictures

"Matrix: Reloaded" was alternately dull and hokey, but it was almost saved by that highway chase sequence. This third film didn't even have that penultimate action sequence to redeem it. Instead, we were treated to over two hours (it felt like four) of post-apocalyptic tedium. Sitting through this film was like being back in college and having the freshman Philosophy major corner you at a party and drunkenly paraphrase what he read that day in class.

4. "X-Men: The Last Stand"

The departure of director Bryan Singer proved to be disastrous for the "X-Men" franchise, even if the movie he left to direct didn't turn out so great either ("Superman Returns"). Replacing Singer was Brett Ratner, a director who's never heard of the idiom "less is more." This over-stuffed threequel isn't just bad, it's heartless.

3. "Spider-Man 3"

The third film finally gave us Venom, which fans had been clamoring for since the first film. Unfortunately, it also gave them an extended dance sequence, Peter Parker with an emo kid haircut, and a saccharine Sandman backstory that was supposed to make him seem conflicted but instead just confused audiences.

2. "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines"

Hey, look! Arnold's wearing goofy sunglasses! And he just made a pop culture reference! "Terminator: Salvation" may have been a poorer film, but at least it didn't insult the intelligence of the viewer as much as this one did.

1. "Superman III"

Source: Warner Bros. Pictures

Richard Pryor is a legend. He also doesn't belong anywhere near a Superman film, let alone as a computer hacker. That's right: Richard Pryor played a computer hacker. Then Superman fought a drunk version of himself, and later an evil computer. It was a mess, and it isn't even the kind of bad movie that's fun to watch. It's just…bad. People can knock "Superman Returns" all they want, but this was a definite low point for not just the Man of Steel, but for all of Western Civilization.

So will "Riddick: Rule the Dark" belong in the company of the front 9 or the back 9? We'll find out when it hits theaters this weekend.

Also this weekend? Football's back, baby! Tiki Barber joined us in the studio to tell us who he thinks will rise to the top this season and also give us his fantasy sleeper pick. Check it out: