Friday, April 6, 2012

Discuss: Your Very Favorite Film Franchise


Rip Jagger said...

This is one of those which can change with the day, but as I scan my movie collection, I see the Star Wars, the Bonds, the Apes, and more.

But the franchise movies that affect me the most to me are the Universal monster flicks of the 1930's and 1940's and 1950's. Frankenstein, Dracula, Mummy, Wolfman, Creature and more are the movies I can watch and watch and watch again. I try to get through them all every other year and this summer is all set up for another horror fest!

Rip Off

Edo Bosnar said...

Police Academy, definitely, especially the later ones - the quality just kept improving...

Ha! Just kidding, of course. My real answer: Star Trek.

david_b said...

Most franchises are hit/miss to me. As a whole, I have a love/hate relationship with the Trek franchise.

Fan support's at it's most purest and cool when it's at the grassroots.., like the Trek Conventions of the 70s. Once 'the beast' hit, y'know all the corporate entities running them, they became less and less informal, you couldn't have long candid discussions with stars, now charging upteen $$ for autographs. That's why I loved the Galactica 20yarhen celebration in LA back in '98. The stars/writers just mingled with everyone, partied, you name it. A few bucks to sign something, that's all. It was really neat.

As for films, some franchises come to mind, like Flint, some aspects of Austin Powers (typically TOO juvenile, but some goofy style to them..), Bond (only up through Dalton..), and Trek (First Contact being the last good film.)

'Course Trek:TMP's my favorite Trek movie, but that's a previous column.

Star Wars..? Nope, I only liked the first 2 original films. I liked Star Wars when it was.. 'Star Wars', not Episode 4, etc.. Any memorabilia I collect was made prior to 1980.

I loved the first couple of POTA films, but actually liked the series second to the first movie.

dbutler16 said...

My favorite film franchise is Star Wars, in spite of all of the, uh, stuff, that's gone on with it the past 15 years. It was such a huge part of my happy childhood, with the movies, the action figures and the trading cards.

I love the Indiana Jones movies, especially Raiders of the Lost Arc. I liked the first 4 Rocky movies. Rocky 3 was the first movie I ever had on VHS, I think I recorded it from HBO, and I just about wore out the tape watching it one unproductive summer. I love Star Trek, but it seems like all of the even numbered ones are really good, and the odd numbered ones are mediocre. I enjoyed the Planet of the Apes movies, too. James Bond is OK, but I could never get into him too much. He's cool and all, but something just doesn't completely click for me. I've still not seen all of the Bond movies.

Anonymous said...

Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan. And Emmanuelle.
--Matt alias Anonymous

Anonymous said...

Can't believe I forgot Godzilla.
--Matt alias Anonymous

William said...

I'm surprised no one has mentioned Spider-Man, Batman, Superman or the X-Men. (Until now, anyway).

As with a lot of other movie franchises, the first two installments of these films ranged anywhere from great to good… and then came the third movie. I always thought that the third time was supposed to be the "charm", but when it comes to blockbuster movies, it's definitely more like the "curse". And they just seem to go down hill even more from there. (Bat-nipples anyone? Or how about a singing and dancing Peter Parker?) Nuff said.

I have high hopes for the new crop of Super Hero movies coming out this year (Amazing Spider-Man, Avengers, Batman 3). We'll just have to wait and see.

Now, my wife's favorite film franchise, hands down, is "Lord Of The Rings". I have to agree that all of these movies are brilliant, and unlike the examples mentioned above, they got better even better as they went along. Very much looking forward to "The Hobbit" coming out this year around Christmas.

LOTR aside, I've often wondered why the "geniuses" in Hollywood can't seem to make even one film franchise that is consistently good from one movie to the next. No matter if it's Star Wars, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, James Bond, or any of the aforementioned super hero films, there is ALWAYS at least one stinker in the bunch (and in some cases more) that drags the whole series down with it.

The only theory I can come up with is that once a movie becomes popular enough to warrant multiple sequels, that the "suits" suddenly take notice and start to insert themselves into the creative process. (And we all know how creative bean-counters are). "Hey, this script is pretty good, but you know what would make it even better? A giant mechanical spider."

And the only reason the LOTR didn't fall victim to this is that all three movies were filmed at once, so by the time the first one hit theaters, it was already too late for anyone to screw around with them. Otherwise I'm that somewhere there would have been a song and dance number with Frodo, Sam and Golem. (Hmmm, but come to think of it, there was a giant spider in the third movie).

J.A. Morris said...

dbutler16 said exactly what I was going to say about 'Star Wars', easily my favorite franchise. I'd probably say Trek & Indiana Jones are tied for 2nd. 'Star Trek' movies have been very hit and miss though.

For every Wrath of Khan and Undiscovered Country, we get the one where they meet "God". So the Trek franchise has just as many clunkers as 'Star Wars'.

Speaking of which, is there anyone who hasn't seen this Shatner video?

I was a big fan of the Godzilla movies as a kid, but I haven't seen most of them for 30 years. At this point, I think it's best not to revisit them and just remember the 9 year-old version of me loving them.

William said...

Sorry, I don't know why I can't seem to write a single post without multiple typos. :(

david_b said...

William, nice comment on LOTR (like 'Potter', not a fan, never saw one, but I heard they're outstanding..).

The 'filming at same time' idea works good, I liked the 'Back to the Future' movies (2&3 were filmed together..), although the first was best. I don't know what to think about the potential third 'Ghostbusters' entry being planned..

Generally, 'Toy Story' has been my fav, and have generally escaped the inevitable 'dud' issue, although I thought the last one wasn't quite as good.., it did still tug at my heart strings.

Anonymous said...

I also quite enjoy Santo movies.
--Matt alias Anonymous

Anonymous said...

as an aside, without the derided bean counters, you would have none of these franchises to enjoy in the first place.

J.A. Morris said...

Forgot to mention in my previous comment, the Spider-man franchise was one of my disappointments as a comic book and movie fan.

I thought the 2nd was the best, but none were particularly great. I hope the "reboot" gets it better this time. Doing away with the "organic webbing" is a good start.

I'm a huge fan of the character, going back to the Electric Company, Spidey Super Stories comics, subscriptions to 'Amazing', 'Spectacular', 'Web Of' and 'Marvel Tales'. I own just about every Spider-Man series that's been released, I don't ever plan to own any of the movies.

dbutler16 said...

Oh, I love LOTR, but I guess I didn't think about it because I think of it as a book first and a movie franchies second. Maybe that's why the superhero movies didn't occur to me, either.

Godzilla was pretty cool when I was a youngster, but to be honest, I haven't watched one in a really long time.

Doug said...

But -- I don't think anyone could argue that the CGI effects truly brought ol' Webhead to life on the Silver Screen. If the movie guys had figured out a better way to do the Green Goblin (not sure why a Hobgoblin sort of suit, when it was tattered later, or like Ragman over at DC, wouldn't have worked better than the stiff and silly suit they came up with), I'd have really liked the first Spidey film. Ditto on Spidey 3, which fell under the same problems many third installments seem to have -- too doggone many bad guys!

That being said, this summer's Batman is looking a bit crowded. Catwoman, Bane, and Ra's al Ghul making a comeback??

I like all the Apes films, although Battle has lost a lot of luster for me through the years. But the first four are great, and last summer's prequel was outstanding -- looking forward to more of that.

Star Wars is a fave, with The Empire Strikes Back being my favorite. I think George Lucas let himself fall into the same trap that all of the Batman writers were in after TDKR -- everyone was busting their butt to make every story line up with this absolute ending. What we have now is a sextet where I really only like three of the films; Phantom Menace should just be junked. If he wants to keep tinkering, there is where he should be spending his time. Is Jar Jar Binks the worst character ever created??

I'm hit and miss on Bond -- no way I've even seen half of them.

I can take Jaws II. As a kid, I actually saw it before I saw Jaws.

I have only caught glimpses of LOTR. If they weren't so long, I'd probably watch them.

My kids love the Harry Potter films -- I've not seen more than a minute here and there.

The X-films -- meh... The one with Nightcrawler was really good -- the special effects guys nailed it!

The Christopher Reeve Superman flicks? Are two movies a "franchise"? Because 3 and 4 should be in a landfill. Simply awful.

How about the Godfather? No one has mentioned those. Dirty Harry? Alien?

Great talk today, everyone!


Inkstained Wretch said...

I cannot think of too many film franchises that I like. Sequels are inherently derivative and therefore less interesting. If you have a character with a long story arc or lot of territory to cover then it should be a TV series. If the character and the film stand alone, you should leave them be.

The James Bond series is one of the few cases where the films are not weighed down by repeating characters and plotlines from previous films. Unfortunately the films are very hit-or-miss.

Ram said...

Back to the Future
Planet of the Apes (except the last one)

david_b said...

Doug, you've hit the point I've made several times, and I wish studio types, somewhere out there would listen (tangent warning..)..

Never make a movie with more than one villain.. More is NOT better. In the best story-telling, you have one protagonist/one antagonist.., that's it. The best stories are a battle of wills, not CGI. The old Holmes/Moriaty, Kirk/Khan, Luke/Darth battles, what have you. You lose the chemistry when you add villains for larger stakes (and merchandising..).

The Batman '66 film will always be a favorite, but case in point..: I'd have preferred the Riddler with a bunch of goons to the foursome. Better, less convoluted story-building and suspense, another reason why folks typically liked the TV show better (well, the first year anyways..).

This was true for the Spidey and Bats 80s/90s franchises (after their initial films..).

Superman 2..? Eh, multiple villains worked there, perhaps the exception.

Anonymous said...

I like Superman IV even though it's not very good. Chris Reeve was always great and sincere and the premise had promise: what if Superman disarmed the super powers?

I must be in the minority as I hate the recent Bat-movies. To me, it's not Batman. It's just some humorless jerk beating people up. I find the plots full of holes. Heath Ledger is great, but THAT WASN'T THE JOKER he played. Cesar Romero is the real Joker.

Redartz said...

Boy,a crowded field already! Many good observations here. Like many of you, I love LOTR. Enjoyed the animated versions released years ago, then was blown away by Peter Jackson's films.

My wife and I are also quite fond of the Harry Potter films. Read the books first, but still found the movies to be pretty faithful to the source. This is one franchise in which the films have improved dramatically from episode to episode.

I always enjoy a good Bond film, but as Inkstained mentioned, the series does have its high and low points. Recently saw George Lazenby's Bond turn in OHMSS for the first time. Thought he actually did pretty well...

Karen said...

Rip, thanks for bringing up the Universal Monsters. My love for them has been rekindled in recent years.

The Apes films are also close to my heart. Start Trek too, although only up to First Contact. Star Wars -the original three films. Lord of the Rings is another favorite.

Unlike many people, I enjoyed Iron Man 2 nearly as much as Iron Man.


Garett said...

The Matrix sequels were the biggest letdown.
Alien 1+2, both great in different ways--one horror, one action.
Superman 1+2. Loved Hackman as Luthor, and the 3 villains in part2. New Superman film tried to recapture the charm, but didn't make it.
Star Wars 1+2. Empire came out when I was 12, perfect movie for young Luke being guided by wise Yoda.
Star Trek: Khan, whale one, and First Contact. The newest one I liked in the theatre, but not so much trying to view it again.

PLanet of the Apes: first one is endlessly watchable, the others if I get into that mood. Rocky is the same--the sequels are not really great, but a couple years ago I needed to see them all!

Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep--not actually sequels, but I put them together as Bogey's detective films. Maltese Falcon is probably my favorite film.

Indiana Jones 1+3 of course.

Matt, I did get into those early Tarzan films for a while. Love when he and Jane are swimming together--nude! Nicely filmed. Anyone interested can see that scene on youtube. What would Hollywood have been like without the code?

Do Marx Brothers count as a franchise? Love those comedies.

I would like to have seen a Flash Gordon series, and heard that they were planned. Perhaps another topic: what films would you like to see sequels to?

Before Sunrise/Before Sunset--sequel made 10 years later with the same actors, and we get to catch up on their characters 10 years later.

William said...

Doug (and anyone else) who hasn't taken the time to view the complete LOTR trilogy is doing themselves a great disservice. I'm not at all a big "Sword and Sorcery" fan, and I had not read the books when I saw the first movie, but I have to say, I was a fan afterwards. I've actually seen all 3 movies more than once. And I own the extended cut blu rays. Trust me, it's well worth your time and effort.

And if the last 30 minutes or so of "Return of the King" doesn't choke you up and bring a little tear to your eye... then you have no soul.

Inkstained Wretch said...

The good Bond films:

From Russia With Love (1963) - Sean Connery: The one where they started to figure out how the series should work.

Goldfinger (1964) - Sean Connery: THE iconic Bond film.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service - (1969) George Lazenby: The first non-Connery Bond film is highly underrated. Lazenby is quite good. We'll never know what might have happened had he kept the role.

For Your Eyes Only - (1981) Roger Moore: The only really decent Bond film he did, largely because it drops the camp humor of his previous - and subsequent - films.

Never Say Never Again - (1983) Sean Connery: The original Bond's comeback film lacks the famous theme music but is otherwise solid.

License to Kill - (1989) Timothy Dalton: Dalton's best, but still not that great. Poor Felix Leiter!

Golden Eye - (1995) Pierce Brosnan: Brosnan's first and best. Why all of the Bond films cannot be this much breezy fun, I don't understand.

Casino Royale - (2006) Daniel Craig: Solid revamp of the series if trying a might too hard to contemporary and realistic. Part of the fun of Bond is that he is an anachronism.

Anonymous said...

Bond is my favorite franchise. Probably owing to the fact that Live and Let Die was the coolest thing I'd ever seen in a theater by 1973. The films range all over the map quality wise. Not surprising, considering it's been going since 1962. Anything with Connery is the gold standard to measure by. On Her Majesty's Secret Service also holds up really well for me. A View to A Kill is the absolute worst Bond film ever made. Pity parts of it are in San Francisco, where I live. We deserved something better than that. It's still better than the Spirit, but not by much.

Superman 3? Spiderman 3? X-Men 3? Yep, there's a pattern there. But it's not absolute. The third Bond film was Goldfinger. And the third Trek film, The Search For Spock was terrific. Almost as good as Wrath of Khan. Trek 5 was up there with the Spirit (i.e. one of the worst movies ever made).

I agree with Karen. Iron Man 2 worked for me. The scene at Monte Carlo when Tony is trying to get his briefcase to put on his suit sold it for me. This franchise may have some legs left in it.

When I want to bore myself to sleep, I watch anything with ST: the Next Generation. They neve let me down.

James Chatterton

Anonymous said...

I'd say the most consistent franchise is the Avengers. So far of the 5 films leading up to the proper team film, none have stunk. Iron Man 2 was decent. Incredible Hulk was okay. I thought the rest were super. I just hope the Avengers movie is good.

Matt alias Anonymous

LOTR I don't count as "franchise" implies thr

Doug said...

Let me ask this about catch-phrases (and special effects):

Did you believe a man could fly?

And consequently, in the CGI age, do you believe a man can swing on a string (web?)?

By the way, David, I neglected to give you a kudo earlier on the mention of Toy Story -- love the series, and Toy Story 3 came out just as we were getting ready to send to oldest off to college. There were tears in the eyes of my wife and I as we sat in the theater watching the end of that picture!


Karen said...

Garrett: good call on the Marx Brothers. I still love watching those films.

Another oldie I have become find of: The Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes films. Rathbone is just perfect.


B Smith said...

Call me a grump, but I'm really put off by the term "franchise"

McDonald's is a operation to maximise profits while pushing out the bare minimum of what people might reasonably put up with - is that really how people see their favourite film series?

And how many films make a so-called franchise? I saw someone mention the Flint films...come on, there were only two!

Edo Bosnar said...

What, no love for Lethal Weapon? Or Beverly Hills Cop? What's WRONG with you people?!
...sorry, I kid yet again. However, speaking of Mel Gibson (and I'm not at all a fan of his), I do like the Mad Max movies - even the third one, if not necessarily good, is watchable.
And since david_b mentioned it way up above, the Austin Powers films are a guilty pleasure of mine - yes, they are quite juvenile, but like he mentioned, there is something about their overall goofy style that I find amusing.

Fantastic Four Fan 4ever said...

My favorite film franchise hands down is Star Trek. While not all of the films were as good, Star Trek: The Motion Picture holds a special place in my heart. I would read Starlog magazine each month and watch it go from TV to movie back and forth for five or more years. When they were going to be a TV movie I was getting all the updates via all the sci fi magazines at the time. I was hoping to see Xon as the new Vulcan aboard the ship. I have to disagree with many people who thought the first movie was boring. I was expecting the ship to crash into V’Ger or get captured by robot beings much like what the Borg became. Too bad they didn’t put the excitement up a notch, it would have been spectacular to see a battle watching V’Ger with the Klingons. Or even to see the first appearance of the Borg. Gene Roddenberry claimed in a Starlog interview V’Ger was where they originated.

I remember the day of the premiere because I dragged my very unimpressed grandfather to see the film. To him it was all flashing lights and no substance. I strongly disagreed with him and we’d debate the movie for years. When we arrived home he would start turning a flashlight on and off and say, “there’s the special effects of Star Trek”. He thought it was a total waste of time and didn’t go to the movies again until Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. That impressed him less and I could never convince him that Star Trek was one of the greatest shows of all time.

Apart from that, Star Trek, to me was a franchise that promoted good values and the best of what humanity could be. It just and still has a special place in my heart. As far as the other franchises like 007, Star Wars and the rest, I’m a fan but no where near as intense as Star Trek.

Anonymous said...


I feel for you. It's the height of irony that when your grandfather finally gave Trek another chance, he picked the worst film in the series. I had similar experiences with my stepfather, who was kind of a jerk anyways (unlike your grandfather I hope). My stepfather became a big fan of ST:TNG, which fueled more arguments over dull vs. interesting characters.

I followed all those Starlog updates as a kid in the 70's too. I didn't care how Trek came back, I just wanted it back. In retrospect, it's probably a good thing that they didn't follow through on the TV movie idea. I can just see Shatner or Nimoy being replaced by John Saxon.

James Chatterton

david_b said...

Kudos to all Trek:TMP lovers...

I read the same Starlogs (nice idea for a column, hint hint...) Religiously back in the 70s as well. It'll always be my favorite Trek film, in part for all the waiting leading up to it.. Check out the previous BAB column for more thoughts on that film.. I actually take the Directors Cut with me on most business trips, if I'm packing DVDs.. It's a 'comfort food' for me.

humanbelly said...

Y'know, while I enjoy a film franchise as much as anyone, I truly think the most consistently enjoyable one (where each film in the series is a solid, fun hoot to watch) is the VERY old THIN MAN series, starring William Powell & Myrna Loy. It's simply never NOT delightful.

But, boy, you've gotta be a true maven of old Hollywood films, make no mistake.


Karen said...

David -thanks for the 'plug' of my old ST:TMP post (which is here: It really isn't fair that ST:TMP gets lumped in with ST:V or put down. It's more classical sci fi than any of the others, if somewhat self-derivative.

As for Starlog....I dug out my surviving issues last year and had mentioned to Doug that I might review some, and then sort of forgot about it. If it seems like there's interest, I'll gladly look them over again. I really loved that magazine -that was a sci fi kid's source for news before this thing called the internet! I remember seeing Star Wars there for the first time and telling everyone that "This movie is gonna be great!" Of course, they had all the Trek news too, and great looks back at classic sci fi. I learned a lot from Starlog.


david_b said...

B Smith..:

You're actually right on the 'franchise' question.. I thought of a franchise more regarding the studio and all facets of corporate name recognition.. For Trek, it's not just movies, but merchandizing, books, television, DVDs, you name it.

Just like McDonalds is more than just restaurants.., it's character identification, toys and other legal aspects in a corporate sense.

My mention of Flint clearly doesn't meet that criteria, nor would movies like Rocky or Die Hard or other movie sequel series, that don't have conventions, huge merchandising, cosplay, etc..

It really depends on your definition. A movie that creates demand for sequels doesn't necessarily make it a franchise, although it's typically how franchises start.

My initial post regarding the 'corporate' beast was a mixed-criticism of how orchestrated and 'big-business' franchises like Trek have become (Trek cruises, etc..). On the one hand, I love all the cool product you can buy now (like glossies, of which I'm a huge collector of..) you never saw back in the 60s/70s.

But you do lose the intimacy to have cozy conversations with actors and writers sometimes at the hotel bar, instead of standing in some long 'only-one-autograph' lines..

david_b said...


Yes, Starlog was huge for a lot of folk, and I hope NOT to blather on too much about it in it's prime.

I still remember first hearing about 'UFO' in issue 5 (without actually seeing it for another 25years), then only to painfully read the cancellation of Space:1999 in ish 6, the same issue that had the first article on that new movie.., 'Star Wars'.

A true pioneer for the scifi/comic Bronze Age.

Anonymous said...

YEah....What Rip said...The Universal Monster movies...That is why I opened up Monster Cafe Saltillo. I just love them. Google us!

Garett said...

Karen: yes, Marx brothers movies are something I go back to every few years.

humanbelly: I recently discovered The Libeled Lady, great comedy with Powell + Loy, also Jean Harlow and early Spencer Tracy. Now I've seen it 3 times! Fast paced and fun. Haven't seen Thin Man series yet.

david_b said...

Big fan of both Marx Brothers films and Howard Hawks comedies of the 40s, sounds like another column idea...!!

humanbelly said...

@ Garret

Regarding the Thin Man-- do be sure to watch them in chronological order, as they do an admirable job of keeping the personal continuity going throughout.


david_b said...

Along a similar vein, I always love the Charlie Chan films, especially the later ones with his 'number one' son, and the black chauffeur. They were so funny to watch.

Mac said...
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