Sunday, March 30, 2014

Who's the Best... First Film in a Series or Franchise?

Doug: Sheesh -- it's a Who's the Bestapalooza this week! Third one! So, which inaugural installment got it right the first time?


Anonymous said...

Planet Of The Apes - even though it was rather hard to swallow that Taylor never guessed he was on Earth it was still a fantastic movie but the sequels got more and more stupid and each one made up a new ape history as they went along.

Redartz said...

Raiders of the Lost Ark. The subsequent films in the "Indiana Jones" series all had their moments; "Last Crusade" in particular. "Crystal Skull", perhaps not so much.

"Raiders", however, still stands as a classic from start to finish. It was a perfect blend of adventure, drama and humor. And the initial sequence with "Indy" escaping from traps, pitfalls and angry natives: perhaps the greatest opening in film history!

William said...

"Jaws" comes to mind. That's a movie that should have definitely been a one-and-done. Each subsequent sequel made had to get more and more ridiculous and implausible.

I thought that "Raiders of the Lost Ark" was definitely the best of the Indiana Jones films, with "Last Crusade" a respectable second. Both of two even-numbered sequels were the lesser movies of the franchise. However, I have a certain fondness for "Temple of Doom", as it was leaps and bounds better than the 'never should have been' "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull".

Another movie franchise that comes to mind is "Highlander". I really wish they had never made a sequel to the original, as the later films actually ret-conned the first one, and subsequently sort of ruined it by over-explaining the origin of the immortals.

david_b said...

"A Hard Days Night", anyone..?

I'd go with both suggestions mentioned above whole-heartedly. Adding "Alien", "Ghostbusters", and "Back to the Future". I'm also a huge fan of "Star Trek-TMP", hard to explain but it's just my fav of Trek films, ST-II and VI coming in close.

But the king of 'em all was "Star Wars".

Doug said...

Thanks for the comments so far, and apologies to those of you arriving in the first few hours after the post went live. If you saw that my third movie poster (Dr. No) had a broken link, it has been replaced with a new image -- and this one featuring the lovely Ms. Ursula Andress.

The first Iron Man film far outweighed the two sequels in terms of likability for me.

Jaws -- should have stopped there.

Is Star Wars Episode IV better than The Empire Strikes Back? Toughie...

Agreed on Planet of the Apes, although I like all five of the first series and am liking what I've seen/am hearing about the new series. Everything's better with gorillas...


J.A. Morris said...

Star Wars.

Because Alec Guinness is in it more than the others. He brings something that puts it a notch above
what followed.

mr. oyola said...

The Empire Strikes Back
The Matrix
Raider of the Lost Ark
Robocop (even though I am not big fan)
I think Alien and Aliens are equally good and sufficiently different - though if I HAD to pick one I'd go with the first. Then again, I am one of the few people I know who actually likes Alien 3.

I don't really care for Iron Man, but I guess the second was the best one.

Anonymous said...

david_b, one of friends from high school was a huge Star Trek fan. All he could talk about was the movie coming out, the movie coming out. In our town, we knew the family that had the theatre in town. Star Trek came in about two weeks before release date. The owner let us have a private Saturday midnight showing. If we brought our own cups and containers, the drinks and popcorn were gratis, candy we had to pay for. Movie started lights went down, we all started watching and BOOM, he fell asleep about 20 to 30 minutes into it. Nobody woke him up.

Doug, once again I'm ping ponging back and forth on your question. Film series, Iron Man could be argued as the best of the three. As the introduction to the Marvel Universe franchise, I would pick The Avengers as the best in that block. Same thing with The Wizard of Oz, for the whole franchise, I would say that the first movie was the best.

Movie series, Terminator was the best of the series. It was straight man v machine. After that it was my mech is better than your mech.

My pick for best in a series is Sharpe's Rifles with Sean Bean. I know they were made for TV, but I really loved that movie.

The Prowler (thankful for Hulu, Netflix and youtube).

Edo Bosnar said...

Looking at the above comments, and agreeing with many of them, I have to say I think a better question might have been: what movie never should have been spun into a franchise?
My answer to the original post question is also the answer to that second question, i.e., Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Alien and, most emphatically (and kudos to William for bringing it up), Highlander. That first movie, while no masterpiece, was a kind of cool, atmospheric mish-mash of sword & sorcery and SF; every single thing that followed (including the TV series - WTF?!) sucked monumentally.

Pat Henry said...

Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins.

Oh, wait. They never made another one.

I'd have to say Star Wars, the only movie I sat through mesmerized for three consecutive screenings (back in the days when theatres would _LET_ you sit through successive screenings). It totally reshaped the SF film genre (in ways both good and bad) and is a stand-alone masterpiece, the only one of the entire set that actually could stand alone. If they never made another one, that film told a complete story.

For those who never saw that iconic (now cliche) sceeen crawl followed by blaster action in theatres on first release, it is difficult to describe just how jaw-dropping that first film was. Vader strode in like some awesome windpipe crushing Frankenstein.

Yes, Empire was probably a better film, but it cannot stand alone. And nothing the followed came close.

That film was like something my friends and I had waited our whole young lives to see.

Anonymous said...

Count me in on those voting for the first Star Wars movie. While most people would rate Empire Strikes Back as the best one, the first one will always have a special place in my Jedi loving heart. It really does stand on its own, whereas the two sequels needed to build on the success of the first movie.

Ditto with Raiders of the Lost Ark. That too stands by itself. On a related note, if they do make any more sequels without Harrison Ford, I wouldn't mind Bradley Cooper in the role, if the rumours are true.

What about Star Trek? Sadly, this series breaks that mold of great first movie. The often repeated saying that all the even numbered entries in this series were the best ones holds true here, with the second one, Wrath of Khan being the best of the lot. I did like the first reboot, and no prizes as to why they put Khan in the second movie ST:Into Darkness.

- Mike 'hoping fervently for a good first JLA movie' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Garett said...

First Die Hard, Austin Powers, Matrix, Planet of the Apes, Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Superman was a bit too long, so I'd say Superman 2 was just as good. Aliens was more action than the horror in Alien, but both great. I caught the first Star Trek on tv recently for the first time since it came out. Was interesting, just caught a part of it, but I'd like to see it again just cause I'm so much more familiar with parts 2 and 4.

Teresa said...

The Evil Dead. It was low budget and that made it even scarier.

The sequels had merit, but not the flair the 1st one had.

I like all the Iron Man movies. But the 1st one had heart.

Pun intented.

Anonymous said...


Dolores Tinari said...

Mad Max. By the 3rd movie, the series degenerated into a circus.

Doug said...

Dolores --

Welcome to the BAB, and thanks for the comment!


Brown Bag Comics said...

Sorry, but the Star Wars and Alien original movies are fantastically wonderful first time. Their sequels are more reboots (kind of). Anyway, my vote is and always will be Star Wars IV: A New Hope!!

Anonymous said...

Welcome to Thunderdome, Delores.

Humanbelly said...

I'm gonna shift more to Teresa's genre, 'cause one that immediately came to mind was the first HALLOWEEN film. I have never been so afraid in a movie theater, ever. It re-set the low-budget, slasher/terror genre-- and naturally no film after it ever quite managed to recapture the purity of that experience.


Anonymous said...

Rocky. In an "art imitates life" sort of way, this one really epitomizes the general problem with building a franchise. Rocky and all the supporting characters are great, lovable underdogs in the first one. Then they all get fat and happy and it's really hard to care about them as much.

Related to the general topic of franchises, did anyone see the cover story of a recent Entertainment Weekly (I think that was the magazine I saw it in) about the new Spiderman movie and the broader topic that every studio wants a "sure thing" franchise? So, Sony has Spidey, out of which they will apparently spin-off a Sinister Six movie...Disney has the Avengers, Fox has X-people, etc. etc. etc.


Dolores Tinari said...

How about Darkman? Excellent first movie, meh 2nd, not so bad 3rd. Liam Neeson really works the lead in that first film.

(Hello back to everyone on the list)

Doug said...

I watched Captain America last night on FX. I don't know how The Winter Soldier will play (although it looks very cool), but I'll say this about Chris Evans -- he "gets" Steve Rogers and he "gets" Captain America. That's a fun film.


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