The 11 Most Disappointing Third Movies in Trilogies

The 11 Most Disappointing Third Movies in Trilogies
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’s mixed reviews, lower CinemaScore, and soft(er) box office have shined a big spotlight on how difficult it can be to wrap up a trilogy in a way that satisfies most everyone. Rise of Skywalker is a special case, of course, since it’s not only completing the journeys of everyone introduced in 2015’s The Force Awakens, but also ending a 40-years-in-the-making nine-movie saga that began with the original Star Wars back in 1977.For every successful Return of the King or Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (which was a trilogy capper before the decades-later Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), there’s a movie that just doesn’t quite land the plane. These disappointing threequels could either be cases of just not being as good as the two movies before them, or they could just be unmitigated disasters.

Whatever the case, we’re taking a look a the biggest trilogy let downs, from sudden sinister symbiotes to nonsense cyberspeak to multiple hangovers. Check it out!

The Most Disappointing Third Movies in Trilogies

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Many expected J.J. Abrams, who set the stage for the Star Wars sequel trilogy with The Force Awakens, to deliver big with saga-capper The Rise of Skywalker, but some fans left the theater with mixed feelings about this closing installment, which failed to tie up all the loose plot threads from the previous two films, let alone offer a satisfying send-off for the Original Trilogy.

From IGN’s review: “For as much love, passion, and nostalgia is evident in this movie, it’s also a film very palpably made from a place driven by fear of disappointing the audience, and that anxiety fuels a lot of the story’s curious creative choices and unwieldy execution. The film’s heartstring-tugging moments, technical impressiveness, and relentless action will likely be enough for those fans who just want to keep the visor down on their blast shield helmets and let the Force flow through them. But for those who need some consistency and logic to the story in this elaborately detailed fictional galaxy, there will likely be the bittersweet pang of accepting that this long-running saga couldn’t quite stick the landing.”

The Dark Knight Rises

Criticism of The Dark Knight Rises almost mirrors that of The Rise of Skywalker, in that there’s a lot of good throughout the movie but then also many parts that baffle and befuddle. Also, like with TROS, some fans objected to the way it sort of ignored the way the previous film ended. In this case, it was how The Dark Knight insinuated that Batman was going to continue to protect Gotham, but as an enemy of the law. Instead he instantly retired and Bruce became a recluse for eight years.

TDKR also had the unenviable task of coming after a near-impossible to follow film, which many still hail as the best Batman movie of all time.

Blade: Trinity

An enormously troubled production – in which star Wesley Snipes was reportedly so difficult to work with that director David Goyer had to use stand-ins and CGI to add Blade to some scenes – made Blade: Trinity the worst of the bunch, effectively killing the franchise (until Marvel announced an official reboot). It’s a hollow, incoherent mess that some feel is one of the worst comic book movies ever made.

Spider-Man 3

The Tobey Maguire Spider-Man franchise wasn’t supposed to be a trilogy, and Spider-Man 4 was actually in development for a while until Sony decided to scrap it all and reboot, but as it stands, like with Blade: Trinity, this was the poorly-received third movie that basically busted the run. A sloppy Venom inclusion, a retconning of Ben Parker’s death, M.J. getting kidnapped in the third act again, and a symbiote-suited Peter played for laughs (aka “Emo Peter”) just soured the series for too many fans.

The Godfather: Part III

Yes, Godfather III surely suffers from following the first two iconic films, but also following them sixteen years later with a sub-par offering. Though director Francis Ford Coppola was still behind the wheel, this final look at Al Pacino’s mob boss, Michael Corleone, ended the saga on flat note, with things like poor aging makeup and a lack of chemistry between Andy Garcia and a miscast Sofia Coppola (who replaced Winona Ryder) dragging the story down.

The Matrix Revolutions

The Matrix Trilogy (which will now continue years later with Matrix 4) originally ended things with the dud The Matrix Revolutions – a film that focused too much on humanity’s last stronghold, Zion, which fans were already cold on from The Matrix Reloaded, while turning Agent Smith into a final boss character. Weighted down with dull scenes (Neo’s train station limbo, etc) and too many characters you didn’t care about, Revolutions was a far cry from the clear, crisp idea presented in the first movie.

The Hangover Part III

The third Hangover film brought the Hangover-ing back to Las Vegas, but ditched a lot of the comedy in favor of a darker, go-for-broke violent adventure that lacked the raunchy charm of the original. The stakes were higher but the laughs were gone. Grossing just half of what The Hangover II made in its opening days, it seems audiences were also kind of done with this premise after two films.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Brendan Fraser (but not Rachel Weisz) returned for this lackluster threequel filled with sloppy CGI and mindless antics. Not even the inclusion of Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh could save this third Mummy film (not counting The Rock’s Scorpion King prequel) from being a critical bust that stopped the Mummy train cold. Funnily enough, The Scorpion King franchise is five films deep now, with the most recent one dropping just last year.

Taken 3

Liam Neeson’s ex-covert operative Bryan Mills goes on the run in Taken 3, which was panned as an unnecessary crash-and-burn misfire. It’s a hyperactive mess, and its best quality was reminding people that the original Taken was perfect and should have been left alone. The entire franchise jump-started Neeson’s career third act as action star, but the Taken sequels produced diminishing returns.

Terminator: Rise of the Machines

By most accounts, Terminator: Rise of the Machines (which eventually wound up not being the end of a trilogy) is a solid movie. But the lack of James Cameron and Linda Hamilton – plus, the whole “having to follow T2” thing – hampered the project out of the gate, to the point where it was going to disappoint a lot of people no matter what. Plus, the movie ended on the biggest bummer note of the entire series, making it almost impossible to continue on with the story.

X-Men: The Last Stand

Obviously, Fox’s X-Men series lasted a lot longer than three films, but The Last Stand effectively ended the arc of the first cast before the studio decided to just focus on Wolverine – and then go back in time with a whole new cast as a circuitous kind of retcon. It can now be said, after this year’s Dark Phoenix, that Last Stand was only the first flubbing of the Dark Phoenix storyline. One of the first comic book films to make fans angry (such an honor!), The Last Stand sidelined most of Jean’s story for a “mutant cure” angle while also killing off Charles and Scott (rather unceremoniously).

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Did we miss any terrible threequels? Share your most hated trilogy closers in the comments below.

Matt Fowler is a writer for IGN and a member of the Television Critics Association. Follow him on Twitter at @TheMattFowler and Facebook at Facebook.com/MattBFowler.

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