The world of film is now dominated by franchises. Every major studio hopes to turn their films into a franchise, or even an extended universe. So in this week’s Top 5 returning guest William Ingram and I are going to be taking a look at some of our favourite film franchises. There were so many to choose from, and some franchises that I really love, but couldn’t quite make the cut, such as Mad Max, James Bond, Toy Story, Mission Impossible, Indiana Jones, Alien, Resident Evil, Mariachi Trilogy, and Evil Dead. But enough of what didn’t make the cut, here are our Top 5 Film Franchises.
- Shuggie: Rocky – The Rocky franchise is easily the greatest sports film franchise, and one of my favourite franchises full stop. The films are a little repetitive and formulaic, but the character moments within them are what makes them great. Whilst the fifth entry really is not good, the franchise managed to recover from it startlingly well, not only giving Rocky a great final hurrah in Rocky Balboa, but also successfully rebooting in Creed, possibly the best Rocky film since the original. The original Rocky still stands as the franchise’s crowing achievement, even taking home academy awards, but the films after give us such a rich look into Rocky’s life, and still deliver brilliantly when it comes to the boxing scenes.
- Will: Spiderman – A pretty rogue choice considering at least two of the films are pretty poorly regarded. There are also probably franchises I’d prefer to sit down and watch. Despite this, the original Spiderman films are actually fun to rewatch if they are on TV, and Spiderman III is great as it’s so laughably bad in places, notably emo Peter Parker. The first two are good films to watch and you don’t have to pay too much attention either. Andrew Garfield brought a different edge to Spidey and his films are also reasonable popcorn superhero films. Marvel Spidey looks very cool and his cameo in Captain America: Civil War was great so I am looking forward to the third iteration of arguably my favourite superhero.
- Shuggie: Lethal Weapon – There isn’t a more consistent action franchise than Lethal Weapon. Whilst the fourth isn’t at the level of the first three, it’s still better than where most franchises end up (Die Hard 5 guys). The relation between Riggs and Murtaugh remains one of my absolute favourites in all of film, and they way it develops over the course of the franchise keeps each film new and interesting. Mel Gibson and Danny Glover excel in main roles, making Riggs and Murtaugh into household names. And don’t forget we’ve had two further entries courtesy of the It’s Always Sunny guys, giving us two great, and hilarious, episodes of that show.
- Will: Middle Earth – Comprising both The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films, it really is the former which lets the side down. The best moments of The Hobbit (such as the scene with Gollum) are great cinema, but overall the story drags and reduces Bilbo to a secondary character in his own film. The franchise is helped by an incredible first three films, which mixes its’ stories well, with both Aragorn and Frodo getting the time they need for us to like them. Although marathoning all three extended editions is a bit much, the films truly are masterpieces and I really should rewatch them soon. The Fellowship of the Ring edges is as my favourite as it nicely sets up all the key characters and Concerning Hobbits is just a brilliant piece of music to work to.
- Shuggie: Middle Earth – I’m sure many of you know that The Lord of the Rings trilogy are my three favourite films of all time. I can watch those films endlessly, to me they are as close to film perfection as you can get. Sadly though there are three more films in the Middle Earth franchise. Now I by no means hate The Hobbit films. I greatly enjoyed watching all three of those films in he cinema, but they are so packed full of fan service and can’t find the right tone between that of the Lord of the Rings and the more childish one of the Hobbit book, that they struggle to work on a purely storytelling level. Most importantly I just don’t find them that rewatchable. Middle Earth was still going to have to feature highly on my list just because of the brilliance of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Sadly it can’t take the top spot, but one day (very nearly a full day in fact) I will marathon all six films.
- Will: Harry Potter – A film series that everyone my generation loves, Harry Potter was a cultural phenomenon. Although the books they were based on were better, the film series is still magical and will always be watched when it’s inevitably back on ITV over Christmas. Growing up with these characters means you truly do care about their lives and the development in tone, gradually becoming darker as the protagonists get older, throughout the series is done subtly, yet powerfully. It will be interesting to see if the new J. K. Rowling franchise will be as good without the support of such a strong book series. If I was forced to pick a favourite, I’d probably pick Prisoner of Azkaban, as it is noticeably gloomier in tone but retains some of the light-heartedness of the first two.
- Shuggie: Marvel Cinematic Universe – There are currently 14 films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and in the list there are only two that I don’t like; Iron Man 2 and Captain America: The First Avenger. That’s a hugely impressive batting average for a franchise with so many films. I think a lot the films play fairly safe, and many of them don’t feel like they have great stakes to them, but at the same time they’re still hugely entertain blockbuster popcorn films. The recent films have started to diverge from just superhero films, Guardians is a space opera and Ant Man a comedy heist film. The upcoming films have such huge potential, I can’t wait to see the Guardians sequel, Spiderman Homecoming is supposed to have a John Hughes feel, and Taika Waititi is directing an intergalactic buddy road movie Thor: Ragnarok. It’s impossible to ignore the success of the MCU, and whilst many of the films are good not great, it is the consistency that makes it a great franchise.
- Will: Monty Python – Although arguably less of a franchise than others in the list, I’m classifying it as a franchise because all four films were put together by the same creative team and because they are extremely funny. While And Now For Something Completely Different and The Meaning of Life have good moments, it’s Life of Brian and Holy Grail that are the two standouts. The latter is a medieval romp packed with hilarious moments, while the former manages to be an outstanding satire on religion as well as being very silly and funny. Life of Brian edges it and its’ highlights include, Biggus Dickus, the People’s Front of Judea and the stoning scene. Comedy gold.
- Shuggie: Star Wars – I know people will question me putting Star Wars top when the prequels exist, but despite them not being great films I do still find them incredibly rewatchable. I love everything about the Star Wars world, the films, TV shows, and novels. It’s such a rich universe, and there are so many incredible characters. Rogue One just proved that they were able to create a great and successful spin off to the main saga, with a wildly different tone, and yet still feel so very Star Wars. The only huge black mark on the franchise for me is the Clone Wars film, which was so bad and hard to rewatch, but the animated show really made up for it. And to this day there is still no upcoming film that will get me excited as a new addition to the Star Wars franchise.
- Will: Star Wars – Star Wars defined many childhoods and mine was no different. Although I grew up with the much maligned prequel trilogy, they hold a special place in my heart. Alongside a critically acclaimed original trilogy and an exciting new trilogy to look forward to, Star Wars is a comfortable first place on my list. Not only I am looking forward to episodes XIII and IX, but the spin offs have the potential to add some more interesting storylines to the franchise. The Empire Strikes Back features one of films great twists and introduces so much more to the galaxy, and is probably my favourite. Will Disney run Star Wars into the ground to keep making money? Probably. Will I keep going? Yes.