Top 7 franchises with unexpectedly great fifth films

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There tends to be only two ways that a movie series makes it to the fifth entry; either by relentlessly flinging crap at the masses, or by continually delivering quality cinema. For some uneven franchises, though, five was the lucky number that led to odd success, thanks to sequels that were not by the numbers.

2015 is shaping up to be a year of memorable fifth film entries (for better or worse). Terminator: Genysis proved that the world is done with John Connor and his robot pals. July has TWO number fives that pose pivotal questions. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation asks whether we can watch another Tom Cruise movie without flashing back to Going Clear, while “Vacation” will determine whether Chevy Chase has any comedic sensibilities left in his body after leaving Community.

The talent involved with next week’s releases can rest assured that sometimes lightning strikes on the fifth iteration, as these seven films can attest to. In some cases, the fifth flick was the finest! A quick housekeeping note; for all of these franchises, we’ve counted theatrically released and straight-to-DVD movies, but not made-for-TV, as I don’t think any film series benefited from adding in mandatory commercial breaks. Anywho, onto the top 7!

7. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning

Well, I might as well get the controversial one out of the way first. I’ve already explained why I think A New Beginning is the best Friday the 13th movie, but let me give you an explanation that doesn’t run for 1000 words. Quite simply, in the areas where Friday the 13th counts – sick kills, weird 1980s stereotypes, and gorgeous people getting naked – A New Beginning delivers. The fat dude getting axed in the back is just the start of great murders, we get to see a goth doing the robot, and the sex scene has who I still consider the hottest slasher victim of all time. Also, Miguel Nunez is in this movie singing doo-wop in a porta-potty.

There is, of course, the fact that the ending is super-stupid and almost disqualifies this film as a Friday the 13th entry, but we shouldn’t throw this baby out with the bathwater. As far as movies within this series go, it’s one of the most memorable, which is commendable amongst a batch of unoriginal ideas and unfulfilled promises. If I had to show one Friday the 13th movie to friends, it’d be this one… I’d just turn it off three minutes before the end.

6. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

I am not for one second going to argue that Order of the Phoenix is the best Harry Potter movie; that distinction would go to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, in which Alfonso Cuarón created the dark vision of wizardry that would define the rest of the franchise. However, it’s probably the most important movie in the Harry Potter series, and nailing the pivotal moments of the series and the major changes in store were not easy feats.

Order of the Phoenix is really where everyone grows up. Harry progresses from Hogwarts’ boy hero having adventures with friends, to the leader of an army against Voldemort. The relationships that would drive the rest of the series start here, and the first major death that would shake Harry and drive him to destroy Voldemort happened here.

5. Muppets Treasure Island

I like to think of the entire Muppets film franchise as a set of three trilogies, the last of which will likely not come to pass thanks to Most Wanted’s sad death at the box office. The first trilogy, which was the most grounded and set the groundwork for the characters for those who ignored the show is nearly unimpeachable. Then there’s a second trilogy which basically turns the Muppets into the cast of Sliders as they jump between weird realities. It starts in Dickensian England and ends in outer space, but it hits its zenith on the high seas in Muppets Treasure Island.

Muppets Treasure Island remains a hidden treasure amongst the Muppets movie franchise because it never flinches away from embracing the total camp of puppets retelling Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. While just about every single Muppets movies had impeccable casting, Muppets Treasure Island does it the most efficiently. It’s not so much an ensemble, but I don’t know if any pair of actors have been able to match the Muppets laugh-for-laugh the way that Tim Curry and Billy Connolly did in this underrated film.

14 thoughts on “Top 7 franchises with unexpectedly great fifth films

  1. If we are talking bout the one were the annoying candy bar loving kid gets abruptly hacked to peices; then I am on board 100 percent with your opinion sir. That to me was the wildest, most out of nowhere, best jump scare in that franchises history; tied only with Young Jason jumping out of the water in the orignal. Great article brotha and I give it two fully pumped biceps and a wrist twist yo!

  2. Muppet’s Treasure Island has a really goofy ending that is a little too feel goody, even as a little kid I felt that way at least.

    Fast Five is glorious and completely changed that franchise, to the point where I have a hard time explaining why I love these films now, probably because I cannot stop laughing. Never has something been so sincere about its own stupidity. Never change Fast and Furious, never change.

  3. Honestly, I do think Harry Potter 5 is the best of the series. In fact, I think the last four movies are all better than the first four movies, including part 3. But I also genuinely like all eight movies, with part 4 being the only real weak entry.

  4. A: Friday 5 is much, much greater than the horrible turd of 8 and the confusing mess of 9. But I have to blasphemously admit, I think I like Jason X just a tad more.

    B: I’m really glad Fox proved the X-Men franchise can stand on its own. I’ll controversially admit that I feel the Marvel Studios universe might get a bit cluttered if the X-Men were to be fully integrate into it, so I’m fine with it being its own universe for the time being since Apocalypse and Deadpool are looking promising. Still a bit unsure if Fantastic Four would work, though.

    I still can’t believe The Fast and the Furious morphed into the greatest modern action series we have. I was a fool who fell off the wagon after the first, but it seems now’s as good at time as any to get into it. Since I’m an obsessive completist, I’ll even view the first four before it. I’m sure none of its films can be as horrible as Alien Resurrection.

    Dave, if you do a top 7 best fours, do not include Alien Resurrection. :V

  5. I can not believe Police Acadamy 5: Assignment Miami Beach did not make the list. It’s where we all discovered national treasure Matt McCoy.

  6. Great article Dave. Glad you brought up Ghidorah, I love you Brett as our resident Godzilla guy but I like more views on the series in addition.

    I’d argue that Godzilla, for much of his film entire run to date has been an anti-hero to straight up villain more than enough that I wouldn’t expect him to be “Earth’s defender”. Even the recent game has you just being a dick to humanity.

    Ghidorah though, yes is one of the better Toho kaiju flicks and it did give up great set up to what would eventually get to Destroy All Monsters where the mayhem kept coming.

  7. Potter 5 was easily my favorite of the huge bloated saga.
    really enjoyed the underwater trial and im big fan of mazes, not gonna lie i had the hots for Viktor Krum

  8. I love Fast Five, but I do think that Fast & Furious (4) was good and was the beginning of them getting things turned around. Tokyo Drift is definitely the weakest in the series though.

  9. For me, X-Men: First Class really is the best X-Men film. I love X2, but those leather costumes and many of the characters being completely misused and misunderstood (such as Cyclops, or Wolverine’s powers not being consistent, or Colossus in general) makes it hard for me to really put it above First Class. With First Class, other than Emma Frost, everyone is in character and acting as they should be. Fassbender and McAvoy really carry the movie with stellar performances, and overall it just feels like they didn’t try to shy away from the source material for once (yay for yellow+blue suits we’ll never see again, and Magneto getting that awesome red and purple outfit).

    Meanwhile, Days of Future Past was a letdown to me because the returning characters from FC felt completely different to me, with so much happening between films in some weird effort to add more time to their origins. Plus the film didn’t really give any particular character a lot to do because it suffers from the classic X-Men problem of being bloated with mutants. Mystique was focused on too much, with Jennifer Lawrence not wanting to lend time (or the talent she brought in FC) to the part. It’s far from being the worst in the series, but I’d rather rewatch X2, First Class, or even The Wolverine before it (needless to say it’s still much MUCH better than X3 or X-Men Origins, and better than X1 since that film suffers from a lot of the same problems + being dated).

    TL;DR: First Class is my favourite X-Men film, and while DOFP was enjoyable and good, it was a letdown as a sequel to FC in my opinion.

    1. I enjoyed Days of Future Past as kind of a side movie, its a little not that great if you look at all the superhero movies that were around at the time but its still a good movie

  10. I would argue for Final Destination 5 just for the ending. i loved the ending.
    Otherwise great article, keep up the good work guys 😀

  11. I think the fifth James Bond movie, You Only Live Twice, is a pretty awesome movie. I mean how can you go wrong with an army of ninjas attacking an evil volcano fortress.

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