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.