Top 7 franchises with unexpectedly great fifth films

4.Leprechaun: In the Hood

The Leprechaun series was never any good, per se. Whether he was chasing Jennifer Aniston or taking the form of WWE little-person wrestler Hornswoggle, there’s never really been a reason to clamor for this film franchise. However, between its low-budget horror beginnings and its modern day blandly gritty reboot, there was a wonderful time where the Leprechaun series was self-aware of its stupidity and that time was when Leprechaun: In the Hood released.

A bunch of goofy rapper wannabes decide to rob the house of an asshole record producer (played by the scene-chewing Ice-T) and accidentally awaken the Leprechaun when they steal his magical flute. For some reason, the Leprechaun now has the power of rap and love of chronic that he highlights while going on another murdering spree. And you know what? It totally works. The Leprechaun is supposed to be a charismatic horror villain, but what other things do you remember him doing that were not rap-related or in Wayne’ World 2? Come to think of it, Freddy Krueger needs a rap-based reboot.

3. Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster

By the time the fifth Godzilla film rolled around, Japan’s most dangerous monster was pretty well established. He’d tussled with other beasts like King Kong and Mothra, and had crushed Tokyo several times over. So, when the atomic lizard stalked the earth for the fifth time, he’d need to face the biggest threat of his career, one that’d take the combined might of three monsters to take him down. That’s where we get the Ghidorah, the three-headed menace.

Though he’s more of a begrudging hero that wrecks a bunch of stuff first, Godzilla ultimately teams up with Rodan and Mothra to defend the humanity from the alien threat of Ghidorah in the biggest brawl to date. Sure, it gets slightly goofy, and Godzilla is more of a jerk than Earth’s defender, but this movie was still a massive step-up for the series in terms of production. It set a precedent for monster battles that could grow bigger than a mere two combatants, and introduced fans to Ghidorah, Zilla’s nemesis for years to come.

2. X-Men: First Class

Here’s a movie that completely revived a flagging franchise. At a time when two consecutive duds (X3 and Origins: Wolverine) had sapped the X-Men franchise’s power and made the world wonder whether any studio besides Marvel themselves was worthy of creating superhero films, X-Men: First Class made a hard pivot and turned away from the increasingly cheesy past created by Bryan Singer. With Matthew Vaughn now at the helm, the series was basically given a soft reboot, delving into the past of Marvel’s more timeless mutants and putting new actors in charge of humanizing what had become an overly cartoon cast.

There’s so many great moves made with First Class. The recasting of Professor X, Magneto, and Mystique with three great young actors in James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence (respectively) were key and it’s a move that’s still paying dividends now. The best move, however, was pushing the setting back to the 1960s. So many modern superhero movies tend to paint the present in bright lights (Marvel) or with gritty strokes (DC), but X-Men’s foray into the time of political and social discord added touches of gray to a colorful time in American history. Did you notice how Days of Future Past basically reduced the original X-Men movie series’ characters to quick cameos at the start and end? That’s because First Class is the valedictorian of the series.

1. Fast Five

It’s kind of amazing that The Fast and The Furious was able to turn its wheels with little direction for four movies, but I’m glad it did because Fast Five may be one of the greatest action movies of all time and it set the stage for continually excellent sequels now that this high-octane franchise has found its way. For its first decade, F&F would shift gears between being about low-level crime and high-level street racing, changing drivers as often as it shifted between rock and hip-hop tracks. Vin Diesel left, then Paul Walker left, then they both came back, then the practical effects left. It was all a collision of whatever was available and seemed smart at the time, and it never reached its full potential.

Then Fast Five came out and it was essentially nailed what The Expendables was never able to. Firstly, it made us actually care about action heroes by putting together all-star cast (of “family,” if you will) comprised of every F&F character that we’d miraculously made a connection with during the previous four movies. More importantly, the series doubled down on insane driving action. Where other movies try to make set-pieces out of guns, Fast Five wreaked destruction with vehicles doing things we’d never seen on film before. From the insane prison bus breakout to the dragging safe, some of the greatest car stunts in history are packed together in this two-hour package.

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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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