Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Top Ten Greatest Film Series

As we are on the precipice of a fresh Indiana Jones release, here are the greatest film series ever produced, following these criteria:

  • The collection shall include two or more films to its credit.

  • The series, from top to bottom, withstands the test of time.

  • Directors, producers, and stars? Oh my!

  • The intangible 'it' factor: buzz that keeps a fanbase talking and pining for another addition to the series.
10. The X Men Series

While fan boys nationwide drooled over another addition to the Spiderman series, X-Men quietly rose to prominence over a period of six years, stringing together an anthology that singlehandedly made the comic book genre extremely relevant in the 21st century. Just as Harrison Ford has his Indiana Jones, Hugh Jackman has his Wolverine. Furthermore, this was the series that put Ellen Page on the map (sorry, Juno fans), restored Patrick Stewart's career (unless you really thought he was making something out of his Ebeneezer Scrooge role), gave Kelsey Grammar some post-Frasier work, introduced us to guy who simply cannot win the girl (see James Marsden as Cyclops and two secondary characters in Superman Returns and Enchanted), and made us question Rebecca Romjin's choice in men (her 'body' of work as Mystique made you realize that John Stamos was completely out of her league). All in all, this is the standard by which all comic book films should measure itself against.
9. The Jack Ryan Series
Children of today typically regard Tom Clancy as the muse behind the Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six video game series. Unfortunately, these same teenagers will neglect his construction of the James Ryan character, used in splendid films like The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, and The Sum of All Fears. While Alec Baldwin foolishly turned down the opportunity to reprise the Jack Ryan role, Harrison Ford used it to illustrate his ability to play impressionable characters (see Han Solo and Indiana Jones). As a child, The Hunt for Red October was a film that acclimated me to Sean Connery's superb acting capacity. In all honesty, not even Ben Affleck could taint this series. Then again, I was incredibly saddened to see the likes of James Earl Jones and Morgan Freeman killed off so emphatically.

8. The Harry Potter Series

As they say, once you've seen one Harry Potter, you've seen them all. Then again, movie-goers need to treat all the films as a whole to fully appreciate where J.K. Rowling continues to take her characters, from the ever-endearing Hagrid to Harry, Ron, and Hermione and Professors Snape and Dumbledore. This is one of the few cases where fans of the book can leave the theater satisfied knowing that various directors have done justice to Rowling's original work.
7. James Bond

Ian Fleming's most prominent character epitomizes everything a man wants in himself: a vast array of female conquests, access to countless gadgets and weaponry, and a steady job (I mean, come on: even after Bond lost MI6 millions of dollars in a poker match at Casino Royale, they still endowed him Double 00 Agent status). The film series exploded with Sean Connery as the first to play Bond, only to plummet with the inception of Roger Moore to play the title role. Ever since, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig have resuscitated the series with the likes of Golden Eye and the revamped Casino Royale. This series earns brownie points for revitalizing the first-person shooter genre on gaming consoles with N64's Golden Eye.

6. Back to the Future

As depressing as it is to witness Michael J. Fox deteriorate under the stress of his trying bout with Parkinson's disease, every cinema fan's heart quickens when reminiscing over Marty McFly's adventures with Doctor Emmett Brown. The series brought the Johnny B. Goode era and the Old West back into the nation's subconscious, allowing us to whimsically ask what if when it comes to the hypotheticals of time travel.
5. The Bourne Series

Jason Bourne is the American equivalent to James Bond and international espionage. Bourne is the type of flawed character all movie fans can appreciate, a man battling past demons in order to lead a normal life. Matt Damon put forth a tremendous effort into conveying this character's capacities on-screen, engaging in combat training and stunt choreography so as to seamlessly bring Bourne to life. Directors Doug Liman and Paul Greengrass worked wonders to take a 1970's based, Cold Era-living spy (as made by Robert Ludlum) and transfer him over to a 21st century country-hopping assassin. The stunts, fight scenes, and chase sequences alone can overwhelm every movie-goer's lust for action.

4. The Godfather Series

Without question, the first two films of the series are delicately crafted masterpieces, chronicling the rise and fall of the Corleone family. The third film, on the other hand, is what denies the series top billing when it comes to this list (the fact that Sonny's illegitimate son woos his cousin and Connie takes over the family business is enough to discredit Francis Ford Coppola as a master film-maker, let alone to consider this series the best of all time). These were films that spawned the Mafia genre (see Casino, Good Fellas, and The Sopranos) and made it honorable to root for the bad guys, even if senseless death and deception ensued. Al Pacino and Robert De Niro had no place in Hollywood without having starred in these films first.

3. The Lord of the Rings

This is the gold standard for the fantasy film genre, a collection that does extreme justice to the Tolkien novels. Many directors have failed at parlaying classic fantasy novels into Hollywood blockbusters (see The Chronicles of Narnia and The Golden Compass), going so far as to tout their films as 'the next Lord of the Rings.' And that's just it: Peter Jackson has raised the bar so high when it come to epic fantasy tales that other directors might die trying to replicate Lord of the Rings' measure of success. This was a collection that brought tears to your eyes knowing that it was coming to an end. Let us hope that Guillermo del Toro can duplicate the mystique through his re-working of Tolkien's The Hobbit.

2. Indiana Jones

Harrison Ford has regarded Dr. Henry Jones as the best character he has ever played. This is what everyone has in mind when it comes to moonlighting: Indiana Jones, college professor by day, global archaeologist extraordinaire by night. George Lucas concocted a stupendous action hero in the form of Dr. Jones, just as Steven Spielberg crafted a high-stakes action film that is, without question, second to none with his direction in Raiders of the Lost Ark. A successful fourth installment might very well knock the number one from this list....
1. Star Wars

In having grown up with Star Wars, I realized that, as a fan of the film, I became an aficionado of a culture, one that produced memorabilia, video game/novel/comic book franchises, action figures, and bed sheets that stayed in the rotation well into my college years. Star Wars was an intricate blend of folklore and mythology, a series that defined all that is good with science fiction and allowed the musical score of John Williams to seep into our subconscious for the first time. Williams's compositions, along with being a part of Anakin Skywalker's timeline, have a lasting effect that no film series shall ever duplicate. George Lucas and Steven Spielberg used these films to illustrate their penchant for crafting films that pushed our imaginations to realms we never thought possible. Even in spite of the kid-friendly touches that may have tainted the newest trilogy, the entire series serves as testament to great writing and even better film-making.

Honorable Mentions

The Kevin Smith Series (Mallrats, Dogma, Clerks, etc.), Die Hard, Rocky, Austin Powers, The Matrix, The Batman Series, The Superman Series, The Spiderman Series, The Mummy and The Naked Gun Series.


Marc V said...

You might have some LOTR fans fighting you on this one. Great list, but I don't remember there being a third Godfather movie. Perhaps I just erased it from my memory. I have to agree with number one, but original trilogy only. To me they are separate entities and the only film to hold me in the prequel saga is Sith. Nice post!

Michael said...

Harry Potter? Really? I mean...really? I'll take Rocky any day in the top ten over the little boy who lives under the stairs. Not to mention that you can track the history of the 80's by Rocky's lifestyle, opponents and hairstyles. Comprehensive list. good stuff.

Patrick said...

Excellent list, but Indy over LOTR? I like the Indy series but it just wasn't epic enough. I mean....the Battle of Helms Deep from the Two Towers, aside from the moment where Legolas skates down that one set of stairs, was badass.

Still, Star Wars takes the cake. We really have a bit of Anakin in all of us. That is why I connect with Star Wars.

Bryan: I think we need some Star Wars lists, we could debate that series for years.

adam said...

"This is one of the few cases where fans of the book can leave the theater satisfied knowing that various directors have done justice to Rowling's original work" i'm sorry but, as a fan of the book series, I can't agree with you. If they had split the last 2 movies like they are doing the Deathly Hollow, mabye my opinion would be different. Other than that, good list.