5. The Wolverine
For the sake of this list, let’s just say that the Wolverine movies are their own spin-off series. In other words, The Wolverine will be considered a sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine rather than X-Men: First Class. With that brief explanation out of the way, let’s talk about how X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a complete and utter abomination.
The script was filled with cliches, the X-Men mythology was completely mangled, and the supporting characters were bland and forgettable. After X-Men: The Last Stand left a sour taste in many viewers’ mouth, this was not the Wolverine movie people were wanting.
Actually, the “perfect Wolverine movie” has yet to be released (though Logan looks like it has potential). However, the next stab at the spin-off series was a significant step up from its predecessor. One notable feat that The Wolverine manages to accomplish is that it actually stays true to its source material.
Certain X-Men movies benefit from changes to the source material (First Class definitely took some liberties), but if X-Men Origins proved anything, it’s that maybe Wolverine should be left alone. This isn’t to say that The Wolverine is a shot for shot remake of any story arc, but it also doesn’t defecate all over certain things that make Wolverine who he is.
The change in setting was also a pleasant surprise. X-Men movies have a tendency to feel a bit samey, but the change in both time period and location allowed The Wolverine to feel fresh. What stopped The Wolverine from feeling completely unique was the cartoonish and generic final act. In fact, if that hadn’t been included, this very well could have been the perfect Wolverine movie. It’ll have to settle for being a solid, thoroughly enjoyable movie that fixes the numerous problems that plagued its predecessor.
4. Jurassic World
Jurassic Park was a landmark achievement in blockbuster filmmaking. Steven Spielberg’s dinosaur flick was not only a technical marvel, but it was also an awe-inspiring summer adventure film filled with tension and edge-of-your seat moments. It went on to earn three Academy Awards and millions of passionate fans. The colossal box office numbers and critical success basically ensured a sequel was coming.
When it was announced that Spielberg was back behind the wheel, fans of the original film felt comfortable and confident. The Lost World: Jurassic Park came out and landed with a thud. It still made loads of money, but it failed to offer the same kind of compelling suspense that made the original movie such a blast.
Then after an eight year hiatus, Jurassic Park III came out and really proved that the series was out of ideas. This 90 minute chase scene disguised as a movie offered no character development, and even worse, no reason to care.
It’s no wonder that it took the series forteen years to recover. Fans obviously needed time to recover from two back-to-back disappointments. Last year’s Jurassic World couldn’t match the sheer inventiveness of Jurassic Park, but thanks to charismatic performances, gorgeous visuals, and high-stakes action, this film is easily the best of the sequels.
The biggest complaints were that the movie doesn’t focus nearly enough on horror or suspense along with the fact that the plot has a tendency to feel overstuffed. Those are definitely valid points, but they don’t matter when the movie is so darn entertaining. If the movie were aiming to recapture the more horror-inspired moments from the original, that would be one thing. Luckily, Jurassic World chooses to go for popcorn thrills and it succeeds in that regard.
There are definitely flaws to be found in the fourth Jurassic World movie, but considering how much of an improvement it is over the last two movies, these issues can be taken with a grain of salt. Colin Trevorrow first crack at a big summer blockbuster is the perfect amount of fun, and it has helped bring renewed interest in a series with plenty of potential.
3. Mission: Impossible III
Ghost Protocol and Rogue Nation may be the standouts in this spy series that keeps improving, but the third film is the first one that showed it could compete with the likes of Bond and Bourne. The first film in the series got solid but unexceptional reviews. It was a decent spy movie, but it wasn’t one of the greats.
The second one did considerably worse with critics and audiences alike. Mission: Impossible III restored hope in the franchise. It still hadn’t proven that the series was capable of taking on the great, but it was definitely the start of a fantastic future. The cast was better, the gadgets were cooler, and the story was more fluid.
In terms of the cast, Philip Seymour Hoffman made for a great villain thanks to an enthusiastic performance. Additionally, Simon Pegg turned out to be a charismatic and charming addition to the series. Of course, Cruise is also having as much fun as he usually does in his action roles. It’s not that the previous movies had terrible acting or anything, but this time around the cast is all around more consistent.
The story is also more focused, and as a result, more fun. Spy movies have a tendency to be convoluted, and though Mission: Impossible III doesn’t avoid that entirely, it does a much better job than its predecessors in terms of keeping things neat and tidy. The interesting supporting characters that come packaged with the film also help make things less of a snooze.
Mission: Impossible III unfortunately came out shortly before Casino Royale, so it had the misfortune of being overshadowed by a stellar Bond reboot. Funnily enough, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation surprised got sweet, sweet revenge when it got a far warmer reception than Spectre last year. Similar to the Fast & Furious movies, the Mission: Impossible movies continue to learn from past mistakes. Here’s hoping number six continues the pattern.
2. Fast Five
It took them five tries to deliver a great Fast & Furious movie. The original was definitely a solid popcorn movie, but it wasn’t until Fast Five that the series actually lifted off. After subsequent sequels got worse reviews and worse box office returns, people were starting to believe that the series was on the decline. Nobody could have predicted that the fifth entry in the series would be the one that put the series on the map more than ever.
To be fair the fourth entry was considered a very small improvement over the previous two. Then again, considering the overall quality of 2 Fast 2 Furious and Tokyo Drift, that wasn’t a huge accomplishment. The fourth entry started to show signs of what the future films would be like. The confusingly titled Fast & Furious began to experiment with a more action oriented “fun” approach, but it didn’t fully commit the way Five did.
Fast Five made sure to keep cars an important part of the series, but it still branched off with a stronger focus on action. The film had some of the most thrilling scenes in the entire franchise. Big set pieces, big-name cast members, and wild stunts ruled the movie. Though it’s not always the case, Fast Five proved that the “bigger is better” approach can definitely work in a film’s favor.
The two sequels that followed Five have continued to earn praise, proving that Fast Five was no accident. With a more consistent focus and more interesting characters (thanks to a stronger cast), the Fast & Furious movies are now regarded as some of the most purely entertaining movies to come along during summer blockbuster season. In fact, some consider Furious 7 to be the best of the bunch. With how consistent these movies have been, let’s hope that the films don’t hit a rough patch any time soon.
1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
The first crack at a Star Trek movie left many fans frustrated. The movie felt sluggish and uninspired during a period where sci-fi was at its very best. Arriving shortly after the release of Star Wars, Alien, and Close Encounters, Star Trek: The Motion Picture came across as a mediocre attempt to cash in on a popular television series instead of a genuinely exciting sci-fi film.
The next entry in the Star Trek series, Wrath of Khan, is almost unanimously considered a superior film. Star Trek: The Motion Picture was a total slog. The plot dragged and the more climactic scenes failed to keep viewers interested. Contrarily, every moment in The Wrath of Khan feels important. Unlike the original movie, there isn’t a minute wasted.
Khan is hands down the best villain to appear in a Star Trek movie. Recent blockbuster films have had problems developing complex villains, so it’s so refreshing to look back on Wrath of Khan and see an antagonist with an interesting backstory and clear motivations. The combination of interesting characters and a captivating story makes for a movie that’s always fun to watch.
There have been a ton of Star Trek movies since the release of The Wrath of Khan, but Trekkies generally believe this to be the superior Star Trek movie. Considering the acclaim received by the reboot series, it’s impressive that people still point to this movie as a benchmark. Is also a relief to know that the original film still stands out as one of the worst films in the crowed series. So while Wrath of Khan remains the king, the series has been pretty consistent in terms of releasing well made films.
Author Bio: Justin is a paraprofessional teaching assistant and full-time film enthusiast with a degree in English. When he’s not writing about films, he’s probably watching them in his spare time.