When Rise of the Planet of the Apes was first released in 2011, many were sceptical: a prequel of sorts to the originals, no-one could have predicted just how successful the film would be.
Six years later and we have arrived at the closing chapter of Caesar’s story, War for the Planet of the Apes – and audiences are already raving about it, with many suggesting that the trilogy is amongst the very best that have ever been committed to film, in addition to the visual marvels and compelling narratives that have been brought to the screen.
And so, to celebrate both the upcoming release and the series’ amazing success, we look at some of the other film trilogies that are also considered to be cinema’s very best.
The Dark Knight trilogy
Batman Begins arrived in 2005 and was met with unanimous acclaim and box office gold, so much so a sequel was green-lit. The Dark Knight followed in 2008, and the superhero genre changed forever before The Dark Knight Rises would complete one of the greatest cinematic stories of recent times.
It has everything a blockbuster should have - action, suspense, thrills, explosions - but it was in its intricacies that made them truly stand out, as it tackled themes of terrorism, economic issues, chaos, faith and more, as well as subverted the “rules” of what a superhero film could be.
For this, and many other reasons, the Dark Knight trilogy is deserving of a place on this list.
"I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse" – the words of Marlon Brando’s Don Corleone from the seminal first movie in the legendary Godfather trilogy, the series of films that many consider to be the greatest of all time.
Based on Mario Puzo’s best-selling novel, The Godfather was first brought to the screen by Francis Ford Coppola in 1972, winning three Oscars including Best Picture. Part II arrived two years later and is the only one of two sequels to ever win Best Picture (with Return of the King, though not technically a sequel as such) before Part II arrived in 1990.
If you haven’t seen any of the films then seek them out immediately – all three films are a sumptuous work of art, beautifully executed in every department with magnificent performances from Brando, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and more, as well bringing us some of cinema’s most iconic images.
The Lord of the Rings
Before Peter Jackson delivered what many consider to be this generation's Star Wars, J.R.R Tolkien’s seminal work of fantasy fiction was just that.
But after reading the books as a teenager, Jackson knew he wanted to make the films and in October 1999, he began the herculean task of bringing The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and Return of the King to life through a two-year odyssey that saw him make all the films at the same time.
It could have failed, but Jackson’s passion is there up on the screen – a stunning achievement in every single way – and saw Lord of the Rings gross over $3 billion across the globe while Return of the King was awarded a record-equalling 11 Oscars in 2004.
The series is unlike anything else ever before or since and has helped pave the way for shows like Game of Thrones to be made and thrive.
Back to the Future
It took a long time to get Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale’s classic onto the big screen: first conceived in the early 1980’s, it went back and forth through different studios (it was too “light” for some and too “risque” for Disney given the Marty-Lorraine relationship) before the film was greenlit.
Early production problems aside (Eric Stoltz was fired before Michael J. Fox replaced him), the film was released in July 1985 to fantastic reviews and box-office, staying at No.1 is the US for 11 weeks. The sequels, shot back-to-back, arrived in 1989 and 1990 respectively, were both box-office successes as well and concluded the series, for now.
There’s so much to enjoy here: from its beautifully written, funny, warm screenplay to its themes of coming-of-age, family, time and fate and the two, superb lead performances from Fox and Christopher Lloyd. Where we're going we don’t need roads.
The Before trilogy
If ever there was a film that beautifully brought to life the trials, tribulations, and joy of love to the screen it was Richard Linklater’s remarkable Before Sunrise.
Released in 1995, the film starred Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy as two strangers who meet on a train before deciding to spend the evening walking and talking around Vienna together and eventually fall in love.
Before Sunset (2004), saw the two meet again in Paris before the final film, 2013’s Before Midnight, sees them married with twin girls but with their relationship on uneasy grounding. The trilogy’s minimalist approach isn’t for all but its raw, honest portrayal of love and relationships has still never been equaled on film.
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Scott J. Davis is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.