8 Most Cohesive Movie Trilogies of All Time – MovieWeb

The best cinematic trilogies tell a single, grand story divided into three parts. Let’s look at the most cohesive movie trilogies of all time.
We’re in an era of cinema that is increasingly dominated by reboots, franchises and cinematic universes, and endless sequels. To an extent, the trend may be traced back to the immense success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Per The Washington Post, the appeal was quite straightforward to the big studios that sought to emulate this success: reliable profits from established media properties that score automatic brownie points with the audience.
The big studio perspective can easily make an audience lose track of the beauty of a coherent, fully fleshed-out trilogy. It was what made sequels work in the first place. The best cinematic trilogies tell a single, grand story that was more or less one overarching film, divided into three parts. They are marvelous accomplishments in cinematic storytelling, akin to a beautiful symphony where every single instrument is performing a highly specific function in telling the bigger story. Let’s look at the most cohesive movie trilogies of all time — trilogies that perfectly illustrate the true charm of film sequels.
The first Matrix movie, released in 1999, was a watershed moment in cinema, changing the sci-fi and action genres for the better. The franchise told the story of a world controlled by sentient programs, where humans are kept docile in a hyperrealistic simulation known simply as the Matrix. By borrowing powerful philosophical concepts from different sources, The Matrix created a sci-fi universe that continues to impact cultural consciousness in a major way. Its creators, The Wachowskis, also took inspiration from the gun fu action style to reinvent Hollywood action with their fantastic fight sequences, implementing never-before-seen effects like the bullet time.
Related: Kill Bill 3 and Quentin Tarantino's Quest to Complete a Trilogy
Matt Damon became an immediate action film icon upon the release of The Bourne Identity in 2002. The movie was based on the Robert Ludlum novels, and was unlike any other spy action film seen before in Hollywood. Jason Bourne was a stark contrast to the suave and fashionable James Bond, a gritty assassin motivated by pure human instincts like self-preservation. Best of all, the original Bourne trilogy — The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum — was a remarkable feat in storytelling. Released across a span of five years, the three movies unraveled the backstory of Jason Bourne with great patience and thrilling mastery, slowly unveiling the origins of the Treadstone behavior modification program, Jason Bourne’s original identity, and the complex motivations of various other characters.
The Dark Knight trilogy — Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises — was released just as the MCU was burgeoning, and arguably influenced it in many ways as well. Helmed by modern-day auteur Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight trilogy offered the most realistic take on the superhero genre to date. Each of the three movies in the trilogy explored a different aspect of human experience, as outlined by Screen Rant: fear, chaos, and pain. These themes, along with others that underpin the entire trilogy, made for an amazing cinematic experience across all three films. Of course, The Dark Knight films also introduced us to the most iconic villain of all time in the form of Heath Ledger’s Joker.
Related: The Dark Knight: Every Villain in Christopher Nolan's Batman Trilogy, Ranked
The Godfather trilogy is a true classic in the sense that it has virtually no detractors. While the third movie is generally considered lesser in comparison to the first two, the fact remains that The Godfather trilogy is among the great works of cinema. They were unlike any gangster movie that came before, offering a unique look into the Italian-American culture. Under the masterful direction of Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather trilogy also featured some of the most revered acting performances of all time by stars like Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, and Robert De Niro.
The Apu trilogy by Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray has been an unusual source of inspiration for Hollywood filmmakers for years. The Bengali-language trilogy, released in the late 50s, is composed of Pather Panchali, Aparajito, and Apur Sansar. The trilogy tells the story of a single boy, named Apu, as he goes through the different phases of his life: his childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Ray is considered one of the most influential filmmakers and is often praised for his detailed control over the film medium, and his movies are imbued with a sense of deep humanism that movies viewers to the core. The Apu trilogy, which includes Ray’s earliest films, showcases the best of these qualities.
The success of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise was so great that it established a virtual monopoly over the pirate film genre. At the very least, no other modern pirate movie holds this level of popularity today. While the franchise has seen continuance through standalone plots in recent years, it was the tightly-knit nature of the original trilogy — The Curse of the Black Pearl, Dead Man's Chest, and At World's End — that earned Pirates of the Caribbean its fans. The original trilogy in the Pirates franchise established an intriguing universe full of pirates and magical curses, with plot threads elegantly reaching across the three movies making for a satisfactory watch.
The Star Wars franchise has certainly developed into a massive saga by this point, with a trilogy of trilogies sitting at the center of an elaborate collection of spin-offs and series. But the films that started the whole Star Wars phenomenon was the original trilogy — A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi — which followed the journey of Luke Skywalker. Latter entries into the franchise have tended to divide and disappoint fans. But the original trilogy has all the elements that made Star Wars so special in the first place, including one of the most iconic character arcs of all time.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy is the best and most obvious example of book-adapted movies that did justice to their source material. Percy Jackson shot the Lord of the Rings trilogy as a single film, releasing them as a trilogy, with each movie — The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the Kind — running for around three hours. It was a mammoth task that was perfectly accomplished, as Jackson managed to fully preserve the essence of the revered books. The end result has been something timeless, and worthy of countless re-watches.


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