The official release of Mad Max:Fury Road is close and soon Jurassic World will grace the screen. Both are the fourth instalment of their respective franchise.
Fourth parts of movie sagas are, not unjustifiedly, commonly derided as the appendix among movie sequels that cannot add anything to the established storyline and usually just feed off the fame of their predecessors. Another, more irrational reason for their bad reputation is the fact that they seem to retroactively besmirch the sanctity of the movie trilogy, that has been regarded as the perfect form of serialized cinematic storytelling for a long time.
Now that latter popular notion has been slowly crumbling over the years, most notably with the less favourable reevaluations of Return of the Jedi and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade that cropped to the surface of fandom discourse in the last decades, the position of “Part IVs” on the pop-cultural food chain has been lowered even more. Yet, the temptation to produce a third sequel is strong, as artistically inferior “fourquels” like Rocky IV and Nightmare on Elm Street IV proved to be very profitable, sometimes even surpassing their predecessors in terms of revenue. It was a clever move by the Jurassic World producers to ditch the stigmatized suffix “IV” from the title and go the more elegant route of the pseudo-anthological title, but it is questionable if they can live up to the expectations to deliver a film that is qualitatively on par with the first three. *
*maybe a bad example, they are all bad
The question that remains is if there are any “IVs” out there that are not bad or just okay, but genuinely good. That’s why I decided to attempt the impossible and compile a list of the “Best Part IVs” of movie franchises.
I set up some rules to define “good” as opposed to just“passable” or “adequate”:
- The film has to be as good or better than at least one of the preceding three films. Just “watchable” or “not as bad as expected” is not enough.
- It really has to be the fourth part in a movie series. Star Wars- Episode IV does not count, as it did not have to overcome the burden of being compared with preceding episodes. Not to speak of the factoid that the number was added much later.
- Films that are only loosely connected by some elements don’t count, like the fourth cooperation between a director and his most trusted actor, or films by a director that are connected through a theme but not through an overarching storyline.
- The films don’t necessarily have to bear the nowadays shunned suffix “IV” (or “4”, for that matter) in the title, but only have to be the factual third sequel in a series, means a film like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) is fair game (don’t worry, it’s not on the list)