Apparently the second time around wasn’t enough. This summer, three major movie franchises will be adding yet another installment to each of their respective series. On May 4, Marvel Comics fans can rejoice as “Spider-Man 3” is released in theaters. On May 18, both fairy tale lovers and cynics can unite to see the latest satirical adventures of everyone’s favorite ogre in “Shrek The Third.” Finally, Johnny Depp fanatics can rest easy as Captain Jack Sparrow sails the seas at least one more time in Disney’s “Pirates of the Carribean: At World’s End.”
“Spider-Man 3” continues the story of Peter Parker (Tobey McGuire), who is known to the city as the web-slinging superhero Spider-Man. As he begins to find a balance between his relationship with Mary-Jane (Kirsten Dunst) and his obligation to protect the innocent, he finds that his suit changes its color from red to black, and he also begins experiencing enchanced powers. Subsequently, Spider-Man begins to find a darker and more vengeful side to himself, helping him do hisjob better, but also compromising everything he stands for.
Additionally, Spider-Man faces new foes, including Venom, the new Green Goblin (James Franco) and the Sandman (Thomas Hayden Church), whom Spider-Man finds out was responsible for his uncle’s death in the original film.
The Spider-Man series has always gained recognition for not only being faithful to the original comic book series it was based off of, but for exploring the non-superhero aspects of Peter Parker’s life and the daily struggles he must face. Roger Ebert, in his 2004 review of “Spider-Man 2,” wrote that it “is a superhero movie for people who don’t go to superhero movies, and for those who do, it’s the one they’ve been yearning for.”
It is unknown whether or not the series will strike gold the third time. “Spider-Man” has had a pretty good track record, but with the presence of three new villains, some audiences might fear that the series is falling into the same trap that the “Batman” movies did in the 1990s; more of a focus on over-the-top villains and less focus on the title hero.
A less conventional hero returns to the big screen in “Shrek The Third.” This time around, Shrek (Mike Myers) and Fionna (Cameron Diaz) are still living in Far, Far Away with Fionna’s parents, the King (John Cleese) and Queen (Julie Andrews). When the King’s death seems imminent and Shrek has no interest in inheriting the kingdom, he, Donkey (Eddie Murphy), and Puss-In-Boots (Antonio Banderas) set out to find a very young King Arthur (Justin Timberlake) and convince him to take the throne. Meanwhile, Fionna realizes that she is pregnant.
The Shrek series has always been very popular across the age continuum, with younger children enjoying the bright, colorful characters and songs and teenagers and adults appreciating the pop culture references and innuendos. Still, the series seems to be falling into a clichd pattern similar to the “Meet the Parents” series; the first film is about the courtship, the second film is about the in-laws, and the third film is about the pregnancy. Although the series appears to be employing these commonly used archetypes, audiences can hope that the humor and wit will rise above the storyline and make “Shrek The Third” unique.
Finally, the last series to become a trilogy this summer is “Pirates of the Caribbean,” with its latest chapter titled “At World’s End.” The film picks up right after the end of “Dead Man’s Chest,” as Elizabeth Swann (Kiera Knightly) and Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) must enlist the help of former enemy Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) to rescue Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), who was supposedly killed by the kraken. Jack’s crew must unite with other pirates from the four corners of the world in order to fight off a bigger threat in the form of Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander), who now possesses the heart of Davey Jones (Bill Nighy).
Out of the three different series mentioned, “Pirates of the Caribbean” has the most formulaic plot in regards to its standing as a trilogy. It uses a very similar story to previous third installments, like “Return of the Jedi”, “The Matrix Revolutions,” and “Back to the Future part III”; that is, at the end of the second installment, a cliffhanger is used that usually involves one of the main characters either being kidnapped or getting killed. The third installment almost always devotes its first act as a rescue mission to get that character get back, and then returning to the main plot at hand.
Additionally, third installments are also famous for introducing the father of the main characters, as was seen in “Austin Powers In Goldmember” with Michael Caine as Nigel Powers, or in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” with Sean Connery as Dr. Henry Jones. “At World’s End” follows this archetype by introducing Jack Sparrow’s father, played by Keith Richards.
Regardless of what type of film you want to see this summer, there are many options available, especially to those who have been faithful to characters and storylines that have touched and entertained us for many years.