Shia LaBeouf has officially thrown down and said Transformers 3 will be better than Transformers 2. But isn't every third movie installment automatically bad? And why is that, anyway?
—Laura, Rhode Island
Yes, we've seen some truly awful threequels following up otherwise good movies, including the Ewok-choked Return of the Jedi; Matrix Revolutions; and the third installments of Jurassic Park, Halloween, Robo-Cop, Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, Jaws and Beverly Hills Cop.
Then again, we've also been treated to...
...a pretty decent, Best Picture-winning third installment for The Lord of the Rings series.
And plenty of people think—correctly, if you ask me—that Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was quidditch-pitch lengths ahead of the first two installments of that franchise.
Still, we've had plenty more bad threequels than good ones, and I can tell you why.
Many times, producers and critics tell me, it's simply a case of creative people who don't know what the heck else they can say about a Jedi or a Vulcan or a flying man from a planet that got blown up.
"It's almost like a Xerox of a Xerox," says Rick Dallago, a producer, photographer and location manager who worked on the first two installments of Father of the Bride. "There's something that happens between when a film is shot and when it's finished—there's a spark. And sequels tend to try too hard to chase that spark."
The result: films that look more desperate than anything else.
"By a third installment," Fordham University professor Paul Levinson explains, "producers are simply trying too hard."
Another factor: changes or additions in the talent department.
"Third films also are notorious for casting changes," former film critic Mike Emery tells me. "Batman Forever isn't the worst in the series, but replacing Michael Keaton with Val Kilmer was a bit jarring for fans. It didn't help that Kilmer was replaced by George Clooney in the follow-up film, Batman and Robin."
Yes, LaBeouf will be in the third installment of Transformers, and Clooney will not, but this time, I'm not so sure that's a good thing.
Which brings us to our inevitable poll:
Photos: Total Eclipse! Because it'll be good, right?