Pleading the Fifth: Our Favorite 5th Films
Hollywood, home of the franchise and a perennial sequel factory, over the years they've given us numerous series/franchises that have entertained and made countless dollars. We here at TFS aren't afraid to praise sequels, when done right they can bring fresh ideas to a tired series, or at the very least inspire newcomers to check out past entires and become full-fledged fans. So without further ado, a few of our writers got together to highlight or at least defend their favorite fifth entries in an ongoing series.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) d. David Yates
Order of the Phoenix isn’t my favorite of the Harry Potter novels or even of the film adaptations (somehow one of the longest books get a film under 150 minutes). But David Yates, in his first of four Potter movies (or five, including Fantastic Beasts), directs the film with confidence. He doesn’t shy away from the ugly horrors of Hogwarts’ new authoritative regime as Imelda Staunton’s brazen, unhinged performance as the villainous Dolores Umbridge is one for the ages. Yates really focuses on the teenage rebellion angle, which works because Umbridge is so malicious and unnerving. The lead trio have matured into fine actors, the set pieces are exciting and inventive, and the emotional moments between Harry and Gary Oldman’s Sirius Black are touching. OOTP also has one of my favorite moments in the whole movie franchise, where Harry tells Ron and Hermione about his kiss with Cho Chang and they are start laughing. That improvised moment is symbolic of how these movies never lose sight of the core relationships between the three leads.
- Manish Mathur
Fast Five (2011) d. Justin Lin
Up to this point, the Fast and the Furious franchise was a pulpy, mostly serious series featuring high speed races, daring heists, and confusing plots involving undercover cops and double crosses. Fast Five Superman punched all that out of the way to bring the entire past crew (even the villains and the dead ones) together, repurposed as a family that is inexplicably called on by the world’s intelligence agencies to track down terrorists in style. The Brazil setting serves as a gorgeous backdrop for some of the most impressive spectacles in action filmmaking, the highlight being a high-speed chase through Rio de Janeiro with the gang dragging a ten ton bank vault tearing through buildings and police vehicles with ease. This entry also added the always great Dwayne Johnson as Hobbs, a no-nonsense cop trying to keep the gang, lead by alleged ‘candy ass’ Vin Diesel, in check. If the rumors are to be believed, Johnson’s inclusion has caused a big rift on the set, but once he arrived the series stopped being pretty cool and started being really damn awesome, so you be the judge on whether it’s worth it or not.
- Marcus Irving
Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983) d. Terry Jones & Terry Gilliam
A favorite of my teenage years and a major influence on my personal sense of comedy, Monty Python's fifth and final theatrical film is a wonder to behold. Beginning with the Terry Gilliam directed short film The Crimson Permanent Assurance, still one of his finest moments behind the camera, this sketch comedy film delves into the different aspects of life and what makes mankind a most interesting species to mock. Here we have the Pythons at the tail end of their time together really having a go at it, ridiculing everything from religion to school to fancy dinner parties to even the afterlife itself, all with great effect.
Featuring classic characters like Mr. Creosote, the "Man Who Can't Stop Eating," to endlessly quotable lines (I've lost count of the times I've jokingly warned people of the salmon mousse), The Meaning of Life may feel like minor Python on first viewing. That said, on revisits, the picture really shows its hand, this troupe have always had a blast skewering societal norms, forcing audiences to ask themselves why people do the things they do. It's a masterclass in sketch comedy that others have attempted and failed to replicate over the years and a film that stands the test of time in terms of comedy.
- Matt Curione
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) d. George Lucas
The problem with prequels is that you know where things are going to end. Attack of the Clones, the fifth of the series even though it’s Episode 2 chronologically, manages to have a real mystery at its core. Someone is trying to kill Padme, and the clues lead to a clone army that a mysterious Jedi has ordered to be created. Centered around solving these mysteries, Obi-Wan’s journey is one of my favorite in any Star Wars movie. It’s a detective story in the Star Wars universe, featuring some really great new settings. Coruscant is finally shown in more detail with an exciting chase scene that ends in a nightclub. Kamino is a completely new planet, covered in ocean and inhabited by long-necked aliens that are perfectly off-putting. Geonosis is another desert planet, but its bug-like inhabitants have the originality that everyone loves from Star Wars’ character designs.
Yes, Anakin and Padme’s romance is uncomfortable and poorly written, but everything that happens on Tatooine is very important to his character development. When the trio gets back together for the Gladiator-type fight in Geonosis it’s one of the best action sequences in the whole series, and when the rest of the Jedi show up and bring a clone army as back up you know the Clone War has just begun.
- Mark Watlington
Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (2015) d. Christopher McQuarrie
Tom Cruise, at the ripe old age of 53, decided to strap himself to an Airbus A400M Atlas (a big friggin’ plane) as it ascended to a height of 5,000 feet. All this for the first action sequence in the fifth entry in Cruise’s most successful franchise. There was no way he was going to take it easy after climbing the Burj Khalifa (a tall friggin' building) in Ghost Protocol. I do fear what death-defying act he has in mind for the franchise’s upcoming sixth movie—Cruise broke his ankle on set on M:I:6 while performing a dive from one building to another, so he might finally take a breather, but don’t bet on it.
From the plane stunt, to car and motorcycle chases, handheld fights, and an underwater sequence where Cruise had to hold his breath for upwards of six minutes at a time, Rogue Nation is filled with well-choreographed, breathtaking (pun-intended) action sequences. That’s not to take away from the actual story, which, with the direction of frequent Cruise collaborator Christopher McQuarrie, digs into the mythos of Ethan Hunt, the character, and also Tom Cruise, the performer. Five movies in and nearly two decades since the first Mission, Rogue Nation shows that Cruise and Hunt still have what it takes.