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Which Classic Movie Series are Worth it?

Over my extended-spring-break/ "coronacation" /summer, I took on the challenge of watching some classic film franchises that I either hadn’t seen in a while or simply wanted to rewatch. This sounds like an infinitely fun task, but I am here to tell you what was actually worth it and what to skip, or to perhaps watch differently than I did.

First up: The Back to the Future trilogy

I really love these movies. They have a lot of fun happening through all three movies, which can’t be discounted. However, I made the decision to watch all three in one day, nearly back to back. This is about six hours, and with nothing else to do in quarantine, it seemed like the right task. I was wrong. The first in the trilogy holds up great. It’s still fun; there’s a lot of cool time travel stuff, which I always love, and it’s even great as a stand alone movie. The second one is also a great time. This movie is not as good as its predecessor, but the callbacks to the first movie seem fun and playful, even if you just watched it. I love the retro-futurism in 2015 and the altered 1985 Marty goes to. But then, we get to number three in the trilogy. The wild west theme is, albeit, lost on me; it’s not a time period that ever intrigued me as much as it intrigued director Robert Zemekis, but I could hardly sit through this movie. The whole point of this movie is funny old-timey callbacks to the first two movies, but after just seeing those jokes five hours ago, it becomes painful. Some logistics of the movie get strange, like Marty’s great-great grandparents being identical to his parents in 1985, which raises some interesting questions, but the entire movie falls a little short to me. Perhaps if I watched these movies over the course of a week or so, I would have enjoyed this entire experience more, but I cannot recommend back to back jokes about the clock tower. Overall, a 5/10 experience.

Next, I ventured to the (first three) Indiana Jones movies

I wanted something equally action-y and fun, like Back to the Future, and these delivered just that! The Indiana Jones franchise does not rely on callbacks to be fun other than the protagonist’s deathly fear of snakes and that he, in fact, owns a whip. These movies are all distinct and different stories around central themes of archaeology and anthropology, which I can’t say aged well. The first two movies have strange anti-Indigenous people vibes, especially Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Temple of Doom also has… frustratingly unimportant sidekicks and just did not sit well with me. However, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade makes up for it all. Last Crusade has twists, turns, anti-fascism, father-son dynamics, eternal life, a possible time crossover with 1965’s The Sound of Music in Salzburg, Austria, what more could you want! Admittedly, I skipped Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull simply because I was worried it would be too many callbacks to the original trilogy with the reappearance of Marion Ravenwood from Raiders of the Lost Ark and the strange addition of Shia LeBeouf. If you’re looking for nothing more than fun adventure and action scenes, I can’t recommend binging the Indiana Jones trilogy enough. 8/10!

Finally, The Princess Diaries and The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement

These are perhaps the most important film series of my lifetime. These are a complete departure from the Indiana Jones and Back to the Future franchises in terms of theme, but similar in the fact that they are ultimately about nothing, which is exactly what I needed in these times. If you’re anything like me, you grew up watching these movies lovingly and never learned Amelia’s name, so you decided her name was, in fact, “Princess Diaries.” These movies are my go to comfort. They are so sweet, full of heart, and the perfect movie to turn on at just about any time. I watched both of these movies twice since mid-March, and they always sweep me away into the land of Genovia, complete with Genovian pears, dinner mishaps, love triangles with Chris Pine, and so much more. Perhaps I am biased, but I have no critical way of looking at these movies. Head empty, only Genovia. 10/10. 

Film franchises like these are so much fun to me, especially for originally silly and fun concepts and just making another silly and fun movie. There are plenty more franchises out there (I have too much other stuff to watch to do all the Star Wars or Marvel movies), but I can’t recommend sitting down with an old favorite for a while. The Back to the Future and Indiana Jones movies are both available on Netflix, and you can find The Princess Diaries movies on Disney Plus.

Hi! My name is Allie and I am a second year student studying communication media with minors in film and journalism.
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