‘The Hobbit’ does not make a great trilogy, but these films do

The second installment of “The Hobbit” opens this week. And while “The Desolation of Smaug” is visually impressive, it suffers from its nearly three-hour length. The book, a children’s-level addition which preceded the “Lord of the Rings” series, just doesn’t have enough in its 150 pages to warrant nine hours of screen time over three movies.

Great movie trilogies are rare. Three films is a lot of time to be emotionally invested in the same characters. And too often, trilogies feel like an industry money grab.

But some can pull it off:

Clint Eastwood’s The Man with No Name series. In these spaghetti western flicks, Eastwood’s character wanders through a twisted Wild West with his own ideas of morality. There’s no emotion to Eastwood’s character; he’s essentially living for himself. It’s a great trilogy because each movie gives the audience exactly what it wants.

Pixar’s Toy Story trifecta. The slapstick humor is endearing, but what really makes all three movies great is that we care about the characters. All three movies made tons of money at the box office. But it really felt like Pixar was trying to enchant generations of Americans, not just cash in.

Other trilogies come close:

Krzysztof Kieslowski’s “Three Colors”

“The Godfather”

While others take a decent idea and drive it into the ground:

• “The Hangover”

“The Matrix”

So what do you think? What other trilogies deserve praise, and which don’t?

On the radio: