While the era of the film trilogy has given way to the blockbuster, multi-film franchise, there are still a few properties out there that want a clear beginning, middle, and end. Unfortunately, even some of those franchises have since been re-opened.

Yet, there are still some great film trilogies out there, but a few got off on either the wrong foot or didn’t find their footing until the second film. The middle chapter is hard to perfect, as oftentimes it feels too open-ended (The Two Towers), or maybe it even feels like a completely different film (Aliens), but whatever the case there are a few second films that improve upon their predecessor. This weekend, for example, sees the release of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, a middle chapter that, based on reviews, is a much better film than the first.

With that in mind, here are 6 middle chapter films that are the best of their trilogy.

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