Will Toy Story 4 be any good? An examination of the successes and failures of famous fourths

Don’t fail us now, Buzz.
Don’t fail us now, Buzz.
Image: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth
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Toy Story fans, rejoice… or don’t. Pixar announced yesterday that a fourth movie is coming in 2017, and this could be fantastic, or horrible.

Many thought that Toy Story 3 was the perfect ending to probably the greatest animation franchise of all time. So, a fourth movie is not only unnecessary, but some fans worry it could tarnish the legacy of the series as a whole.

Other fans of the franchise are thrilled just to get to see another Toy Story movie.

Which set of fans will ultimately be revealed to have had the better foresight? It might help to delve into how some other famous fourth films fared.

The Good

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol—Pixar vet and all-around terrific director Brad Bird reinvigorated the series. Tom Cruise, as always, fully committed to his fourth outing as Ethan Hunt. Somewhat under-appreciated was composer Michael Giacchino’s interpretation of Lalo Schifrin’s iconic theme music. Bottomline: a damn good action flick worthy of continuing the franchise.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home—This was the Star Trek installment most like the original TV series. Leonard Nimoy took over directing duties, and infused the film with wit, charm, and some much needed buoyancy.

Live Free or Die Hard— The fourth movie in the Die Hard franchise had no business being any good, especially after the underwhelming Die Hard with a Vengeance. But it was wildly entertaining, somehow.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire—It was going to be hard to match the quality of Prisoner of Azkaban, and Goblet of Fire didn’t. But it came close. Brendan Gleeson’s Mad-Eye Moody was a welcome addition, and the Tri-Wizard Tournament was cool.

The Bad

The Bourne Legacy—With all due respect to Jeremy Renner—who is a good actor—Matt Damon was the heart and soul of the Bourne franchise, and this fourth film fell flat.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Strange Tides—Johnny Depp looked bored, and they somehow managed to make the great Ian McShane annoying.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull—Nope.

Ice Age: Continental Drift—By now, the gimmicky characters were just tiring. But it still made a lot of money, so they’re making a fifth one!

Batman & RobinBatNipples.

Shrek Forever After—See Continental Drift, Ice Age.

Lethal Weapon 4—The worst movie in a franchise that got progressively worse with every installment. Not recommended.

Terminator Salvation—Nah.

Rocky IV—A preposterous, jingoistic mess with the most unsubtle Cold War metaphors ever. Dolph Lundgren was kind of scary, though.

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace—Jar Jar Binks.

The Verdict

Fourth movies are more often disasters than quality additions to a franchise. It certainly is possible to make an awesome fourth, but recent history hasn’t been too kind to popular animated series that extend past a trilogy. That said, if any franchise can do it, Toy Story is it.