Film: 10 best prequels ever made
A few days ago came news that Fox and Len Wiseman are developing a Die Hard prequel tentatively titled Die Hard: Year One. The announcement was met with much derision and laughter and the debate on the need for prequels began once again. I am under the philosophy that everything is allowed. Studios can make prequels, reboots and sequels as much as they want, just make them good. So with that in mind, lets take a look at the 10 best prequels ever made.
X-Men: First Class
A lot of people forget that X-Men: First Class is actually a prequel because it’s just that good. It arrived at a time that Fox was struggling with its X-Men properties and it sufficiently straightened the ship. It took iconic characters and actors like Sir Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier and Sir Ian McKellen as Magneto and recast them with youthful exuberance. Stars like James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence finally gave us the X-Men movie we deserved. First Class still remains my favourite X-Men movie. I was left disappointed by X-Men: Days of Future Past and never reveled in Bryan Singer’s franchise starters. First Class is a fun, exciting and energetic prequel that outdoes its predecessors.
The Hobbit Trilogy
The Hobbit trilogy is a highly divisive set of movies. Fans of Lord of the Rings were hoping for more of the same but director Peter Jackson decided on style over substance. However, I would be remiss not mentioning how fun the films can be. The goblin escape sequence from ‘An Unexpected Journey’ is a masterfully crafted sequence of jaunty proportions and seeing Smaug on the big screen in all his glory was a sight to behold. It is true that Peter Jackson needs to higher a better editor for his next film but one cannot be blinded by The Hobbits mistakes when analysing who its target audience really was.
For all his feature film appearances, suave British spy James Bond very rarely touches on his origins. Casino Royale is one of the best Bond movies ever made and takes a look at Bond before he gets the license to kill. It is a prequel in the sense that he only becomes the Bond we know at the film’s finale with the final line of the entire movie. Before that he was a budding spy sent on a mission by his secretive agency to test himself. Casino Royale introduced the world to Daniel Craig wafting out of the see in his tiny Bond-ie tights with his abs glistening in the sunshine. Casino Royale is certainly one of the best prequels every made.
Now hang on, bare with me here. You may be thinking that Batman Begins is not a prequel and indeed a starter to Chris Nolan’s highly successful and loved Dark Knight trilogy but the real starting point is The Dark Knight. Nolan couldn’t make the Batman movie he wanted to make, The Dark Knight, without developing a prequel to set up the universe, Batman Begins. I consider Batman Begins better than The Dark Knight Rises as I had more fun with it and it was a more rounded movie. It helped start the definitive version of Batman and finally brought the beloved Caped Crusader back to life. Without Batman Begins you have no Dark Knight. For this reason alone, Batman Begins is one of the best prequels ever made.
The Godfather Part II
This is a bit cheat-y because The Godfather Part II is part sequel and part prequel. But lets face it, the best sequences of The Godfather Part II are that focused on Robert De Niro as a young Vito Corleone. The Godfather Part II is one of the best films every made, let alone one of the best prequels ever made. Of course the Godfather trilogy would end on a rather terrible note with Part III but Part II is as heartbreaking, grand and brilliantly acted as any movie ever made.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Despite being laboured with a terrible title and bad vibes following Tim Burton’s take on the franchise, Rise of the Planet of the Apes was the biggest surprise of 2011. It was an achievement in visual effects and motion capture and took a franchise everyone had lost interest in and injected it with life, drama and emotion. You forget that characters on the screen are actually digitally created, including Frieda Pinto, and you just immerse yourselves in the Planet of the Apes prequel. The franchise as a whole is a prequel with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes working as a continuation of Rise. We haven’t even gotten to the Planet of the Apes yet. We’ve had two fantastic prequels and we’re going to get another one.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Temple of Doom actually takes place a year before the events of Raiders of the Lost Ark. It took the buccaneering adventurer introduced in the first feature and took him back a year into darker territories of cultism and sacrifice. I share an unpopular opinion that Temple of Doom is actually better than Raiders of the Lost Ark but perhaps that is because I wanted to spend more time with the character or I connected with the cultural signs in Temple of Doom. Either way, in the wake of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I think we can all admit we were happy to Temple of Doom, a prequel, got made.
Trekkies everywhere were angry and sweaty when Paramount announced a new Star Trek movie from J.J. Abrams. Not only was Abrams not a big Star Trek fan, Trekkies were happy with the Enterprise Crew they already had. What Abrams had to do was take the characters that already existed and somehow reboot them whilst staying true to the original Star Trek. What Abrams and his writers did was genius. They essentially rebooted the entire franchise whilst retaining the likes of Leonard Nimoy and Khan in the subsequent sequel. Star Trek flew under the radar for me for a very long time but it was a fast, stylish and thrilling prequel that breathed life into a dying property.
There are a select few Pixar movies that needed a sequel. The Incredibles and Monsters University are two such examples. Brad Bird is currently writing and Incredibles 2 and we were treated to a Monsters University. Many believed that should a continuation of Monsters Inc. every get made, it would be in the form of a sequel with Sully, Mike and older Boo but Pixar surprised us all with a prequel. Now don’t get me wrong, Monsters University does not hold a candle to Monsters Inc. but it is a hilarious and adorable film. Seeing Mike and Sully’s relationship birth and hit snags along the way was something we didn’t even know we wanted. Monsters University may have been a surprise but was a pretty damn good prequel.
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me
David Lynch’s Twin Peaks series was ahead of its time. It shivered and awed in its narrative and uneasiness and still holds up to this. It is then understandable that audiences were excited for a sequel to the series but were surprised, dumbfounded and blown away by Fire Walk With Me. It was a signature Lynch film, delighting in unusualness and loving the skin it lives in, if a bit horrified by its appearance. Fire Walk With Me contains explicit links to the series that takes after and is as weird as it. Lynch and Twin Peaks fans will finally get the continuation they always wanted with Showtime commissioning an 18-episode season from Lynch and original writer Mark Frost back to scare us in strange and wonderful ways.