Saturday, March 9, 2013

Weekend Weigh-in: What is the Best Prequel?

First person to say midichlorians wins.

Oz the Great and Powerful is in theaters now, filling us in on all the way that the Wicked Witch of the West became the Wicked Witch of the West that we didn't need to know. So what is the best prequel? And is it possible to have a prequel that doesn't just work on its own, but actually makes the other movie(s) better?


  1. Midichlorians! I'm going to cover all my bases here in case my first answer isn't what you're looking for. I say Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, because it takes place before Raiders of the Lost Ark. But if we're going for prequels that are more traditional, like Raimi's Oz movie this weekend and which were released many years after their original film then you know I've got to say The Hobbit. But the Hobbit was technically published long before Lord of the Rings and I argued in my first column that The Hobbit is not a prequel, so I'm going to say Revenge of the Sith. I'm sorry. I like X-Men First Class too, but not as much as RotS.

  2. The 2009 Star Trek counts, yes? If so, I would probably say that is at the top of my list. It was mostly great, in my opinon, and actually made me very interested in that universe. Also, I thought a lot of the casting was full of great choices.

    Rounding out my top three would probably be X-Men: First Class and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Again, some good casting and direction, and I enjoyed both stories as part of their respective universes.

    I don't know if these really make the other movies BETTER, per se, but I did enjoy them on their own.

    1. I'm not sure the 2009 Star Trek is a prequel, since as a reboot it will continue as it's own story line.

      However, it does take place before any known Star Trek stuff takes place, so I guess it could be considered a prequel. That's a judgement call I'm not ready to make. If we are going to count it, I would like to say Casino Royale then.

    2. Right, that's why I was unsure. There is some grey area there. It's a reboot, but at the same time, it's a prequel to everything else in the Star Trek universe, so I don't know. If it were up to me, I'd count Casino Royale, as well.

      Also, on another note, since it was brought up, I want to cast a vote for The Godfather Part II.

    3. "'s a prequel to everything else in the Star Trek universe...", only as depicted on the big screen. The Star Trek: Enterprise TV series with Scott Bakula is the earliest chronologically. As you can tell I am a Trek fan, one of the reasons I really disliked the 2009 reboot. But to each his own, I think that has to do with the "are you on board with the film or not" concept discussed on the podcasts.

    4. My apologies. I guess I was a bit too broad in my wording. I was, indeed, refering to the film universe, and should have specified as much. I do respect your opinion. My main complaint with the 2009 Star Trek was Eric Bana as the villain, but I enjoyed just about every other aspect of it. However, it occurs to me that, if I remember correctly, they screw with the continuity in the reboot, so I suppose, to that end, it would be considered its own universe. So therefore, I don't know that it can really be called a prequel to the rest of the films.

      Maybe I'll just stick with X-Men: First Class or Godfather II as a safe answer, haha.

    5. ^^^ John, the crazy part of all this is that "The Godfather Part II" is probably the only movie that could be on both in a Best Prequels list as well as a Best Sequels list. Coppola was a cinematic force in the 70's, and just between the first and second "Godfathers" he hit the (a) American classic, (b) great sequel and (c) awesome prequel hat trick... in two movies!

      As for "X-Men: First Class," I have three words for you: "X-Men" Wolverine: Origins." 'nuff said. :-P

  3. After reading "Hollywood" Heath's passionate defense of it and my own enjoyable experience seeing it I'd say the first part of "The Hobbit" trilogy is already head and shoulders ahead as far as prequels go. I'm no "LOTR" fanatic (liked the movies enough to get and watch the Extended Editions' DVD sets) but, either by accident or buckets of detail-sweat from Peter Jackson & Co. (including Guillermo Del Toro's whatever-he-did-that's-left), "The Hobbit" totally previews what's coming after it without shitting on it while being its own thrilling boy's adventure thingie.

    I also gotta give props to X-Men: First Class. No, it's not perfect but it both tries really hard and succeeds at being a prequel that respects what comes after it, character-wise (James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are the glue that hold it together, just as Stewart and McKellen did in their "X-Men" flicks). Also, given how insanely rushed production was and that some of the SFX shots look half-assed and/or incomplete, gotta give props to Matthew Vaughn for making the best "X-Men" movie he could under impossible conditions and having it come out better-than-good-but-not-great.

    Of course the gold standard is the half of "The Godfather Part II" that informs the then-present (late 50's) scenes by what came at the turn of the century. As people found out when Coppola showed "The Godfather" in chronological order, the "pequel" scenes are OK but without the context of the "Part II" moments they're supposed to contrast with it ends up hurting both flicks.

    Naturally Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace needs to be mentioned, at least only so we can mentally hear Patrick scream 'AAAARRE YOOUU AN AAAAANGEEEELL??!! THIS IS POOOOOOD RACING!!!! :-P

    My new-to-me movies from recent days:

    3/7/13: 'How much is that facehugging chestburster in the window? I do hope that bitch is for sale!' Ridley Scott's ALIEN: THE DIRECTOR'S CUT (1979/2003) on Blu-ray.

    Because "Top Gun" wasn't a homoerotic-enough portrayal of military personnel bonding, James Cameron's dry run for "Avatar," ALIENS: THEATRICAL CUT (1986) on Blu-ray for the sweep.

    3/9/13: Jean Vigo's TARIS, the shortest but maybe best 'avant garde' film ever made about a swimmer not named Michael Phelps jumping into (and backwards out of) a pool over and over and over. :-)

    1. Ooops:

  4. Godfather Part 2: The Deniro Bits. It makes the original better because Vito was never really designed as a mysterious character, it was all about how the family fits in around him. So showing how important family had been to him strengthens the moral fibre of the family and therefore informs us of the brothers in 1 and 2.

    And if reboots count (which they don't) then I'd say Rise of the Planet of the Apes. (Y'all need to stop hating).

  5. I like the Vito bits in Godfather 2, but I don't think they work on their own. I tried to watch that re-cut version where they show the two movies in chronological order once and I got really antsy during the early Vito bits.

    I mentioned Casino Royale earlier, if reboots are allowed. (And I'm still not sure they are)

    I think I'm going to have to go for Modern Times, which is clearly (CLEARLY) a prequel to City Lights (It showed how he lost his job and became a tramp), and that itself is a prequel to The Gold Rush. Yeah, I'm going with that, Chaplin made three of his best movies in reverse order.

    Yeah, why not?

  6. The Good the Bad and Ugly, considered by fans as taking place chronologically before Fist Full of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More.

    Yes, I know Sergio Leone never intended the series to by tied together as a single narrative or character arc, but Clint's "man with no name" character accrues all of his signature traits and equipment during the course of the film that we will see in the other two.

  7. to quote one of my fav rifftrax lines from Star Wars "May the force be with you and if it isn't just grab some midichlorians on the way out and you'll be fine" As for my fav prequel I would have to say X Men First Class. Generally the rule of prequels not being all that great remains, actually there seems to be less great prequels rather than great sequels.

    The most recent prequel I saw was Death Race 3 Inferno which for a 3rd film in a mostly DTV franchise was better then it has any right to be "Today is a beautiful day... to die!"

  8. As these answers show, everyone has their own interpretation of what a prequel entails. It's enough to make your head explode. I'll throw "Batman Begins" in the mix.

    I surprised that in all this talk about whether there should have been a prequel to "The Wizard of Oz", that people have forgotten that there's already been one successful one... "Wicked", a very acclaimed book that begat a very acclaimed musical that kind of helped "Oz, the Great Powerful"get green light.

  9. "First person to say midichlorians wins."

    Wins what? A lobotomy? :-p

    Another vote for Godfather II. I think that it's pretty much the only prequel that worked. The Hobbit is great but it's only one part of the "prequel" so it's still a little early to declare it successful.

    Meanwhile, this fight over what is and isn't a "prequel" and people's heads exploding...I have one word: "Prometheus"

  10. I think I might have to go with Young Sherlock Holmes, if only for nostalgia's sake.

  11. Uhm, nobody mention Missing In Action 2: The Begining.