To mark the upcoming release of the eagerly awaited Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s prequel to his own Alien, we present the good, the bad and the downright ugly prequels in motion picture history.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966)
One of the greatest and perhaps least known of all prequels. Clint Eastwood’s third and last outing as the Man With No Name (although he does have a name in each one) takes place in the civil war. A grave stone from A Fistful Of Dollars places the film post-war. Also, in one of the final scenes, Clint acquires his famous poncho and cheroot that he used in both the previous films.
The Godfather: Part II (1974)
Part sequel and part prequel. Michael Corleone’s rise to power is mirrored by that of his father, played by a top-of-his game Robert De Niro. The scenes featuring De Niro, essaying the character played by Marlon Brando in Part One, are astonishing and rightly won him the first of his two oscars.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
Indy rides again in the second film of the series. The events in this film take place a couple of years before Raiders of the Lost Ark, allowing the story to move away from the Nazis and not get bogged down with ‘I’m too old for this shit’ themes. Harrison Ford plays the titular hero as a much more physical and dynamic character than he would in any of the other movies.
X-Men: First Class (2011)
Ever wondered how Charles Xavier and Eric Lehnsherr (that’s Professor X and Magneto to you and me) met? How their friendship dissolved? How Xavier ended up in a wheelchair? How Magneto got his shiny helmet? All these questions and more are answered in this entertaining prequel to the X-Men movies. While it may try too hard to pack in all the above, it scores highly in casting James McAvoy and, particularly, Michael Fassbender in the lead roles.
… The Bad…
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
Oh dear. Perhaps the most hyped and derided prequel of all time. The expectation for this movie was so incredibly high that inevitably it was going to disappoint. The original Star Wars films never had lofty ambitions to be anything more than entertaining popcorn movies, but George Lucas decided to make his new trilogy an altogether more complex affair. 80% boring with poor casting and leaden direction, the whole thing could be partially forgiven with the exciting pod race and light sabre duels. But it generally cheapens what most believe are some of the most beloved movies of all time. Who wants to see the greatest cinematic villain of them all as an annoying child?
Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd (2003)
The original Dumb and Dumber was a crude, laugh-out-loud comedy that cemented Jim Carrey’s rep and launched the Farrely Brothers. This prequel is a poor imitation at best. Without Carrey the whole thing is just pointless. Why watch two bad actors pretending to be Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels? There must be better things you could do with your time.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)
A prime example of a visceral, ground-breaking, original movie, completely mined for all its financial worth until every ounce of dignity has been wrung out of it. After numerous sequels it was obviously felt the only way to go was backwards. Says it all really. The original is still a must see.
Red Dragon (2002)
Michael Mann made the movie Manhunter in 1986 which introduced the world to Hannibal Lecter (called Lektor in this film) as played by Scottish actor Brian Cox. This was an adaptation of the book Red Dragon by Thomas Harris, the sequel of which was ‘Silence of the Lambs’. When that movie became a hit, with Anthony Hopkins’ now infamous performance, a sequel followed with the inevitable decision being made to remake the prequel under the original title Red Dragon. Directed by the man who brought us X-Men 3 and Rush Hour, it pales in comparison to Manhunter. The decision to cast Hopkins and digitally make him look younger lends the film an artificial air. Incredibly this prequel has its own prequel, Hannibal Rising. Watch out for Hannibal – The Kindergarten Years coming soon.
… and The Ugly
The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (2000)
Represents 90 minutes of your life that you will never get back.