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Written by Matthew Pejkovic

Over the years prequels have become a popular alternative for movie studios keen to bleed their franchises dry, often ruining the legacy of many iconic characters. Yet there have also been exceptions to the majority which have enhanced the quality of several franchises.

Here are Matt’s Movie Reviews best and worst prequels, and a snap shot of more to come.



The second instalment of the Godfather saga featured two stories: the descent into darkness of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino), and the rise to power of his father Vito (Robert De Niro).

It’s the latter which is significant here, with director Francis Ford Coppola charting Papa Corleone’s rise with exquisite period detail, from the wine cellars of Sicily to the urban dwellings of Little Italy, all with a mesmerising quality.

But its De Niro’s performance which makes it that much better, portraying the origins of this iconic character with the same reserve




Three films have followed The Silence of the Lambs, with Red Dragon standing alone in terms of meeting expectations and quality.

Based on the Thomas Harris novel that introduced Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter to the world, Red Dragon starred Edward Norton as a gifted and semi-retired FBI agent, who is asked to track down elusive serial killer The Tooth Fairy (a chilling Ralph Fiennes), with help from supreme psycho Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins).

Much tense moments and horrific violence follow, backed by an all star cast that includes Philip Seymour Hoffman, Emily Watson and Harvey Keitel. Possibly director Brett Ratner’s only good movie.




The last two X-Men movies failed to match up to the quality of the Bryan Singer directed films, yet with a stacked cast and gifted director Matthew Vaughn at the helm, the prequel X-Men: First Class has scored high with critics and is sure to make a tonne at the box office.

An espionage action romp set in the throes of the Cold War, the film features the coming together of our favourite mutants while also focusing on the friendship between mutant leaders Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender).

Well acted and directed, X-Men: First Class reclaims the grit and emotion of the original movies while injecting new life into a waning franchise.




Prequel to the film which was remade into The Departed, this Hong Kong crime thriller delved into the events and characters that made Infernal Affairs such a great watch.

Replacing Tony Leung and Andy Lau as undercover cop and gangster mole, respectively, were Shawn Yue and Edison Chen, who navigate the Hong Kong underworld during a mob war between crime lords Hon Sam (Eric Tsang) and Nigai-Wing hau (Francis Ng).

Highly stylised and suitably violent, Infernal Affairs II almost matches its predecessor.




Many were surprised to find that the sequel to surprise hit Paranormal Activity was a prequel that, although similar in style, was still a thrilling and spooky horror movie which seeped under the skin.

Shifting its attention to Kati (Sprague Grayden), sister of previous victim/possessee Katie (Katie Featherston), Paranormal Activity 2 is another slow burn look into how the introduction of a sinister supernatural force turns a domestic dwelling upside down.

Featuring plenty of genuinely chilling moments and a third act that continues from the first movie, Paranormal Activity 2 is a horror prequel worth recommending.   





STAR WARS PREQUEL TRILOGY (1999, 2002, 2005)
The Star Wars trilogy prequel are not bad movies, with The Phantom Menace and Revenge on the Sith especially good. Yet compared to the artistic and cultural achievements which were the original Star Wars trilogy, these prequels fail to match expectations on every level.

Although featuring credible actors such as Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman, a combined budget big enough to feed a third world country, and high quality effects work, the Star Wars prequels could not get over due to the fact that George Lucas is not that crash hot a director.

Had he brought in Peter Jackson, Bryan Singer and old friend Steven Spielberg to handle the reigns, then maybe the tarnishing of a legacy could have been avoided. As it stands, the Star Wars prequels only benefited Lucas’s hip pocket.   




This prequel to the ground breaking horror classic The Exorcist is a rarity, in that it was a retooling of an already completed work directed by Paul Schrader, of which the studio heads at Morgan Creek balked at and reshot with genre hack Renny Harlin calling the shots.

The result was Exorcist: The Beginning, an incompetent piece of work that starred Stellan Skarsgard as a young Father Merrin (played in the original by Max Von Sydow), who takes on the devil during an archaeological dig in East Africa.

Cringe worthy dialogue and even worse special effects would feature. Schrader’s version titled Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist, would later be released on DVD, and although far from perfect it stands over Harlin’s atrocity.  




While Red Dragon was a prequel with bite, Hannibal Rising was lacking in every sense of the word.

Once again based on the novel by series originator Thomas Harris (who only wrote the book out of fear that someone else would), Hannibal Rising reeked of cheap opportunism with its depiction of the events that made Hannibal Lecter inspiring snores instead of chills.

With young Lecter portrayed by a charismatic free Gaspard Ulliel, and director Peter Webber unable to create anything of interest, the legacy of Lecter was forever tarnished. Thankfully no more sequels (or prequels) have been green lit since.




With the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake a commercial success, it would only make sense that a sequel would be forthcoming. In its stead came the prequel The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, a ghastly piece of work that took full advantage of the torture porn trend while diminishing the legacy of the original.

Blood and gore featured by the bucket, overcompensating for the lack of atmosphere and dullness. The sixth film in the series, it proved that the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise had truly run its course.




X-Men Origins: Wolverine is not the worst film of all time, yet considering that Wolverine is far and wide the most popular character in the series, you would think that a little more quality control would be warranted.

Although starring a jacked up Hugh Jackman as the title character, with Liev Schrieber and Ryan Reynolds playing support, and then hot indie director Gavin Hood calling the shots (under the thumb of 20th Century Fox, no doubt), ...Wolverine failed to be the home run many expected it to be, receiving mixed reaction from critics and scorn from fanboys.

A sequel that would have seen Jackman team up with director Darren Aronofsky has seen fallen by the wayside. Maybe it was for the best.





THE THING (2011)
Prequel to the John Carpenter classic (itself a remake) will be set days before the events of the original. Mary Elizabeth Winestead and Joe Edgerton star as members of an American crew, who are called in to assist a Norwegian scientific team investigate the crash landing of an alien ship.

 Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. directs The Thing, which is set to be released this October.


The Thing 2011 image


THE HOBBIT (2012, 2013)
Filming is currently underway for The Hobbit, the two part prequel to The Lord of the Rings series, based on the acclaimed book by J.R.R. Tolkien. Peter Jackson returns to direct the film, which focuses on the adventures of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) through middle earth.

Look for An Unexpected Journey to be released in 2012, and There and Back Again in 2013.


Hobbit image


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