From Star Wars to The Hobbit: Why prequels normally flop | Films | Entertainment

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins (Image: Supplied)

Similarly, the will of writers and filmmakers to discover the early years of acquainted characters by no means appears to fade, with decidedly blended outcomes. After all, are we actually keen on Dracula’s blissful childhood reminiscences of taking part in with a stick-and-wheel in Transylvania? No, we’re not. If we would have liked a pre-vampiric Count, his creator Bram Stoker would have supplied one for us.

Likewise, why did anybody consider we cared what Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid may need appeared like earlier than they bloomed into the godlike Paul Newman and Robert Redford, or suppose we needed to see Del Boy Trotter performed by anybody however David Jason? Yet regardless of this grim observe report, high-profile prequels to works maybe higher left untouched are already hurtling in direction of us.

Yes, I could also be uneasy about Netflix’s Ratched, through which Sarah Paulson provides us a youthful Nurse Mildred Ratched from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, and HBO’s House of the Dragon, which proposes to take us again 300 years earlier than the occasions of Game of Thrones, however I’ll reserve judgment for now.

On the opposite hand, even the prospect of Nick, Michael Farris Smith’s forthcoming prequel to F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, makes me wish to seize a pitchfork and flaming torch and march on the places of work of the writer earlier than the ebook can see the sunshine of day. Frankly, producing prequels to seminal works – whether or not movies, books or tv programmes – is quite a bit more durable than making a sequel.

I ought to know, I’ve simply printed The Dirty South, a prequel to my first Charlie Parker novel, Every Dead Thing, which got here out again in 1999. Since then, and over 16 extra novels, my New York cop has turn into a troublesome personal detective. Now for the 18th, we’re going again in time. I hope I’ve managed to get it proper as a result of, frankly, the percentages aren’t good.

Here, then, are 5 horrible prequels, adopted by 5 nice ones. Feel free to vary, however in case you disagree with the primary of them, you are simply plain unsuitable…

The Dirty South by John Connolly (Hodder & Stoughton, £20) is out now. For free UK supply, name Express Bookshop of 01872 562310 or order through

Watto in Phantom Menace

Watto in Phantom Menace (Image: Supplied)



The granddaddy of unhealthy prequels, the ripest piece of outdated camembert on the shelf, the stinker to which all others can solely aspire.

This is the cinematic equal of a burglar breaking into your property, stealing your childhood photographs, and setting fireplace to them in your garden. After all, what child does not love a movie based mostly on the taxation of commerce routes, and peopled by thinly veiled racial stereotypes? Look, Mummy, it is a imply, Jewish-sounding slaver with an enormous nostril. What enjoyable!

ROCK & CHIPS (2010-11)

John Sullivan was an excellent scriptwriter and Only Fools and Horses stays one of many crowning glories of British tv comedy. But the shadow forged by the sequence over Sullivan’s subsequent profession was so deep he appeared both unwilling or unable to flee it.

The Green Green Grass, through which secondary characters Boycie and Marlene relocate from Peckham to rural Shropshire, proved reasonably profitable over 4 sequence, however Rock & Chips was doomed from the beginning.

A drama comedy a few younger Del Boy and Rodney, centring on the problem of Rodney’s parentage, it was neither dramatic nor humorous sufficient to outlive for greater than three (lengthy) episodes. Despite James Buckley’s greatest efforts because the teenage Del Boy, David Jason was so related to the character viewers had been always conscious of his absence. Like Waiting For Godot, with a visitor look of Godot as a toddler.


The Hobbit trilogy is filmmaking at its most bloated and pointless, though there’s a lot to admire in Martin Freeman’s portrayal of Bilbo Baggins.

By the ultimate instalment, although, the cracks had been displaying, not least as a result of all three motion pictures had been filmed in excessive decision, projected at 48 frames per second (nice for sport and video video games, awful for all the things else) and proven in 3D, in order that even the most costly results appeared low-cost.

The movie stretched the unique novel’s 5 pages of battle to an hour of cinematic motion, distributed with niceties like characterisation, and obtained its timelines so blended up that Legolas might be despatched to search out “Strider” (Aragorn) on the finish, though Aragorn would solely have been 10 years outdated on the time. The sort of film that leaves you checking you continue to have your pockets and watch, simply in case the filmmakers may need stolen these alongside along with your time.


Thomas Harris’s fourth Hannibal Lecter novel breaks the cardinal rule of horror: Never Explain The Monster.

Lecter, first performed by Anthony Hopkins, is without doubt one of the nice bogeymen of fiction, an clever, cultured killer who simply occurs to love nibbling on his victims.

Hannibal Rising, although, is stunning for all of the unsuitable causes. Armed with a toddler’s introduction to legal psychology, the 2007 movie model explains that Lecter turned a canni­ bal as a result of Nazi colla­ borators, led by Hugh Grant’s flatmate from Notting Hill and Tommy out of Trainspotting, ate his sister. So if somebody kicks my brother, I’ll turn into a footballer? Rubbish.

Anthony Hopkins as imprisoned serial killer, Dr Hannibal Lecter

Anthony Hopkins as imprisoned serial killer, Dr Hannibal Lecter (Image: Channel 5)


In which Ridley Scott undoes 40 years of fine work in two hours and three minutes. The mysterious, sexually threatening additional­ terrestrial of the sooner movies is remodeled right into a toothy organic weapon created by cheerless bald Engineers, which Scott then makes use of to warn us of the hazard of rogue AIs [robots] that resemble Michael Fassbender. The undeniable fact that Alien: Covenant bombed on the field workplace suggests it is not a good suggestion to overthink the elementally terrifying, or place the way forward for humanity within the palms of astronauts who solely hearken to John Denver songs.



It’s attention-grabbing to learn Colin Dexter’s early Inspector Morse novels to be reminded of simply how sleazy the charac­ter might be. The casting of John Thaw as the enduring Oxford detective led Dexter to change his depiction of Morse within the later books, softening his rougher edges. It was much less a case of John Thaw turning into Morse than Morse turning into John Thaw.

The actor’s premature loss of life in 2002 ought to actually have marked the tip of any additional on-­display appearances, however Russell Lewis, creator of Inspector Morse spin-­off Lewis, has someway managed to provide seven sequence of gold from the adventures of the youthful Morse, performed by Shaun Evans. Mind you, it is a surprise there’s anybody left alive in Oxford at this stage.

Clearly, you’re taking your life in your palms simply by visiting.

Shaun Evans in Endeavour

Shaun Evans in Endeavour (Image: ITV)


It could also be the obvious of selections, however that does not imply it must be ignored. Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather: Part II is each prequel and sequel, providing parallel narratives of previous and current.

Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) units out to consolidate his energy as godfather, alienat­ ing or killing these near him alongside the best way, whereas his father Vito (Robert De Niro) rises from penniless turn-of-th­e century Italian immigrant to jowly Mob boss.

You solely have to take a look at how later movie­ makers botched prequels – take a bow, Richard Lester, for Butch And Sundance: The Early Days – to glimpse the travesty which may have been.


There was a time when Breaking Bad was considered the best American TV drama ever made, however solely by those that had by no means seen The Sopranos, most of The Wire, or the ultimate season of Breaking Bad itself.

The early, near-­glacial tempo of Better Call Saul, with Bob Odenkirk within the title function, may need been alienating at first, however it has resulted in a depth of character that exhibits up all of the weaknesses of its father or mother sequence.

And astonishingly, because it enters its sixth season, Better Call Saul appears solely to be moving into its stride.


Writers are likely to draw back from prequels to their very own work, maybe as a result of wanting ahead is simpler than wanting again. Then once more, it takes quite a lot of care and analysis to make sure that a prequel does not contradict what has already come after.

Some writers, although, merely resolve to not trouble with any of that outdated nonsense. For instance, The Happy Return (1937), the primary of CS Forester’s Horatio Hornblower novels to be printed, is definitely chronologically the sixth within the sequence, however gives a model of Hornblower’s previous usually contradicted by the books that come after.

A option to keep away from hassle is to jot down a few character created by one other creator, ideally one who’s, a) lifeless, and, b) safely out of copyright. In Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys provides us the story of the primary Mrs Rochester, the “madwoman in the attic” from Charlotte Brontë’s 1847 novel Jane Eyre, utilizing it to look at problems with race, feminism and colonialism.

(See additionally Geoffrey Maguire Wicked: The Life And Times Of The Wicked Witch Of The West, which makes use of Frank L Baum’s Oz books to look at problems with witchcraft, greenness, and shoe envy.)


CS Lewis produced two prequels as a part of the seven-­novel Narnia sequence that begins with The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe. The higher of them – and presumably the loveli­est of the seven books – is 1954’s The Horse and His Boy. The plot entails an try to pressure Susan Pevensie into an organized marriage and ends with an enormous battle, however the emo­tional coronary heart of the story is the connection between the slave boy, Shasta, and the speak­ing horse, Bree.

The tenderness of it’s virtually sufficient to make the reader forgive Lewis for ending the sequence as he did with The Last Battle. Almost, however not fairly.

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