Tying in with the release of Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s not-quite-a-prequel to Alien, this week’s Stuff.tv feature trawls through the much-maligned prequel genre in a bid to find the best examples. I wrote the whole thing this week, so you know who to blame.
Prequels are rather tricky to get right – the fact that the audience knows how the story will pan out can kill the dramatic tension, and if you try and add a surprise twist, more often than not it’ll end up retroactively ruining the original film.
And then there’s the Clone Wars Effect. Fans pick up on throwaway lines from films – like Obi-Wan Kenobi’s reference to the Clone Wars in the original Star Wars – and their imaginations run wild.
If the film-maker tries to realise those situations on film, they can never live up to the weight of expectation placed on them by the fans – no movie can be as good as the Clone Wars epic that a Star Wars fan has been playing and replaying in their head over and over again for 20-odd years. And on top of that, the backstory conjured up by those allusive references may not actually play out that well on screen, failing to adhere to the three-act-structure and established character beats as it does.
Still, some prequels manage to come up trumps – telling their own compelling story while meshing with the earlier/later film. Have a look at the feature and let me know what you think.