Opinion: Prequels? Why bother?



Matthew Bertovich

Matthew Bertovich

Matthew Bertovich is a junior psychology major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact Matthew Bertovich at [email protected].

Man, that movie was awesome, wasn’t it? The ending was thrilling, conclusive and satisfying. But instead of Hollywood leaving it as it is — a masterpiece — they’re making a prequel. Far too many times, I’ve seen this happen: writers taking a step back in time to revive or add to a story that should just be left alone.

For those who don’t know, a prequel is a movie that releases on a later date but chronologically takes place at an earlier time in the storyline. Granted, not all prequels are bad, but they’re usually made when a Hollywood studio executive hears about audience’s desire for answers, so they hire someone to start writing a sequel; in other words, destroy the franchise to make some more money.

When prequels are planned from the beginning, they can be great. They expand on character development, further open a universe and provide answers to questions not addressed in the original films. But that’s not always the case. Most of the time, it simply comes down to money. A movie franchise that cannot move forward due to the finality of the series usually turns to a prequel as an option to make more money. Other times they make the prequel because they simply have to. Sometimes it has to do with the studio’s threat of losing the rights to a property. This is when things go bad.

Unless you’re only watching movies for big-budget explosions and car chases, prequels cannot satisfy. They lack suspense. A prequel crushes tension right from the beginning. For example, in Star Wars Episodes 1-3 we all know that Anakin, Yoda, Obi, Palpatine, R2-D2, C-3PO, etc., all have to be alive at the end. Ultimately, you know what happens. So instead of being swallowed by the film, you sit on the sidelines and wonder how things will fall into place (and sometimes the pieces don’t even fit). Most of the time, writers start from the beginning and aren’t expecting to move backwards with the story. They’re unprepared, and this is usually well reflected in their work on a prequel. Plot holes are created in an attempt to make sense of a story that shouldn’t have been there in the first place. It is nice to have answers, but the wonder is gone. They tell a story we’ve already told ourselves. Would magicians be as interesting if they went back and told you how they did every trick? I don’t think so.

When you’re dealing with a set fan base, you have to be especially careful not to disappoint them. Just leave it alone. Every big-budget movie lately seems to be a prequel, sequel or a remake of something that has been done before. Give me something new instead.