With the release of Monsters University this week, it seems like Hollywood’s infatuation with prequels in the past few years is set to continue. It appears studios are eager to delve into their past, rather than take a risk on new properties. The results of this trend has not always been great *cough ‘Star Wars’ cough*. It is no easy task to create a good prequel, and finding the right balance is illusive. However, some films have successfully immersed us back into the world of their originals and presented interesting stories worth telling. Here at Tank Top Movies we thought we would take a look at 10 of the best prequels currently available on demand around the web. We've ranked them top to bottom according to their RottenTomatoes rating.
10. Zulu Dawn (1979)
While Zulu Dawn is not the oldest entry on our list, it shows the practice of Hollywood prequels is nothing new.
A prequel to the the 1964 classic Zulu, this film perhaps is closest to it’s source material chronologically: taking place mere hours before the events of the original. Zulu Dawn depicts the Battle of Isandlwana, between British and Zulu forces in South Africa. With a stellar cast, featuring Burt Lancaster and Peter O’toole, fans of the original should be sure to check this one out.
9. Oz: the Great and Powerful (2013)
Ever wondered the origins of L. Frank Baum’s Wizard character? No, me neither… Nevertheless, Sam Raimi’s Oz: The Great and Powerful tells the story of how the famous Wizard came to be. Perhaps the wildly successful stage musical ‘Wicked’ convinced Disney of the potential of another story in the magical world of OZ. Starring James Franco, Mila Kunis and a fantastic vocal performance by Zach Braff, Oz delivers stunning visuals and spectacular vistas.
8. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
An Unexpected Journey is the first in a new trilogy of tales in Middle-Earth.
Taking a lighter tone than its predecessors, The Hobbit is a non-stop action adventure. Peter Jackson returns at the helm with Martin Freeman taking over the role of Bilbo Baggins supremely. Dwarves, dragons, gold and goblins make for a sparkling feast for the eyes, one the kids will certainly adore.
7. Prometheus (2012)
Oddly enough, Ridley Scott in the build up to Prometheus’ release seemed loathe to admit that his latest sci-fi thriller was actually a prequel to the Alien franchise.
The film does stand on its own as its own Sci-fi story but the nods and winks to Alien are there for those who know what to look for.
Michael Fassbender delivers a standout performance as the Android David. Check it out:
6. Fast Five (2011)
The Fast and Furious series continues to hurtle along, and with pre-production of Fast and Furious 7 already underway, this franchise shows no sign of slowing down . Fast Five, in what has become a quite convoluted timeline, is the second prequel film to the events of Fast and Furious 3: Tokyo drift. It’s all a bit complicated. Probably best not to think about it too much and check your brain at the door when watching this one.
Fast Five introduces Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson to the series, as the stakes get higher and the gas guzzlers get faster (and more environmentally irresponsible) than ever before.
5. The Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
Oz: the great and powerful was not James Franco first experience at starring in the revival, via prequel, of a Hollywood property. The Planet of the Apes 1968 classic starring Charlton Heston already had 3 prequels made in the early 70’s. The Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a complete reboot all together. However this time, neither Heston nor Franco took main stage.
It is Andy Serkis and the team at Weta Digital here who should take the plaudits. Their motion capture technology, that first brought us Gollum, is expertly executed. Audiences will soon forget their watching a digital performance.
4. Puss in Boots (2011)
Antonio Banderas returns as the titular character, Puss in Boots, in what is somewhat more of a spin off than a direct prequel to Dreamworks' Shrek franchise and the only animated prequel to feature on our list.
While Disney has released countless straight-to-DVD prequels, Monsters University is their first venture into the world of the animated prequel, a strategy that proved successful for Dreamworks.
Puss in Boots is an excellent children’s film full of fun, action and adventure.
3. X-Men: First Class (2011)
X-Men first class was not the first prequel entry into the X-men franchise. Unfortunately, X-Men Origins: Wolverine wasn’t all that great ‘Bub’. X really does mark the spot though in First Class. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender take over the roles of Professor Xavier and Magneto effortlessly.
Like a lot of prequels, First Class in some way suffers a narrative problem: We know how its all going to end up. Albeit, seeing just quite how the two mutant mates friendship collapsed is an intriguing watch. The special effects and action scenes are a treat as well.
2. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
Sergio Leone’s trio of spaghetti western films produced in the 60’s have come to be known as the ‘Dollars trilogy’. Whether the three films really are a trilogy is up to debate and to that end, does The Good the Bad and the Ugly really qualify as a prequel?
What is not up for debate however is the quality of this gun slinging adventure. Clint Eastwood returns as ‘the man with no name’ alongside the lovable dastardly Eli Wallach and brooding Lee Van Cleef. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is an excellent movie, with a Musical score from Ennio Morricone that will have you humming for days.
1. The Godfather part II (1974)
The second instalment in Francis Ford Coppola’s epic crime trilogy is truly the Godfather of the prequel film family. The Godfather part II is both a direct sequel and prequel to part one. Coming in at over three hours long, it’s no surprise it managed both.
Often considered the strongest of the three films, in a series always in the discussion of greatest films of all time, The Godfather Part II is a movie well worth your time.
So set 3 hours aside, put on your best Italian suit, and get the spaghetti on. For the pinnacle of prequel excellence- look no further than The Godfather Part II – This is a movie you cannot refuse.