Tired of Prequels

Quote of the Day: "(George Lucas) seems to have forgotten what Star Wars was about. Or perhaps changed his mind." -- FoldedSpace.org

Is it just lack of creativity, a weak imagination, outright laziness that draws so many in Hollywood to make prequels to successful franchises? In the good ol' days that I always love talking about, we were complaining about the overabundance of lame sequels that rarely seemed to measure up to the originals. But now I yearn for sequels, I crave the continuation of stories in beloved sagas, because the powers-that-be are infatuated with prequels, those shallow harlots of cinema and television that give us nothing but empty promises of new adventures when in fact they provide nothing more than filler, oftentimes actually ruining the franchises rather than providing depth and a rich back story.

Star Wars is the greatest culprit of the disease I call Prequelitis. At the popular Dragon*Con convention in Atlanta this past Labor Day Weekend, George Lucas announced some details about his planned live-action television series set in his blockbuster Star Wars universe. (You can read a nice summary here at Examiner.com). Of course, no surprise, it will be part of the prequel era, taking place before A New Hope.

In my youth, I wanted nothing more than to see Darth Vader and Boba Fett hunting down any rogue survivor Jedi Knights across the Galaxy, committing atrocities in the name of the Empire that would spark the seeds for the growing Rebel Alliance. After the prequel trilogy of movies, after not one but two (or three, depending on how you count them) Clone Wars cartoons, after a couple of video games set in that era, I am prequeled out.

For the love of the Force, enough with the prequels!
It's time to movie the story forward. I want to live to see Episodes 7, 8, and 9 of the Star Wars saga, but George Lucas seems intent on sticking to pre-Episode 4 adventures, even if he's already given us Episodes 1, 2, and 3. He's now cramming in 1.5, 2.5, 3.5, and may eventually jump to negative numbers in an effort to avoid telling new tales in the proper chronology instead of continuing to dip in the prequel era. It's even more frustrating when he's allowed writers to create novels and comics set in the Expanded Universe and tell those stories about what happened to our favorite characters after Return of the Jedi. But fans crave live action versions. Will we ever see them?

This article at FoldedSpace.org perfectly sums up why the Star Wars prequels have taken a major step backwards creatively and left so many die hard fanatics cold. (And the author shares my idea that the story of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon would have made a much better prequel for the Star Wars saga.)

Other franchises too have been seduced to tread down the path of prequels. Io9.com featured a great story that clarifies the imaginative bankruptcy of prequels.

Like anything, prequels sometimes work. The most recent Star Trek movie was technically a prequel, but it was also a remake, reviving the series which had strayed for too long from Gene Roddenberry's original vision that it was becoming a parody of itself with countless spin offs, uninspired movies, and yes, a disastrous prequel television series called Enterprise. Going back to the roots of Classic Trek and young versions of the original characters was a bold and rewarding movie, but they did it in a way that, in my opinion, made the storyline fresh.

Star Wars, while always entertaining in its own way, did the worst thing possible in storytelling. It took all those great clues from the Original Trilogy about the back story of the Old Republic and the Clone Wars and how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader, those moments that were fleshed out in the speculating minds of fans everywhere for decades, and decided to show us what happened. And everyone should realize that no matter what Lucas decided to show us, it could never live up to our own imaginations.

In prequels, the level of suspense is always reduced, no matter what new elements you throw in, because we know how the story turns out. (Another reason the Star Trek reboot worked was the brilliant decision to make it an altered timeline, so that the unexpected can happen rather than being completely bound by existing continuity.)

I don't want to see a young Hannibal Lecter, I want to see what happens after Silence of the Lambs. I don't really want to see a prequel to Alien, but Ridley Scott is going to give us one anyway.

The hallmark of a good story is that it makes the audience beg to know "what happens next." Sadly, too many in Hollywood are shying away from proper continuations and are instead resorting to unnecessarily filling in the blanks of what happened before. Maybe someday they'll return again to focusing their time, energy, and resources to give us something really new instead of prequels, which are just cheap cop outs and an abuse of fans' patience when pushed to the extreme.