With the release of The Many Saints Of Newark: A Sopranos Story, many Sopranos fans are wondering if the film’s events will change the way they feel about the show. Will we understand more about Tony Soprano’s actions and what he’s going through on the iconic series based on the events in the new film? Perhaps it will even change the way we see him, or make us think more about why he is the way he is.
Prequels have always been a popular way to show how our favorite characters came to be. While sequels have always been great to show audiences more adventures of a certain character, we as an audience also like to see everything that led up to what we’ve seen already. Recently, there has been a swath of prequels produced, including the recently released Cruella, which, oddly, is a nearly two-and-a-half-hour movie made to set up an hour-long cartoon…but I digress. Sometimes these prequels bring us new insights and actually improve upon the original film, while, unfortunately, others prove that prequels ruin the mystery of movies, and that a story begins where it does for a reason. Below is one example of each:
Better – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
While there have been many prequels made over the years, perhaps the most famous (or infamous) are the Star Wars prequels. The three Star Wars prequels that took place before original 1977 classic were met with derision from fans and critics alike. These much maligned prequels pulled back the curtain on how the original trilogy came to be and presented some pretty silly ideas: The Clone Wars actually refer to a war fought by clones? “Midichlorians” in Jedi’s blood are the reasons behind the force? The “Star Wars” began over taxes? These revelations took away from the original trilogy’s mystery and made them less fantastical and left much less up to the imagination.
While the Star Wars prequels were mocked for trying to set up everything in the original trilogy, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story took a small yet important detail in Star Wars lore and made a whole movie out of it without feeling contrived or forced. A New Hope is set in motion by the fact that plans detailing how to exploit the Death Star’s weakness are stolen and then eventually used to great success. It’s just one sentence in the original film’s opening crawl, but here it’s expanded into a thrilling and emotional adventure.
Rogue One details how those plans were stolen in the first place, and it actually leads directly up to the 1977 film’s opening scene. The story concerns Jyn Erso, a rebel who leads a small group to retrieve the plans containing the Death Star’s flaw and get them to the resistance so they can exploit the flaw and blow up the Death Star – which is exactly what happens in A New Hope, thanks to Luke Skywalker.
Instead of detracting from the original like the prequels do, Rogue One actually makes the first one better because it details the immense struggle and sacrifice required to retrieve those plans.
Yes, it’s the rare film where all the heroes die, but they died for a cause, which makes Luke’s victory at the end of A New Hope all the more satisfying, cathartic and meaningful. So instead of trying to unravel the mystery of everything mentioned in the original trilogy, Rogue One took an important event that had previously been glossed over and made a great film that actually raised the stakes of the original and made it better. Also, the Darth Vader lightsaber attack scene at Rogue One’s conclusion is one of the greatest scenes in Star Wars movie history, and better than anything in the first three Star Wars prequels.
The most brilliant thing about 1979’s classic sci-fi horror Alien is its simplicity. At its core, Alien is a haunted house movie set in space. Astronauts investigate a distress signal and follow it to a derelict spaceship, where they encounter a terrifying alien, known as a Xenomorph, that attaches itself to a crew member and wreaks havoc aboard their ship, the Nostromo, and eventually leaves only one survivor – Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley. The story is simple by today’s standards, but it is extremely effective.
Following Alien, three sequels were made with diminishing returns. However, fans have always been interested in seeing where the Xenomorphs come from and perhaps even getting to visit their homeworld. While this idea floated around the minds of Alien producers for many years, a prequel to Alien wasn’t set in motion until 2012, and it opted to go a different route. Prometheus’ story actually revolves around a group of space-exploring scientists’ discovery of tall humanoid aliens called “Engineers,” who are actually the creators of humans. The film includes nods and connections to the original film, including featuring Peter Weyland, the founder of the company that the Nostromo reports to in the original film, and even explains who the “space jockey” is: the mysterious dead alien creature at the helm of the derelict alien ship. Having said all that, aside from some zombies and squid monsters, Prometheus doesn’t concern any Xenomorphs… until the very end.
The film takes all of the mystery out of the original and explains way too much. It’s revealed that the God-like world creators not only created humans, but actually created the Xenomorph as a biological weapon that went wrong, which means that the aliens audiences have come to know and be horrified by aren’t even aliens at all — they are a biological experiment. This not only ruins the original movie, but it discredits the title as well! Unlike viewing Rogue One and A New Hope back to back, if a fan were to view Prometheus and Alien back to back, it would disappoint the viewer knowing they’re not actually watching a mysterious and terrifying alien of unknown origin attack a spacehship’s crew but instead they’re actually watching a manufactured biological weapon.
What makes Alien, and other films like it, so scary is that this horrific creature appears out of nowhere, with no explanation. For years, fans have speculated where it came from, what its homeworld is like, and why it has acid for blood. Frankly, it should have stayed that way. A sequel to Prometheus entitled Alien: Covenant followed a few years later, which added more Xenomorph action but tried to further explore the experiment mythos of the creature. A third film was planned to complete the prequel trilogy but, alas, Alien: Covenant bombed, so we’ll never see the conclusion to a story we didn’t need to begin with.