Sunday, 4 September 2011

Rise of the Prequels

Finally a truly decent prequel! Rise of the Planet of the Apes has risen to the challenge and begun the long process of eradicating the memories of all those nasty, disappointing, pointless cash-in prequels that have littered multiplexes, particularly since the Star Wars prequels crushed the childhood dreams of so many.

With a number of cool nods to the original and an origin story that feels like it needed telling, ROTPOTA does not disappoint in starting the story of how Planet Earth became the Planet of the Apes. In fact, the story is set up so carefully and with such a brilliant and engaging character in Caesar, the revolution only begins in the last half hour of the prequel.

Hopefully this means there can be a sequel to this prequel that deals with the war between apes and humans and furthers the story of how humans were crushed. However it could be that the writers of ROTPOTA decided to end the film where they did because they realized that it would get further and further into ridiculousness as they tried to keep showing apes battling and beating humans armed with machine guns, helicopters and tanks.

Anyway, no matter whether the story is too far-fetched for you, the character of Caesar has to go down as one of the most sympathetic antiheroes of all time. Never have I wanted the ‘villain’ to win so much in a film before! Never have I wanted to see us humans crushed by an enemy this badly!

Thanks again to another stunning bit of captured performance from Andy Serkis and the effects people at WETA (following Gollum and King Kong), Caesar is brilliant; filled with recognizable emotions, intelligence and finally, understandably raging against the machine.

Prequels have a bad name for a good reason. Try and come up with a list of 10 good prequels! It’s not easy and many would say impossible. Godfather Part 2 had elements of a prequel but is also a sequel. Temple of Doom is a prequel but is a completely different story to Raiders of the Lost Ark. Revenge of the Sith had it’s moments; the burning of Anakin, the rise of Vader and The Phantom Menace had the pod-race but really I’m clutching at straws.

On the other hand you have Hannibal Rising, Leatherface: The Beginning and Attack of the Clones. I shiver at the mention of their names.

So maybe with ROTPOTA and X-Men: First Class, a change is coming. Perhaps this is the dawn of the quality prequel. Or am I being unfair? What have I missed? Are there other great prequels out there? Do the reboots of Star Trek and Batman count as prequels? You tell me…

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