The Hollywood Prequels to Omen and Lord of the Rings: Enough Already

The Hollywood Prequels to Omen and Lord of the Rings: Enough Already ...

The prequels are already dealt with.

Hollywood is full investing in and doubling down on movies and TV series that show what happened before the iconic or classic films and series we already love, whether or not we need to know what happened.

Tinseltown, a claimed source of endless creativity and imagination, is resorting to enormous amounts of fan service, easter eggs, and the apparently bottomless pit of emotional nostalgia in the hope that the combination of all these will continue to deliver that dopamine receptor for fans, and keep box office and streaming subscriptions going.

We know this sounds like a curmudgeon waving his fist at the clouds, but we also know that the whole prequel thing dates back several decades. One can argue that the modern iteration of it started with Star Wars and the Prequel Trilogy (something else to blame on George Lucas), but we don't want to dismiss all of them.

Prequels are mostly telling tales that we do not need to know because most of the time all of the information we needed in the original narrative was there (or hinted at), and the fact that we know the outcome already adds to the suspense and dramatic value of the film.

Why Historical Prequels Can Work, Maybe

Ironically, the Prequel Trilogy does not fall under this purview; however, the story of how the Republic and the Empire fell, and how the Empire rose, was less or less sketched in the Original Trilogy (our personal favorite part of those movies was seeing Palpatines now eeriely relevant machinations to destroy democracy).

By the same measure, its too early to make a judgment on HBOs House of the Dragon and Amazons The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, despite both showing somewhat different situations.

House of the Dragon is at least based on a whole novel (George R.R. Martin's faux history book Fire & Blood), which suggests there is at least some sort of narrative arc on which to hang the series (and Martin's books are individually all doorstops). The story is also set in a distant past in Game of Thrones Westeros, and during a period when none of the main characters we cared about in the original series were still alive.

The Rings of Power is based on J.R.R. Tolkien's notes from the Lord of the Rings, which, while quite lengthy, will likely require a lot more work from the showrunners to construct a solid storyline and well-fleshed-out characters. (Although some have the benefit of being immortal characters from the Lord of the Rings trilogy.)

Nevertheless, there is plenty of room for talented writers, producers, and directors to work out compelling stories based on existingif in some cases, thinnermaterial. On the other hand, we know where both of these ultimately end: one will lead to the assassination of the House of Targaryen, while the other will lead to the assassination of a massive flaming eye in Mordor.

But On the Other Hand

While uneasy but remain adamantly optimistic about The Rings of Power's prospects, they were more concerned about other recent events concerning The Lord of the Rings.

According to CNBC, Embracer Group, a Swedish gaming business that has owned the rights to The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and other Tolkien-related films has purchased the rights. Through this relationship, Embracer has purchased the rights to movies, video games, board games, merchandising, theme parks, and stage productions related to Tolkiens works.

Embracer has announced that it will develop additional films based on well-known characters such as Gandalf, Aragorn, Gollum, Galadriel, Eowyn, and other characters from J.R.R. Tolkien's literary works.

Consider this for a moment: Do we already know Gollum's tragic history from the Peter Jackson Rings films? Will there be a Young Smeagol film? Likewise, how much may characters like Gandalf and Galadriel be mined (the latter seems to be the main character from The Rings of Power, so it's unclear how much more story there is for her)? Past adventures made of whole cloth, with less connection to the Tolkien text, seem to be the sort of stupid

Character-Based Prequels Are Trickier

Maybe great films can be made from this material (Tolkien left enough literary crumbs around for certain), but it all ends up feeling a bit useless. With Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover, it's not a great film, as all of the parts of Hans' life came together beautifully in his first few scenes in A New Hope.

Lucasfilm is going all out with prequels, at least on the streaming side (which is the only one at the moment), which is just two examples: We know the fates of both characters, so how much suspense can either show wring out? (In the case of Kenobi, not all that much.)

Even Marvels Black Widow, which at least provided us with Natasha Romanoff's dark history, had an air of displeasure. After all, we know what happened to Natasha not too long after the events of this film.

Or consider Wonka, the Timothee Chalamet-led film coming out next year from Warner Bros. that will reveal Roald Dahl's famous chocolate manufacturer's back story. So why should anyone else? The character's childhood was not successful in Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Anya Taylor-Joy's performance as a younger version of Charlize Therons' fierce warrior from Mad Max: Fury Road convinced us everything we needed to know. Instead of turning to her past, let's take her forward. At the end of Fury Road, she had an interesting adventure ahead of her.

The Horror, The Horror

Two other recently announced films, First Omen and Apartment 7A, promise even more outrageous stabs at nostalgia for the original films, in this case The Omen (1976) and Rosemarys Baby (1968).

The idea of First Omen makes no sense, but the very idea makes no sense. Is the Antichrist born once before but does not make it? Does the Devil impregnate a different jackal the first time around and arrange for a different family to adopt his evil spawn? Why should we show this information only when we know what happens in the original Richard Donner-directed film?

Same with Apartment 7A, an allegedly secret prequel to Rosemary's Baby, centered around Terry, the young lady who falls to her death from a seventh-floor window shortly after Rosemary (Mia Farrow) befriended her in the original film. It's strongly suggested that Terry is the first choice of the cult to carry Satan's baby until her death, leading the cult to switch to Rosemary.

Platinum Dunes, producer John Krasinski, and director Natalie Erika James (Relic) are all expected to put poor Terry through all the same beatings that Rosemary went through, making this a stealth sequel as well as a prequel (no doubt Rosemary is in line for a full-blown remake).

The greatest stories are about a character's journey forward, often as they try to forget or come to terms with their past. However, for the lazyest writers, it's much easier to take all the little hints of the past and place them into place like a simple child's puzzle rather than imagine a whole new, unexplored, perhaps even dangerous future for these beloved characters. Give us something new to be nostalgic about.