Best Movie Prequels
Here are our picks for the best prequel movies!
Honorable Mention: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
This prequel to 1977's Star Wars is made for fans of the original trilogy. It often gets bogged down in throwback references and cameos by familiar faces, but the bulk of the story feels like a war movie populated by new characters. The cast is great, the action is spectacular, and the finale is both inspirational, emotional, and epic.
10. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Peter Jackson returned to helm the prequel movies to his Lord of the Rings trilogy, however, it was originally intended to be a two-part film directed by visionary Guillermo del Toro. While del Toro's version would have been more frightening and strange, Jackson does give these movies a strong sense of continuity to his previous films from the way they're shot to the cast's performances. It's a blast to watch them even if Jackson began to overuse CGI taking away from the Rings trilogy's realistic and grounded tone and feel.
9. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
A delightful prequel to the Harry Potter films, Fantastic Beasts feels fresh thanks to it's new cast of characters and New York setting. David Yates returns to direct giving the series a sense of continuity, but unfortunately does not give it a fresh perspective behind the camera. There's tons of fun to be had here with all of the amazing creatures, but the supporting players steal the show in an offbeat and unexpected romance.
8. Solo: A Star Wars Story
An absolute blast from start to finish, Solo is the best Star Wars prequel yet. It's a noir heist western with a colorful cast of characters that showcases the origins of the galaxy's most notorious smuggler. For a movie that's based on some silly and somewhat meaningless questions (How did he get his name? Blaster? Co-Pilot? Ship?) it works surprisingly well as the filmmakers craft an intriguing story around exhilarating action sequences. Hilarious and heartfelt, the film is far better than it should be.
7. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Bringing an emotional center to the science fiction franchise, Rise of the Planet of the Apes takes the concept of monkeys taking over the earth and grounds it in reality and an important, interpersonal relationship. This remains Andy Serkis' best role and perhaps his best performance ever as an orphaned chimp named Caesar who leads a simian uprising against humanity. The fact that the filmmakers made us believe and emotionally respond to this story is revolutionary as are this film's performance capture visual effects.
6. Casino Royale
Showing audiences how James Bond got his 00 license to kill is what makes Casino Royale one of the best prequels ever. Beyond that opening scene, though, the rest of the film is a stylish and romantic adventure as 007 gets caught up in a thrilling high stakes poker game and even more dangerous relationship. Daniel Craig is brutal and intense in the lead role, Eva Green is stunning as the cunning Vesper Lynd, and Mads Mikkelsen is ruthless and charming as Le Chiffre.
5. Captain America: The First Avenger
Chris Evans embodies Captain America like few others actors could by bringing the morally upright character to life. The throwback aesthetic of the 1940s setting makes Joe Johnston's film stand out among the rest of the superhero movies. Hugo Weaving is brilliant as Red Skull, Hayley Atwell portrays the lovely Agent Carter as an intelligent and strong leader, and Sebastian Stan plays Bucky as a loyal and confident soldier. This remains one of the most unique, enjoyable, and poignant comic book films of the past decade.
4. X-Men: First Class
The cast of X-Men: First Class is wonderful as Matthew Vaughn directs each them with precision. Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy are perfect choices to play Magneto and Professor X and each of them help us connect to them in deeper ways. It's got an incredible score from Henry Jackman and excellent action sequences as well. There are plenty of intense moments throughout and the character-driven aspects of the film make everything else fall into place and support the strong storytelling.
3. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
In Steven Spielberg's follow-up to Raiders of the Lost Ark, we find a younger Indy on an adventure in India. The opening sequence in Hong Kong is a wonderfully executed scene that leads us into our main story and sets up our cast of main characters including Indy himself who's more of a treasure-hunting, soldier-of-fortune here, the enthusiastic, no-nonsense Short Round, and high-strung star of the stage Willie Scott. It's got great action from bloody fistfights to a fast-paced train car chase and a brilliant and haunting score from John Williams. The horror tone is a welcome risk that sets it apart from the series' other entries while it still tells an important, funny, and bizarre story.
2. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The third installment in Sergio Leone's Man with No Name trilogy is set before the events of the first two films showing us how Clint Eastwood's cool character became who we know him to be. It's the most epic of the series in scale and scope showing our lead characters in big battles of the War Between the States across the Old American West. Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach are both superb in the film as the antagonists one bringing a coldness and the other a wild zaniness to the film. The finale is an instantly classic scene with Ennio Morricone's iconic music playing until the end credits roll.
1. Star Trek
The best movie prequel is Star Trek. J.J. Abrams did the impossible when he revived the popular sci-fi franchise by recasting the legendary roles of Kirk, Spock and the rest of the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise and infusing it with a spirit of fun and adventure while making the action fast-paced and still grounding everything in emotion. It's a great cast that brings this story to life and inhabits this world with people we can relate to and care about. The visual effects are outstanding and the music by Michael Giacchino is fantastic. This is how you do it right by focusing on character and story and it remains one of the best films of the past decade.