If the inevitable success of Prometheus is going to do anything within the industry, it’s convince Hollywood that prequels are the way to put some new life into old franchises. We could argue that, no, the lesson should be getting talented filmmakers to think big and be ambitious, but why fight it? Here are five ideas for prequels to resurrect those other 1980s movie series that you loved.
I’ve gone on record before about my distrust of prequels in general, but there’s almost no way that, between Prometheus and the success of quasi-prequel/reboot Star Trek that we’re not going to see more moviemakers looking way back to the beginning (or beyond) when trying to kickstart familiar characters and stories. With that in mind, here are five movies that might happen in the foreseeable future…
Police Academy: Pre-School
I’ll admit that I wasn’t the world’s biggest Police Academy fan way back when, but if there hadn’t been an installment showing what the various characters had been up to before they decided to sign up to be police officers, then it’s a hideously missed opportunity. For today’s filmmakers, it’s right there for the taking: An ensemble piece in which each of the core characters has a story arc that leads them right to the front door of the eponymous Academy as they come to the realization that they are, indeed, destined to become the world’s most inept lawmen (and -women). It’s pretty much the ideal first episode for an all-new beginning.
Lethal Weapon: The Early Years
We’re all used to people complaining that they’re too old for this shit, but all that means is that there are stories to be told from a period where Roger Murtaugh was exactly the right age for this kind of thing. Sure, he was supposed to be a straitlaced police- and family man before Riggs showed up, but come on: You just know that there would’ve been at least one (or maybe more, depending on how successful the movie is) time where he would’ve been forced to break out his Vietnam-training to bring justice to the streets of Los Angeles in the late ’70s, amid Blaxploitation in-jokes and movie references…
Back to the Past
I know, I know; the idea of a prequel to a movie franchise that goes all the way back to the Wild West seems like a difficult idea, but there’s a particular period of Back to the Future chronology that’s entirely open to extrapolation: What happened to Doc between 1955 and 1985? Think about it: He knows that he’s going to build a time machine, and that it’s going to work – oh, and also that he’s going to get involved with terrorists who’ll try to kill him, depending on whenever he decided to put the letter back together. If an eccentric-at-best genius had that foreknowledge, don’t you think that he’d be slightly dangerous to himself and others …? There is weird and untapped comic gold in this one, if only Christopher Lloyd could be convinced to return (and/or someone younger who can do an amazing Christopher Lloyd impression could be discovered).
The First Starfighter
Okay, so The Last Starfighter wasn’t exactly the world’s biggest hit, but come on: A title like that is almost begging for a prequel, and with the backdrop of intergalactic war in the offing, it’s surprising that no-one has thought to try and make this happen already. Instead of the 1980s kid who gets auditioned playing video games, though, why not throw back farther in time, and have the Rylan Star League kidnap a gunslinger from the Wild West into space to help them fight the Ko-Dan Empire in the beginning of their war? It could be just like Cowboys & Aliens, but, you know, good!
It’s the prequel that everyone expected three decades ago, but never quite got – and one that, thanks to the leads all being wrinkly aliens without a human amongst them, could be entirely CGI and no-one would be that much the wiser. Why was E.T. on Earth in the first place? Are his kind normally leaving members of their crews behind when they leave planets? And, if we had a movie where E.T. and friends could communicate in their own language and we’d have subtitles putting everything into a language we could understand, would he still be just as cute? Okay, maybe that last one’s an obvious no, but for the other questions, there’s really only one thing for it: Someone get Steven Spielberg on the phone. We’ve got the next step in his CGI empire following Tintin.