As a movie genre, the prequel gets a bad rap. Like the sequel, it’s seen as a symptom of Hollywood’s lack of originality, less a legitimate narrative strategy than a crass accounting decision to piggyback a tale on a pre-sold intellectual property rather than do the work of coming up with new stories and characters and then marketing them.
This is the perception that the new movie “Oz the Great and Powerful” – which tells the backstory of the fantasy realm’s wizard and witches before Dorothy dropped a house on one of them – will have to fight in order to win over critics and The Wizard of Oz fans.
Still, there have been plenty of prequels that a) did actually deepen our knowledge of and appreciation for the plots and characters of the source material, and b) were actually good on their own merits. (Indeed, Wizard of Oz, has already enjoyed such a prequel, the Broadway musical Wicked.) If you already felt you knew all you needed to know about a familiar tale and its protagonists, and the prequel happily proved you wrong, then it’s done its job. As is the case with the following movies, all prequels fans didn’t realize they needed.
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