What follows is the start of a blog I was going to post in June, entitled Prequels, Sequels and Threequels.
Ok, the last word is made up, but I have seen it in print, in a magazine before. That counts, right? Don’t worry, I will never use the word ‘chillax’ - apart from just there, of course, but at least Word has the decency to underline it in red to let me know its bollocks. Bollocks, incidentally, isn’t.
There’s been much chatter about Prometheus, the might be/might not be prequel to Alien. Well, now it’s on release, the consensus seems to be that it is a sort-of prequel, just not a very good one. It isn’t the negative reviews that have put me off going to see the film (although they have contributed), rather the apparent need to ‘explain where the Space Jockey came from’. That and the fact the technology looks more advanced than it was in Alien, despite being set some years before; everything looks shiny and perfect, rather than being the dirty technology of the first film. All that from a trailer, I know, but isn’t that what they’re for? I suppose what I’m wondering is do we really need to know where the Space Jockey is from? Isn’t that element of mystery one of the talking points that has kept Alien in our minds over the years?
All this reminds me of when the three Star Wars prequels were announced. Finally, we would see the origins of Darth Vader. We knew them, having read everything about Star Wars, but we would now bear witness on the big screen. Awesome. Except it wasn’t, not really. That fight between Anakin and Obi Wan? I read about that when I was eight-years-old, and it was better in my childish imagination that it was on film. My abiding image of those prequels remains Owen Lars looking to the stars, just as Luke did in 1977, only for Obi Wan to turn up with a baby Skywalker and shatter his dreams. No wonder the two didn’t get on.
Other prequels out lately are in the comics world. Before Watchmen tells the tale of the Watchmen characters before they teamed up. Again, they’re something I’ve not seen, so I can’t comment on their quality. Many have, though, and this is before anything was published in print. I don’t see them as an ‘outrage’, it’s just I’m struggling to see the point. Watchmen is self-contained. We know all we need to about the characters, so why delve deeper? That’s just me, of course; others many want to know more, in which case that’s fine, we’re all allowed to be different. Who knows, these prequels may even turn out to be classics of their own right in years to come, and I’ll have tomato sauce with my words when I eat them.
The same could be said of adaptations. Back to Watchmen again; a visually stunning movie, but entertaining to anyone who hasn’t read the comics? Saying that, I found the Jaws movie to be so much better than the book. I’m not against prequels and sequels (Empire Strikes Back is arguably the best crafted of the Star Wars films) but often they strike me as unnecessary.
And that’s as far as I got. A day later, I found out a friend of mine was going into hospital to have cancerous tumours removed from his bladder. Suddenly, it didn’t seem so important anymore that Ewoks got on my tits; such things felt entirely trivial.
Weeks (months) have passed since then, my friend’s been given the all clear, and I’ve been doing a lot of pondering. So, it’s time for some (extremely) amateur philosophy.
See, I’ve been thinking that my opinion about Ewoks is important, because it’s something that matters to me. What are our lives if we don’t care about anything, if we just sit and stagnate? That’s not living, that’s just existing, going through the motions. Animals in a field do that, and we’re better than them (apart, maybe from dolphins; I have a drunken theory that they and whales may be the co-rulers of the world, buy me a pint and I’ll tell you all about it. Another pint, and I’ll share my thoughts on Velma from Scooby-Doo). I care about books and comics and films, the way others care about sport and celebrities and talent shows. I can’t see why people are bothered about who’s done what to/with whom, but I understand that everyone should have their passions. If we didn’t like different things, the world would be a pretty dull place. (What am I saying? A world of sci-fi and fantasy fans would be great! All that unfettered imagination – we’d be driving to work in those flying cars from Blade Runner by now.)
I’ve never made any apologies for what I like – never felt like I’ve had to – as they’re part and parcel of who I am. Always have been, and I’m pretty sure they always will be. In the same way a football fan will be gutted if their team loses, I’m gutted if a book/film/comic fails to meet my expectations. It may be trivial to some, the way other things are trivial to me, but it’s something I invest my time and money in, so I want it to be the best it can be. I don’t want to spend hours watching or reading, only to feel disappointment at the end. I want to be entertained viscerally and emotionally, made to laugh or cry – I want to feel alive!
Will my opinions change the world, make a difference to society? I don’t think so, but – like everyone – I’m entitled to have them, and I’d certainly like to share them. The world’s a tough place, and a good book or film has pulled me through some very dark times. So, if we care about them, they’re important. Here endeth.
As for the prequels and sequels, perhaps they’ve turned out to be decent after all – if they’ve got people interested in the originals, that can’t be a bad thing.