The origins of an independent spy agency, set against the Great War. Messy and inconsistent prequel, showcasing series strengths (brio, some startling moments) and weaknesses (tonal awkwardness) in equal measure. A freewheeling approach to both history and emotion throughout render this flashy, but empty.
An orphan seeks revenge on the fashion maven who killed her mother. Confident, stylish, though thin and overlong prequel to 101 Dalmatians. Basically a supervillain origin story (Cruella is Tim Burton-era Batman, plus Joker and Catwoman here) though borrowing from all-sorts, including The Terminator. MVP is Paul Walter Hauser, though everyone is in on the joke.
Bilbo and Thorin’s company reach Mount Erebor via Laketown. The middle instalment of the prequel trilogy is all the better for not having to worry about set-up, though it lacks a story of its own. Still, if well-heeled fantasy spectacle is your thing, then there’s plenty to enjoy here.
A home-loving halfling is recruited for a perilous quest. Beefed-up partial adaptation of the Tolkien children’s novel so that it acts as the first part of a Lord of the Rings prequel trilogy. The quieter parts work best, though this is an acceptable if somewhat bloated action fantasy in its own right.
An archaeologist and a nightclub singer find themselves facing an ancient occult evil. Though this prequel starts and finishes well, it’s hampered by an absence of narrative causality, two annoying sidekicks, and unfortunate treatment of gender and ethnicity throughout. Some great stuff remains, but this is too awkward too often.
Members of a Norwegian Antarctic research base find an alien specimen. Prequel/remake of the 1982 John Carpenter-directed movie. Okay as far as it goes, but perfunctory plotting and reliance on CG over practical effects mean this doesn’t really compare, despite good efforts from the cast.
In 1979, a student has romantic adventures in the Med; this links with the present. Both sequel and prequel to Mamma Mia!, this ABBA-based jukebox musical is part-reprise, part deconstruction. More fun than the first, and as impermeable to criticism as its predecessor. You’ll either love it, or be baffled.
After Grindelwald escapes, Newt Scamander is asked to track him and the still-alive Clarence down. Patchy Part II of the Harry Potter prequel series has too much set-up and not enough story, and some awkwardness with character and plot inconsistencies. For indulgent fans only.
An FBI agent comes out of early retirement to catch a serial killer. Competent adaptation of the Thomas Harris novel (already filmed as Manhunter), here styled as a prequel to The Silence of the Lambs. Over-familiar material means diminishing returns though, despite good work from cast and crew.
A deep space mission to engage with humanity’s distant ancestors finds more than it bargained. Great-looking but ultimately dumb and pretentious Alien prequel, with a fine cast largely wasted on a grab-bag script of variable ideas. Alien: Covenant followed in 2017,