Some movies leave you with so many questions, you walk out of the theater scratching your head trying to make sense of the last two or so hours of your life. All the exposition in the world can’t save some screenplays. A select few filmmakers like to juggle so many balls, it’s easy to lose track of where the story is and wish someone would just back up and give some background information.
This is where prequels can come in handy. They can help build a world, build characters or fill in story holes that otherwise would have been empty ditches in our minds. Some films can present hard to handle stories. Two hours can sometimes not be a sufficient time to present a conflict and resolution as well as multiple characters with deep backstories and a world on top of all of that.
The following movies beg for prequels. They would benefit from the time it takes to explain their finer points. For some of them, perhaps it would allow us to hate them a little less and provide them with a smaller head space. These movies made most scratch their heads and left holes some might want filled.
Here’s a look at 10 Confusing Movies That Desperately Need A Prequel.
10. The Matrix Trilogy
The first Matrix dazzled audiences in the 90s and established the Wachowski siblings as a force to be reckoned with. It was a film about reality not really being reality. We were all plugged into a virtual existence and enslaved by machines we had once created. It made no sense, but it looked cool. Plus, it didn’t matter that logic was out of the equation because the siblings were given two sequels to explain everything.
However, after famously dropping the ball on the sequels, The Matrix franchise had a mythology for muddled and confusing then ever. The final chapter even had a scene where a character attempts to explain everything while literally sitting down, and it all just made us more confused. How did this all work? Who was real? Who was not real? Why are machines working against machines? Don’t ask me.
The entire trilogy could benefit from a prequel establishing the original war between man and machine. This would help in explaining the virtual reality set up by the machines and the rules. It would also explain actions later taken by various people and machines like Mr. Smith. Wait, was he a machine? Wachowskis, please.
9. Terminator Genisys
Terminator Genisys was supposed to be the reboot that set the Terminator franchise on the right direction. After two film failures and a short-lived television series, it seemed all hope was lost for James Cameron‘s once innovative franchise. Then Cameron himself popped up in a trailer for Genisys endorsing the movie. All seemed to be right with the world.
If you were one of the lucky few that saw Genisys in theaters then you know Cameron had to have just been in a good mood when he saw it. While the original two classics, The Terminator and T2, spent time establishing time traveling mythology, they still managed to be about the characters. This created a tension in the action and in the time hopping events that wouldn’t otherwise be there.
Genisys, meanwhile, spent its entire run-time trying to make sense of a large and vast mythology that was already pretty murky. The screenplay was built on three parts: Exposition Part 1, Exposition Part 2 and, finally, Exposition Part 3.
Despite the constant talk of time traveling rules and trying to get the chronology of the franchise straight while also restarting everything, Genisys made everything even more confusing. I commend anyone who thinks they can understand or explain this movie by the end. You are clearly living in a dream land, and it must be nice.
Even though the movie is already a pseudo-sequel, it needs a prequel. Maybe something to explain events in the future when it comes to John Conner. Or maybe one explaining the relationship between The Terminator and Sarah Conner. We could even do with an entire film explaining just who exactly Matt Smith is supposed to be playing and how he fits into everything.
Terminator Genisys perhaps needs more than one prequel just to justify its weird and confusing existence.
Christopher Nolan is known for playing tricks on us, throwing twists at the screen and keeping things rather abstract. Never, however, was he more confusing than with his blockbuster follow-up to The Dark Knight, Inception.
This was a movie about jumping into other people’s minds, stealing their thoughts and hijacking their dreams…I think. It all got very murky even with Leonardo DiCaprio and company being as game as they could with the screenplay.
As one point in the movie, we are literally in a dream within a dream. And then it keeps going. It becomes next to impossible to keep track of where characters are or how anything is truly effecting them. Some screenings of the movie even had messages in the corner of the screen letting audiences know exactly which numbered dream they were in. Even attempting to explain it all is giving me a headache.
Inception would benefit from a prequel, immensely. A prequel would go a long way in establishing the rules of jumping in and out of dreams as well as giving background to how this all started. The characters also had large backgrounds the movie never explored the way they needed to be. All material for a prequel. Nolan’s next movie perhaps?
7. Southland Tales
Southland Tales was the follow up to filmmaker Richard Kelly’s strong debut, Donnie Darko. While Darko managed to dazzle with its out of the world story and hard to understand twists, Southland Tales was just a head scratching mess. After earning boos at Cannes, the movie disappeared rather quickly.
Kelly later explained the movie was so confusing because it was the middle section to a collection of graphic novels he’d written meant to set up the strange post apocalyptic world in Tales. While that’s a novel idea and suggests some real risk on Kelly’s part, it still doesn’t do much good for Tales.
The movie has its pleasures. It looks fantastic and contains some inspired work from the main cast including Dwayne Johnson, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Sean William Scott. This is why it’s so frustrating the movie insists on using its mythology and world to confuse us rather than invite us into the story.
A prequel is just what this movie needs in order to better establish the world and its rules. Knowing more about Kelly’s world and the different characters and factions would go miles in helping Southland Tales to be a pleasurable experience. Kelly has actually mentioned on many occasions that he wants to make an animated prequel to the movie. While it’s unlikely, it would be nice and perhaps redeeming for the movie.
6. Mullholland Dr.
Mullholland Dr. is as famous for its nonsensical plot as it is for being one of David Lynch‘s most critically acclaimed movies. I’d try and give you the plot here, but I can’t. Seriously. Nothing makes sense in this movie. Apparently, it’s not supposed to.
All I know is it takes place in Hollywood and centers around two women, each with their own secrets. The film works as a sort of surreal dream, but one still can’t help but wonder what exactly it’s all about. Who are these characters? What are their backstories?
Lynch still famously refuses to say what the movie is about. It was originally set up to be a pilot to a TV series, so clearly there is more story and perhaps more explanation. A prequel would go a long way in explaining the characters’ backstories and how they all come to be in this movie doing whatever it is they are doing.
5. A Scanner Darkly
A Scanner Darkly is an interesting trip of a movie. It’s adapted from a Philip K. Dick novel by Richard Linklater. The film is animated and stars Keanu Reeves and Robert Downey Jr. It takes place in some sort of future, and there’s a lot of drug use. That’s about all I can tell you.
This is another movie that would benefit from a prequel establishing the world and the characters a bit more. Reeves stars as an undercover cop, so perhaps a story about him to help establish this future from the mind of Dick.
A prequel would also help establish the rules of this world. Why are drugs so prevalent then and who are the pushers? How are they involved with the rest of society? What stage is the world in when all of this is taking place? Questions that could all be answered with a prequel. And if they weren’t, at least we’d get to see some more cool animation from Linklater.
Looper was a movie with such confusing time travel that when a character would bring the concept off, it would be practically laughed to the side by the screenplay. It was a rather clever decision by director Rian Johnson since the movie was already so confusing.
Looper introduced a future where certain people have mental mutations, time travel is outlawed, and there’s a man from the future running an underground group of loopers; young men who are assassins taking out people sent from the future.
It was all a whole lot to fit into a movie’s run-time. A prequel would be perfect in creating more of a sense about why people are starting to have psychic powers or even how the loopers were created by this mysterious man from the future (Jeff Bridges).
The film is quite a strong experience even though you are left with a handful of questions at the end, but a prequel would be a strong decision since it would only benefit the audience knowing the ins and outs of the world the characters inhabit in Looper.
3. To The Wonder
Terence Malick has used his many years of film-making experience to simply tell more muddled stories each time he comes out of the gate. Following up the impossible to follow Tree of Life, Malick gave us the Ben Affleck-starring romance, To The Wonder.
Though the movie had a strong concept and cast, it’s yet another ambiguous effort from Malick. We know there is loss in this movie, and there are some beautiful relationships to explore, but Malick would rather show us the aftermath of things set against giant landscapes.
It’s a pretty movie, but one that is agonizing and frustrating. We want these characters to talk to each other. We want to see into their relationships and interactions. A prequel would need to be handled by someone else with a clearer eye for the story.
It would be perfect to see Affleck and Olga Kurylenko actually fall in and out of love onscreen. If we saw their true relationship then To The Wonder could act as the strange second stage of any dying relationship.
2. The Box
Richard Kelly makes the list again! After Southland Tales failed to impress, Kelly adapted another writer’s work. Taking a story from Richard Matheson, Kelly introduced us to The Box. It was a movie about a family that needs to make a decision. A mysterious man presents them with a button. If they press the button then they get a million dollars, but someone they don’t know will die.
It’s a terrifying and simple concept that could have held a movie together easily. However, Kelly did his Richard Kelly thing and muddled things up. By the halfway point in the film, it’s impossible to tell what is happening. There’s aliens, there’s Frank Langella, there’s secret groups. It’s a mess.
Perhaps the real issue was trying to tell the movie from the family’s perspective at all. Maybe what we really need to appreciate Matheson’s concept is a prequel. It could be one that shows the events of the box from the other side. We can see how the box came to be, why it exists, and so forth. This sounds like the more interesting movie. It’s also the movie that would make the actual Box film far more enjoyable and easy to take in.
Everybody’s got one stinker in them, one steaming pile of confusion even they don’t understand. For Guy Ritchie, it was Revolver. Despite starring Jason Statham and Ray Liotta, the movie is a slog to get through.
Its biggest problem is itself. Trying to be clever and mysterious, it ends up being messy and annoying. It refuses to explain anything about the characters, providing the audience with another layer of confusion thinking they will be impressed. We were not. Revolver was a barely noticed flop.
There is no doubt, however, that the combination of Statham, Liotta and Ritchie could make for a great movie. They would especially do well with a slick revenge tale set against the backdrop of British gangsters. This is what Revolver was supposed to be.
A prequel would be the way for these artists to right their wrong. A prequel to Revolver could explain these characters and their backstories and just why Statham’s character is looking for revenge. It could also explain just who the hell Andre Benjamin and Vincent Pastore are supposed to be.