Our contemporary cinematic world is obsessed with reboots (Man of Steel, Evil Dead, RoboCop) and excessive extensions of already dehydrated sagas (The Hangover trilogy, the Die Hard franchise, Wolverine/ The X-Men, Cars [now Planes]); however, with the recent stream of flops of original features (Identity Thief, Gangster Squad, The Guilt Trip) one can hardly blame the studios. If there’s more money to be made there, make another film! the executives demand. However, even these reincarnations and extensions of once-revered films are beginning to bore audiences, and while they are making money, reviews are generally negative.
Alongside these Frankenstein exploitations comes the more interesting “prequel genre” that envisions the events that preluded another film. Although they still prove how parched Hollywood is for creativity, they nonetheless offer refreshing (and sometimes twisted) looks at our favorite films. Oz the Great and Powerful (Sam Raimi) is currently breaking box office records and looks to offer its audience a visually stunning, if thematically unoriginal, look at Oz during the Wizard’s (James Franco) rise to power. On television, Bates Motel, a new show on A&E, is a contemporary prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic masterpiece Psycho. Arriving on the heels of an only moderately successful biopic of Hitchcock (Hitchcock, Sacha Gervasi) set during the filming of Psycho and with a talented cast (Freddie Highmore as Norman Bates, Vera Farmigia as Norma Bates), the show has a lot to live up. It’s extremely rare nowadays that one encounters a feature film that isn’t an adaptation of something else, whether it be a short story, play, scandal, or personality (even The Lone Ranger won’t be an original concept): let’s hope Hollywood receives a much-needed influx of films in the veins of Moonrise Kingdom and Django Unchained before audiences become too restless.
A&E’s Bates Motel premiered on Monday night, Oz the Great and Powerful is now in theaters everywhere.