Question of the week: is there a point to prequels?

Prequels are seemingly all the rage right now. The Hobbit‘s about to be filmed, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena is on Starz and Caprica has been and gone. And, of course, prequels have a long history on TV, in books, in theatre and the cinema: Star Wars infamously acquired itself three prequels and even a movie such as Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion (starring Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino, two of my favourite actresses) managed to get itself a prequel (starring Katherine Heigl and Alex Breckenridge, two more of my favourite actresses*):

But – cue today’s question:

Is there a point to prequels?

While it can be fun to see how things came to pass and how characters came to be the way they are, you largely know how everything turns out. You know who survives, who ends up bad, who ends up good, etc. There are no real surprises. And usually, prequels are pretty awful.

So are prequels largely just writers’ background material stretched out into an actual story or do they have worth? And are there, in fact, any good prequels that you can think of?

As always, leave a comment with your answer or a link to your answer on your own blog

* Although I should point out that while KH and AB do do quite excellent impressions of Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino respectively, they’re actually supposed to respectively be playing Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow’s parts. Huh. Now there’s a scriptwriter and a director who weren’t paying attention.