Today marks the release of Oz: The Great and Powerful, the prequel to The Wizard of Oz, which tells the story of the titular Wizard’s rise to notoriety.  So here’s 5 great films that also happen to be prequels.  I withdrew reboots like Batman Begins as they don’t continue, or precede for that matter, an already established universe.  The Star Wars prequels don’t show up in this either because, well… they suck.

#5: Red Dragon

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Red Dragon is not only unique because it’s both a remake and a prequel, but it’s also unique because it is a Brett Ratner movie worth your time.  I’m not claiming that he has any real claim of credit to it being reasonably watchable, but the fact he did direct this is noteworthy.

Ed Norton takes over the lead role of Will Graham that William Petersen portrayed in Manhunter.  Norton plays the role fine, with a chip on his shoulder that all his characters seem to have, but the real stars of the film are Ralph Fiennes and Anthony Hopkins.  These two seem to revel in the opportunity to play bad guys and they equally chew up some scenery to the best of their abilities.

#4: X-Men: First Class

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I struggled with whether or not to classify this one as a reboot or a prequel.  It seems to be placed in the same universe as the original X-Men trilogy (See: Hugh Jackman), so I’m going to call it a prequel.  X-Men: First Class is a great reintroduction to the characters we are familiar with and is bolstered by fantastic performances by James McAvoy and especially Michael Fassbender.  Fassbender is a great Magneto and his performance stands above the rest.

#3: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

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Set one year prior to Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom is by no means a perfect film.  Kate Capshaw can’t hold a candle to Karen Allen and Short Round is a bit racist, but Indiana Jones is a classic film series and features some of the greatest adventure films ever.  It’s legitimately creepy and full of great action sequences that you come to expect from the series.

#2: Casino Royale

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Daniel Craig’s turn as 007 has rejuvenated one of the most storied franchises in film history and his first movie is one of the best James Bond films of all-time.  The first scene actually takes place before Bond is 007, which is quickly remedied before the title sequence.  The rest of the film is a great, tense actioner set around a high-stakes Texas Hold ‘Em tournament and boasts one of the best Bond Girls of all, Vesper Lynd (Eva Green).  The opening action sequence is a perfect way to introduce the new Bond to the world.

#1: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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While The Dollars Trilogy may seem so episodic in nature that there is no timeline, there is one detail that is a clue to the fact that the final released film of the series is actually the first one in the timeline: the poncho.  Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name wears his signature poncho throughout A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More, but actually doesn’t acquire it in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly until the final act.

One of the greatest westerns of all-time, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly separates itself from the movies that preceded it.  Clint, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach give legendary performances in this sweeping epic set in and around the Civil War.  Sergio Leone perfected the very genre he created with this and Ennio Morricone’s score is easily one of the best ever.

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