Star Wars is part of a very special club. Few movies have captivated and amazed audiences around the world like the Star Wars movies have. Even fewer movies have spurred the creation of toys, games, and literature to the extent that Star Wars has. But what is Star Wars really? Stripped down to it’s most basic parts, Star Wars is essentially just six movies that chronicle a hero’s journey in a galaxy far, far away. Hopefully, you’ve watched all six of these movies, but in case you haven’t, let me explain the situation. The first three films of this six-part galaxy were created between 1977 and 1983. The second set of three was shot and released between 1999 and 2005. While each movie was created under the supervision of the same man, George Lucas, due to various reasons the original three films and the more recent set of three films carry significant differences. These differences are so striking, in fact, that Star Wars fans have effectively separated the two sets into two categories: The original trilogy and the prequel trilogy. Furthermore, it may surprise you to learn that an alarmingly high percentage of Star Wars fans out there believe that the prequel trilogy, the three movies created between 1999 and 2005, are garbage. I’m here today to not just disagree with that sentiment, but attest that there is just as much enjoyment and value to be found in the prequel movies as there is in the original trilogy.
Before I dive into my arguments, I’d like to add a small disclaimer. Outside of the above introductory paragraph I intend to address this article toward those who already know a significant amount about Star Wars and it’s universe. If you are unfamiliar with these things, you may struggle to understand some of the items I will discuss. Furthermore, I welcome any rebuttals or counter-arguments you may have as everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
When the first Star Wars movie was released in May of 1977 it was met with awe and admiration. The continuation of the trilogy was impossibly more successful and Star Wars quickly cemented itself as an icon within American culture. Much to the dismay of many fans, however, after the release of the third installment of Star Wars more than 10 years passed before the series saw any more additions (16 years to be exact). The prequel trilogy, which began in 1999, was possibly one of the most anticipated movies in recent history. Despite the hype, or even more likely as a result of it, the prequel trilogy was received with significantly less enthusiasm than expected.
In fact, the prequel woes were sung from the housetops. People couldn’t complain enough about the movies’ “awful,” acting and the “horrible,” plot. Everything about the prequels was battered, bashed, bruised and belittled. The prequels quickly became nearly as hated as the original trilogy was loved. In truth, however, there is an awful lot of things that the prequels actually do right. Though I will no doubt be hated for even suggesting it, there are many ways in which the prequels actually do a better job than the original movies. While the prequels by no means constitute a “perfect,” story, neither were the original trilogy. What the prequels lack in most regards, plagues the original trilogies as well. While many Star Wars fans out there would have you believe that the prequel trilogy isn’t worth your time, I’m here today to not just disagree with that sentiment, but attest that there is just as much enjoyment and value to be found in the prequel movies as there is in the original trilogy.HISTORY OF THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY AND THE PREQUEL TRILOGY
|I really like this image. It has nothing to do with my article though.|
The original trio of Star Wars movies was released in 1977, 1980 and 1983. These movies certainly surpassed George Lucas’ wildest dreams in terms of success. People literally couldn’t get enough of them. While there are certainly many different factors that contributed to the wonder and majesty of the movies, a large portion of the success of the films belongs to the special effects that were used. Star Wars put things on the screen that people had never seen before and created a universe so lifelike that it almost felt real. Then, after 1983, George Lucas stopped producing any Star Wars movies for a very long time.
That’s not to say that Star Wars stopped being popular, quit the contrary in fact. While trading cards, video games, books, toys and other collectibles continued to sell like wildfire, there was simply no new on-screen Star Wars representation. For better or for worse, this was the situation that precluded the arrival of the prequel trilogy.
The Prequel Hype and Disappointment. With the announcement of a new film being released in 1999, fans were drooling in anticipation. George didn’t even have to advertise his next film, it advertised itself. Before the movie was ever released, millions of dollars were spent and made through merchandising and advertising for the Phantom Menace, and none of it came from George’s pocket. For example, Newsweek ran a package of stories (that’s right, more than one) just analyzing the hype the film was receiving. Everyone wanted in on the Star Wars action. Even TV guide, who, as you might guess, typically only dabbles in things related to television, ran a cover story on the Phantom Menace.
Scott Donaton, a writer for the magazine Advertising Age, put it this way: “The hype, the build-up, the manipulation [was] all too much. When I turned down tickets to the New York premiere of Phantom Menace you would’ve thought I had declined a private audience with the Pope! People literally gasped when I told them. “How could you...?” they sputtered incredulously.” He continues to describe the hype and publicity that preceded Episode One as a “buzzkreig,” or a blitzkrieg of buzz, and one that ultimately hurt the brand. When you pay for marketing, you get to control the message, but in the case of Star Wars the hype got so out of control that neither George Lucas, or anyone for that matter, could contain it. “In the case of Star Wars,” Scott adds, “the tidal wave of hype grew so large it had to crash. Expectations were so high that when the movie turned out to be, well, a movie, [fans] came away disappointed.”
The hype was a serious force to be reckoned with when it came to the launch of George Lucas’ second trilogy. Only this time his series opener didn’t do so well. In fact, it was received horribly. It was so bad that in my extensive research I was hard pressed to find any review that didn’t bemoan the prequels at least a little (Susan Stark for the Detroit News was, however, overly positive in her review: “Phantom is fantastic: Menace lives up to its hype as a visually stunning, engaging Star Wars prequel,”). It wasn’t just the critics though. Millions of Star Wars all fans all over the world soon had a bitter taste in their mouth in regards to the new movies, and towards George Lucas in general. Indeed, the film tugged on every Star Wars nerds heart string and inspired many spirited and geeky debates as to whether Lucas’ new film had, in fact, ruined our childhoods.
Why everyone hates the Prequels. It’s actually not uncommon for a sequel or a prequel to be received poorly. This could be because sequels are never as “good,” as the original, but there may be some other factors influencing it as well. I mean, outside of the 1974 sequel to The Godfather, can you think of any sequel or prequel that critics have liked more than the original? I couldn’t, and there are some good reasons why. In 2001, Todd Berliner wrote in the Journal of Film and Video about this very subject. He said “the almost inescapable failure of sequels results from the fact that, at the same time a sequel [or prequel] calls to mind the charismatic original, it also recalls its absence, fostering a futile, nostalgic desire to re-experience the original aesthetic moment as though it had never happened.” In other words, if you were to re-watch Luke blow up the Death Star in Star Wars Episode Four you would be taken back to the same feelings you had when you first watched that climactic moment. Second viewings of a movie restore the original film to us, in some cases leading to an increased feeling of amoration as we notice new details and insights. When you watch Episode One, however, you are similarly reminded of your initial pleasure with Luke and the Death Star, but also reminded of its absence. As Todd puts it, “sequels, by contrast... continually and conspicuously fail to reinvoke that initial pleasure.” Is it possible that one of the things we hate so much about the prequels is the fact that it reminds us of the originals? Yes, it is.
A similar phenomenon to this is something that I like to call “Nostalgia Goggles.” As you may be able to guess from the name of the syndrome, it is my way of describing the natural human tendency to feel a devotion to a certain thing and dislike further iterations of of the same thing. For example, when I bought my Xbox several years ago one of the first games I played was called The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. Hopefully some of you have heard of it. Regardless, I loved that game like I had never loved a game before. While I will vehemently defend the merits of that game (and many will agree with me), for a lot of people out there it wasn’t very much fun. Subsequent iterations of the game, however, have drawn in a much wider appeal and been even more successful (Oblivion and Skyrim, maybe you know them?). I’ve tried the newer iterations of the game, and they are certainly enjoyable. The graphics are better, that’s for sure. But guess what? I like Morrowind a whole lot more and there is nothing that will ever change that. This is because of my nostalgia goggles. Now apply that analogy to Star Wars. For millions of Star Wars fans the original trilogy marked a new chapter in their life, the start of an obsession and in some cases, a radical change for good. Then, add on to that the countless number of times each fan watched, studied and dreamt about the original trilogy and you’ve already got yourself some pretty thick nostalgia goggles. No matter how “good,” the Phantom Menace and subsequent films were, for many fans, they could never have been good enough.
If we are all being honest to ourselves, Star Wars: Episode One never really had a chance to receive a fair critical review. Let’s take a look at everything the Phantom Menace, and the other prequels, had stacked against them coming out of the gate:
- Nothing could live up to so much hype
- Sequels remind us of the original, but also remind us that they aren’t the original
- Nothing could likely ever beat the original trilogy that we had all watched and studied for years
These weren’t the only things plotting the prequels demise before they ever even aired, but they are the major points. One could say that the prequels were destined to be poorly received.
Why everyone really hates the prequels. The aforementioned reasons are certainly evidence as to why the prequels may have received more negative attention than they deserve, but the truth is that many people vehemently and venomously hate the prequels. I once attended a prequels marathon one weekend and posted to a few different social media outlets that I had enjoyed the experience. Care to guess how my posts were received? Here are some quotes:
“Burn in hell.”
“You should edit this post to read “Hey guys! I have horrible taste!”
“Are you mental?”
“You can go F*** yourself.”
“Nah they were Sh**.”
“Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. You and all your opinions are wrong.”
“You can’t polish dog****.”
“Then you can go die with Jar Jar.”
That’s not to say that all the comments were bad or vulgar, but a vast majority of them were.
This isn’t isolated to my experience either. Bryan Young, prolific Star Wars writer and podcaster, has written several articles in defense of the prequels. In one of his articles he also ponders the reason so many people take it upon themselves to lower the reputation of the Star Wars prequels. He even quotes a man that states “I would rather pour snow-cone syrup all over my body, knock over a giant fire ant hill and lay down on the ground than have to watch this movie again.” Somehow, I don’t believe him.
Now, as far as I know, everyone is entitled to like and dislike anything they want. This is especially true for movies (or so I thought). If I want to like a movie that you think is “bad,” why should it have any effect on you? Well, I did an experiment. I took another film well known for being bad (Mortal Kombat: Annihilation), and posted a similar comment to social media after watching it. If you can believe it, I didn’t get a single negative comment, and a few people even had nice things to say (though the comment total was much lower). It seems we judge Star Wars by a very different standard. Now I don’t care what you believe about the prequel movies or the Mortal Kombat movies, the vicious hate people have for the prequels is uncalled for. Back to the Future II and III score similar to the Star Wars prequels on metacritic. You may not care for critic’s reviews, but no one is going on a tear about those movies. The Jurassic park sequels are the same. Even the Hobbit (prequels to the Lord of the Ring series) don’t score much above the Star Wars prequels, and yet no one feels “betrayed,” by those films. My point is this: People don’t hate the Star Wars prequels because they are bad movies. Fans take the Star Wars prequels personally.
The big question is then, why do people fiercely hate the prequel trilogy so much? Essentially, I believe it comes down to two reasons. The first is response bias. Response Bias (or more accurately “socially desirable response bias”) is defined by Miami University as the phenomenon where people respond in such a way that is accepted as socially normal or as is expected of them. This response bias can not just inform a decision, but also an opinion. For example, someone who liked or disliked a particular book might forego their opinion in favor of what’s expected of them, or in favor of the opinions of those around them. This particular response is most commonly seen among spouses. If one spouse really dislikes Harry Potter, for example, the odds that the other spouse does as well, rise significantly.
Keep that in mind as we think back to the critical backlash that the prequel trilogy received. If one person, a critic, a friend, or just someone you trust, started to tear into one of the prequel films, even if you enjoyed them, would you not join in on the fun? It’s always fun to hate things, of course you’d join in! You’d probably join in until you wholeheartedly agreed with them, because, why not? We as a society love hating things. It somehow vindicates and validates us. Just think for a second about the sheer amount of time and energy that goes into hating Justin Bieber. It doesn’t matter how bad of a person he may actually be, the hate towards him, or any other celebrity, is ridiculous. But we do it, and we like it. It’s the same reason you are still friends on Facebook with that one person you can’t stand. They only post the most insufferable political nonsense and reading their posts infuriates you, and yet you love hating them. Katie J.M. Baker of Jezebel calls it “hate-reading.” I call it hate-loving. We like to hate. Thus when the Phantom Menace was released to disappointing reviews, it was only natural to join the sea of slandering tongues and regurgitate the prequel’s faults and shortcomings. It was sort of like a downward spiral of hatred, or an ever-expanding, swirling vortex of anger, all towards George Lucas and the prequels.
At any rate, it didn’t take long before irreparable damage had been done. Even those who hadn’t seen Episode One were predisposed to hate it. The same goes for Episode Two and Three. Let me illustrate this point using a metaphor. Have you ever given a specific food to a child that you know they have never tried before, but as soon as they see it they say they don't like it? “You can’t know you won’t like it until you try it,” you’ll say. But what happens when you force that child to eat it? They hate it. Even if in reality, they might like it. That's Star Wars. Even if someone might have actually liked the movies, they had made up their mind before ever seeing them that they were going to hate them, and thus it was.
The internet, especially YouTube, only made the issue worse, as it was the perfect sacrificial altar to slaughter and offer up anything and everything “wrong,” with the prequels. Many of you have probably watched Plinkett's reviews of the prequels or the "What if Star Wars were good?" movie series. They are very popular videos on YouTube, though I’m not a fan. I understand why people like them. They're (for the most part) well produced movies and they rip apart the prequels. Like I mentioned above, everyone likes ripping apart the prequels. Despite the thousands of likes these videos have received, however, I feel that they are largely just baseless opinions. Go ahead; go watch Plinkett’s review of Star Wars on YouTube right now. You’ll be surprised at how many of his complaints are simply “blank sucks,” or “blank is stupid,” without any supporting evidence.
Okay let’s take a break. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that I maybe (just maybe) have made a couple of good points, but so far nothing I’ve said really applies to you. You, my distinguished reader, dislike the prequels for valid reasons. You weren’t predisposed to dislike it and you gave it a fair shot, but it’s just a bad, awful movie. Right? Is that what you’re thinking? Well I have two things to say to you. First, continue reading. Second, “you can’t know you won’t like it until you try it.”
PREQUEL TRILOGY MISCONCEPTIONS
Let’s dive into some of the actual complaints that are levied against the Star Wars prequels. There are only a few majors issues (vomited on the internet over and over again) and so I should be able to address them all.
Jar Jar Binks and Anakin. Earlier I brought up Justin Bieber and all the hate that is drummed up against him. As crazy as it may sound, there is probably more hate felt in regards to Jar Jar Binks. First I should start off by saying that I like Jar Jar Binks. Don’t mistake me, he’s annoying, but also important. Bryan Young, who I mentioned earlier, wrote an excellent article in defense of Jar Jar Binks where he illustrated the value to including a Jar Jar Binks-like character in the Star Wars universe (and it’s not because Episode One is a kids movie).
Jar Jar Binks, as Young explains, is supposed to be obnoxious. He’s not just annoying to us viewers, however, even the characters in the story can’t stand to be around him. In fact, for most of the film Jar Jar is demoralized by almost everyone else on screen. Despite this however, as Young illustrates, Jar Jar is intricate to bringing two nations of people together to ultimately save the day. There is an important lesson to be learned from this. Similar themes to this one can be found in the original trilogy through the often-more-annoying antics of C-3P0 (though for whatever reason no one seems to complain about C-3P0).
As for Anakin I have to ask if Jake Lloyd’s acting can really be considered bad? As Bryan Young points out, “at the end of the day, saying that you didn’t like Jay Lloyd’s acting isn’t much of an argument.” Young continues, “have you met an 8-year-old? That’s EXACTLY how they act.” While no child is the same, I know that my niece, who is about that old, does certainly share some similarities with little Annie. Everything from the seemingly obvious questions that would all-too-obviously set up a perfect movie exposition (yes, this is a reference to Anakin’s question about Midichlorians) to verbalizing everything they do, even when no one’s listening. Sure, I realize that some of the lines from Episode One are indeed pretty bad, but I have found them to be both inconsequential and few in number. But go ahead, why don’t you smash on your keyboard a couple of times and remind me of a couple of those particularly bad lines that you are so fond of repeating.
Anyway. In Episode Two we are introduced to a much older Anakin played by Hayden Christensen. As is the typical complaint, Anakin is simply too whiny. Ignoring the fact that Luke was also incredibly whiny, I actually don’t see this as a problem. First of all, Anakin shouldn’t be expected to be incredibly mature and second of all, most of Anakin’s complaints are about Obi Wan. This actually makes sense because Anakin spends almost all of his time with Obi Wan. I spent two years working as a missionary and during that time I frequently had to spend weeks at a time living constantly with another missionary. It didn’t matter who the missionary was, before long I had a list a mile long of all the things he did that bothered me. I imagine Anakin had a lot to complain about and almost no one to complain to. Would it be far-fetched to suggest that when you were younger you also complained regularly about the people you were forced to spend time with? Keep that in mind before you jump to judgement.
Padme and Anakin. A lot of people have a problem with the love story between Padme and Anakin. I won’t go into much detail about this because I believe it is more a matter of personal opinion, but I think the love story is plenty believable. It’s not hard for someone to believe that Romeo fell in love with Juliet at first sight, but somehow people can’t seem to get over Padme and Anakin’s cheesy lines (which aren’t that cheesy). It helps if you place yourself in their situation and think of how they are feeling. How would you act if your personal feelings and your personal code disagreed? I’m the first to admit that Han Solo and Princess Leia had better chemistry, but Anakin and Padme’s acting is not bad.
There, I said it. It’s not bad acting. Just because Anakin is creepy or awkward doesn’t mean that it’s bad acting. Is it possible that his character was supposed to be that way? I mean, the guys been a slave most of his life, and a Jedi for the rest. You think he’s had much social interaction with the opposite sex? I think it would have made far less sense to see an Anakin played by a Han-Solo type actor. Not to mention, do you remember when Anakin pretends to get hurt by the Shaaks and plays a prank on Padme? I think that was smooth (despite what you say Mr. Plinkett).
What is the plot? Yet another thing you’ll hear people complain about over and over again is that the plot is either too difficult to understand or just plain stupid. This one makes me laugh actually because neither argument holds weight for any of the prequel movies. First of all, the plot in EVERY movie is clearly stated in the opening crawl. Maybe people are too lazy to read?
In Episode One the trade federation sets up a blockade to stop all trade in and out of Naboo. The blockade is just a ruse, however, so the Trade Federation can invade. That’s the plot. The only part of the story that may be difficult to understand is the question: “Why would the Trade Federation want to invade in the first place?” That mystery is actually part of the genius of the first episode, however, because you don’t understand that reason until you realize that Palpatine is a Sith lord. You see, Senator Palpatine needed to become Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. The only way for that to happen was if someone who could sway the vote of the senate with a sincere plea for help (like Queen Amidala) was to suggest a vote of no confidence in Chancellor Valorum. It’s a devious, sinister plan. The beauty of the plan is that at the end of Episode One you are left feeling uneasy because while the Jedi were technically successful in killing Darth Maul, they were completely unsuccessful in stopping Darth Sidious from inching closer to destroying the Jedi.
In Episode Two the plot thickens. Many planets are leaving the republic to follow a political idealist named Count Dooku. With tensions rising, Palpatine tries to persuade the republic to create an army (so he can later use that army to kill all the Jedi--shhh!). Former-Queen Amidala is certain that this a bad idea and thus, in an effort to both quell her voice and prove that there is a need for an army, Palpatine tries to have Amidala killed. The resulting investigation leads to the discovery of the clone army, the discovery of a separatist army and the start of a war. That’s about four sentences. Easy enough to understand? The beauty of this plot, again, is how it shows Palpatine as an evil puppet-master manipulating Jedi and senators alike to orchestrate the rise of his Galactic Empire.
Episode Three is the easiest to understand of the trilogy. We’re at war. Palpatine senses Anakin’s potential and begins to poison his mind all the while laying the trap for his eventual galactic take-over. Spoiler alert, Palpatine wins (for a brief moment anyway). Am I missing something, or are these plots very simple to understand?
The Main Character(s)? Another misconception about the Star Wars prequels is that they lack a main character! Not only is there no main character, but the characters are frequently ridiculed for having little-to-no depth, and being totally unrelatable. Boy I could not disagree more!
Let’s start with the main character. While an argument could be made that Anakin is the main character of the prequels, I would disagree. I think that Anakin is the main character if you look at the Star Wars movies as a whole (Episodes 1 - 6), but not the main character of the prequels. Just as Luke was the hero of the Original Trilogy, I believe that Obi Wan is the main character of the prequels. There are holes in my logic, but hear me out:
Episode One shows Obi Wan transition from learner to teacher as he has to defeat a great evil in Darth Maul. Similar to how Luke later loses Obi Wan, Obi Wan loses his wise old master Qui Gon Jinn, and thus must step up and take charge. Obi Wan is later the main driving force in Episode Two while Anakin and Padme are falling in love. Almost every plot development revolves around Obi Wan, in fact. Obi Wan’s story climaxes in Episode Three when he has to fight to the death against someone he sees as family. This is an interesting parallel to Darth Vader and Luke’s final confrontation in the series last installment. Now of course there are long portions of the Star Wars story in which Obi Wan is not present, but not only is that consistent with the storytelling from the original trilogy, but it also adds to Obi Wan’s character development. Imagine, for example, that your beloved mentor left you alone to watch a ship while he goes off on an adventure. You probably wanted to go with him, but he asked you to stay. While waiting on the ship your mentor tells you about his day and casually mentions that he may have found a new apprentice (to replace you!). I don’t know if I’d take that with a smile on my face, and that may explain why Obi Wan refers to Anakin unwittingly as a “pathetic life form,”. While this explanation does get a little muddy when you look more closely at Episode Three (which features Anakin more heavily than Obi Wan), I think it still stands.
At any rate, let’s move on. In my research for this article, I made sure to watch Mr. Plinkett’s prequel reviews in their entirety. One of Mr. Plinkett’s most compelling and frequently used arguments is that he doesn’t care about any characters and that the characters have no depth. He even runs a fun little experiment where he asks several people to describe certain characters from the Star Wars universe to someone who has never seen the movies. Only they must do so without describing what the characters look like and without saying what their job or role was in the films. When asked to describe Han Solo, these volunteers easily rattled off a number of buzzwords like “scoundrel,” or “rogue,” or “dashing.” This isn’t surprising considering that they’ve likely watched the original trilogy many times and because Han Solo has become a pop culture icon himself. When those same people, however, were asked to describe Qui Gon Jinn, they couldn’t come up with a single word beyond “stoic.” The same results occurred when Mr. Plinkett asked them to describe Queen Amidala.
As I’ve already alluded to, this experiment was incredibly flawed. Not only are there more movies showing the character development of original trilogy characters like Han Solo, but Han Solo has been an icon in pop culture since the early 80’s. Add to that fact that the people in the experiment probably had only seen Episode One once compared to watching the original trilogy several times and you’ve got yourself an experiment that tells you almost nothing! Regardless, I thought I’d do Mr. Plinkett’s experiment myself (only in reverse). I’m going to list some attributes of Star Wars characters from the prequels, and I want to see if you can guess who I’m referring to.
First, I’m thinking of a stylish woman who is a political idealist. She’s very rational, but not afraid to follow her gut instinct on occasion and even give in to her passion. That’s Padme Amidala. Next, I’m thinking of a man who is a master builder and a skilled pilot. He’s very confident in himself, bordering cocky. He whines a lot, but you get the feeling that he respects authority. More than anything, he wants to protect those he loves. I’m describing Anakin. Finally, I’m thinking of a master manipulator. He’s cunning and smart, but worst of all he is disarmingly kind. He seems frail but is actually very spry. Palpatine. Hmm. Didn’t seem too difficult to me.
The Little Stuff. There are countless other complaints living on the internet that I like to call “the little stuff.” Some people claim that CGI Overload ruins the Star Wars epic. Some people complain that the explanation of midichlorians destroys the mysticism of the force. Some people can’t get over the final “No!” that Darth Vader screams at the end of Episode Three. To these people I have one thing to say: Calm down.
I don’t see how the amount of CGI used has any part to play on the story whatsoever. It has no effect for better or for worse. So why not just enjoy the story, and the interesting architecture/scenery/alien in the background? Why do you care that they extended the dance scene in Jabba’s palace? It doesn’t change the story. Why does it matter that they added extra creatures in random scenes? And does it really ruin your childhood if Han Solo didn’t shoot first!? Some people will say yes, and I doubt I will ever understand why. Another complaint I’ll never comprehend is the one about the CGI fight scenes that “ruin,” Yoda’s character. If not jumping around, then how did they expect him to fight? Regardless, the CGI hate is, as I see it, pointless. CGI even has some very valid uses. Did you know that in all of Christopher Lee’s fights they used CGI to recreate his arms? Apparently he wasn’t very easy to choreograph.
As for midichlorians, I have to repeat myself. How does adding them to Star Wars change anything? People cry that midichlorians “demystified,” the Force. Uh, what? Someone’s force potential is somehow tied to strange organisms living in their blood. Awesome. I still have no idea how the force works.
As for the other stuff, like when Darth Vader screams “No!” at the end of Episode Three, or when Anakin yells “Yipee!” in Episode One, just plug your ears. It lasts a few seconds and if you can’t enjoy Star Wars because of a few seconds than that is your problem, not the prequels.
The Prequels aren’t perfect. I do want to clarify that I don’t think the prequel movies are perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I do think that mistakes were made. It’s a movie, mistakes are always made. The original trilogy also had mistakes. I personally think that the costuming choice for ewoks in Episode Six was a mistake. They should have looked more fierce.
In terms of the prequels however, I feel there are some unfortunate oversights. For example, Boba Fett’s story was changed. Boba Fett had a pretty cool back story written about him before Episode Two was released, and while the whole “unaltered clone,” thing isn’t particularly bad, his old story was much better. Furthermore, I think the additions they made to R2-D2 were over the top. Since R2 didn’t have any of those fancy things in the later movies (like rocket boosters), I’m sad to see that he had them in the prequels. Also, I think they could have brainstormed a better way for Padme to die at the end of Episode Three. She died of an emotionally broken (but physically functioning) heart? There was probably a better solution. No movie is perfect, but I’m not here to dwell on the prequels faults, but rather its successes.
WHAT THE PREQUELS DID RIGHT
Despite what you may believe, the prequels did some things really well. Some things were done so well, in fact, that they are better than their original trilogy counterpart. In a recent article by Star Wars Insider Magazine, there was even a list of “50 Reasons To Love the Star Wars Prequels.” Let me tell you though, there’s a lot more than 50 reasons to love the prequels.
Palpatine the Puppet Master. The Emperor is pretty cool in Episode Six. You get a sense that he is evil and very powerful. In the prequels, however, you really get to see that power. As I’ve alluded to earlier in my paper, you get to see Palpatine in action. You see him manipulate and deceive and totally out-play the Jedi order. It’s awesome! On top of that, we get to see him pull out his lightsabers and fight. The prequels did Palpatine right.
Politics in Star Wars? This is something I’ve already talked a bit about, but the politics in Star Wars is another thing the prequels did well. In the original trilogy you get a sense of a galaxy being oppressed by an evil empire, but in the prequels, you actually get to see that galaxy. You see the hundreds of different sentient races and you get to catch a glimpse at how society could operate in a galaxy nothing like our own. Furthermore, a lot of the problems that happen in the senate mirror problems that occur in the real world. That’s pretty cool.
Parallels Between Anakin and Luke. After you watched Anakin’s fall to the dark side, Episode Six really takes on new meaning. The parallels between the two are fantastic and we have the prequels to thank for that. I mean, think about it, they both grew up on Tatooine and had no idea of their eventual destiny. Both were whiny. Both were mentored in the ways of the force and both flirted with the dark side. Both were presented with the option of love/friendship or duty and both chose love/friendship (Luke going to Cloud City, Anakin marrying Padme). Finally, both of them had to make the critical decision of joining the Emperor in order to save the ones they loved (Anakin believed the Emperor’s power could save Padme, Luke thought the Emperor would save his friends if he joined). The only difference is that Luke chose wisely when he said: “I’ll never turn to the dark side.”
Music, design and more! The prequels have a lot to offer. The music is fantastic, as it is in the original trilogy. Beyond that, however, the movies are seriously beautiful to look at. I mean, you’ve got to give them credit, they created entire worlds with striking architecture, incredible landscapes and even entire species. To me, that’s impressive. Take away the story completely, and I’d still be interested in watching the Gungans and the Droid army fight. I’d still be interested in seeing vehicles fly around Coruscant, and I’d still be interested in listening to some classic John Williams.
On top of that, however, the prequels provide fans with something that originals lacked (in my opinion): Lightsaber duels. Don’t get me wrong, the lightsaber fights between Luke and Darth Vader were intense, but they can’t hold a candle to some of the fights we see in the prequels. The space battles, the pod racing, and more are gems brought to us by modern technology.
THE HATE HAS TO STOP
My arguments have almost come to an end, but I have one last thing that must be said: Give the prequel movies a chance. It would be so easy for you to continue hating the prequels, to ignore everything I’ve said (half of it’s probably hearsay anyways) and go on thinking that George Lucas ruined Star Wars... But that would be a mistake. There truly is a wealth of value and enjoyment to be had in the prequel movies. Can there ever be too much Star Wars?
Forget the bias. Step one. This is your homework: You need to let go. You need to forget everything you know about the prequels and watch them again. Watch Episode One and seriously think about the plot line. Think about Palpatine, and his role. Put yourself in young Anakin’s shoes and think about how he must be feeling. Laugh at Jar Jar Binks even if you don’t think it’s funny. Watch Anakin and Padme’s love story from Episode Two. Maybe even quote some lines they use to your significant other and see if they appreciate it. Ignore the fact that it’s computer generated and enjoy the incredible scenes of different worlds and outer space. Let your imagination go wild.
Do it again. You’ve watched the original trilogy how many times? If you really want to give the prequels a chance, you have to be willing to watch them more than once. There’s always something to enjoy in any of the films, whether it be intense lightsaber battles, pod racing or some seriously cool force lightning. Don’t give up, even if you feel like your biases are making Star Wars hard to watch. Be patient.
Wait. Finally, I want to make you a promise. If you honestly give the prequel movies a chance and earnestly watch them more than once, only looking for the good in them, you’ll find it.
I started writing this article ten months ago. It’s taken me a long time and a lot of thought has gone into presenting my case. I set out to prove that there was just as much good in the Star Wars Prequel trilogy as there was in the Original Trilogy. After countless hours of research, I stand by my thesis. I know that the Prequels will never be as popular and I know that most people who read this probably won’t change their mind (you stubborn fool), but I also know this: More Star Wars is on its way, and it’s those people who hate the prequels now who will have the hardest time accepting the new movies. As for me, I’ve already made up my mind: The 2015 release of Star Wars is amazing.
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