There is no getting away from the fact that I’m a massive Star Wars fan. For every purposely chosen fact or titbit that the master of withholding information, JJ Abrams, releases about the upcoming The Force Awakens, my excitement grows tenfold. I’m invested in the new canon whether it’s the animated TV shows, the comics or the wide array of rapidly released novels. As you may well agree, the original trilogy contains some of the best characters, scenes, locations and visuals ever put to film; but there is a dark truth to my love of Star Wars. Something that would cause the biggest of original trilogy fans to spit in my face. Thankfully I’m saying this over the Internet so I don’t have to worry about such things so here goes: I really like the prequels.
Let’s get this clear first: the original trilogy is better. It just is, but I grew up with the prequels. They were the toys I bought and played with; they were the ones I begged my parents to see at the cinema (although I didn’t see any at the big screen). They were the ones that made me fall in love with Star Wars. Some of the dialogue is abysmal, as is some of the acting, and sure some of my liking of the prequels is down to nostalgia but there are genuinely some very good things to be found within so let’s take a look.
It’s an obvious one so I’ll get it out of the way first for It’s a common thing when people are critiquing ‘bad’ movies to say “the film was poor apart from an exceptional soundtrack from such and such composer”. The epic John Williams score that transcended into the forefront of pop culture in the original trilogy continues into the prequels adding just about every emotion to scenes throughout the prequels as well as the awe and wonder of the incredible things onscreen. Dual of the Fates is one of the best pieces of music in all of Star Wars let alone the prequels. Disney, the current owners of Lucasfilm and therefore Star Wars, know how good the music is and the emotion it stirs too and that’s why it was used in the first TV spot, or adverts as us Brits call them, for The Force Awakens released on the Korean Star Wars YouTube channel.
The World Building/ Wider Mythology
The original trilogy gave us hints at what events shaped the Star Wars Universe to the form it was in A New Hope, such as a mention of The Clone Wars, but the prequels gave us the answers to these questions and so many more. The prequels gave the Star Wars canon the term ‘Sith’, hundreds of new, diverse planets and species and enough lore to make the Star Wars mythology the best ever created. Unlike many I enjoyed seeing the politics of the Star Wars universe before the empire and found the political manoeuvrings of Palpatine to be just as interesting as the depiction of the clone wars. The prequels gave us so much more information on this fascinating galaxy than the originals ever did and seeing a fully fledged Jedi order and Republic is something all fans should be thankful for.
Mace Windu, Darth Maul, Qui-Gon Jinn and Count Dooku are just some of the great Star Wars characters spawned from the prequels and the saga wouldn’t be the same without them. Say what you want about George Lucas but he is a creative genius. He spouts out more classic character names than anyone in the industry. He creates the back stories and the looks of all the different characters and races, all of which are interesting and tie into the narrative without it becoming overly convoluted. While the original trilogy had all of the characters fit a fantasy/fairytale archetype, the prequels expand the world to allow for more interesting and daring characters without ever threatening to dismantle the style of characters fans met decades before.
The Lightsaber Fights
Gone were the days of slow lightsaber fights like the one from Episode 4, the prequels upped the fight choreography massively. The Darth Maul fight at the end of The Phantom Menace may just be the best in the series, competing only the throne room dual at the end of Return of the Jedi. Episode 2’s fight with all the Jedi against the droids in the arena is mind-blowing stuff for a kid and still pretty cool to this day. That’s what we wanted to see from these prequels given the fact the Jedi are not yet dead. Even as a prequel fan/apologist I don’t like the Yoda fight with Count Dooku but the fight with Sidious in Episode 3 feels a bit more real, maybe it’s the better CGI or the fact we were used to a back flipping, somersaulting 900 year old Yoda. I’ll even admit that the Anakin/Obi-Wan fight goes on a bit too long and contains a few too many unnecessary spins but, in a way, it’s what the entire saga had been leading up to and it was amazing to witness. It seems that the new trilogy and spin-off films will continue this kind of high octane lightsaber duel with the announcement of casting a couple of people from the amazing Indonesian action film The Raid and I couldn’t be happier.
A lot of flak is sent the way of the prequels for the over use of CGI but the for the most part the effects still look stunning. They don’t have the same gritty, realistic feel of the originals but the prequels were never meant to. It takes place with the Republic ruling the galaxy and in a time of prosperity, not under the evil rule of the Empire where everything the rebels use is supposed to be old and grimy. It’s a time of decadence and the CGI shows that. The prequel trilogy is also subjected to abuse for being shot digitally and while both episodes 2 and 3 were, The Phantom Menace was actually shot on film. The special effects allow for some awesome scenes such as the Revenge of the Sith opening space battle which, while not as charming as those found in the original trilogy, still looks fantastic today.
The Revenge of the Sith
Unarguably it’s the best of the prequels because the set up is finally over and we get all the big pay offs. Anakin becomes Vader, the Empire is created and Luke and Leia are born. It also seems that George Lucas got back his mastery of film making, RotS is the best directed and best written of the prequels. Seriously, the dialogue is pretty good such as Padme’s line when the Empire is formed: “So this is how liberty dies… with thunderous applause”. It’s a long way from the “Yippee” of The Phantom Menace. The scene with Anakin killing the children is a bit silly, particularly with Obi-Wan constantly calling them “Younglings”, but it’s a fast way of showing how far Anakin has fallen to the dark side. The General Grievous subplot could of easily have been eliminated, the film is overlong, but even with a couple of negatives there are some days when I think that I prefer Revenge of the Sith to Return of the Jedi, and that’s saying something.
What do you think? Are you a prequel fan or do you absolutely hate everything about them? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter @kylebrrtt. Please like and subscribe and check out the other blogs on the site. See ya next week