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Why the Star Wars Prequels Are Actually Good (Part 1)

Star Wars, episodes one, two, and three. The prequels. Oh man. I mean, every joke that could be made about them has already been made, right? At this point, all you have to do is say “Star Wars prequels” to get a smirk out of most people.

But what would you say if I offered up the view that, really, the prequels weren’t so bad? And what would you say if I volunteered the idea that, actually, they were completely equal to the original three Star Wars movies? Well, I know what you’d say. You’d probably come around to my house and blow up my mail box with a shotgun, that’s what. Fortunately, I don’t have a mail box outside my house, so we can talk about the matter a little further…



The complaints against the Star Wars prequels – The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith for those of you just coming out of a bomb shelter and having no idea what I’m talking about – are numerous. Sometimes, they’re cynical and sardonic and funny. Sometimes, they’re honestly angry and hurt and offended. Sometimes, they’re just dismissive. A few times, I’ve heard some rationalizations. I’d like to offer a defense of the prequels. And I hope you’ll bear with me.

All the varied complaints come down to this: they aren’t as good as the original ones. That’s the core of the problem in so many ways, and that’s where we’ll start.

Things Ain’t Like They Was Back In Them Days

When the original Star Wars movies came out, they were a pretty big deal. They were things that the world had never quite seen before. It wasn’t that they were necessarily the first movies to use the sort of technology and graphics that they used…it was that they were the first movies to apply these technologies functionally. That is to say, the technologies in the original trilogy served the movies and the progression, rather than running away with the film. (A fatal example of this can be seen in the first Star Trek movie which is, leave us face it, “Captain Kirk & Co. Watch Windows Screensavers”). In Star Wars, the ships zoomed, the lightsabers crackled and flashed, the robots moved and talked and were terribly good fun. Stations exploded. It looked damn pretty.

It seems like such a dumb thing to say, but before the Star Wars movies came around, it was a world that existed without Star Wars. Obviously, right? It’s easy to forget, in that we’ve spent quite a lot of years living in a post-Star Wars world, and in that world, a lot has changed. One might argue that the measure of great art is not necessarily the internal literary merits of the piece, but the affect it has on the rest of the world and the time that follows; it is not necessarily the beauty of the stone, but how big a boulder it is and how much it diverts the stream. Star Wars was a pretty good-sized chunk of rock.

And as the world moved on, Star Wars only built. Not because more movies were made, but because generations that had seen it grew up with visions of X-Wings and TIE Fighters dancing in their heads. If you were eleven years old when Star Wars came out, then you had picked a pretty astonishing time to be eleven years old. No matter your age, if these movies worked for you, then everything they contained grew and expanded in your mind. The AT-AT Walkers, big as a movie screen, took up residence in the back of your head and soon they were hundreds of feet tall, lumbering with great thudding steps across a vast and frigid Hoth, all of it existing only in the imagination. In the places were super-heroes soar, there are creatures under the bed too terrible to imagine, and true love conquers all. The deep places, the places where mythologies are born and grow into great and amazing things. The place of true stories, if you like.

And then, a whole bunch of years later, hell, it seems like a lifetime and a whole world later…there are new Star Wars movies coming. A new trilogy of them, set before the original ones. And they’re going to be bigger and flashier and more action-packed. You are going to see Jedi Knights striding the galaxy, and great armies, and the Clone Wars. You are going to see the fall of Anikan Skywalker and the rise of Darth Vader. You are going to see all of the background to those original movies, and it’s going to play out using the amazing effects and terrific movie-making feats of today!

So what happens?

What happens is that the new movies, the prequels, are no longer competing to be as-good-as (or better-than) the original trilogy. No, what they are now competing with are those towering and impossibly-scaled images and moments filling up the back of your head, in a hyper-kinetic drawer of your imagination hastily labeled Star Wars. It’s a powerful spot in your mind, and it has perhaps made you turn on a flashlight in a dark room and go Vrrrum, Wummm, vrummm. The new movies are competing against that place: not against other films, but against a golden idol.

And of course they don’t measure up.

The odds are stacked against them. They are coming into a world that is post-Star Wars. Before, nothing like this had ever been seen before! But now? Well, we saw that, years back. It isn’t jaw-dropping now. And somehow, it’s all only movie-screen-sized.

To put it another way…it’s the same thing as coming back to the town you grew up in and moved away from. You come back with your wife and kids, and you take them to see the towering haunted house on the corner, surrounded by fortress walls of dark and knotted trees, the house the more fearsome thing ever, and everyone knew someone had died in there and never been taken away…and then you go there, all grown up, and find that actually, it’s just a tatty older house, not that big, with one overgrown oak tree in the yard. And a nice old lady out front, calling for her cat. Put still another way: it’s going back to your childhood house and wondering why everything seems to have gotten shorter now.

Therefore, one must examine the prequels and the original movies entirely separate from the golden idol in one’s mind. And that is not to say that you should tear down the Star Wars idol that lives in your mind. You shouldn’t empty the drawer and light the contents on fire. Far from it. But you should merely examine for a little bit.

Let’s look closer at the prequels themselves.

I Like What You’ve Done With The Place

If we take the prequel movies and break them down into their components, we actually find more to like about them than to dislike.

  • The environments: In the prequel Star Wars movies, building atop the originals in this regard, and wholly unlike quite a lot of science fiction film work in the past few decades, there was a wealth of beautiful, unique, and well-thought-out environments. And I’m not just talking about beautiful set-pieces, such as any of the locations for the lightsaber duels. What I’m talking about is the widely-varied planets which we visit. Look how very different Naboo is from Geonosis. Look how amazing Courascant is, and furthermore, look at all the different areas of Courascant which we get to see (from the upper levels of the Senate, to the Jedi Temple, to the lower reaches where Dex’s diner is, to the far-out desolate areas were Dooku and Sidious meet). Compare Kashyyk to Tatooine. And on all of those planets, we see variations of weather and landscapes. This is uncommon. And is an amazing attention to detail. The planets are all logical and work well with the races that live on them.
  • The sound effects: it’s not exactly a surprise, when you’ve got the full power of not only Skywalker Sound but THX as well, but if you go through the prequel movies and really pay attention to all of the sound effects, the variety and depth is astonishing. And sometimes, it’s the most astonishing thing in the scene. Consider the fascinating sounds that the creatures made, in the arena, in the second prequel. Consider the sound of Jango Fett’s pistols, that strange hollow-tube sound. Or, my personal favorite (and how many movies do you have personal-favorite sound effects in?) that really astonishing sound you get when those seismic charges explode in the asteroid field. The moment of absolute silence, and then the guitar-overdrive-like noise.
  • The alien species: Even just on the Jedi Council, there is a huge diversity of looks to the aliens. And more than was ever possible in the original trilogy, we see a huge range of alien creatures that go far, far beyond the typical science fiction joke of all the aliens just having styrofoam on their foreheads. Alien species diversity was always an amazing hallmark of the Star Wars movies, and it only expanded and grew more impressive in the prequel trilogy. It is a well-populated galaxy. And all of the alien races act in different fashions. Moreover, they rarely speak the same languages (and if they do, they speak in broken dialects, rather than perfect English).
  • The soundtrack: I consider this completely different from the above-mentioned sound effects, and of course you do too. As famous as THX is, John Williams is a whole other level of amazing. Any movie theme that you can whistle, he probably wrote. Star Wars, Indiana Jones, E.T., Superman, Harry Potter, thank you, good night. The man is astonishing. And if you sit down and listen to the prequel soundtracks, they are gorgeous pieces of music that take all the greatness of the original trilogy’s breathtaking music and build atop it. Duel of the Fates, from the first prequel, is awe-inspiring music, even without a movie playing along with it. In the second prequel, the haunting and fragile Across the Stars was another one that was just a gorgeous piece of work. But the whole soundtracks were amazing. And subtle. There were so many places where John Williams quietly played something that was close to, but not exactly like, Darth Vader’s theme. Or the Imperial March. Subtle little touches for you to notice. And then, in the second prequel, when we see the full clone army boarding ships at the very end and the Imperial March plays (in a new rendition, no less), it is still spine-tingling.
  • The fight scenes: I think that anyone who grew up post-Star-Wars probably lined up his toy soldiers at some point and decided that instead of little green united states army men, they were actually stormtroopers. Big fight scenes sprawl out in the back of my mind, certainly, from the original Star Wars movies. And mostly, they didn’t exist. I enjoyed them no end, in the prequels. In the second and third prequels, we saw some fantastic fight scenes. The huge battle between the Droid Army and the Clone Army, in the second prequel…well, it was beautiful. Big and epic and violent and it was, in some ways, leading us to awe-inspiring scenes in other films, like the fight scenes in the Lord of the Rings movies, all of the subsequent copy-catters we got after that.
  • The graphics: Although I can see some of the argument, on this point, about how the prequels were too computer generated…I would pointed out, humbly, that they merely take full advantage of the technology of their time. Just as the original Star Wars movies did. And if even those effects weren’t as pervasive in the original Star Wars films, I would argue that those films had something which the prequels did not: budget constraints. Lucasfilm was not yet printing money. And since we’re talking graphics, I suppose I should deal with one big point people brought up about the wretchedness of the prequels, which was Jar Jar Binks. And in reply, I say only: Ewoks. All right?

In the next article, I want to either apologize for, or defend, some of the actual lousy points of the prequels. Because I figure if I’m going to dig myself a hole, it may as well be the full six feet down. (And probably have a stone up top with the words Star Wars Apologist etched into it.)

About Peter Damien (33 Articles)
Peter Damien is a busy writer who lives in Minnesota because he just really likes frigid temperatures and mosquitoes. He lives in the crawl-spaces between heaps of books and can be seen scurrying out at dusk to search for food and ALL the TEA. His wife and two boys haven't figured out how to get him out of the house, so they put up with him. He as astonishing hair.

28 Comments on Why the Star Wars Prequels Are Actually Good (Part 1)

  1. OK Mr. Tzinski,

     

    I’m going to withold judgment on this until part II, but you should know, I was nine in 1977…

    I’ll just stay here gnashing my teeth and flexing my zyfoid process. And I have an extra-large zyfoid process…

  2. Clinton Ausmus // March 9, 2009 at 4:01 pm //

    I agree 100 percent with this post.  I can’t wait to read the next one.

    From the subtle tones of the Darth Vader theme, a point I actually had to point out to a friend that saw it with me.  To the fact that the technology seemed more advanced in the prequals, an issue of the movies that bothered me until I went back and watched the original trilogy and remembered how strapped for cash and mobile the rebellion had to be to survive.  Not to mention the choke hold the empire had on the entire galaxy.

    In my opinion the prequels met every demand I had laid out for them except one.  That would be the speed in which the films moved.  I felt that they had to move way to fast to get to the beginning of New Hope.  There is so much more background story to cover between Revenge of the Sith and New Hope; I would have really like them to cover more territory.  I know the authors of the expanded universe have that covered though.  Still I would have loved to see it all on screen.

  3. Matte Lozenge // March 9, 2009 at 5:07 pm //

    All of the prequels suck. They suck big time. They suck small time. They suck in infinite, recursively looping, transfinite time.

    It’s got nothing to do with the eye candy, sounds, or cool monsters. Not to diminish the hard work and creativity of all the SFX teams, but great eye candy is as common as dirt nowadays.

    It’s got everything to do with the traditional craft of storytelling. Suspense, pacing, intrigue. Characters you really care about and root for, or against. Subtlety, ambiguity, intelligence. Clever, inventive dialog, or at least convincing dialog. A sense of wonder and discovery.

    Maybe the first two Star Wars films didn’t have all of that, but they had enough. Enough to make the movies sing. The rest of them don’t sing, they just pontificate, nag and hector. Not fun.

    Eye candy is nice, eye candy can be cool, but it doesn’t make a sense of wonder without a great script. You can get a sense of wonder from a well written story acted out on a bare stage.

  4. The acting was very poor, and that was the major problem and ruined all of the good things you mentioned.

    Also, the story somehow became “racist” because the force is something you have to be born with rather than train for. That was a heinous touch.

    • Daniel Lawless // January 18, 2012 at 6:01 am //

      Acting was poor? Samuel L Jackson, Liam Neeson, Christopher Lee, Ewan Mcgregor, Terence Stamp, Ian McDiarmid. Are you saying these men are poor actors? Because if you are you know 0 about movies or the craft of acting.

      • That’s actually what I see to be one of the big crimes of the prequels. Liam Neeson, Christopher Lee, Ewan McGregor, Terence Stamp, Samuel L. Jackson, Ian McDiarmid, Pernilla August, and Natalie Portman are all talented performers. No question. But they are all pretty bad in these movies and perhaps through no fault of their own. The rest of the cast is beyond bad for the most part, ranging from cringe-worthy to downright obnoxious. I confess Mark Hamil was a bit weak in the first movie (let’s face it, he was a way better Joker), but the rest of the cast was in good to great form.
        My theory is that in addition to it being difficult to act in a sterile green-screen environment, George Lucas has also lost the human touch and forgotten how to direct humans. Or maybe he never had that gift and just got lucky with THX1138, American Graffiti, and A New Hope. A third possible explanation is that they all realized how bad it all was turning out to be, but were stuck under contract and understood that nothing they could do could save it so just go through the motions and prayed for it to be done swiftly.
        All this to say that, yes, these wonderful performers deliver bad to terrible performances in these particular films. There is no excuse for the laziness of human directing and bland scene setups and editing. Even the best actors are sometimes at the mercy of their puppet masters.
        “Death to Videodrome. Long live the new flesh!”

  5. The prequels hopped from one boring political showdown to another, and none of the characters had any charisma so I didn’t care what they were up to. The dialog was about as appealing as a whiny kid chasing a candy fix.

    The scene where they went all Super-Mario leapy jumpy ducky on a conveyor belt through the factory was a particularly low point. Compare this to the tension of the garbage compactor in Star Wars, where you had a Jaws-like underwater menace and the slow creep of certain death in those moving walls.

    I know people defend the prequels, but I’ll happily watch the original trilogy whereas I can’t stomach the more recent movies.

  6. Of course they’re good.   I’m haven’t heard any substantive criticisms of them that couldn’t be applied to any hollywood movie, for better or worse.   They have their weaknesses, but the dersion levelled at them seems to come from bitter geeks who can’t abide any thing other than their own vision, but aren’t making their own movies.   Thanks for defending them.   And by the way, I was 9 in ’77 as well, and enjoy all six movies.  (Jar Jar is a little annoying though).

  7. Happily I’ve lived in the bliss of never having seen a single prequel, and intend to take said bliss to the grave.

  8. Finally, someone defending the Prequels.  Nothing could ever stand up to the mythological monster that is the original trilogy…but I thought they were well thought out, full of action, and fit into the Star Wars mythos very well.

  9. Of course the special effects are better in the prequels for all the reasons you mentioned. What’s worse though is the writing. My specific problem is the mediocre character of Padme. That whole seen where she thought she might lose her job due to her pregnancy? Can you picture Princess Leia saying that?

  10. The real problem with the prequels is that I don’t care about any of the characters.  It’s not just poor writing on the part of George Lucas (ie. “I don’t like sand,” etc.), it’s also the fault of the actors for not objecting to their completely wooden performances.  Throughout the entire trilogy, the only character I could say I felt anything for was Darth Maul, unless you count the hate inspired by Jar Jar.  Ray Park’s scowling was easily the best acting in any of the three films.  Perhaps he’s also more likeable as a character because he speaks so little of the Lucas lingo.

    Here, more or less chronologically, are all the things we don’t (or shouldn’t) care about:

    • Episode I Nobody cares about a robot army that looks like it was designed for a Three Stooges movie, unless we’re watching a Three Stooges movie.  Nobody cares about the Gungans.  Nobody cares about Watto, Sebulba, or Gardulla the Hutt.  Nobody cares about the pathetic Trade Federation.  Nobody cares about a “Gee whiz” kid blowing up a space station.  Nobody cares when Qui-Gon dies like a doofus. 
    • Episode II Nobody cares about Hayden Christensen’s wet dream.  Nobody cares about that CG diner cook… what’s his name?  Nobody cares about Kaminoans because they’re boring set pieces.  Nobody cares about Jango Fett because he’s just a third-rate Boba.  Nobody cares about the clones, not even as potential henchmen.  Nobody cares about Anakin’s mother dying because she could be replaced with a rock and no one would notice.  Nobody cares about Anakin massacring Sand People because… well… they’ve got it coming.  Nobody cares about the Geonosians.  Nobody cares about romance so preposterous that Danielle Steel claws her eyes out.  Nobody cares about Count Dooku because he came out of nowhere.  Nobody cares about Count Dooku because all he does is stand around or run off.  Nobody cares about Samuel L. Jackson because he doesn’t have any cool lines that we can quote over and over again.  Nobody cares about the other Jedi because all they do is wave light sticks around, and maybe die.  Nobody cares about Yoda because he sounds like the Sphinx from Mystery Men, except it isn’t funny.  Nobody cares about Yoda because he looks like a bad CG mogwai got it on with a gremlin.  Nobody cares about Yoda because he’s supposed to be so damn powerful, but he can’t multi-task.  Nobody cares that you did that thing with Anakin’s hand… we saw that once already and it was better the first time.
    • Episode III Nobody cares about General Grievous, although I might have if there was a cool back story (Let’s say he’s what’s left of Darth Maul! They’ve both got yellow eyes! Anybody?).  Nobody cares about General Grievous coughing.  Nobody cares about losing hands anymore, because if anybody else loses a hand we’re starting a drinking game.  Nobody cares about Dooku dying because we didn’t care about him in the first place.  Nobody cares about the Jedi because all they do is die.  Nobody cares when the Emperor turns out to be evil, because there was no internal conflict.  Nobody cares when Padme dies of a “broken heart.”  Nobody cares when Darth Vader laments because it’s silly enough to spawn Spaceballs 2.  Nobody cares about Spaceballs 2 because it would be like shooting fish in a barrel… very, very unfunny fish.

    The only things people care about in the prequels are lightsaber battles, cameos of canon characters, and laughing at the over-cooked robot comedy to keep from crying.  Admittedly, I enjoyed seeing Hayden Christensen get his limbs cut off, but that pleasure is more on the sadistic side.

    The worst crime of the prequels is that their very existence taints the experience of watching the original trilogy.  It doesn’t help that Lucas edited Hayden Christensen into Return of the Jedi.  I will never own that version of the film.  In fact, I’ll likely burn any copy I come across. 

    One day, I imagine that I will show the original, unspecialized trilogy to my children.  I will show it to them, and I will be saddened that I can never show them the origin story of Darth Vader.  I can never share that story with them – in its current form – because it sucks a fat Sith choad.

    If you prefer a more entertaining guide to the suck: http://www.theshiznit.co.uk/feature/why-i-hate-the-star-wars-prequels.php

  11. The key word to the Star Wars prequels would be “disappointing” and the only word someone needs to see to say that they suck.  While all the prequels are good, many will just hold it to the degree of it failing to compare with The Originals which isn’t true.  The prequels showed a great job at expanding that universe far, far away but it’s character depth for some of the main characters wasn’t as what it could’ve been.  It portrayed quite well how much the galaxy was in turmoil before the Empire happened and did quite of wanting people to see how bad those times were in the Clone Wars when it was mentioned in Episode IV.

    The aliens (most of them), scenery, music, and great fight scenes still really can’t compete against the Originals because everything in them (Originals) was near flawless to begin with.  While the prequels were good (and Episode 3 great), they just faltered in a few too many areas to be considered as a awesome trilogy that it’s predesscor was.  The character un-depth for some of the major roles, Jar Jar Binks (isn’t the scum of the earth bad but isn’t good comedic relief), and not as good as it could’ve been dialouge.  Practically every other category Star Wars excelled in, but with it’s too many flaws the prequels can’t be held up to the same standard as the originals but they’re certainly good and it’s still a great story.

  12. I think a lot of the criticism is unfounded. oooh the dialogue is bad. the dialogue is bad in ALL of the films,t hats what makes them good,t hats why they are classics the corniness of the dialogue.

    Imagine if Start Trek was serious and they tried to make the dialogue real, it would be even worse than it is.

    Furthermore, the prequels set up the whole original trilogy, and they are important. The only bad thing about the prequels was Jar Jar and he didnt even bother me that much. There were only two moments in those prequels that made me cringe, but Ive cringed int he originals too.

    People just decide to hate htings that are new because they cant live up to the expectations of the old stuff. They have nostalgia, and it doesnt wear fast.

    I will say I dislike Hayden Christensen being edited into return of the Jedi, but thats my onlu sore point

    I loved the prequels, and I cant stand all the criticism it gets.

  13. In the original trilogy, or any movie for that matter, a film is good for two reasons more than anything else:

    1) The Story (Plot)

    2) The Characters (Character Development)

    The orignials had great stories and great characters that just happened to take place in the galaxy far far away with the special effects, creatures and settings it had. 

  14. Phil has hit the nail on the head, a huge part of the problem with the prequels is that 1) the plots don’t make much sense (if any) 2) I hesitate to use the word characters to describe the talking, walking plot hooks that inhabbit the prequels.

    As for the argument that the Prequels would rule if only the Original trilogy didn’t exist (which is basically what your openning argument boils down to) is just bizzare, whats your next blog going to be? Garbage tastes great, its just that our taste buds have been spoiled by all this tasty food we eat?

    Yes you do have a point that Starwars set a very high bar, but Empire Strikes back managed to equal it and Return wasn’t that far behind (certainly not enough to disappoint). However the prequels completely failed because they tried to hard without aspiring enough, Lucas came at them with the idea of cramming as much cgi and fx on the screen as possible for as much of the movies as possible without any thought to how it would actually look, how it would engage the audience, wether it actually made any sense or not…. Take Yoda as an example of how it went wrong, in Empire he was this little green alien that spoke weirdly and didn’t do much had a certain coolness that still inspires people to imitate, then in the prequels he is this green rubber ball bouncing around with a lightsaber *YAWN*, getting Yoda to fight was a bad idea (imo) but to have him do all this ‘cool’ cgi bouncing and flipping around just looked naff.

    If you compare the openning sequence of Starwars with 1st Leia’s ship going overhead looking like a large ship being attacked by something behind then you see the Star Destroyer start to appear overhead and it keeps coming and coming and coming and then what looks like its end but is actually a bay then more ship and more ship…. when I saw that as a kid I was just flabberghasted trying to work out how big the Star Destroyer was, it blew my mind. It was relatively simple fx done using models and drawn in laser bolts, but it was awesome. Now you could say that I had never seen anything like it before and I agree i hadn’t, but even now that openning scene still blows my mind.

    Now lets look at Revenge of the Sith, we open to a massive space battle, but what do we get to see? What visual tricks are used to blow our minds? How does Lucas try to astound us… We get to see Anakin flying around in a fighter, cool, but then he gets attacked by these shitty little robots that try and cut his fighter up WTF! WHAT? HUH? WHY? Rather than giving us anything to show the scale of the battle we are sucked into a close up pointless fight that distracts us from the big picture, the scene that should be leaving us in awe doesn’t. Nevermind the mind boggling concept of anyone developing such a pathetic pointless weapon, let alone building or trying to use them…. Why not jsut pack each robot with explosives, get it latch on a fighter and go boom…

  15. Devil's Advocate // July 4, 2010 at 5:51 pm //

    I really hate to be the one to destroy you world of the “good Star Wars Prequels”, but you go to http://www.redlettermedia.com/plinkett.html – you watch the reviews of episode 1 and 2 – you learn to hate them as every true Star Wars fan does. And for GOOD REASON.

    I know it seems crazy and it has some really “bad” things in it, that don’t fit in the review (which is intended but you might not get that if you really like the prequels 😉 ), but bare through them anyway and listen to what he has to say. It’s amazing. Totally dashing.

  16. LOVESTARWARSFOREVER!!! // July 28, 2010 at 1:02 pm //

    I really like the Prequels, but the Orginals will always be nuber one and have that special place in my heart. As a kid, Luke Skywalker was my hero, and still is. But I really enjoy the Prequels! Episodes I and II were good, Epiosde III was awesome! I will admit, Jar Jar IS annoying, but you sometimes need comic relief. And the guy above me, Devil’s Advocate, TRUE Star Wars fans like all six movies. Only haters don’t like I, II and III. Remember…. Star Wars IS forever!!!!

  17. The oft-repeated, worn out argument that “nothing could live up to the original trilogy” doesn’t hold water.  Episode I and II are considered bad movies because they ARE bad! 

    It has nothing to do with “unrealistic expectations”.  If they were stand alone movies that had nothing to do with SW, they would still be considered weak… or dismissed as children’s films. 

    It is not the brilliance of the originals or sentimental attachment to them that made people dislike the prequels. It was the prequels themselves. If the they had been something in the nature of Lord of the Rings, they would be as beloved today as the originals.  

     

  18. What?  We don’t need you to tell us why they’re good.  Not only did they suck, they sucked so bad we know why they sucked.  The prequals were total __TRASH__.  The only disagreement I see is that Return of the Jedi wasn’t as good as a new hope or empire.  I belive it was on par with both.

  19. If the Prequels had been made without starwars, empire and jedi then they would have vanished with out trace (actually clones and sith would never even have been made).

  20. For me, the prequel trilogy holds a special place in my heart – being 18 at the time of writing which would make me around the age of 9 when Phantom Menace was released, I was at the age where your brain doesn’t register all the ‘crap’ which is present in EVERY ONE OF THE FILMS. Star Wars isn’t renowned for its amazing acting – the acting is pretty poor in every film; it is remembered for the whole other world it created, a world which you can (and i certainly did) get lost in. Personally I feel that many of the original star wars fans feel cheated by the prequel trilogy – maybe they should consider that Lucas was creating these films not just for you but for a whole other audience? There are some aspects of the prequel trilogy I dislike, mainly Jar Jar and Anakin in Phantom Menace, but – even with phantom menace, which is my least favourite of all six films – in the prequel trilogy the soundtrack quality and the amazing lightsaber fight scenes are totally awesome and more than make up for the ‘crap’. I have watched and enjoyed every star wars film, but i think, due to fight scenes, sounds, settings and the epicness of the prequel trilogy it pips it for me, as a younger viewer. 

  21. Sorry Oli but Lucas did make the prequels with the fans of the originals in mind. Starwars created a HUGE legacy (probably more than any other movie in history) and Lucas was fully aware that any new Starwars film would draw in millions of fans of the orignal movies.

    The story in these films is dire, the acting is uninspired at best, maybe because the scripts were garbage. I am glad you enjoyed these movies as a kid, I loved the original trilogy when I was a kid, none of the flaws I can now see in the movie were visible to me as a child.

    As for the lightsaber fights sorry but they bored me to tears (and to sleep in the ‘great’ show down between Obi and Anakin), they simply lacked the emotional connection to make them memorable, they were just people leaping about waving glowing sticks at each other. Watch any of the lightsaber duels from the original trilogy and there is so much more going on in them than just the leaping and a slashing, particular the fights between Luke and Vader. I would also point out that they were filmed on sets rather than against blue screens and the difference is obvious.

  22. George Lucas and the Star Wars Prequels:

    No-one ever had a better chance to make incredibly great cult-classic movies. The “how Darth Vader became what he was” question had grown for 20 years, and Lucas had 20 years to figure out a good story, and a guarantee of as much money and good people as he’d need to make whatever movies he dreamed up.

    No-one ever made such a bad job of the movie-making opportunity they had.

    No-one ever cared less about what anyone thought, because he knew he’d made a fortune off every single one of the movies no matter what he did, just because it was “Star Wars”.  The first was a must-see, the second also in case it got any better, and the 3rd just in case it got better when the “storyline” got closer to the original.

    No-one ever showed how bad a writer he really is, and how lucky he was ever to succeed.

    That’s what it really comes down to.  They were horrible, because the writing and directing were horrible.  If they weren’t “Star Wars”, they would be some of the stupidest and most worthless movies.  Even the thought of having to watch one makes one reach for a drink, I’d rather watch chess.

    Taken with Indiana Jones 4, one has to say Lucas has simply lost it and should retire.

  23. “Also, the story somehow became “racist” because the force is something you have to be born with rather than train for. That was a heinous touch.”

    I respectfully disagree with that comment. 

    If all it took to become a Jedi, was simply to be trained, then Kenobi and Yoda wouldn’t have gone into exile. Instead they would keep training people to fight the Empire and those people that they had trained, to train others as well. 

    The inclusion of Midi Chlorians was brilliant, but it also seems to be misunderstood by the masses. What separates the Jedi from other sentient beings in the galaxy, is the high concentration of Midi Chlorians in their blood stream. Now, keep in mind that Midi Chlorians are not the Force – they are two seperate things. Midi Chlorians are simply a conduit or a connector to the Force. 

  24. I feel you missed the point. The biggest problem with the star wars prequels isn’t that every scene is so filled with crap that it’s impossible to get a decent picture of what’s happening (although it is A problem). The problem is the distinct lack of plot, character development (or characters of any kind) and general story progression. The story only progresses when people are sitting down and talking. The final scenes in the Phantom Menace all have contradictory tones that don’t capture that audience. The plot isn’t explained and barely makes sense, especially when you add in a bit of logic e.g. “How did they know that?”, “How can they not know that?” and finally who gives a crap about 2 characters who are trying to do a Han Solo and Leia thing but can’t act so they just come across as disliking each other.

    The ultimate fail of the prequels is that George Lucas wrote the scripts in a week, he had complete control so no-one challenged him and he tried to make the new movies like the old ones but with bland, boring characters.

  25. Rob Martin // March 10, 2013 at 3:57 am //

    I am a middle aged scifi fanatic who reads as much hard scifi as I watch mainstream scifi. I am a huge supporter of the prequels and Jar Jar Binks. The backlash against the prequels exists mainly because it became hip to do so back in 1999. Classic generation fans were basically angry that Lucas had kicked over their sandcastle by trying to inject some level of scifi world building and political intrigue not contained at the same level in the classics unless one read the tie-in novels to fill in the gaps. I could go on for pages regarding detailed analysis of why this is but I am sure it has been done elsewhere . Classic Star Wars was groundbreaking for its time so anything coming after it would be considered derivative. At its basic level however is a simplistic fairy tale with as much wooden acting and dialogue as the prequels, Sir Alec Guiness aside, only Harrison Ford has had a successful career while the prequels have produced Natalie Portman, Ewan McGreggor, (Liam Neilson , Samuel Jackson) . Jar Jar became a media punching bag that haters could really dig to find fault with as the scapegoat to launch the hater’s revolution. Jar jar is essentially no sillier than Chewbacca or an Ewok aimed at a children’s toy market. live with it. The prequels work better as a trilogy unto the,selves than the classics. One moment Leia and Luke are kissing then they are brother and sister…lets just wing it while the Dewey eyed world looks on in nostalgia. There are campaign efforts out there for Disney to dump CGI in favor of stop motion puppetry, which while the best that could be done for its time, is no more realistic looking than a current day Gollum or Caesar. Just because we may enjoy the quaintness of a Model T doesn’t mean we all need to drive PT cruisers. Lucas could do no right other than stop after episode 6. His prequels could have been Citizen Kane and the masses would have complained about a cgi rosebud. Take a better look at the prequels. There is a lot more there under the cgi surface than meets the candy eye.

  26. John Evans // September 4, 2013 at 8:23 am //

    I think this is a well written article and to a point I agree with your theory of why the prequel films did not – and could not – live up to expectations. Expectations were extremely high because we grew up with the original films. In many ways the Star Wars universe was our entire childhood fantasy captured perfectly in time and space. It is an untouchable place of possibility and imagination.

    Respectfully, much of what you talked about I do not agree with. Special effects do not make a film better. I think Lucas took things way too far in an effort to create a spectacle that could show off ILM’s incredible talent and computerized possibilities. What he forgot was something he himself said many moons ago. Something to the effect of: “The big mistake almost every science fiction film makes is that they spend so much time creating and environment, that they spend film time on it. What they are doing is showing off the amount of work they’ve generated and it slows the pace of the film down. The movie is not about the effects. It’s about story, characters and plot. A special effect without a story is a pretty boring thing.”

    I was listening to the original film scores and I honestly feel that like the films themselves, they were conceived with more care and emotion than the prequel soundtracks. The entire ESB score is a sweeping piece of music that tells a story and supports the character’s feeling and development through the film. The prequel tracks for the most part are indicative of Lucas’ ADHD approach to the editing and extreme pace of the action sequences. It’s less about melodic leitmotif themes and more about loud abrupt and “exciting” battles. I agree that a few tracks stand out, but none of them compare to stuff John Williams scored for the original movies. When Yoda lifts Luke’s X-wing from the swamp, the orchestral accompaniment communicates Luke’s (and our own) astonishment and ultimately lifts the emotional impact of the scene.

    Maybe we are in a different time and place now with movie making. But I don’t think its for the better. The prequels needed to be dialed back and grounded a bit more. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.

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