Everybody knows that the original Star Wars Trilogy were three of the greatest movies of all time and it is highly unlikely that any movies will ever meet their high standard. However, George Lucas gave it a shot when he released the Star Wars prequel trilogy (*waits for attack from all the ‘true’ Star Wars fans out there for simply mentioning them*). These movies have caused SO MUCH controversy within the world of Star Wars, with people loving them, people hating them, people hating those that love them and vice versa, it’s crazy! There really are a million different opinions out there about them, but the question I want to ask here is… are they really THAT bad?
Personally, I love these films and I am not afraid to admit it. Although I am pretty sure I watched the original movies first, it is the prequels that remind me of my childhood. I was 3 and a half years old back in 1999 when Episode I: The Phantom Menace was released. I have fond memories of being bought silly merchandise with the faces of Jar Jar (great character by the way) and Darth Maul on them. I remember the excitement I used to feel during the pod race in Episode I, during the Geonosis arena scene in Episode II and how much I used to adore Obi Wan Kenobi. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith was probably one of the first movies I saw in the cinema and I still remember it to this very day. So yes, maybe it is down to my age, but I grew up with the prequels, in my head they are ‘my generation’s’ Star Wars movies, that although perhaps not up to the standard of the original trilogy, I will always thoroughly enjoy watching with a lovely sense of nostalgia. Perhaps this is why the older generation of Star Wars fans seem to hold a certain grudge against these movies. For these fans, the prequels will not have the same sentimental value they do for me and many other Star Wars fans of this generation and therefore will not generate the same reaction, which I suppose is fair enough.
Now, although a contributor, my age is certainly not the only reason I love the Star Wars prequels.
Firstly, as much as many people might want to, we cannot deny that the prequels offer explanations for things that happened in the original trilogy and provides answers for previously unanswered questions. We learn what made Anakin turn to the dark side, we learn how Luke and Leia were separated and we discover a lot more about Obi Wan and why he ended up a hermit on Tatooine. From learning about the story before the days of Luke, Han and Leia, we gain a deeper insight into the Star Wars universe. If you ask me, we connect to the characters on a different level due to the fact we know about their past and what led them to where they are now.
Possibly my favourite thing about the prequels though just has to be Ewan McGregor as Obi Wan Kenobi. I love that we get to see what old Ben was like back in his Jedi days. In my opinion, he does a great job of portraying the younger version of a character we already knew and loved. By showing the brotherly relationship between himself and Anakin, it is made clear why Ben felt so responsible for Luke in A New Hope. Although it is often criticised, I believe that Ewan’s performance was a strong one and that he perfectly portrayed the character, without stepping on the toes of the late Alec Guinness. Of course, McGregor probably could have done the job ten times better if he had been given better direction and dialogue (which I will come on to later) but he did the best with what he had! And at the end of the day, all three prequels are just genuinely entertaining and enjoyable films to watch, which is never a bad thing! Not forgetting that we would never have been introduced to the absolute legend that is Jar Jar Binks, would we? (No, I’m not joking…). Or the badass villain that is Darth Maul, who in my opinion, had nowhere near enough screen time!
Of course we have to talk about the acting, which is often branded atrocious and appalling, which I personally do not agree with. Hayden Christensen is constantly put down for his performance, with many believing that he ruined Star Wars and refusing to watch the films in which he appears. This is ridiculous! What words spring to mind when you think of Anakin Skywalker? Creepy? Disturbed? Obsessive and possessive? That’s the damn point!! Anakin is supposed to be a severely troubled and conflicted guy, hence why he ends up turning to the dark side and becoming Darth Vader! He lived his childhood as a slave, was taken from his Mother very young and then watched years later as she died in his arms, he hardly had it easy! The lad quite clearly had issues and this was reflected in Hayden’s portrayal of him. If you ask me, his acting was just what was needed to bring Darth Vader’s twisted past to life. Admittedly, his performance in Episode II: Attack of the Clones could have been of a higher quality, but again, one of the main reasons is George Lucas’ ludicrous dialogue. He definitely stepped up his game in Episode III though, where I think he did a bloody good job! In Episode II, Anakin is feeling massively conflicted due to his feelings for Padmé, which are forbidden as a Jedi. Of course, the death of his Mother tips him over the edge completely, sending him into total emotional turmoil.
We cannot deny that George Lucas’ script writing and directing could use some polishing in the prequels. It is quite baffling that some of the lines in these movies were written by the creator of such a wonderful franchise. Remember Anakin’s infamous ‘I don’t like sand’ line? What the hell was that?! It is amusing to hear now, but for all the wrong reasons. It’s a stupid line of dialogue! And the worst thing is, it is not the only one. The only person to blame for this is George Lucas. All the actors in the film did the best they could with the script they had to work with. Although Episode II was my favourite prequel growing up, as I have got older I have noticed how cringe worthy the relationship between Anakin and Padmé is and how bad some of their dialogue is (but that does not stop me from watching it). It still holds a special place in my heart. However, I think Lucas did step up his game in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, which is now by far my favourite of the three movies and definitely the highest quality in terms of both acting and content.
At the end of the day, some people like them, some people do not, we have to accept that. But to answer my own question, no, the prequels really are not that bad, at all! They are actually really good, and I don’t care what anyone says, I will continue to watch them until the day I die! Not only do they take me back to my childhood and remind me where the story began, but they are decent films that I genuinely enjoy watching. If you can have a Star Wars marathon without including the prequels, you are doing it wrong! Hayden Christensen successfully portrays an impulsive, troubled young man who as a result of his issues, is easily manipulated by the evil Palpatine. Ewan McGregor does a great job of bringing to life a young Jedi who had no choice but to take on an apprentice, despite the doubts of the Jedi Council. And Natalie Portman successfully takes on the role of a Queen who gets stuck in and is never just a pretty face! The prequel trio did a bloody good job if you ask me!! Now, I’m going to go and watch The Phantom Menace…