Can I just say that I’m am incredibly excited for The Rise of Skywalker? In just a few days, the last film of the current trilogy will be released and Disney, who purchased the franchise from George Lucas lock, stock and barrel will be placing the series in carbonite for an extended period of time. The trailer does make the movie look like a lot of fun, in my opinion.
I’m not a big Star Wars junkie so my anticipation for the film is a bit more on the morbid side. I’m more interested with the hardcore fanbase and how will they react. Because ever since The Last Jedi, Star Wars fandom has, shall we say, pledged their allegiance to the Sith. Maybe they’re the Rebel Alliance. It depends on how you view how Disney has handled Star Wars since taking over. There is one thing for sure, The Rise of Skywalker will be the make or break moment for Star Wars and how the fandom will view the new trilogy.
The Last Jedi has become a catalyst and a hot topic among Star Wars fans. Some enjoyed the film while others hate it with a passion. The latter side hate it so much that they say that the Prequels are leagues better than it. I’m sorry but I would love to take off your rose-tinted glasses and say, with upmost love and respect, the Star Wars Prequels suck.
Look, I was once like you. In fact, for the longest time, the Prequels were kind of “my” Star Wars. These were the movies that were released when I was growing up. The first movie that had the word “Star” and “Wars” together was The Phantom Menace. This was one of the first movies I watched in the theater and I positively loved it.
Then I grew up.
My brother has all the Star Wars movies on DVD (no original version of the Original Trilogy, unfortunately). The Original Trilogy, I do watch it from time to time with my brother because it is a rather fun space soap opera of an evil Empire trying to beat the tiny Rebel Alliance. The Original Trilogy, not so much. Neither my brother or I never felt the impulse to pop them in to watch them. Why should we? Both of us have the belief that they’re not good. Were we wrong, though? After all, there is now a strong contingent of fans who say that the Prequels outshine The Last Jedi in all aspects. Can this be true? So we decided, over the weekend to watch them, starting from The Phantom Menace, taking a break then go see Attack of the Clones and end with Revenge of the Sith.
The goal was to watch it and try not to get our preconceptions influence what we think of the films. We were going to go at it as if we were watching them at the time they came out. However, we weren’t going to judge them as just Star Wars movies. These films aren’t in a vacuum, you know. We were going to judge them as movies. Do they actually work as movies? Do they have engaging stories? Are the characters any interesting? Will I be drawn into the galaxy far, far away? In short, are they actually any good?
I can give a quick overview as to why The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith are bad. The plots are too convoluted, especially for something that’s supposed to be “for kids.” The acting is, as a whole, terrible. The characters are mostly uninteresting. What the characters are spewing from their mouths, the dialogue, is laughable. The biggest issue I have with the Prequels, however, is the strange lack of imagination.
Well, actually, these points are mostly for The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. Revenge of the Sith gets a pass but it’s still not a good movie. It’s the most enjoyable of the three, no question about it but it’s just not an outstanding film.
Anyway, let me go through each point just to elaborate on what I mean. The plots are just too darned full of stuff children shouldn’t care about. What’s with all this talk about trading blockades in Episode I? Am I supposed to be intrigued with the Senate voting for Palpatine to get special powers? As a child who did watch these movies when they came out, I can tell you from personal experience that I did not care for those parts one bit. I just wanted to see more slapstick from Jar Jar Binks. Yes, I was a stupid kid. Then again, weren’t we all?
You also know what I didn’t care for when I was a kid? Acting. I just wanted to see something exciting and bad acting didn’t wreck my immersion one bit. As an adult, however, I do need someone truly emoting like a human being to get engrossed. Some do passable jobs, like Liam Neeson and Ewan MacGregor. You can also tell Ian McDiarmid is relishing in this really hammy role as Palpatine. What’s stunning is the likes of Natalie Portman giving subpar and wooded performances all throughout the Trilogy! I hate to say it but I put the blame squarely on George Lucas here as he’s the man in the director’s chair for all three Prequel films. Praise him all you want for bringing Star Wars to fruition but he’s not a good director. Even looking at the Original Trilogy objectively, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill’s performances improved a lot in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, the films George Lucas didn’t direct.
George Lucas isn’t also a really good screenwriter. I will concede he does have a good imagination and he can write up scenarios and stories like nobody’s business. However, he really shouldn’t be writing dialogue. I still cringe whenever I hear the “I don’t like sand” line from Attack of the Clones. It’s so hard to point to that and make fun of. The weird thing is there are just so many more cringeworthy lines we don’t focus on.
Now we have to get to my main issue with the Prequels and my claim that the films lack imagination. It must be weird for me to say that after I just said that George Lucas does have a wild imagination but a part of me thinks he spent most of it in the Original Trilogy. In the Original Trilogy, every world has a distinct look. It does seem like they are very different planets and, in turn, makes the galaxy feel bigger. The same can’t really be said for the Prequels.
The best example I can think of is the diner scene in Attack of the Clones. It’s something that stuck with me, even as a kid, because of how dumb it looked. Early in the film, Obi-Wan tries to find the who made the poison dart that was used in an attempt on Amidala’s life. Traditional sources comes up empty but the wise Jedi remembers an old friend… who works in a ’60s themed diner, complete with neon signs, bar stools, pastries on the counter and gaudy red booths.
No, seriously. A diner. An Earth diner. In Star Wars. That happened.
As a kid, this really struck me a weird because why would there be a ’60s themed Earth diner in Star Wars? Isn’t this supposed to be set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away? Even the dialog is so far removed from what I would expect in Star Wars! One of the robotic waitresses even asks Obi-Wan if he wants “a cup of joe!” That is just so specific! What are the odd that, on a planet that is thousand of light years away from Earth, would have being that would evolve and create architecture that is uncannily similar to Earth style restaurants! Mind you, the concept of diners wouldn’t even be created on Earth since the events in Star Wars happened a long time ago!
Now, compared that to the Mos Isley cantina. It’s most definitely a biker bar analogue, no doubt about it. You don’t really think about it because of all the fantastical creatures inhabiting the cantina. The overall look also doesn’t scream “dive bar from Earth” since it’s basically a nondescript building. There are no flashing signs to show that the location is even a cantina! Your mind just fills in the blanks.
There are some things that I do like about the Prequels. Oh, I can’t really say anything good about Attack of the Clones. I actually believe it has no redeeming qualities at all. It’s probably the worst Star Wars film if I were to rank them. Like I said, Revenge of the Sith isn’t terrible. It actually has the most emotion in the film. It’s like the actors finally realized what to do with the characters and it only took them 3 movies to do it! I would say I can do without The Phantom Menace but it does have that awesome fight with Darth Maul and the Duel of the Fates song. It would be a shame to not watch it.
To say that The Last Jedi redeems the Prequels, however, just feels dumb. The Prequel movies may have some good ideas behind them but the movies themselves are bad. It’s an overblown emotional reaction to something fans hate when in reality, the Prequels are still bad movies.
Do you think the Prequel films are good or bad? Let me know in the comments section below!