I Love The Star Wars Prequels! Argue With The Carbonite Chamber!
Can't die on this hill if I have the high ground.
A long time ago, I asked one simple question that would unlock an entire, new universe for me . . .
"Dad, can you take me to see Spirit?"
That was Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. I was in love with horses as a young girl, up until about middle school when manga happened. My father and I used to have bi-weekly movie outings together, just us two as the bigger movie fans of our family. And, this being the year 2002, nobody gave a damn if you showed up three hours early to your showing so that you could watch two (maybe three) other movies beforehand. The Crown Theatre (before it became the Cobb) in Hialeah was our movie place. You could grab some Burger King before hand, stuff it in your bag, and enjoy some whoppers and fries while whatever ads they had played.
I don't remember which weekend, but one of those lovely weekends we were spoiled for choice. Dad of course wanted to take me to see Spirit, but he also really wanted to check out Undercover Brother. I'd seen the commercials for it and believed it would be funny to see as well, so we decided we would watch both. Now, because movie hopping wasn't a huge deal then like it was now, your movie times could end up being a few hours apart, which was where my big break happened. I'm pretty sure we saw Undercover Brother first . . . and then there wasn't a lot of time in between that one and Spirit, maybe- hour? Maybe a few minutes more. But! While we waited . . . I just happened to look around and spotted a familiar name.
Star Wars: Episode II- Attack of The Clones. The scrolling red-orange font on that black digital screen piqued my interest. I remembered a boy named Eugene who, in kindergarten, had dressed up as Queen of Naboo- that striking white face paint and red lips, the gold headdress were quite striking to see on that bashfully grinning boy (wouldn't be decades later before my parents pointed out how unusual that was, but I thought his mother was just loving and supportive). I hadn't seen the first- what I thought was the first movie- Episode I, but I remembered all the commercials for it because it looked explosive and fun. The grinning devilish look of Darth Maul is iconic to this day! And to see those people (I would later identify them as Jedi or Sith) twirling thin lights like batons was entrancing to a kid you know? Without much thought I tugged my dad towards the movie entrance and said, "Oh let's watch this one."
We got into that movie just as Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Padme had been caught and placed in that coliseum. All I could figure out at the time is that the tall blonde with the unfortunate haircut, the bearded dude, and Natalie Portman were important characters. And Count Dooku was spooky. Not a bad place to begin my affection for Star Wars, honestly, getting to watch Mace Windu and the clone troopers blast through enemies, the Jedi master with his iconic purple lightsaber being a force of his own. Dooku vs. Obi-Wan and Anakin was incredible, and watching that little green guy flip and jump was cool.
You know, it . . . it wasn't love at first sight. Spirit would take over my mind later, but . . . the seed was planted that day.
When Attack of the Clones came on TV a while later, I loved the whole thing. Anakin and Obi-Wans exasperating but caring relationship, Yoda's funny little wisdom talks- rolling my eyes at Padme's and Anakin's love affair, which I would later credit to there being little to no chemistry between the two- it made me intrigued for Revenge of the Sith, which I would catch on TV a few years later.
The Beginning of A Beautiful Fan-ship . . .
To this day!! Revenge of the Sith is one of my top three Star Wars films!
Dear God, Anakin was so emo in this movie, it was pure indulgence to my burgeoning adolescence. The near operatic melodrama of the breaking connections (the breaking windows!), Anakin's hair, yo- I knew some shit was going to be weird when I saw they got rid of Obi-Wan's mullet!
Ugh, watching Palpatine twist poor Anakin's mind was so frustrating because that kid spent so long fighting for some semblance of freedom! Thinking that he would be free when the Jedi had taken him under their wing but finding a new set of restraints in their "pacifist" ways?! Fighting against his fierce heart-driven instincts even though it was him being such a way that kept the Force clear and strong for him?! Then having his mind slowly poisoned by Palpatine, the one who offered him solace when his own Order of brothers and sisters regarded him as half-feral, and eventually ending up once more a slave to that man and the Dark side?! Bro my chest.
I spent all my adolescence, and a decent few years into my adulthood, without ever coming into contact with the "Star Wars fandom." What innocent, halcyon days those were. And, then I found out about the . . . seemingly Nickelback-like derision attributed to the prequels. So, let's list some of the most common criticisms of Episodes 1-3.
"The Prequels Suck BECAUSE-"
- The Dialogue!!
Most common one I hear? The dialogue. Oh, they wail, the dialogue was terrible, so awkward and wah, wah wah. What's the one everybody hates so much? Oh, I think it's--
"I hate sand. It's course and rough and irritating, and it gets all over. Not like here. Here everything is soft and smooth." What the fuck is so terrible about that?! It does get everywhere! He's awkwardly flirting as best as his emotionally stunted self knows how! You're gonna tell me that's any better than:
"And so the lion fell in love with the lamb." Puh-lease. Or what about this from the original three:
"It is the name of your true self. You've only forgotten. I know there is good in you. The Emperor hasn't driven it from you fully. That is why you couldn't destroy me."
That shit was as clunky to write as it was to hear roll out of Luke's mouth, kudos to Mark Hamill's skills that it didn't sound so corny until the fourth watch. Going back to that scene now it's like listening to the 4Kid's English dubbing of a kid's anime, that scene where the villain is lording over his middle school opponents. But I don't hold that one line out of a handful of clunky lines against the original trilogy, now do I?
Seriously. Look, all I'm saying is that there has been worse dialogue. There will be worse dialogue. Continuing to harass the whole prequels off of some awkward turns of phrase just seems useless to me. Not one we've also been given some shining jewels from those same movies. You're gonna tell me Jar Jar Binks' insidious crime of speaking, scrubs away the beauty of lines like,
"Compassion, which I would identify as unconditional love, is essential to a Jedi's life. So you might say, that we are encouraged to love."
"You underestimate my power." A timeless meme.
Please, gentle people of the court . . . the prequel dialogue is, perhaps . . . rough. But it's not enough to whine about. Especially not when the original trilogy wasn't masterclasses in writing either- no Shakespearian quotation to be found there, I promise you.
2. Too Much CGI!
Understandable, I prefer more practical effects over effusive use of CGI. It's a criticism I make with a lot of horror movies, when the genre in general gets its real magic from real effects as opposed to animated tricks. But I can also understand that Lucas, who wished to do so much with his original films, got a little software happy with all this amazing technology at his disposal and just wanted to play with it a bit. Another director, it could be argued, would have taken a more cautious approach by using the technology with a weary eye.
But you don't make a Space Opera because you're cautious OR modest.
Looking back the CGI isn't magnificent quality, yeah. But back in 2002, only that madman James Cameron had anywhere close to an idea for how far CGI could go, and so nobody was expecting Avatar levels of quality, and you're damn lucky to have had what you did at that time. How could you look at the skylines of Coruscant or Naboo and scoff at it? Now don't get me wrong, the CGI re-rendering of Jabba the Hutt and other characters in the remastered versions of the original did annoy me, but if you can look at the bigger picture- i.e. the whole damn movie- and not get to stuck on little things like that, then honestly it all worked well for its time. Yes, I am confused on why the CGI in Episode II was worse than the CGI of Jurassic Park (a movie that came out eight years prior), but whatever! It was still fun! I liked it a lot. I liked that CGI gave me the pod races, and the speeders, the lightsabers and all the rest. That's all I was asking for.
3. Anakin and Padme Had No Chemistry!!
You . . .
You're right, and you should say it. Ewan and Hayden had better chemistry than he and Natalie, and . . . no, yeah. Yeah, it . . . it sucked. Whole Anakin and Padme "romance" thing was ick. You just cannot manufacture chemistry between two incompatible people. Or an adequate amount of suspension of disbelief for that pairing. Even with the Star Wars Clone Wars show further explaining it, I'm like . . . "No I just do not see it."
But, whatever, it needed to happen for the original trilogy points, and plot convenience, and . . . just whatever.
I think Hayden Christensen played a great Anakin Skywalker otherwise. This traumatized former slave child who was, as far as I'm aware, was never given a sort of counseling or therapy to overcome that painful part of his past and was instead expected to remain neutral and calm as much as possible regardless of anything. This kid who was already at a disadvantage for coming into Jedi training so late and never received the full backing of the Council, who was not only very aware of that but made aware of it multiple times by multiple people despite his prodigious skill, and who never felt fully supported by his peers. Emotionally stunted, repressed, socially awkward, and trying hard to fit in. Which I think was expressed very well by the actor, that mix of youthful charm but awkwardness, lonely on top of all that!
The Prequels ARE Great, Because-
They opened up an amazing series to a new generation, and with those new sets of eyes came the refreshing questions and revitalizing headcanons; the cosplaying, the fanfiction, the comics- the stuff that brings fresh blood and new life into a franchise! The prequels added onto the original series by creating a world of not just light vs dark, but things like political intrigue and complicated relationships that add shades of grey. It created a more rounded, more thought provoking universe.
So what if the dialogue got clunky sometimes, some of the best blockbusters of the past two decades suffered from some embarrassing phrases. And so what if the CGI was a little too much in some scenes. We got incredible background into some of the most famous characters of the saga- the one and only Darth Vader, aka Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Boba Fett, and the villain himself- Palpatine.
Hell, I'd cherish any movie that gave me "Duel of Fates". And Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi?! A casting so inspired, that now Obi-Wan is getting his own show coming soon to Disney+! You've got to understand . . . without the prequels, we wouldn't have half of the amazing stories we do now.
Without the prequels and their audacious steps into canon lore, we wouldn't have The Clone Wars animated series, Rebels, or-
We would never have gotten The Mandalorian. If not for the prequels sparking our curiosity into how everything came to be, we wouldn't have gotten Rogue One, a travesty to even think about! That's my favorite Star Wars movie! Without the renewed interest in Star Wars, we would have never gotten the final three films, which- you know, everyone's got their own opinions on them, this isn't the article to talk about them . . . but I'll always be grateful for getting Finn and Poe Dameron from those movies. And the Porgs, God, they're so cute. The prequels brought Star Wars back into current mainstream pop culture, and it's stayed here ever since.
So show the prequels some damn respect. And may The Force be with you.