Published on July 27th, 2013 | by Craig Silliphant


10 Things the Star Wars Prequels Got Right

First things first: I have as many problems with the Star Wars prequel trilogy as anyone else.  In fact, maybe more when you consider that I actually hate Jake ‘Mannequin Skywalker’ Lloyd’s performance more than I dislike Jar Jar Binks, and that’s saying a lot.  However, the films do improve as you move through the trilogy, even when there is a lot that’s downright unwatchable.  We’ve all read countless articles about what the trilogy did wrong, but in light of bringing J.J. Abrams on to direct a new trilogy, I thought we should examine what they got right.  What things are there for Abrams to build on?

Here are 10 Things the Star Wars Prequels Got Right:

1)   The look of the universe, including the technology.  Making movies with a bigger budget and more CGI technology meant that Lucas could have fun with the look of things, yet he was tasked with also making it look like it was further back in time than the original trilogy, which of course, has that 70s sci-fi look to it.  I remember reading an interview about Star Trek: Enterprise, which took place 100 years before Kirk and the original series [TOS].  When Enterprise was being made, they realized that we now have cell phones that are smaller than the (futuristic in the 60s) communicators used on TOS.  So the production designers had to take that into account, and they did a great job.  The lucky thing for Lucas is that the original trilogy takes place in a time of decay — the Empire has taken its toll, and even the ships the rebels use are old ships they’re keeping in the air with space duct tape.  So it stands to reason that the prequels could let er’ rip with a bombastic look, because they take place in a more prosperous time.  And the opening space battle in Revenge of the Sith is one of the coolest space battles in movie history.

2)   Lightsaber fights.  While it makes Luke and Vader look a bit lazy, seeing Jedis have some crazy battles, utilizing the force to the point of acrobatics, was thrilling.  Even Yoda, which could have been really silly, was fun (though I prefer the more organic-looking muppet Yoda to the CGI version).  They got better as they went too — the Darth Maul fight was a little boring because they lost the fun of a conversational swordfight.  You know, you fight for a few seconds, you taunt the other guy, you fight some more.  But by the last movie, there was more charisma to the battles.  Also, Darth’s Maul’s double-sided saber was beyond badass (and I heard the marketing department almost kyboshed it, until it came across Lucas’ desk and he signed off the design).  Oh, and one more thing under Lightsabers and Jedi: Samuel L. Jackson.  You just know that Mace Windu has a Bad Motherfucker wallet under his robe.

3)   The Music.  Well, it’s pretty much the same music, and how can you beat John Williams’ score?  The new music that Williams added brought a new dimension to this bigger universe, with Duel of the Fates being an electrifying track.

4)   Ewan McGregor.  Filling the boots of Sir Alec Guinness is no easy feat, and they choose an actor that did a bang up job.

5)   R2-D2 and C3-PO.  While this is a battle for the fate of good and evil in the universe, with knights and princesses, on a simpler level, it really is the story of two droids.  Star Wars was partially based on Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress, where a clan general escorts a princess to safety, but the story is largely told through the eyes of the peasants, Tahei and Matashichi, the inspirations for R2 and Threepio.  They are the common people for us to identify with against a backdrop of universal intrigue — our connection point as an audience.  For the most part, it was great they could bring back characters like the Boba Fett and Yoda (though who knew he had fought alongside Chewbacca before?), but having the droids at the heart of the story was key (even if Obi-wan wouldn’t remember the little droid that saved his ass countless times).

6)   And speaking of bringing sexy back, how about The Fetts?  While normally I’ll argue that sequels and prequels can suck the mystery out of cool characters like Hannibal Lector or Wolverine, it was actually pretty cool to see the back story to Boba Fett and his ‘father’ Jango.  More than that, it was cool to see that Mandalorian armor back in action against the Jedi.

7)   The birth of Luke and Leia.  When they first announced this trilogy, we all knew that would be the final moments, and it ties the stories together beautifully.  Though, the witness protection program was pretty shitty in The Republic.  If you want to hide a young Luke Skywalker, you might want to change his name, and not send him to live with his uncle Owen Skywalker on the same farm where Vader’s mother once lived.

8)   Anakin turning into Vader.  While I don’t love how some of this played out, the first time I saw the trilogy, it struck me that we were seeing the origin of our Gods.  I grew up with the vague story about a young pilot named Skywalker that was seduced and destroyed by a dark Jedi named Vader, and watching it play out rang out through my childhood, leaving me with adult awe.

9)   Obi-wan and Anakin’s falling out.  There was a lot of shitty, cheesy writing in the movies, primarily Anakin and Padme’s love story.  But the themes of brotherhood lost contained in Kenobi and Skywalker’s story, and their final conflict, were amazing.  I still get shivers down my spine when Obi-wan screams at Vader, “you were my brother Anakin!”  And it makes watching their conflict in A New Hope on the Death Star all the sweeter, adding a layer of context and sadness in Guinness’ Kenobi.

10)  The Clone Wars and Clone Troopers.  Most of the battle scenes were hella cool, and witnessing The Clone Wars that we’d previously only heard Kenobi describe to Luke was aces.  Order 66 was a great plot point that works in the movie itself, but also in the sense of the larger story and how Palpatine was able to so fully turn the tables on The Republic.  That being said, like Michael Keaton’s clones of clones in Multiplicity get dumber, so must have the Stormtroopers, or they started staffing those jobs with regular joes — because unlike Clone Troopers, Stormtroopers can’t hit the broad side of a Star Destroyer.

Did we miss anything you thought was cool?  Or do you hate something we mentioned?  Should we just bury this trilogy on a lost planet somewhere, or is there some redemption to be found?  Hopefully Abrams takes most of his inspiration from A New Hope and Empire anyway…

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About the Author

is a D-level celebrity with delusions of grandeur. A writer, critic, creative director, editor, broadcaster, and occasional filmmaker, his thoughts have appeared on radio, television, in print, and on the web. He is a juror on the Polaris Music Prize and the Juno Awards. He loves Saskatoon. He has horrible night terrors and apocalyptic dreams.

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