So I saw The Force Awakens recently and it got me thinking about Star Wars in general but specifically the prequels and
Okay, so this may be controversial or debatable as the prequels themselves are but you know what, the prequels aren’t completely terrible and they do have some cool aspects to them, as bad as the acting and plot points are here and there, there is some good among the bad so here are my thoughts.
You can criticise the prequels for a lot and many people already have, many, many times but one thing I do commend them and George Lucas for is trying new things, things that didn’t all work, granted but they were something new and different, not re-hashes of old themes or story arcs from the original trilogy but completely new characters, events etc, like Podracing. And yeah, podracing wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea but I enjoyed it, like the idea of a non-Jedi mercenary like General Grievous knowing how to use a lightsaber, seeing how and why the Empire and Death Star came to be for some better examples. The prequels for better or for worse brought some new ideas to the table and importantly expanded the Star Wars universe so for that, I think the franchise is a bit better off for it.
Energetic and exciting lightsaber duels
Something the original trilogy did lack was some more action, not to decry the near perfect original trilogy of course but it’s something I did always think would be cool to see, simply seeing Jedi go toe to toe with Sith in elaborate fights, the prequels definitely delivered on this and we got some great match ups. The duel of the fates in The Phantom Menace is of course the best example and the best choreographed fight in the entire franchise in my opinion, the fights in the prequels for the most part are exciting and tense affairs and in The Phantom Menace and at the end of Revenge of The Sith at least, they’re really well done.
There’s something a bit magical about Jedi and Sith with near level powers duke it out with laser swords, with the grace and poise of a medieval duel, in a universe where hyperspeed travel, massive space ships and blasters, it’s almost noble to opt to fight that way, if it’s a Sith that’s going around hacking people down then maybe not so much, but you get my point.
Seeing the rise and fall of the Jedi
This is a personal choice but I really liked the Jedis overall arc in the prequels, charting their dominance and power to their decline, leading to the original trilogy, it was a great story and a necessary explanation in terms of why there were so few Jedi (well about 2) in the original trilogy, what happened to this mystical and magical order of space knights, a staple of modern sci-fi. And as it turns out, what happened to the Jedi is a pretty depressing story but it was great to see the Jedi at their height of their powers, with them having their own council and seat in high power in the galactic Republic, though seeing the Jedi sit around and discuss politics may not be the most exciting thing ever, we did get to see a whole bunch of them wage war for the Republic in Episode II, so there’s that.
Saying this almost feels like a cheat as all Star Wars films have some great music but hey, the prequels do also have great music, it’s atmospheric, grandiose at times and has a weighty, epic feel to it in some of the films, with the theme for the Phantom Menace in particular being just fantastic, fitting perfectly and adding a great sense of tone to certain scenes. The themes for Episode II and III may not be as memorable but they’re still good and again fitting for the films, if the prequels are remembered by almost everyone as being bad, the music from them at least is a plus.