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Jul 25, 2007

Pro & Con - the Star Wars prequels

For whatever reason, I own all of the Star Wars prequels on DVD. Additionally, I turn into a paraplegic whenever one of them pops up on HBO, as I find myself unable to change the channel.

Why this is, I don't know. The fact of the matter is, I don't particularly like any of the movies, and most of the time, I detest them. In an effort to be timely and current with the pop culture trends of the day, I thought maybe if I balanced out the pros and cons in my head (read: here), then maybe I would be able to make up my mind on them once and for all (not likely). Let's go in order:

Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Pro: Darth Maul. One of the better characters from all six movies. He has everything a 13-year old boy (or a 30-year old man) wants from his movie villains. He talks with a raspy voice (albeit, a dubbed one), has horns on his head, and is painted black and red. Oh, and the double-sided lightsaber doesn't hurt, either.

Con: The death of Darth Maul. What a waste of one of the better characters from all six movies. Instead, later episodes gave us the oh-so-memorable AARP-eligible Count Dooku and the HMO-eligible General Grievous. Lame.

Pro: Natalie Portman, actress. Playing dual roles, Portman gets to play a strong female role model. She also gets to wear some goofy clothes. A good role well done.

Con: Yoda, non-Muppetized. Sometimes (often in this series), technology is a bad thing.

Pro: It's an origin tale, for chrissakes! They're almost always the most interesting.

Con: The fact that the origin tale is split into three and filled with garbage (say, the pod racing subplot, for example).

Pro: For this go-around, Lucas decided to get some fine actors involved. Liam Neeson, Sam Jackson, Ewan McGregor, Terrence Stamp and Pernilla August all bring some class and depth to their roles and the film (some more than others). Dominic West (The Wire) and Keira Knightley even have bit parts. Well done.

Con: Jar Jar. Naturally.

Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Pro: Jango Fett. How could any Star Wars fans not geek out over the sight of Jango. His son Boba is one of the more beloved characters from the original trilogy - even while having no more than 5 lines total.

Con: Gaffes caused by the Jango/Clone troopers storyline. C'mon - we're supposed to go back to the originals and pretend that the storm troopers all have the same voice/body? Gimme a break.

Con: Dooku. Christopher Lee may be an accomplished actor, but the believability here was negligible at best. The man was 80 when the film was released. I have an easier time believing that a 400-year old green midget can fly than believing that an arthritis-ridden octogenarian can best two Jedis under 30.

Con: "I don't like sand. It's coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything is soft and smooth." Jake Lloyd could have written better dialogue.

Pro: Anakin getting revenge on some sand people. This was the Anakin/Darth we were waiting to see. Unfortunately, a mini-Con must be handed out here as well, as Lucas wussed out and cut away from this scene, as he did with the murder of the young Jedis in the third installment. Does that make me evil? C'mon - it's character building!

Con: Natalie Portman, Frogger. Watching Padme shuffle about through an industrial maze felt like something the folks over at EA dreamed up. This may in fact be a "Pro" due to its comedic value.

Pro: Dooku's kite/parachute/spaceship. Too ridiculous to hate.

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Pro: Wookies. However forced the inclusion of Chewbacca and his ilk felt, it's hard not to enjoy seeing 8-foot tall hairballs fighting.

Con: Palpatine's transformation/electrocution. I can just picture George and the gang trying to figure out how to explain how the Emperor went from having a normal face to a Play-Doh face. Again, this has comedic value, so some points are rewarded.

Con: Again with the continuity. Yeah, I get that the movies were made 20 years apart. However, someone might have mentioned that to the filmmakers. It was great watching the "universe" go from uber-high tech in Phantom Menace to somewhat-low tech by the time the original film rolled around. A bonus Con for the devolving fighting styles and Jedi abilities as well. Funny how killing most of them off led to crappy training for Luke. He might have beaten his dad in Empire had he known how to do flips and 30-foot leaps.

Pro: "It's over Anakin, I have the high ground." Remember this when watching any fight scene from any movie from now on. Should one person ever get the "high ground," you too will know it's over.

Pro: The "you were the chosen one" speech. Literally intense and chilling for true fans.


I'm sure that given the desire and time, I could come up with 40 more Pros and Cons for each film. In the end, though, it's all too exhausting and really - what's the point? These movies were made to sell toys, not inspire any kind of dissection or intense analysis. So I'm left to continue fighting with myself whenever I see them. Nostalgia tells me that they're not that bad, that it's fun to see this or that (like the E.T.s in Episode I or the Millenium Falcon in Episode II), but common sense and adulthood tell me that these are pieces of crap. I think my being in limbo with these films is, as the Emperor might say, my destiny.

Got more Pros and Cons? I know you do - let's hear 'em.


19 people have chosen wisely: on "Pro & Con - the Star Wars prequels"

Frank the Tank said...

The picture you used of Count Dooku is from a scene in Episode III, not Episode II.

Fletch said...

True. I was just looking for a good picture of an 80 year old man. You can't be too particular about these things.

frank the tank said...

"Can't be too particular about these things"??? Have you ever met a sci-fi geek??? Their entire lives are based around being particular about these things?

Wampaone said...

All Prequels
Pro - Obi-Wan, in all three, both acting and the situations that were written for him. Just great stuff.
Con - Jake Lloyd and then Heyden Christensen. Just not good enough.

TPM
Pro - the first 10 minutes
Con - most of the movie, except the inevitable cool parts here and there.

AOTC
Pro - The nod to 50/60´s sci-fi movies. From filming, to camera angles, the arena plot, villains etc.
Con - you mentioned this somewhow, but just the Amidala part, the entire factory scene was expendable
Con - Obi-Wan chases Boba Fett to location 1 of the separatist movement...hello Sherlock?!?! Major blunder by Lucas.

ROTS
Pro - The Mustafar lava lake duel is just what we were promised and told. Points to Lucas for not tinkering with that.
Con - More lame dialogue between Anakin and Padme
Con - Anakin´s jealousy/suspicion towards Obi-Wan and Amidala removed from the film (not the book). Makes for a less believable fall to the dark side/Padme strangling scene.

As you said it Fletch, I could go on with those, but I still like AOTC and ROTS very very much, even more than ROTJ, at least, most of the time... :mrgreen: TPM, without Jar Jar, could be up there too. Way to fuck that one GL.

There´s just one more thing on high tech low tech worlds on Star Wars. The techology is almost the same, depends on the location...see Bespin/Naboo or Tattoine/Tattoine (the same technology). That is true except for the Falcon. There should have been a scene in either TPM or AOTC where someone spotted one (a YT-1300 btw) and mentioned, wow, those new freighters look awsome, or something to that effect.

Fletch, this kind of post can truly make your already cool and somewhat recognized blog make the leap. MTFBWY

Reel Fanatic said...

The bottom line is that these three movies are all crap that Lucas should just be thoroughly ashamed ... I remember all the rejoicing when No. III came out just because it didn't suck quite as hard as the first two prequels!

sasha said...

I like the one where the boy races his spaceship in a canyon.

Fletch said...

Frank - good point. I wasn't even thinking about that when I chose the pic. Oh well.

How did I know you'd love this post, Wampa? ;)

Yea, I forgot a CON for ROTS. Here it is:

Con: Natalie Portman, Crying Baby. Way to go, George - you took what started out as a strong character and turned her into a whining ninny within two films. I wanted to look away every time she was onscreen.

Frank the Tank said...

All three sequels were still better than the two Matrix sequels. My dog has thrown up dead bugs with more entertainment value than Reloaded and Revolutions.

Steve said...

Regarding "your already cool and somewhat recognized blog"

congrats to Fletch and kudos to Wampaone! Great blog, dude.

NFL Adam said...

You nailed it with the de-evolving technology. That bugs me the most. Like the robot army gets beat and they are like, oh yeah, bad idea. No, they would have went back and made the robot army even tougher to defeat. Or something. The Death Star would have been laughable compared to the weapons in Episodes I-III.

Frank the Tank said...

The de-evolving technology also sunk Enterprise. You can't have the first Federation starship look so much cooler than the ones that came 150 years later.

kevin said...

I don't know man it is the hardest debate ever... I want to like these movies. But even now going back and watching the Star Wars movies that I grew up with my nephew, the acting and dialog is pretty rough and I question how well it holds up at times.

Maybe we just loved it so much as kids and have it built up so high in our minds that there was no possible way it could live up to our inflated and flawed expectations?

Fletch said...

I gotta disagree with you, Kevin. Just as the prequels are all over HBO, so is the original series. And, outside of some obvious stuff (Ewoks, most of the crap Lucas added after the fact), the originals hold up incredibly well in my mind. While it won't be confused with Shakespeare, the dialogue is good-great, and the acting is more than solid.

Maybe I'm incapable of being objective, but I don't think so. There's smushy crap here and there ("Who are you?" "Someone who loves you."), but nothing that touches the "coarse sand" bit. It's (no pun intended) light years ahead...

Sara said...

I am a great fan of Star Wars movies. I like the character of Darth Maul; it is one of the best characters. And i like the costume of Darth Maul and the double-sided light saber in his hand which doesn't hurt.

Sebastian Gutierrez said...

I agree with pretty much everything you say here. TPM is unmitigated ass, with some cool stuff here and there! AOTC boasts a really cool, prolonged final action scene, but fucks with the continuity of the universe so much, that I don't care. ROTS still has all the stilted dialogue and bad acting, but, unlike the other two prequels, it has a heart. You mentioned the "you are the chosen one" speech, but I also got chills from the "Anakin, you're breaking my heart" speech. That was real acting, real emotion. Also, like Wampaone said, the final lightsaber duel was AWESOME!

Wendymoon said...

Con: Darth Maul. I'm sorry, but he's not one of the best characters in all six movies. He only looks evil with his red devil face. But within the first bit of A New Hope we saw Darth choking people and throwing them around. That's how you show someone's a bad dude.

Pro: Darth Maul's lightsaber. That two blade thing is pretty cool. Also, the music for Darth Maul. I don't know what those peeps are really saying, but you can sing "Darth Maul, Darth Maul, Darth Maul, Darth Maul, oooh, Darth Maul..." to it repeatedly and that is pretty swell.

Angie said...

Great list. I think Ewan McGregor's involvement is a huuuuge pro.

I think the reason most people weren't big on the prequels is just human nature - we're different people than when we saw the original films, and nothing will ever match them for us.

Whoa, I'm deep.

Fletch said...

Wendy - I have to disagree. Maul is as close to a newer version of Boba Fett as we got with the prequels, and after all, what was so cool about him? It was the mystery, the vibe we got that this dude was capable of just about anything. And he looked pretty sweet, had some awesome moves thanks to Ray Park, and had that lightsaber. Though I didn't the one of the best, I said one of the better. Slight distinction, but one nonetheless.

Angie - thanks. I'd have agreed with in 1998 before the first one came out, and actually probably would hav agreed through the first movie, but even he became wasted and was forced into an Alec Guinness impression for the last two flicks.

I'd like to think that most people - myself included - went in with as open a mind as possible, and we probably enjoyed the first one at the time in spite of ourselves, but upon closer inspection and the release of the latter two prequels, were forced to come to the conclusion that we were better off not getting them in the first place...at least not with Lucas as writer-director.

Aiden - pretty sure you commented here and I accidentally deleted it. Just hit the wrong button - didn't even get a chance to read it. Sorry about that.

SciFiDrive said...

According to the ROTJ novel, Emperor Palaptine's body was decaying due to the nature of the Dark side of the force- it eats you away plus the Emperor smelled bad like rotting flesh. Its the reason why his bodyguards wear masks.

When I heard Lucas was writing each movie script while making the prequel films that was disturbing like your filming the first draft without corrections. I guess he just wanted it done ASAP...