In Defense of Star Wars Prequels

prequelsheadOkay, this is a hard one for me. And not for the reason you’re thinking.

See, I am not part of the Star Wars cult. I was never privy to the indoctrination needed to initiate me into the cackling, oft-quoting brood. In fact, I could write a whole article deriding the evil clutches of this space opera.

I think Star Wars snuggies illustrate my point.

But that would put me on the prosecution’s side, wouldn’t it? And what’s the name of this blog? I’m paid (in pretend money) to… dang.

I have to defend the culture who made this?

I have to defend the culture who made this?

Allow me to explain my disdain if that above picture did not illustrate it well. The original trilogy is not bad. A New Hope is a pleasant outing of light entertainment, Empire Strikes Back is a moody turn for the better and Return of the Jedi is a mediocre turn for the worse. Only one deserves my cynicism.

In fact, if I separate the rabid fanbase, Star Wars becomes (dare I say)… tolerable. Despite my griping, these films reside on the loftiest of pedestals. Just ask any male (and most females) what most affected their childhood and a good number will refer to the Skywalker family. They are beyond widely regarded; they are nigh-holy. One would assume the prequels would be automatically accepted, beloved as much as the originals for sharing a name and creator. George Lucas probably believed the same thing, right before his eyes turned into giant cartoon dollar signs.

The money is strong with this one.

The money is strong with this one.

Alas, how the high and mighty must plummet to earth. Not that he didn’t get what he wanted. Lucas wanted money, and he got all of it. The Star Wars fanbase was lemming despite a world of griping. However, there is another side of this argument.

Let me ask you, proverbial reader: Why is Star Wars so successful? Many answer with something about the plot or the characters, but both of those answers lead to a more concise conclusion. In the end, Star Wars inspires the most romantic parts of our imagination.

George Lucas crafted worlds, conflicts, adventures and battles, all within a universe where the scrappy good guys save the day from obvious evil. Tell me that doesn’t that sound like schoolyard daydreaming. It is genius in its simplicity.

The prequels, on the other hand, made this idealistic world more complex.

We got an antihero, geopolitics and Jedi councils. We saw the rise of an evil empire, and how that empire is founded in our darkest sociology. The good guys weren’t gallant heroes (Han counts, you naysayers). They were conflicted and tortured by the things that defined them. The original trilogy may house a surprising betrayal, but Anakin’s conflict with Obi-Wan has a much wider effect on the universe. In theory, the prequels are darker and grittier. In some ways, “Star Wars” tried to grow up.

If they didn't grow up, every prequel character would have 70's hair.

If they didn’t grow up, every prequel character would have 70’s hair.

Don’t get me wrong, the prequels are terrible films. The blame lies with the tacked-on bits, like character cameos, hammy love stories and plodding political jargon. Those can be attributed to poor moviemaking and a successful Lucas given too much power.

However, the central ideas are far more interesting than the original trilogy. You may be screaming now. Let me say, nostalgia goggles can cut off circulation to the brain.

I had to look up pictures for that mental image. It was simply too rich.

I had to look up pictures for that mental image. It was simply too rich.

If you treat the prequels like childhood imaginations, they aren’t that bad. They are not as well executed as the originals, but they still have some points of merit. Like the original trilogy, I must admit that they are not as bad as I would like to believe.


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