“There is good in him, I can feel it!”
We all hate the Star Wars prequels, even the people who like them are probably kidding themselves. I used to think I liked them, when I was a Kid, but as I got older and rewatched the films, I realised how horribly wrong I was. However, are they all bad? Was George Lucas, the man who created the original Star Wars that we all love and cherish, such a failure that he managed to get NOTHING right in 3 whole films? It’s easy to hate on the prequels, but Luke thought he could see good in Darth Vader, so maybe there can be good in the prequels….?
Time to find out, as we take a look at the Top 10 things the Star Wars Prequels got Right!
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
This 3-D animated spin-off has achieved positive responses from critics and audiences alike. Whilst this may not be the case 100% of the time, the show features some cracking scripts and stories that are far better than the ones we saw in the actual films.
How do you top a villain as memorable as Darth Vader? Get your red and black tattoo paint out, cover a horned gymnast in it, and give him a bad-ass double ended lightsaber! Throw in the voice of Peter Serafinowicz and you’ve got yourself a villain! Darth Maul was freaking awesome, he wasn’t in the film much, but that just made him cooler and more interesting. What secrets did this character hold? Where did he come from? Oh wait he died in the first film…….hence why this piece of bad-assness rests in the bottom spot. (I know he comes back in The Clone Wars, but as it happened in the spin-off, I’m not counting it)
9 – The March on the Temple
It’s only a brief moment in Episode III, but God Damn it looks and feels amazing. After being branded Vader (because it sounds way cooler than Annie), Skywalker takes a butt-tonne of Clone Troopers to ransack the Jedi Temple and kill all those inside. Do they charge at the temple, all guns and sabers blazing? No, they march up to that Temple, with some killer John Williams music, and they do it in style. For a brief moment, you forget how whiney and annoying Hayden Christensen has been these past two films, as he finally looks like the proper bad-ass we’ve been waiting for. It’s a cool looking scene, the tone is perfect as it sets up the horror that is to come, and there is no doubt it’s a really powerful moment. Shame Christensen had to open his mouth again, in later scenes, and lose the bad-ass quality he picked up in this scene.
8 – Shutting Binks up in Episode III
Whether you liked the film or not, a collective sigh of relief was released by all upon the realization that Jar Jar Binks only had one measly line of dialogue in Revenge of the Sith. We still had to look at him sadly, as he kept popping up in the background of some shots, but he managed to blend in with all the other stupid and pointless CGI characters that Lucas fills his green screens with. At least we didn’t have to listen to him splutter any more insultingly painful dialogue about stepping in Bantha s**t.
Yeah, you all knew this would be in the list somewhere. It was amazing to watch as a Kid, and even all these years later it’s still an awesome looking scene. Aside from the final lightsaber fight and Jar Jar, it’s the movies big set piece which Lucas clearly wrote the film around. The script is pretty clunky and awkward up until the race, but once we get there its high-octane, heart stopping action for all to enjoy. Also, on top of all the CGI, some models and practical effects were used, harking back to the good old days when not EVERYTHING was painted within an inch of its life onto a greenscreen.
6 The Opening Shot of Episode III
After the pretty baffling opening crawl (“There are heroes on both sides?” You what George?), the camera pans down on one lone ship, before a single tracking shot hurls into the mother of all space battles. This was a moment the big screen was made for, every inch of the silver screen is filled with some of the best CGI we’ve ever seen. I know many, including myself, complain the prequels rely too much on CGI, but there’s no denying that when they get it right, they get it right! At the time the film came out, I’d already seen the original 2D animated Clone Wars series, so I knew what was coming, and yet still this scene knocked me for 6. It’s a shame the dialogue starts and buzz droids come in to ruin the awesomeness.
5- Casting Christopher Lee
When it comes to casting a new villain for a film series, you can NEVER go wrong with the Hammer Horror legend that is Christopher Lee. Although, the character of Count Dooku was, let’s face it, written pretty badly, when you have Christopher Lee playing the part you don’t seem to notice. This man could not only make the phonebook sound interesting, he would probably scare the absolute hell out of you whilst doing it. He was suave, sophisticated, had a killer bad guy smile, and Lee kept up his record of doing the most movie sword fights, by waving his lightsaber around fighting a pretend green alien. It’s a shame his character got the chop so early in Episode III, to make way for the million other things the episode had to cover.
4 – The Three Monster Stadium Fight
It’s obvious that George Lucas saw Gladiator and decided to throw in a Stadium in Attack of the Clones because of it. Like the podrace before it, Episode II was likely written around the idea that Lucas wanted a giant stadium slap bang towards the end of the film. What we got though, was actually pretty creative as Obi Wan, Anakin and Padme were stripped of their weapons and chained up to be fed to three separate ferocious beasts. The designs on the monsters are really creative, with the effects looking damn fine to boot. Also, in a series that relies too much on millions of glowsticks being shoved in your face, it was refreshing to have an action beat where our heroes had pretty much nothing but themselves to defend from these creatures. Throw in some funny quips from Obi Wan, and you’re sorted. Speaking of which….
This is more for his performances in Episode’s II and III, as in Phantom Menace he was shoved to the sidelines in favour of a Pre-Taken Liam Neeson. Ewan McGregor had the near impossible task of stepping up to a role previously made famous by Alec Guinness. Was he as good as Guinness? No he wasn’t, but his attention to detail made it very easy to believe the man we were seeing on screen could totally grow up to become Ben Kenobi. On top of that, McGregor was clearly one of the better actors of the trilogy, working around Lucas’ awkward dialogue with style, panache and a good level of dry wit that he could sometimes convince us the script was written with natural dialogue.
2 – Bringing back Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine
One of the benefits of Ian McDiarmid actually being quite young when filming Return of the Jedi, is that he was the right age to play a Palpatine in the prequel trilogy. It gave a nice level of continuity throughout the saga, having McDiarmid reprise the role and seeing who the Emperor was, before he got all crinkly and wrinkly. McDiarmid had little to do, until Revenge of the Sith when s**t really went down and he proved himself to be the most evil being in the Universe. McDiarmid is clearly having the time of his life in the role, ad his scenery chewing antics in the final half of the film make his performance all the more enjoyable.
1- John Williams’ Music
In the Behind the Scenes videos of The Phantom Menace, whilst watching footage of the podrace, Lucas is quoted as saying “You’re not looking at the backgrounds, you’re not looking at the pods. You’re listening to the music.” Probably the smartest thing Lucas EVER said when making these films. Regardless of what’s happening on-screen, be it good, bad, or insulting you can guarantee the music is spot on. John Williams has created some of the most iconic sounds in cinema history, and the Star Wars prequels are no exception. The music also helps connect both trilogies, making them really feel a part of the same Universe, despite their gaping differences. Duel of the Fates and Battle of the Heroes are the definite stand outs, and join the ranks of Star Wars music that will be humming and whistling for years to come.
And that’s my list of the Top 10 things the Prequels actually got right. So what’s next? Well, in order to keep things balanced, and to keep things controversial, next up I’ll be taking a look at the Top 10 Things the Original Trilogy Got Wrong.