Friday Feature: In Defence Of The Star Wars Prequels by @destroytheearth

I maintain that people like tearing down popular institutions; combine that with the anticipation that was built up for the Star Wars prequels before they came out, that the reality could never match, and you have people with reason to dislike them. So, rather than the films not being good enough, they have been attacked by criticisms at their weakest points.

I maintain that they are not nearly as bad as people like to claim. To prove my point, I intend to list the new trilogy's main criticisms and to overturn each one. Hit the jump to see how I fair:

They're not as good as the originals

Come on now! Of course they aren't as good as the first three. What could be? Over 20 years and several million dollars later, no way could Lucas be as impassioned, nor have as much creative energy as he once did. A no-name cast hungry for fame can't be beaten by a Hollywood A-List; but is that really a criticism? There are many many films that aren't as good as Star Wars, but the reviewer's job would be very dull if that was a crucial criticism of any film. If you were running into the cinema expecting another three as good as the first, of course you were gonna be disappointed, but if the originals had never been made, the new films would be held as classics.

The characters aren't exactly Han Solo

Okay, the characters in the new film are a little less interesting. Obi-wan was meant to be a stuffy old mentor, not a great action hero on his own. Even his side-kicks are Jedi; religious warriors aren't exactly lovable rogues. Unfortunately, Lucas wrote himself into a corner, but hey, on the plus side - lightsaber battles that don't look like your Nan trying to do stunts!

Besides, so what if the main characters are a little reserved? Look at the second string: we've got Yoda actually kicking some arse; Natalie Portman is much more attractive than Carrie Fisher; and last, but by no means least - Jedi Samuel L Jackson - what else can I say?

What's with all the politics?

When Lucas first started, he wanted to tell a great story and make a great film; a different kind of film. He did, and changed everything; but doing the same thing in a change world is just the status quo. Not to mention, years later, Lucas had been through the ringer with the studios, grown up, become more political, and gained what he would like to think is wisdom.

So, making new films, he added a deeper element; and people whinged. They wanted a fun story about space and laser sword fights. What they got was an allegory for World War II.

An empire in ruins is taken over by an evil dictator posing as a benevolent politician who uses fear of outside oppression to take up extra political powers, kill his enemies and blames all the empire's problems on them as an excuse. He then removes democracy with the public's consent and proceeds to persecute the racially distinct.

World War II and Star Wars: not just laser battles, but slightly more worthy, no?

The bad guys aren't as bad as Vader

Again, come on: Palpatine's back; we have Darth Maul, whom even the most dedicated anti-Phantomers love; Sith Christopher Lee; and General Grievous, who died far too easily, yet most impressively. Not quite Vader, but again, still more memorable bad guys than any other film since Star Wars surely?

Admittedly, the droids aren't quite Stormtroopers, but thats the point, the Stormtroopers eventually take over.


I refer of course to the moment of Vader's birth, which most people find amusingly bad. In response I would point something out:

Notice the similarity to the Boris Karloff's Frankenstein, take into account Lucas' love of cinema, and you realise the scene is an obvious homage. Perhaps this is ill-judged since it is meant to be an impassioned moment and is perhaps not the right time for pastiche, but in hindsight you can see the appropriateness.

Jar Jar Binks

Okay, he's annoying, I'm not debating that, some would even say he's creepy; but, have you spoken to a child about him? They love him. What everyone forgets is that Star Wars is a kids' film. We all saw it as kids, then we grow up, see the new ones, and wonder why they don't make the same impact.

Hayden Christensen

Ummm...he...well...ok, you got me, he sucks... but the rest of the films are defensible.

So, I end by recommending you give the new films another watch, with a fresh eye and an open mind. Perhaps you will enjoy them a bit more.

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