Good day to you ladies and gents, time for a special little blog post dedicated to the Star Wars film universe. Since The Force Awakens (Episode VII) will be out in cinemas in the coming months I’ve been recently catching up with the previous instalments in anticipation, and yes that includes the prequels. While there are a large number of fans that continue to act like those films never happened, I’m not one of them and I don’t hate those films either. Are they perfect? Heck no, but I’ve always found aspects of those films to be enjoyable. So with that in mind I wanted to give you all my thoughts on the prequels and how they’ve changed.
My Thoughts in the Beginning
For the longest time I had very specific thoughts on the Prequel Trilogy, but in recent years I’ve had time to learn and understand the process that comes with making such epic films and learn about the production behind each of the Star Wars films. What was once awesome to me as a child doesn’t look that awesome these days and I’m not talking about the special effects only, these were films I liked watching (well at least episodes 1 and 3), but after watching so many online video reviews and other forms of analytical videos criticising the prequels I have changed my opinion somewhat. Though a lot of my feelings have been changed from watching the Original Trilogy in recent years and seeing what new filmmakers have been able to do with stories, sets and technology.
So with that in mind I’m going to give you my thoughts on each of the prequel films starting with The Phantom Menace!
Thoughts on The Phantom Menace
Technically I’ve already given my thoughts on this film around 3 years ago, but for those who haven’t read that review I’ll try to sum up my thoughts the best I can. The Phantom Menace is infamous for being the film that ruined SW for a lot of fans with its focus on politics, a child Anakin Skywalker, Midichlorians and Jar Jar Binks and most consider it the lowest point in the series. When I first saw this film I thought it was awesome. I never paid attention to the story, all I saw was lightsaber fights and Podracing, and that’s all I needed. Bare in mind I was around 9 or 10 years old when first saw this film and I was very much into my action and spectacle coming off of films like Terminator 2, Jurassic Park and Aliens to name a few. TPM was a film I watched a lot until my late teens, I didn’t see the film again until it was re-released in 3D, it was at that point I really saw the film for what it was; a film with good special effects, action and music, but nothing else. The plot isn’t overly interesting as the starting point of the series and there are just a lot of odd decisions made for the characters and overall mythos. One thing that was super apparent was the lack of practical sets and real locations, there’s so much green screen and CGI, it just makes you wonder if the people behind this film were afraid to use anything but computers to craft their new worlds. As for Jar Jar, I used to thing of him as harmless, fun, but seeing TPM a dew days ago I can understand the hate. That guy is ridiculous, he’s like a frigging Looney Tunes character who has no business being in a SW film and even as the main source of comedy you don’t find him funny, he’s more infuriating than anything else. Oh and the additional scenes added to TPM don’t really add much to the film and are really noticeable when it is a scene with CGI. A lot of the acting is questionable ESPECIALLY from Natalie Portman as Padmé Amidala, she’s so monotone and boring. With all that being said, everything I like about this film still stands, I love the lightsaber fights, the special effects are good, Darth Maul is cool, I like Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi and the soundtrack is great especially “Duel of the Fates“.
Thoughts on Attack of the Clones
Attack of the Clones, oh dear. While there is still this consensus out there that this film is better than its predecessor I respectfully disagree. While AOTC rectified some of the issues with the first prequel film, it still followed the same mistakes while creating a whole new bunch of them too. My thoughts were quite strong on this film when I first saw it when I was 12 years old and 13 years later not much has changed. This film wins points for having closer ties to the older films with interesting references, first appearances of classic characters and locations, and there was an overall sense of progression towards the Original Trilogy with the choice art design, costumes and locations. Also I appreciated some of the drama this film tried to create especially with Anakin, you can see what Lucas was trying to do and in more capable hands this could have been so much stronger, but I will give props to Lucas for the scene when Anakin and his mother are reunited briefly. That scene was pretty decent, it was a quiet, subtle moment and I thought it worked (even with Hayden Christensen’s acting skills), and what I really like is that Anakin’s found his mother and she’s alive just long enough to see him grown up, but then she dies and Anakin pretty much loses his shit on the Tusken Raiders with that beastly John Williams music swelling in the background. Other things I still like about this film was the improved CGI, cool action sequences, McGregor again as Obi-Wan and the introduction of Count Dooku played wonderfully by the late Christopher Lee. Oh and seeing Yoda actually battle in a lightsaber fight, awesome. Some people found it ridiculous and terrible but I found it hilariously badass…
HOWEVER! A lot of the good/decent aspects of this film are undone by the bad stuff, and trust me there’s a lot of it. This film’s main issue is the love story between Anakin and Padmé as it is one of the worst love stories ever put to film. The dialogue is terrible, there is no chemistry and acting is beyond bad. Their relationship just doesn’t come together well and feels forced, rather than a natural progression of a friendship into a partnership, and it doesn’t help that every line spoken between these two is really awkward or painful. That being said, I’ve memorised the dialogue to the point where I’ve quoted it with my SW friends and taken the piss so much that when I watch the film I can’t help but laugh. There are also wasted opportunities when it comes to Jango Fett, adding new mythology and the final battle between Obi-Wan, Anakin and Dooku (especially with Anakin and Dooku, that fight was half decent, half weird with spinning lightsabers). And like before the overuse of CGI and green screen when it comes to locations is very apparent, I think there were more real set locations than in the last film, but it was crazy how much of it I noticed with my film studies brain switched on.
Thoughts on Revenge of the Sith
Okay so now we arrive at the final film in this series and I still like it. Now back when I saw ROTS in the cinema 10 years ago, I thought this film was SO cool and after I got it on DVD I watched a fair amount until my early twenties. This film more so than the previous films creates a tale full of action and drama that for the most part works, sure the love story aspect is still questionable and some things happen without explanation, but overall it is the most creative and strongest of the newer films. What I appreciated about this film was the darker tone, sense of scope and of course the closer ties to A New Hope. This film does a really good job with marrying the new with the old with the appearance of classic characters, costumes, set design and spacecrafts. I also love the action sequences, whether it is the introduction with that space battle, the lightsaber fights or the battle on Kashik, it is all handled in a really cool manner with awesome CGI and cinematography. Oh and the lightsaber fights are the bets so far. I loved the fight between Obi-Wan and General Grievous or Yoda vs. Dark Sidious or the final battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin, that stuff gets me giddy every time. Some other stuff I liked was the introduction of General Grievous, Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine/Sidious, the line “Unlimited Power!” and the ‘Execute Order 66′ montage. And once again I have to say that Ewan McGregor kills it as Obi-Wan Kenobi, he’s the most consistent aspect of the prequels and with each film he gets better and by this film his performance was very in line with Alex Guinness’ performance.
Of course this film is safe from scrutiny. The film still has some of that bad dialogue not just for the scenes between Padmé and Anakin, but for some of the other characters especially Dark Sidious, and speaking of Sidious… Ian McDiarmid, he was clearly having fun with the role in this one, but sometimes he was hamming it up a little too much and sometimes you can’t take the guy seriously. Again this film has some good ideas with the story, specifically with Anakin’s transfer to the dark side and his issues with Padmé, but again the execution was questionable and left a lot to be desired. The use of special effects is great but again you can see that there wasn’t much that wasn’t green screen of CGI. Oh and Darth Vader, I loved his introduction and seeing him get angry, use the force, stumble along, but that “NOOOOOOO!” line, damn, it just ruins that scene really.
Well that’s my take on these films. I can tell there’s a lot people who won’t agree with my opinion on these films and I say bring on the hate. These films haven’t always been looked at in a positive light but I’m seeing more and more these days with people voicing their favourable aspects of the prequels and I want to add to it. 😀 But anyway how about you lot? Do find anything redeemable about the prequels? Do you even like the prequels or do you despise them like everyone else? OR are you like, “Huh? What prequels?” Please be sure to comment below, laters! 😀