8.11.2008

The Prequels: Star Wars or Star Bores?

by Yassir and Brandon

Yas - To say I am a fan of the original Star Wars trilogy would be a massive understatement. I based my dissertation for my degree on Star Wars. I have watched these films thousands of times and I still consider them to be my favourite movies. I KNOW that there are tons of films better in terms of direction, plot and well, everything...BUT to ME these films are my favourites. Deal with it.

I dreamt and speculated about the prequels since 1983. I still remember watching the trailer for The Phantom Menace. I'm getting goosebumps even now just writing this. I was completely blown away; my beloved Star Wars was back.

What a shame that it turned out to be the biggest disappointment in cinematic history. To me, anyway....

Over to you Brandon!

Brandon - Like Yassir, Star Wars has been my favorite film for as long as I can remember. It's not just a film series for me, though. I've put massive amounts of time, thought, and money into this epic mythology. However, I never presumed that this trilogy was made specifically for me. Sure, like most fans, I would spend long hours with friends coming up with potential sequel ideas. But I always kept the healthy knowledge that if anything more from George Lucas, it would be his vision alone. I love Star Wars as a story, but I don't presume to control its creative destiny.

I was absolutely elated when the prequel trilogy was announced. The idea of exploring the back story of Anakin Skywalker was great. Everyone knew what the ending was, but so much of the past was covered in mystery.

Unlike many fans, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the trilogy. I think it largely held true to the heart of the original films. I would be lying if I said there weren't elements of the prequels that didn't disappoint me, but those instances are minor. I feel like the Prequels have made the whole Star Wars universe more cohesive. I think the prequels add more to the Star Wars galaxy than it takes away. We are better off as fans having them than not having them.

Yas - I see what Brandon is saying in that this is and always will be Lucas' baby. What I'm arguing, and what I passionately believe, is that Lucas phoned the prequels in. He lost his touch. Yes, this is his vision but the old Lucas who had it all to prove would not have made these prequels. Where did he go wrong? Where do I start? Wellllllll:

  • George Lucas directing - this is where I feel the films really suffered. Lucas has never been a natural director in my opinion (and to be fair in his own opinion too). These films would have infinitely improved with somebody else at the helm with Lucas still actively involved. McCallum as producer was also a bad choice as he turned out to be nothing more than a yes man. If Lucas had to direct he needed a producer who would be prepared to argue his points.

  • Casting - Ewan McGregor as Obi Wan? Check. Portman as Amidala? Check. Liam Neeson? Check. To be honest I had no real problems with the casting, what I had problems with was the delivery, the performances. However, unfortunately I have to lay the blame on Lucas' doorstep. The fundamental reason? DIALOGUE! The dialogue was atrocious. Yes I know the Holy Trilogy™ wasn't exactly Shakespeare but the dialogue in the prequels was beyond awful. It didn't help that the delivery of said dialogue was wooden and uninspiring. The actors and actresses delivering such tripe need strong direction. They didn't get it.

  • The nature of the Force vs Midichlorians - The Force in the original trilogy was ambiguous and spiritual. The prequels felt the need to spell it out with the ridiculous inclusion of the Midichlorians. It made it much more scientific than spiritual, and I feel this weakened the cool factor of The Force.


  • Anakin as a Ten Year old - This was, I feel, one of the biggest reasons why the prequels were a let down. When Obi Wan first tells Luke that he fought with Anakin in the Clone Wars you felt they were the same age and good friends. Why Lucas felt the need to start his story with Anakin as 10 years old is beyond me. That kid was so annoying, and to be fair, Anakin as a whole was annoying. Darth Vader should not have been a whiny brat but that's what Lucas made him out to be

  • The Clone Wars - going back to that conversation between Obi Wan and Luke who thought that the Clone Wars would be about droids vs the Clones AND the Jedi? How incredibly lame is that? Who cares about robots and battle Droids?

Brandon -
  • George Lucas Directing - I think it was essential for George Lucas to direct these movies, for better or worse. I think this allowed for George to not fall into the "fanboy appeasement" trap. Star Wars fans love to fill in the blanks. We've been doing this rather efficiently since the saga began. However, Lucas ensured that none of the multitude of ideas surrounding where he should go with the direction of the prequels by filtering out the ideas through his own direction. George Lucas is a director, Star Wars is his baby, and I don't think he should have to give it up.

  • Casting - I think Lucas did a superb role in casting nearly everyone, even Jar-Jar. As obnoxious as he was, he did a good job casting Ahmed Best. With regards to casting Anakin, I think he did a better job casting Hayden than he did with his choice for the first movie. Yuck. Otherwise, I think Lucas found a lot of good live and vocal talents to populate the silver screen.

  • The nature of the Force vs Midichlorians - I wasn't bothered by this new interpretation of the Force as many fans were. The Force is still mystical right? We just now know that is is caused by a symbiotic relationship. It makes more sense than marking it up to pixie dust. Plus, it doesn't factor heavily in the trilogy. It wasn't like we were exposed to CSI: Coruscant throughout the prequels.

  • Anakin as a Ten-Year old Boy - This is a tough one. Did anybody expect this? No, I don't think so. I think most assumed we would meet Anakin and Obi-Wan already entangled in The Clone Wars, not while he's whining about how his last podracer was blasted. But it was interesting. I think it makes Anakin's fall more powerful to show him as an innocent child. The roots of his issues with the galaxy come as a young man, just like real life. Believe it or not, Adolf Hitler put his pants on one leg at a time just like anybody else. So why can't Vader have been a snotty child once upon a time? I think a lot of people came into the Prequels thinking Anakin was going to be this terrible person from square one and were shocked to see him in scenes where he would do stuff like run to hug his mother. "Hug his mother? No, kill that bitch!" the millions cry. It's kind of a silly notion to think he's just evil. There's no drama if he was just evil. Part of the interest in Anakin's story arc over the six movies is to see him come full circle. Innocence, corruption, failure, rebirth. That's what Star Wars is all about.

  • The Clone Wars - This was probably one of the biggest mysteries going into the Prequels. An offhanded remark by Obi-Wan sparked the imagination of millions of fans. I think Lucas could have fleshed out the Clone Wars a bit more in the Prequel trilogy for those who weren't as immersed in the other franchise merchandising as fans like me, but he is making up for that with the cartoon and movie. I didn't mind the fact that droids were involved. In fact, back in the mid-90s (around '95 or '96), I read in a fan magazine a very accurate description of the first movie in which it talked about droids versus clones. I didn't think this was a bad idea then, so there wasn't much "sticker shock" for me when the story behind the Clone Wars began to take shape in the novels, comic books, cartoons, and movies.

Yas - Well argued, my man, but as much as I agree that Star Wars is Lucas' baby I still feel that another director would have benefitted the movies invaluably. After all it didn't hurt Empire did it?

And I never wanted Anakin to be evil straight away. It needed to be fleshed out and gradual but I don't think Lucas pulled it off at all. The big turn was because Mace was gonna arrest The Emperor? And even then when Anakin killed Mace he just suddenly pledges allegiance? Sorry, didn't work. And no, I do not think the preceding films made this course of events at all credible. The corruption you speak of simply did not feel believable.

Brandon - I definitely agree with you that the corruption of Anakin could be a bit more believable, but you're discounting his slaughter of the Tusken Raiders and his two fights with Dooku. Anakin wrestled with his anger before Windu ever walked into Palpatine's office.

Yas - Oh, I'm not discounting that at all and that (the Tusken slaughter) was particularly done well but I still maintain that the final push that made him turn was not believable. To make matters worse the dialogue and acting was laughable and pathetic.

To wrap up, I will always remain a massive Star Wars fan. Whilst I did not love the prequels and wished that they were even better than the original trilogy I do concede that there have been additions that I welcomed, such as Padawans, the stuffiness and staidness of the Jedi Council, Pod Racing and Yoda with a lightsaber.

But ultimately the prequels were a failure (in my opinion, I hasten to add).

I'm off now to watch my beloved Holy Trilogy™.

Brandon - I think that you're right. It could have been done better. Therein lies some of the problem with the acceptance of the Prequels with fans. Everyone knew the outcome of the Prequels before they saw one minute of footage. Anakin becomes Darth Vader. Yet, we all had built in expectations of how that should happen. Did it live up to expectations? Probably not! As Star Wars fans often do, they are looking at this through rose colored Stormtrooper helmets.

As for me, I'll stick with the entire saga.

8 comments:

Chris Ware said...

Hayden Christensen's horrendous "acting" really killed any enjoyment that could be had from Episodes II and III. Hell, he even ruined Natalie Portman as an actress. All her scenes with Christensen were painful to watch.

And yes, Lucas probably should have stuck with plotting and maybe gotten somebody else on dialog and definitely gotten another director.

Mister said...

The Anakin/Vader story we all knew, we knew what the outcome would be, this isn't what the prequels should have been about. It should have been about what led him to become Vader, not the fact that he does become Vader.

There was a lot that bugged me, the midichloridians or whatever they are called, the clone wars was a let down. It just didn't fit with the the rest of the universe. The clone wars could have been epics, but they ruined it, along with the Sith and the "there can only be two" thing.

I had a lot of hope for this, and I was sorely disappointed.

Brandon said...

The Sith's Rule of Two has a storied history in the Star Wars mythos. I love the fact that there were only two Sith for nearly 1,000 years. It makes the story of the Jedi's downfall much more powerful as they were destroyed by their own pride and ignorance more so than by War.

Jon Quixote said...

The idea of exploring the back story of Anakin Skywalker was great.

I didn't realize you were being sarcastic, Brandon, until this line. Well done!

Brandon said...

98% sarcasm free! Plus, less sodium!

Patrick Roberts said...

for the new clone wars movie, i guess George Lucas finally got to make (or a least approve of) a whole Star Wars movie after his love for CGI... looks fun though

Brandon said...

A reviewer I read yesterday on Rueters said something very similar. I have high hopes for this film and the eventual series.

peter said...

to me I really enjoy all the movies, originals like prequels, is true maybe the prequels don't have the force of viagra online and the others episodes but, with so much graphic effects and new stories.