There’s one of three reasons you’ve decided to click on this headline and read.
One – you’re really, really bored. Probably sat on the toilet or a bus somewhere.
Two – you’re wondering if this is a troll and it’s actually April Fools Day and not May the Fourth, because how the fuck can anyone seriously like the universally panned, critically shot at Star Wars prequels?
And finally, three – you’ve obviously got the same screw loose as me, and actually do think Episodes I-III are good, or at least salvageable, and not that bad.
Now, I’m not saying the films should have won any awards or will be getting any praise anytime soon, despite the recent revival of the Star Wars franchise, courtesy of the excellent Force Awakens.
What I am saying is that they should be taken as a legitimate part of the Star Wars universe, mainly because they actually are, and if people took a minute to enjoy them – alcohol is advisable to increase enjoyment and maximise memory loss – they might find a nuance, plot line or even a fan theory they’d not previously considered and one that was worth sitting through the films to discover.
We should probably begin with one of the most controversial parts, or shall I say characters, of the whole franchise – Jar Jar Binks.
Only appearing in the prequels, Jar Jar seems to be one of the main points of contention for even those who can tolerate watching the films more than once, unless it’s for comedy purposes.
Now bear with me here. At the very least, he’s sparked debate, and while he’s not quite the lovable, hapless character we were all supposed to fall in love with and buy merchandise for (and increase George Lucas’ bank balance further), he was at least memorable enough to cause some controversy.
The goldmine that is Reddit certainly takes an interest in Jar Jar – even if it’s not a favourable one – with one particularly interesting fan theory suggesting he’s actually a Sith Lord. The mind boggles.
Oh, and speaking of the aforementioned merchandise, there is actually a shit load of Jar Jar stuff, from actual jars with his face on, to pens, outfits and pretty much anything you can think of. Obviously, it’s all now collectors edition and vintage, still being displayed on the shelves. Mainly because no one wanted it.
There’s also the brilliant (although not really in these films) Natalie Portman, who is a stunningly capable actress, able to deliver pretty much anything she’s tasked with – and, boy, did she have a task on her hands at times with the scripts over the three films.
Scripts aside (and even those who love the prequels must admit, it could have been better – much, much better), the one huge criticism I actually have of the films is that such a brilliant actress and character, who could’ve been made into so much more, was underused and shoved aside at times for various plot threads that didn’t actually do much for the story, bar give the critics something else to dedicate a paragraph to when writing their less than stellar reviews.
I mean, come on! This is Leia’s mother for fuck’s sake. She’s also the woman that spawned Luke freakin’ Skywalker – who moans far too much, in my opinion, and could do with a bit of a backbone. But, really, he took after his father, so no blame on Padmé Amidala there, she was dead by that point after all.
Having seen and loved the first three films made, I expected far more from Amidala, the mother of one of the best female characters (gold bikini aside) of that generation.
Naturally, now we’ve covered Portman, there’s also Hayden Christensen, AKA. Anakin Skywalker, who after the films finally wrapped, retired from acting for a few years (probably because he watched his performance back and knew no-one else would be hiring him anytime soon).
He wasn’t a popular casting choice, and didn’t really do the role as much justice as another actor who, shall we say, was more competent at their craft may have done, but the fact that we got to see Anakin’s backstory from the child on Tatooine and the Podracing (most people’s only saving grace over all three prequels), to the angst ridden Padawan, fighting to save his mother and lover – and seemingly failing on both counts – before becoming one of the most iconic cinematic characters of all time was enough for me.
There’s no denying at times – especially when Ewan McGregor is on the screen delivering lines you have to assume he was paid handsomely for, given his obvious distaste for the syllables coming out of his mouth – that you must suspend your disbelief to enjoy the films.
Certain aspects of the films – in my humble, and in anticipation of the comments and backlash for those reading this, probably wrong opinion – are excellent.
The aforementioned Podracing scene, Darth Maul, seeing the evil Chancellor Palpatine’s rise from the senate to ruler of the Galaxy – Ian McDiarmid put in a performance far better than some of his counterparts and was a true highlight of the film – Christopher Lee, who never delivers a bad performance, a young (and alive) Qui-Gon Jinn and, of course, Samuel L Jackson.
Jackson, who naturally played another doomed character, and one who (depending on your viewpoint) either was right all along and correct never to trust Ani, or someone who was a major factor (and antagonist) in Anakin’s transition from Skywalker to Darth Vader.
It’s the latter viewpoint I subscribe to, and it’s one of my favourite aspects of the prequels, seeing Ani struggle with his feelings, the Force and the lure of the Dark Side. Had Mace Windu been slightly less critical and, let’s face it, less fucking judgmental, and more fatherly (a role Palpatine saw Anakin was crying out for and manipulated into one he played with disturbing success in the end), things could have been very different.
Not so different that we were denied the customary Hollywood Samuel L Jackson epic speech right before his death, obviously. No one’s a masochist here. Certain film clichés are fine by me.
And Yoda. Fucking Yoda is in the films. Who dislikes Yoda?
But, as for The Prequels themselves, all three have their strengths and weaknesses.
Most people cite Episode II: Attack of the Clones as the worst – obviously, given I’m mad enough to write this, that one is naturally my favourite – but for me, they all play a vital part in telling the story of why the Galaxy is the way it is come A New Hope.
They explain why Anakin became Darth Vader, adding to the backstory of how he is, in my view, an anti hero by the end, and someone who made bad (well, fucking terrible) life choices and decisions along the way, but was not without redemption (cough Kylo Ren, cough).
Yes, they’re all flawed, and the scripts are lacking. The acting from certain cast members is more Razzie award winning than Oscars – although others do the very best with what they’ve got – but it was a story that needed to be told. It might not have been told very well in some people’s opinion – although George Lucas would probably disagree (and note that I’ve avoided bashing him throughout this article because that, my friend, is a debate for another day) but it was a story that needed to be told.
Without it, the Star Wars universe would have far less substance – both hard to believe and ironic considering the sheer lack of said substance was an accusation frequently leveled at The Prequels’ scripts, storylines and actors’ performances across all three films – but it’s true.
Just as sequels generally fail to top the originals, making prequels is equally hard, given how in love people are with the original movie, and the fact that fans already have their own backstories and theories created by their own imaginations – and you can’t please everyone.
Well, in this case, most people. But the films did please me, and while they’re not a patch on The Force Awakens or the original trilogy, they’re not the worst things ever made, and if people actually gave them a chance, they might find they add to their interpretation of the Star Wars universe – or, at the very least, their sarcastic rhetoric, because watching these films, you’ll see it come out in force.
Oh, and on a final note, and one that will potentially (almost certainly) destroy any of the good work I may have done throughout this explanation, I’m Team Jar Jar.
Sorry about that.