The Top 10 Positive Points to the Star Wars Prequels.

The Star Wars Prequels divided fans like Moses with the red sea. Suddenly our own fandom devolved into opinionated imperials dueling against rabid rebels. Unlike the expanded universe Vong war, it seemed an alliance was more likely with the Trekkies. The feuding factions were fiercely fighting from internet forum to forum. It’s been an enduring nerd civil war since 1999.

In the coming of the contemporary galaxy far, far away, it feels as if prequel pandering has become somewhat fashionable. In the era of escalating Bond-level gadgets, toddlers now have the ability to play amateur filmmaker. Synonymous with these delusions of grandeur came the dawning of the from-the-house film critic and their sometimes rather venomous but commonplace blog reviews. Who more so has employed that wrath than the flannel foe that is George Lucas?

Star Wars fans are known for their forgiving nature.

Between a stream of fan films related to his artistic downfall to Red Letter Media’s ingeniously famed Phantom Menace massacre, is there really anything that the Original Trilogy fan can salvage from over a decade of modern Star Wars disappointment? In a rare case of charity, I’m going to prove that prequel haters aren’t all the unreasonably embittered future John Wilkes Booth to Uncle George’s Lincoln. So here’s my countdown of the top ten positives (to the best of my abilities) you can take away from this generations Star Wars. I’ve got a bad feeling about this!

“Wretched hive of scum and villainy.”-  Supporting Cast: A New Hope has the smelly junk-dealing Jawa’s and the one-too-many aimed Greedo. Who could forget the intimidating bounty hunters of the Empire Strikes Back? Jedi’s Admiral Ackbar has entire fan clubs! While you can keep going and going with the classic episodes, am I the only one who’s noticed the neglected prequel supporting cast? It’s not a trap; the prequel minors have been criminally overlooked.

Shalom, little Annie. We have temple in an hour.

He may be the most insulting intergalactic Jew stereotype I’ve ever seen…but his space-dreidel and pit droid yarmulke make me love the hideously unique Watto all the more. Mesa putting my boomers on the line in saying that not only do I actually like Gungan civilization but outside of the pretty much given Jar Jar and spit-take Boss Nass, I actually like the species quite a bit. Sebulba feels all but forgotten by many, yet the camel-spidery xenomorph design has to be one of the most intricately engineered in the saga at large. The executions of minute roles like the Kaminoans, Geonosians, Nute Gunray, and Zam Wesell all feel so unappreciated. Don’t let the lackluster main story tarnish these golden protocol droids. Created by genius-level talents like the unsung Doug Chiang and other concept artists, I really can’t praise their quirky characters persona’s, their unfortunately ignored cultures, and their eccentric anatomies more.

You fought in the Clone Wars?” –  The Clone Wars: Ever since the words were so casually muttered in 1977, what exactly the infamous Clone Wars were has been on many minds. We mostly only knew the vague details of Obi-Wan being a general and somehow being associated with Leia’s adopted father. We’d make starry-eyed assumptions in the hopes that one day the story would be told. Would we ever truly come to know?

Maximus, Maximus, Maxi...oh...wrong movie!

Years of novelizations and comic books speculated on what exactly this conflict was. Adult Boba Fett was said to have been a Clone War vet, Palpatine was already Emperor, the time in which it occurred happened when Leia was of notable political importance, and the rumor was that the aforementioned clones were actually villainous Mandalorian warriors. Well…in essence that’s pretty much just what we got. Jango is the adult Fett, the clones being  Mandalorian from a certain point of view. Palpatine may not be Emperor yet but he is the secretly high voltaged Supreme Chancellor. While baby Leia hadn’t been born to creepy “oomba” robots, things were retconned to her mother instead. Excluding the slapstick juvenile current show, the generalized formula to the snippets of the Clone Wars (outside of the internal story of Darth Vader) seen in the films actually are surprisingly rather accurate to the early layout. At least Lucas stayed relatively true to some of his pre-established source material.

This show was actually good!...meaning it got retconned like crazy.

“The Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic.” – The Jedi Order: It feels impossible to imagine popular culture today without the Jedi way of life. It’s become so ingrained into public consciousness. It even spawned an official religious faction dedicated to all things force. Move over Pat Robertson, this galaxy’s got a new lunatic zealot force-pushing foreheads and force-healing the crippled. Yet really, outside of what feels like the week long joint training Luke received from elderly Obi-Wan and the creature curmudgeon that is Yoda, we seem to forget that many Jedi traditions are scarcely represented in the original films.

"But we do not grant you the rank of master." "Um...did you even ask the other nine members who never seem to talk?"

Now we’re inducted into the council. We discover the prophecy of the chosen one. It’s cliché mythology, yet it stokes the redemption story of Anakin Skywalker and lends some new angles to his space bipolar syndrome. Can a padawan get a Paxil? We learn of the rules against attachment. If I was essentially brainwashed into some creepy obedience to an intergalactic cult forcing my sexually-deprived slave self into risking my life to keep the peace… I’d probably go batshit insane and kill your kids too. We learned that it can totally be debated that their rigid code totally caused their eventual downfall. All these ideologies first developed for Phantom Menace produced embedded universal laws of the Jedi order that are pretty much collectively accepted but prior unknown. One word of advice though: first New Jedi Order rule –  Polygamy!

You may get force lightening, but the Sith dental plan was cut in half.

“It’s not a story the Jedi would tell you. It’s a Sith legend.” – The Sith Order: Sith is a term never actually spoken in the Original Trilogy. The  first publication appeared is in a lot of the 1977 film press kits for Star Wars, billing Grand Moff Tarkin as the villain and Darth Vader as the unexplained Dark Lord of the Sith. Well…what the hell is a Sith? Also supposedly loosely thrown around in the earlier drafts of the film script, apparently they were even referenced to as the Sith Knights, the evil parallel of the Jedi Knights. Darth wasn’t even a known title but rather just the first name of the famed villain. We never even quite knew what the Emperor fully was until Ian McDiarmid brilliantly portrayed the younger puppet master that was Darth Sidious. Finally revealing the heart of dark side teachings, Palpatine steals nearly every scene he’s in. What the modern trilogy achieved was expanding upon the original Sith mystique. We’re initiated into the evil order alongside many fresh and frightening faced Darth “Insert Synonym for Evil Here” as new written rules of Star Wars knowledge are  first brought to the light. Should I say dark? Just who doesn’t love an ominously robed opponent with a blood red blade?

If there’s a bright center to the universe, you‘re on the planet that is farthest from.”- Expanding the Universe: Enlarging the continuity is always a welcome addition. The present movies did introduce us to a slew of newly inventive anthropomorphic aliens, topographically themed planets, dedicated droids, shiny new ships, and creatively bestial new creatures. We were shown a whole council of freaky space monks, a slew of nod-worthy proto-Original Trilogy ships, gladiatorial matches against Starship Trooper arachnids, even Hell in the galaxy far, far away. Much of this may be background in most cases, but out of the context of the story…what Star Wars fan could resist new filler? Pretending to be an intergalactic Lewis and Clark never fails to be imaginatively entertaining. I’m all for more Star Wars.

Don't forget to wait one hour after eating before visiting Kamino.

“If an item does not appear in our records, it does not exist.”- Expanding the Expanded Universe: When it comes to giving Lucas power, less is always more.  It feels like most his modern commanding ideas hold water about as well as a Louisiana levee. Did you know the Empire Strikes Back was the episode he was the least involved in? So is it just mere coincidence that it’s the most beloved of all six? If he wasn’t forcibly limited to the effects of the time, would the Original Trilogy even be a fraction as celebrated as it was? When George is restrained in control…we’re all safer. This is the inherent advantage of the expanded universe; Lucas isn’t writing!

Character development cost extra!

Sure it’s anchored to the established groundwork seen in theaters, but it’s entirely arguable that prequel era novels, comics, and games are ironically superior to the prequels themselves. It indirectly gave us the gift of Old Republic, Legacy, and even back to more Galactic Civil War era stories. Not having to be exposed to painfully wooden acting when reading totally gives them bonus points. All the ambiguously gaping plot holes are at least attempted to be quilted together and answered. While I despise the idea of having to shell out extra cash for a book that wingman’s for what the script should do, at least we do have the option of getting to know otherwise premature characters like Maul and Grievous. While I do find it rather pathetic that one of the best things these films gave us was just a marketing ploy designed to justify unexplained plot points and undeveloped caricatures, I’m all for more Star Wars with less George!

“Wipe them out, all of them.”- Battle Scenes: Dogfights, saber duels, and dead Gungans, oh my! One of the steady uniting all elements seems to be “Hey, at least the battles were cool!” Indeed they were. While that doesn’t make for a good narrative, at least you’re retrieving something out of this experience, even if it is just some superficial eye candy. After all, they are titled Star Wars.

...and he even makes fries!

What the prequels did for lightsaber battles alone has become what many instantly think of when they picture the iconic laser sword in action. While the Original Trilogy duels focused upon emotion and character, here the simple truth is that the golden age of Jedi combat is just more aesthetically pleasing. While that’s certainly not implying better, I just can’t pretend to dislike Vaapad slicing through droids and Form V deflections either. I’m fully aware of my argument basically falling on gawking at pretty glow sticks being swung around. It may be cheap and even entirely intellectually invalid to say that the visuals achieved success, yet for the sake of debate (and the positives to the prequels being about 100% more difficult to write) they’re no less an accomplishment.

Otherwise known to the mature as Count Doodoo.

“My kind of scum!”- Villains: In the vast and diverse archives of fictional baddies, there are few that come to mind before Star Wars antagonists. For all their flaws, you just can’t ignore how freaking badass the new class of adversaries are. A double-bladed lightsaber, dual pistol wielding bounty hunters, freaking Christopher Lee, and a four-armed cyborg with whooping cough simply soak the sheets in a Star Wars wet dream. In the case of Jango, many nostalgic dreams come true in that you (essentially) get to finally see Boba Fett finally do what you always pretended seeing him do – SOMETHING! Sure they all have about as much depth in the films as a stranger, but they do look damn good when they stroll by…to die ten minutes of screen time later. I’m not bitter! Me?

“Meet Obi-Wan Kenobi.” Ewan McGregor: Aside from all the lovely Leia’s out there wishing he’d be locked away in their detention block, Ewan McGregor is possibly the only prequel role that is given almost unanimous praise. One thing I’ve never heard is “You know what really sucked about those movies? Obi-Wan!” In a series that just felt so uncivilized, George finally wrote something properly. From his rebelliously quipped playfulness to his stoic Jedi nature, he’s really the most Han Solo we get this go-around. I’m not sure if perhaps he was just easier to portray, being about the only character who doesn’t have a largely dynamic evolution from the Original Trilogy, riding off Alec “old fossil” Guinness coattails…but I’m going with just genuine talent. If you can make “How many times have I told you… augh… to stay away from power couplings!” tolerable, you’re worthy of an eventual Oscar.

What do you call a man who has no arms, legs, and is on fire? ...my padawan!

I composed a melody that reflected the brassy, bold, masculine and noble qualities I saw in the character.” – The Score: Two words…John Williams. You instantly understand. For every cringe worthy line of dialogue, for all the wooden acting and continuity errors, at least the soundtrack was there to therapeutically swaddle you in orchestral healing. From the romantic tinge that evokes the eventual tragedy that is Across the Stars to the eerily haunting chorus of Duel of the Fates, yet again the scores for Star Wars bulls-eye a Womp rat. I’ll let the music do the rest of the talking.

So did I find the droids you were looking for or am I out in the outer rim? Did Anakin light your loins or did midi-chlorians make you manic? Regardless of your chosen subdivision in Star Wars fandom, we seem to fanboyishly forget that we’re playing on the same team. We may have as many dividers as there are teddy bears on Endor, but ultimately we’re bound together by a sort of living force – the love of the lightsaber, the thrill of the bounty hunt, and the enduring seduction of mythology.

May the force be with you. Always!

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