The “Star Wars” prequels ruined a good thing
By Opinion Co-Editor Lily Erb
The original trilogy of the “Star Wars” movies are evidently better than the prequels. The impact of the first three “Star Wars” movies on film culture and pop culture is undeniable, and the quality of the movies withstands to this day.
“I think the thing about the prequels that makes everyone so angry is the fact that they exist,” film studies major and “Star Wars” fan Zachary Brown said.
The prequels didn’t live up to the expectations set by the originals when it first came out. People were expecting a lot more than what they got upon watching the movies.
“I remember really getting excited about the prequels in the early ages of the internet when it took me an hour to download the trailer… then I saw it and I thought ‘oh, that was fun’ but it didn’t feel epic or mythic in the way that the originals felt to me,” Professor of Philosophy Nathan Andersen said
People were excited for the prequels because they were a continuation of the successful original trilogy. While the prequels are not inherently bad, they failed in many places where the original trilogy succeeded, making them less likable.
The original movies built a universe, but managed to keep the main focus of the movie on the plot. The prequels let spectacle, world building and effects take precedence over plot, which hurt the movies in the long run.
“I think that in the prequels, George Lucas got excited by the power of CGI to flesh out the world in ways that he couldn’t have in the originals, but that kind of distracts a little bit from the arc and the focus on the hero's’ journey that you get in the originals,” Andersen said.
CGI, or computer generated imagery, was revolutionary at the time of the prequels. It allowed George Lucas more opportunity to be creative in his world building as the director. While the prequels did use some practical effects, they heavily relied on CGI. The use of CGI in the prequels has aged badly, whereas the practical effects in the original movies are timeless.
“It looks so real in the [originals]. Watching the movie, I’m like ‘Oh, that looks like they’re actually in space’ and then you see that they actually made a set out of it. It wasn’t CGI back in the seventies and the eighties,” Brown said.
The original movies triumph with their cast of characters. Not only are the characters extremely likable, they’re realistic and audiences can empathize with them. The prequels lack realistic characters, which detracts from the plot.
“You fall for Leia and you fall for Han Solo and you even fall for the droids, who aren't humans but they have personalities,” Brown said.
The characters in the prequels are not only unlikable, they’re flat. Brown compares Luke to Anakin. Luke faces hardships which push him further, such as the loss of his mentors and his issues with his father. Anakin lacks these hardships as he has a mentor and a relationship.
“[The prequel characters] are really just lesser because they’re not fully developed characters. Nobody is going to like it… Nobody is going to buy Anakin; he’s just a whiny padawan, you know? He’s such a flat character, but he’s the lead character,” Brown said.
According to Andersen, part of the reason why the characters of the original movies feel less flat is because Lucas did not solely direct the originals. Because Lucas had aid in directing the actors in the original movies, their characters seem much more natural and realistic.
“George Lucas, I think, is a great world builder with a wonderful visual sense and a deep imagination. He’s not a great director of actors and that shows in the prequels. The actors are very wooden in their delivery of lines,” Andersen said.
The original movies’ impact on pop culture was far greater than that of the prequels. In the 70s, films were first released at select theatres, then later released at smaller theaters. “Star Wars” was released nationwide, which created a mass buzz in pop culture and helped usher in the era of the blockbuster.
“It became a pop culture phenomenon that everybody knew about, everybody was engaging with at multiple levels. They were listening to the records. They were going to the movies. They were trading the playing cards. They were playing with the toys,” Andersen said.
Between better effects, a cast of realistic characters, massive pop culture impact, and the benefit of a better director, it’s clear that the original movies are the superior “Star Wars” films.
The Overlooked Success of the Prequels
By Erin Matozel, Assistant Opinion Editor
When debating which “Star Wars” trilogy is superior, fans often overlook the prequels as a serious contender. While it is difficult to battle the success of the original trilogy, the prequels are worth giving a fair argument.
One standout aspects of the prequels is the world building. Episode I, II and III expanded the universe and opened it up to more possibilities in regards to characters, planets and plots. Sophomore Zane Dunscomb enjoyed how the prequels showed the realm beyond the Jedi, giving a look into how the rest of the universe lives.
In the sixteen years between the two trilogies there was new technology and movie trends, allowing the prequels to enhance the lightsaber duels, making them far more intricate.
“The prequels have really good choreography,” Dunscomb said. “The fighting is great and really intense.”
The “Star Wars” films are known by their iconic soundtracks, and the prequel trilogy is no exception. Due to the composing of John Williams, the prequels were stacked with iconic tracks like: “Duel of the Fates,” “Battle of the Heroes,” “Order 66” and “Across the Stars”
“I think that [“Duel of the Fates”] was John Williams’ best part of, maybe the prequels. It’s a great song and people easily remember that,” Assistant Professor and Natural Sciences Librarian Carl DiNardo said.
The prequels elaborated upon character backstories and arcs that did not play out in the originals. These layers gave fans a stronger foundation and love for the characters they grew up watching. Such characters include Anakin who, through Episode I, II and III grew from a young boy into a powerful Jedi.
“It’s interesting as an audience’s perspective to know that he is going to become Darth Vader, but here you see him while he is so innocent . . . and he is going to become the most powerful person in the galaxy,” Dunscomb said.
A standout performances in the trilogy was Ewan McGregor who played a young Obi-Wan Kenobi. The enhancement of his bond with Anakin gave new meaning to his mentorship of Luke and death in “A New Hope”.
“Revenge of the Sith” is one of the best films of the prequels, packed with action and emotion, showing the downfall of the Jedi and the ruin of Obi-Wan and Anakin’s relationship. These elements add crucial weight to the original films.
“I don’t know why [“Revenge of the Sith”] works better than the other two. But I think it might have something to do with the sheer amount of combat in the movie,” Dunscomb said.
The politics in the prequels showed an interesting look at the Jedi, Sith, Republic and Separatist Order that fleshed out the world.
“It expands the universe and it shows how the universe works, which I think is interesting,” Dunscomb said. “I think it’s presented in a good way and I don’t find any of it boring.”
The originals only showcased Luke and a few force users in action, while the prequels contained numerous Jedi and Sith. The theology of the Jedi is complex and interesting, and was explored like never before in the prequels.
“If you are a fan of the whole concept of the Jedi, you get to see a good glimpse of what their institution is and how they operate . . . when you get into the prequel trilogy you see them during the height, the peak, of when they were still together,” Dunscomb said.
One critique of the prequels is the abundance of information and character development that was crammed into the three movies. While this criticism is fair, one needs to look at the bigger picture.
“People should take a step back and recognize what we were trying to watch unfold in a very short period of time...you’re trying to tell this story of deep deep friendship that is ultimately lost,” DiNardo said.
Tremendous hype is a problem that is still present in today’s blockbuster films. The age gap from when fans viewed the originals and when they viewed the prequels has an effect on their perception of the films.
“People who were kids and were eight years old are now adults and graduating college, they have a different take on film and life . . . There were much higher expectations,” DiNardo said.
From fantastic lightsaber duels to far off and complex worlds, the prequels contains elements that make it a crucial trilogy in “Star Wars” lore. When Director George Lucas set out to create these films he did that with the mind of making all films connected to tell a single overarching story of the Skywalkers.