It is time once again for us to defend the prequels! We read your comments, we took your counter arguments to heart, and now we’ve set up yet another defense of the much maligned Prequel trilogy in the Star Wars saga!
Hello Ladies and Gentlemen! My name is Chris Taylor and I am the advocate of the Devil!
It has been nearly a year since we released our very first video on the channel. In Defense of the Star Wars Prequels. I’m not going to lie, I thought we were going to get ripped to shreds right out of the gate. We wanted to go big right off the bat and, surprisingly, it didn’t suck!
Actually, it’s so far our most watched, most liked and yes, most disliked episode in our entire backlog of content. It’s only been a year, but it’s been an incredible journey, and a learning experience, and the show has grown and evolved and it’s going to keep doing all that and more for the foreseeable future.
It was the first episode though, and there’s always a serious learning curve when doing something for the first time. And despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, there were parts that need adjusting.
The big issue in my defense, according to those who commented against my point of view, is that I relied too heavily on bashing the original trilogy of Star Wars movies instead of focusing on what made the prequels good on it’s own. For one, it’s difficult to talk about a franchise as big as Star Wars, even just a small piece, without referencing other parts of the larger universe.
For another, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. There are other Star Wars video’s that I’ve done that would knock us for talking about the Extended Universe, and others that say we don’t do it enough! It’s one of those things that really only matters depending on the person watching it, individually.
So here’s my second take on the very first episode. Only positive bits on the Prequels, no knocking the originals, and no referencing to the EU. This is purely about the Prequels. Ladies and Gents, Prequels 2: Electric Boogaloo.
No matter what your feelings towards the prequels, good or bad, there was one aspect that seemed to resonate strongly with fan and critic alike. JAR JAR BINKS YO!
… Yeah, I know, I’m not funny. I’m talking Ewan Mcgregor’s portrayal of Obi Wan Kenobi.
This is a great example of what I would say is pitch perfect casting. He has screen presence while still relatively early in his career.
Keep in mind, Ewan’s biggest role before this point was a junkie in Trainspotting. The polar opposite of what some could say is the origins of smart, old mystic in this Universe.
Instead, we get arguably the best, or second best part of all the prequels. More on that second best part in a moment.
Here’s the thing: Even those who hate, who DESPISE the prequels have gone on record saying that Ewan McGregor’s portrayal of Obi Wan was spot on. He had the right mix of cool, calm, and collected, while still being early enough in his Jedi training to be able to crack a smile and a one liner on occasion!
And throughout the three movies, you see him grow and improve. In Phantom Menace, he’s impulsive and impatient, questioning what his Master is doing by bringing along a boy on their mission to save Naboo. As time goes on, you see the bond between Obi Wan and Anakin take shape, until at the very end
I get goose bumps every time I see the anguish on McGregor’s face as he stares down on his fallen comrade. You can truly feel how deeply pained he is by eliminating his closest ally.
Obi Wan in the movies could definitely be seen as one of ultimate good, and he’s a strong reason why I love revisiting these movies whenever I get a chance to. However, while some can make the case that he is the best part of the prequels, I personally think that there’s one part, one performance that edges Ewan McGregor out a tad.
In order to truly know how good someone can be, you need to place them side by side with someone who is evil Incarnate. In the Star Wars Universe, that ultimate evil is Emperor Palpatine, as played by Ian McDiarmid.
Pulling the strings from the very beginning, Palpatine stayed hidden throughout the entire prequel trilogy, content to play both sides of the war between the republic and the separatists. The actor himself is just brimming with natural charisma. Even during conversations about trade disputes and politics, things that I personally find hard to stay awake during, Ian makes it seem sinister.
And there’s something to be said about an actor who is clearly enjoying what he’s doing. Just look at the way he smirks throughout all his scenes, the way he holds himself.
It can be said that the best bad guys are ones who actually view themselves as good, and our protagonists as the ones who are doing real harm, and there’s a lot of truth to that. Believability stems from the fact that if the point of view of a story was reversed, if we were to see things from the bad guys point of view, we would actually see him as playing for the good guy team.
However, every once in awhile, you want to see a man, woman, child, or other relish in being a bad guy! There is no redeemable qualities in Emperor Palpatine, but he remains a compelling villain all throughout all of Star Wars lore! And especially right here in the prequels.
These movies aren’t just about boring politics. Their about the rise of ultimate evil, finally triumphing over good… if only for a time anyways. To see the rise of The First Galactic Empire, coming out of the mouth of Ian McDiarmid himself. And what a sight to behold.
There is one thing that sets the prequel trilogy apart from the Ori… damnit, I said I was gonna stick to just these three. How can I… RIGHT! (yes, I’m aware this seems to be a bit tacked on, but considering we use pictures to do these episodes as well as clips, when this gets filmed I’m going to find pictures that suit this bit of indecisiveness on sticking with the final point…)
There is one thing that sets the prequels apart from every other major franchise that we see, whether it was planned years ago, or even currently with our summer blockbuster Marvel Cinematic Universes and Book Adaptations, despite being ported over from a previous source material, each movie that gets released is usually written by different writers, or helmed by different directors.
And that is my final point. The true reason why despite what MANY others have said about the prequels being garbage, I can keep watching them unironically. And that reason is one man. George Lucas!
From the very beginning, the story of the Skywalkers has always been dancing around the head of one man. That one man created a Galaxy far far away that a large number of other writers got to play around with, creating new stories and planets and characters all along the way.
But in other franchises, the over arching story may have been penned by one person, but it’ll get filmed by someone else. Edited by a whole committee of other people.
The Star Wars prequels from beginning to end was the vision of one man. In many ways, that’s why it works. Because he stayed the course. He not only knew how the story was going to end up, what with Episode’s four five and six already existing, but he was living with this story and these characters in his mind for several decades, able to come up with answers to questions that didn’t even exist yet!
The problem with a lot of franchises is exactly the opposite of what Star Wars ever had to worry about in this particular case: The more people you bring on board to help tell your story, the more it changes over time. The more you need to compromise and sacrifice what you feel may be the most important elements of your story in order to appease to the group at large.
George Lucas had built his own Empire at this point. Star Wars, for all intents and purposes, was his and his alone to be able to work with, and because of that we got three movies that no matter what way you slice it, they are entirely his own vision.
All of the best film makers have their own signature style. Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone, Robert Zemeckis, Max Landis, Kevin Smith, they all make movies that are uniquely their own.
Star Wars is a George Lucas creation, and we got the pleasure and the privilege of getting these three movies, a complete tale of the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker AND the burning of the Republic to make way for the Galactic Empire. And I wouldn’t change a single thing.
Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, I do hope I managed to make a second look at the Star Wars prequels at least somewhat entertaining. Whether it be in two killer performances by actors who took a pre existing role and fully fleshing it out, or in the fact that we got three movies all helmed by the same guy, the entirety of the Star Wars saga is one that I can’t help but return to time and time again.
As always, don’t forget to hit that subscribe button for a new piece of my mind every Wednesday, and let your verdict be heard in the comments below! Have I given into the Dark side? By all means, let your own views clash with my own… so that I may proceed to prove you wrong.
But for now, in the case of the Star Wars Prequels… Again… The Defense Rests.