Written by Cristian Stanic
We may have already lost some of you with that title, but if you read on, you might be convinced that the prequels are worthy and crucial additions to the Star Wars canon, if you didn’t already feel that way. With the release of Episode 8: The Last Jedi just around the corner, now is a perfect time for a refresher on what makes the most underrated Star Wars trilogy so great.
Credit where credit is due, a tremendous amount of effort went into all the styling of the prequels. George Lucas infamously went into his art department at the start of production for The Phantom Menace and asked for “ten planets and ten aliens” from every artist.
They’d put all the art up on a whiteboard, and Lucas and his team would decide what made the cut and what didn’t. There would be so many amazing designs left on the cutting room floor at Lucasfilm that you could make your own trilogy out of just the leftovers! And the effort shows because every planet, ship, and alien species in the prequels is bursting with creativeness. Compared to ‘the desert planet, the ice planet, and the swamp’, Coruscant, Naboo, Kashyyk, Geonosis, Kamino, and all the other planets in the prequels sport insanely unique and creative designs, with interesting architecture and aesthetics.
Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) are the premier visual effects artists on the planet, and it’s not hard to see why. Founded by Lucas specifically for Star Wars, they have consistently been at the forefront of VFX advances in Hollywood. For example, Attack Of The Clones was the first major motion picture to be shot digitally instead of on film. A landmark moment in cinema.
They also created one of the world’s first entirely digital character in cinema (love him or hate him), Jar Jar Binks. The ILM geniuses have crafted entire worlds on computers, but their digital achievements are rivalled only by their practical effects wizardry. It’s a fact that The Phantom Menace alone uses more models and props than the entirety of the original trilogy. Mention that the next time someone tells you the prequels have too much CGI.
When it comes to which trilogy has the best lightsaber fights, there’s no competition – the prequel trilogy Force pushed the original trilogy’s lightsaber fights into the air and then sliced them into little pieces. There is something to be said for the slower, more methodical fights of the original trilogy (not including Ben Kenobi vs. Darth Vader, there is no excuse for that), but the prequel fights are in an entirely different league. These aren’t farm boys with no training fighting elderly asthmatic robots, these are the Jedi warriors at their peak. They’re trained, and they’ve got mad skills. It’s almost hard to keep track of the lightning-fast flurry of strikes in the Darth Maul fight, and the intensity of the final battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin on an exploding lava planet is one of the most thrilling duels of the saga.
This one is totally subjective, but we don’t think many people can disagree that the prequels have their own share of iconic tracks, just as the original trilogy does. However you feel about either trilogy, John William’s brilliant music has been a constant through both and it’s safe to say he doesn’t disappoint here. Duel Of the Fates is probably the most memorable from the prequels; it’s instantly recognisable as a great piece of fight music. Battle Of The Heroes is also a strong contender. It’s not just the new tracks that make the prequels stand out though, it’s the way they remix and incorporate the classic tracks for call-back moments that really stick with the viewer, like in Attack Of The Clones, when they play the Imperial March as Anakin laments his lack of power.
The prequels certainly have one of the most ambitious sci-fi storylines put to film yet. The original trilogy’s straight-forward black and white, good vs. evil story is now a complex philosophical and political drama, drawing parallels from religion, ancient Roman history, and modern American politics. While Anakin is trying to untangle his complicated web of feelings towards the Jedi Order, his secret affair with Padme, and his friendship with Palpatine, there’s the political subplot going on, with Palpatine orchestrating events behind the scenes to manoeuvre his way into becoming Supreme Chancellor, and eventually, the Emperor.
The fact is, when you think of Star Wars memes, you’re probably going to think of the prequels. Whether you adore them or despise them, they are a goldmine of jokes. They have given us countless great memes, such as Hello There, and The Tragedy Of Darth Plagueis The Wise. The internet would be a slightly poorer place for not having these films to provide us with such a wealth of jokes.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits cinemas on December 14
Pic via Star Wars