10 Reasons Why The Star Wars Prequels Suck
In 1999, after a 16-year absence, the first of the three Star Wars prequels hit theaters. Episode I – The Phantom Menace would finally start to tell of the story of the generation that came before Luke, Han and Leia. Unfortunately, neither The Phantom Menace or its successors, Episode II – Attack Of The Clones or Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith could not even come close to holding a candle to the original series. Below, are ten reasons why the prequels suck.
#10: Jake Lloyd
Some child actors are naturals. They come off on-screen as alive and give an energy to their characters that seems organic. Jake Lloyd is not one of those child actors. One of the reviewers at the time even referred to him as “Jake Wood.” His performance felt stiff and unnatural, like he was trying to play the character, but really not succeeding.
#9: Hayden Christensen
Unfortunately, Hayden Christensen fares no better as the teenage/adult Anakin Skywalker than Jake Lloyd does as the young Anakin Skywalker. His Anakin is a cocky brat who is easily manipulated by Emperor Palpatine to join the dark side. While his son grows over the course of the original series from immaturity to maturity, Anakin never quite grows up.
#8: The Waste Of Perfectly Good Actors
Sometimes, a film has actors who are more than able to do their jobs, however, to put it bluntly, the script sucks. Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson are all respected actors. That doesn’t mean that the material is equal to their abilities. Portman’s Padme Amidala spent most of the prequels as a whiny romantic heroine without a backbone (a far cry from the badass her daughter was in the original series), Neeson’s Qui-Gon Jinn was killed far too early and McGregor as the young Obi-Wan lacked the something special that the late Alec Guinness brings to his performance in A New Hope.
#7: The Stereotypes
Unfortunately, George Lucas relied on certain not so politically correct stereotypes for certain digitally created characters. Watto, the Toydarian who owns Anakin and his mother, unfortunately reinforces of the hook nosed Jewish merchant who is more than willing to swindle his customers to increase his own profit. The evil Neimoidian trader Nute Gunray not only speaks with an Asian accent, but wears traditional Asian clothing. Not cool.
#6: Jar Jar Binks
Jar Jar may (physically acted by Ahmed Best) have been conceived as comic relief (a la R2-D2 and C3PO in the original series), but his character is an utter waste of space and screen time. Even though he became a Senator in the Galactic Senate and one of Padme’s closest advisors in Episode 2 and 3, he still left a bad taste in many fan’s mouths. Some have stated that he represented the worst traits of the prequels.
#5: The Projected Audience
Star Wars is one of the most popular movie series in history because it appeals to both kids and adults. The original trilogy is still revered because the adults in the audience understand the nuance in character and narrative. The kids in the audience enjoy the story and characters. The problem with the prequels is that instead of appealing to all age groups, the movies appeal only to the kids. That is a huge problem, especially for the adults who grew up on the original trilogy and missed the nuance in Episodes 4,5 and 6.
#4: Padme Amidala
When Princess Leia Organa (the late Carrie Fisher) was introduced to audiences 41 years ago, she broke the mold when it came to now only how women are portrayed, but specifically how women are viewed in the science fiction genre. Leia was bold, not afraid to take charge and was known for basically being the boss. In Episode 1, Padme Amidala is Queen of Naboo and does a decent job of defending her planet. While she has a few moments of being in charge in Episodes 2 and 3, for the most part, she is the whiny, woe-is-me heroine who is waiting for her man to come home.
#3: The Underlying Conflict In the Prequels Is About A Trade Dispute
Really, George Lucas? The original series was about good vs. evil, democracy vs. dictatorship. That is why they are still resonant decades later. The prequels are about a trade dispute. If I wanted to watch a story about a trade dispute, I would turn on CNN or MSNBC and watch the talking heads yell over each other all day. A film whose narrative is ultimately based on a trade dispute doesn’t really compel me to leave my house and spend money at a movie theater.
#2: The Special Effects Take Over
There are good science fiction movies and bad science fiction movies. The good science fiction movies rely on narrative and character development (a la the original series) to hook the audience. Special effects are great, but if your narrative is lacking and your characters are not believable, the audience is going to walk away. The bad science fiction movies have amazing special effects, but the narrative and character development are were not quite finished. While I get that Lucas and ILM had access to technology that was not available in the 70’s, it’s almost like they forgot that they had a story to tell and only focused on the special effects.
#1: Lucas Forgot How To Write
Any writer, worth their salt, regardless of genre or format will tell you that the narrative and character development are priority #1. When it comes to making movies, the script is the backbone of the movie. Everything else (the costumes, the set, the special effects etc) are just window dressing. If your script is lacking, the movie is lacking. Period.
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