I’m a Star Wars nerd. Anyone who knows me knows that. I’m of that perfect age where marketing, toys and movies came together with an impressionable brain. George Lucas got his hooks into me early and has never let go. I’ve had a love / hate relationship with the prequel trilogy and George Lucas over the years here on the blog. I had Star Wars love when I wrote Thank You SPIKE – You Brought Me Back. I had love when I wrote The Force Awakens And My Anticipation Grows. I had some mild disdain when I wrote 10 Years Later This Geek Is Done Defending Lucas and I had some downright hate when I wrote The Phantom Menace In 3D – I Hope It Fails Miserably.
God bless the Wife, she’s been watching all six of the Star Wars saga with me and the boys in preparation for The Force Awakens this week. To say she’s been a trooper is putting it mildly. I suggested skipping the prequels entirely but she insisted on watching them all. We’re watching them in the order in which they were released. George Lucas suggests they should be watched in episode order. George Lucas is an idiot.
If you’re going to watch the prequels at all, I’m going to make the case that you probably shouldn’t, you absolutely should watch them AFTER the originals… at least the first two.
I had a comment on Facebook today where my friend Jason asked: “I once read an argument that stated the whole “prequel trilogy” could have been made (and made better) as a single movie. Thoughts?”
Here’s my slightly edited response:
Would The Prequels Be Better As A Single Movie? Should You Watch Them?
After re-watching them recently with Wife in prep for The Force Awakens, I’d say that’s 100% true. The prequels WOULD be better as a single movie, if it’s necessary at all.
The Phantom Menace is completely worthless. And I’m not even talking about the putrid acting and pacing that most people refer to. It adds nothing to the Star Wars mythos and can completely be skipped. In fact, if you DO skip it, you remove some of the most highly offensive stuff in the prequels (Jar Jar, midecholorians, a plot about trade disputes and voters). Sure, if you skip it you lose out on Darth Maul and Qui-Gon Jinn (two of my personal favorite prequel characters) but they are both killed off at the end of the film and never really mentioned moving forward so they’re completely expendable.
Attack of the Clones is a decent action movie, but it too fails to add much to the Star Wars saga. We finished watching Episode 2 last night and Wife said to me, “So what actually happened in this movie?” Sadly, I had a difficult time coming up with a response because the true answer is “not much”. The only thing it adds is to show that Anakin loves his mom and Padme. There’s one… literally ONE… scene that you should watch to show his start to the dark side (the Sandpeople slaughter) but other than that this is full of more politics, voting, talking, and scenes where video games come to life but add nothing.
Finally… Revenge of the Sith. This (in my nerdy opinion) is probably the only prequel really worth seeing, but it has epic failures in it too. Wife hasn’t seen this one yet but I’m not going to worry about spoiling it in this comment because a) she’s so confused as to who’s doing what in the Star Wars universe that even if she read this she wouldn’t understand it and b) even if she DID start reading this comment she’s gotten bored about 2 paragraphs ago.
That said, this movie had one job… one fucking job. And that was to show the turn to the dark side for Anakin. It failed pretty miserably. Sure it shows him be a bad ass AFTER he turns but the leap from, “I want to save my wife’s life” to “I’m going to chop off Mace Windu’s hand, pledge my allegiance to you and kill younglings” is just too much to handle.
In order to truly show Vader’s fall from grace you could probably expand this one single movie into 3 and then you might be able to tell a compelling enough story where it would make sense. Sadly only nerds like me would enjoy that and George Lucas isn’t nearly capable of telling those stories. Don’t even get me started on the Darth Vader, “Noooooo!”
Topher Grace has actually edited all three films into one. If you’re going to watch the prequels at all, I’d highly suggest the Machete Order which is IV, V, II, III, VI.
The Wife’s Take
As I said, my Wife is watching these movies for the first time. I’ve found some things rather interesting with what she’s picked up on while watching the films, what she’s liked and what she hasn’t liked.
- In general, she thinks the films are way too long and there’s too much going on. Especially in the prequels she’s having a hard time telling who’s fighting who, who’s aligned with who and who we should be rooting for or against.
- Watching them in order of release, she’s having a hard time keeping characters straight. “Wait, Vader is Anakin? This kid is Luke’s dad?”
- She had NO problem with young Anakin at the end of ROTJ. The insertion of Hayden Christensen as a Force ghost really pisses me off, but it made perfect sense to her. No issue.
- Most of the George Lucas special edition “tinkering” didn’t bother her at all. She either didn’t notice it or didn’t care. There was one HUGE exception: Jedi Rocks. She literally said, “What the hell is this?” If you’re not familiar… it’s this.
- She actually really identifies with Vader. After watching Empire she said, “Vader just wants to be with his son. I can’t really fault him for that.”
- She really liked Luke’s outfit in Jedi. “I like Luke’s outfit. It’s very chic.”
Like I said… she’s been a trooper. I have a feeling I’m going to have to repay this debt by watching some films that I really won’t enjoy. But I’m happy to say that I no longer have a Wife who’s not seen these films that I grew up with.
And in case you haven’t figured it out… I couldn’t be more excited for The Force Awakens. It’s THIS WEEK!!!