TOP TEN GOOD THINGS ABOUT THE STAR WARS PREQUELS

Bashing the Star Wars Prequels has almost become an art form on the Internet. There are lengthy, (and quite hilarious) video reviews that eviscerate the films, and even entire websites dedicated to mocking the much-maligned Episodes I-III. As a life-long Star Wars fan, I decided to try to counter all this hater-ade drinking by taking on the challenge of compiling a list of at least ten genuinely awesome things about the Star Wars Prequels. I actually came up with a whopping twelve scenes/moments, before trimming it to the aforementioned ten. So without further ado, after the jump, here are the Top Ten Good Things About The Star Wars Prequels!

 

10.) Anakin Becomes Vader

All right, so the moment where Vader frees himself from his binds, clunks around Frankenstein’s Monster style, and lets out the now-infamous NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! wail, is laughable – but the sequence before that, when the charred face of Anakin looks up in horror as he is entombed in the visage of Vader – is haunting and iconic. The brief sequence is made even more unnerving by the pressurized “THUNK” as the helmet slides into place, using the classic sound effects from Vader’s private chamber in The Empire Strikes Back. It’s a chilling few minutes that seals both Anakin’s body, and his fate – inside an iron prison of his own making.

9.) Obi-Wan Vs. Anakin

Star Wars fans waited almost 30 years to see the fateful duel between Master and Pupil over a blazing pit of lava, and though it was much different than many folks imagined, it still delivered the goods. Anakin and Obi-Wan traded venomous verbal barbs, intense Force-pushes, and hundreds of  punishing lightsaber blows, until the crushing final moment where Anakin’s anger and hubris gets the best of him. Anakin’s legless body engulfed in flames is one of the series’ most haunting images.

8.) Liam Neeson

Let’s forget for a moment that the character of Qui-Gon Jinn was wholly unnecessary, and focus on the awesomeness of Liam Neeson. In the face of bumbling CGI Rastafarians, a precocious child actor, and having to perform in a green screen wasteland; Neeson lent the proceedings a sorely needed credibility.  When he spoke in his commanding, yet wise voice, he projected all the necessary qualities of a venerable Jedi Master, which arguably saved the film from being completely unwatchable.

7.) The Pod Race

This sequence gets a bad rap thanks in part to a grating “play-by-play” from an annoying announcer, and some campy alien racers, but I’ve always felt that it was an exhilarating, tense action set piece. Lucas is a long-time speed demon; he loves fast cars and racing, so he made sure Industrial Light & Magic infused the Pod Race with a truly convincing sense of speed for the audience. This thing is fast folks, and filled with spectacular crashes, feuds among racers, treacherous twists and turns, and a nail-biting photo finish. It even has Sand People shooting at the racers! The one aspect that truly makes the Pod Race a classic, however, is the sensational and immersive sound design by longtime Star Wars sound-effect genius Ben Burtt.

6.) Anakin Butchers The Tuskens

In what is arguably the darkest scene of the Star Wars saga, John Williams’ intense score swells up around an enraged Anakin after he finds his Mother brutalized by a tribe of Sand People. As she dies in his arms, Hayden Christensen displays a terrifying look of anger and vengeance, then gives himself over the Dark Side of the Force for the first time -brutally slicing down two Sand People. We later discover that he murdered the entire tribe, women and children included.

5.) “Don’t Look Back…”

The Prequels are full of stilted dialogue and wooden, bored performances, but occasionally there are moments of genuine emotion – such as this heartbreaking moment, where Pernilla August’s Shmi Skywalker sends her little boy off to his destiny and sets in motion events that will alter the galaxy forever. (Go to 6:44 into this video to watch the scene)

4.) Chewbacca Gives Yoda A Piggy-Back Ride

Though it was sort of arbitrarily included, The battle on the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk in Revenge of the Sith features one of the greatest moments of the saga as Yoda, fleeing from “Order 66”-brainwashed Clone troopers, must climb up Chewbacca’s extended arm for a piggy-back ride to a waiting escape pod. It’s a fun little moment between two beloved characters that had never interacted onscreen before. (Scene occurs at 4:22)

3.) The Emperor

Whether he’s simply cackling hideously, or feeding the Jedi and Anakin lies from his acidic tongue in order to carry out his Machiavellian schemes of galactic domination, The Emperor is simply a joy to watch in these films. Ian McDiarmid oozes evil from every pore in his performance as both the hooded master of doom Darth Sidious, and the manipulative Senator Palpatine.

2.) Obi-Wan & Qui-Gon Vs. Darth Maul

This lightsaber duel is possibly the best of the entire saga, and that’s no mean feat. It’s a dialogue-free test of wills that rages across perilous reactor shafts, Jedi and Sith alike nimbly flipping onto ledges while their lightsabers clash and spark. When Qui-Gon kneels to meditate behind the force-field, and Darth Maul paces like a starved wolf waiting to pounce – the anticipation to continue the battle is palpable. The end comes sudden and swift, leaving only one combatant standing. Epic.

1.) John Williams

Star Wars without John Williams is like peanut butter without jelly. Separately they are great, but when combined, it’s undeniable magic.  Williams’ brilliant music injects life and majesty to just about any scene, transforming images of robots and guys walking around spaceship corridors into senses-shattering space opera. Hell, without Williams, I’m not sure we even have the term “space opera”. The man is just that damn good. Duel of the Fates, with its epic vocal chorus, is the signature cue of the Prequels and one of the best pieces of music in the entire saga –period.

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About Jeff Carter

Jeff began his path towards Geek destiny at the age of four, at a drive-in screening of Star Wars. Since then, he's had a love affair with all things nerdy. In the mid to late 90's, Jeff was a staff writer for EchoStation.Com, interviewing Star Wars heavyweights like Timothy Zahn and Drew Struzan. He then went on to review films and write editorial pieces for several blogs in the mid 2000's, wrote and co-created a webcomic strip that ran from 2007-2010, and is currently co-founder of Dead Henchmen Productions, an independent film company based in New England.

Posted on February 23, 2011, in LaserCola Lists, Star Wars and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. As the kind of guy who looks for the best in everything I loved this! I, like just about everyone else, prefer the orginals to the prequels, but I don’t hate the prequels like so many others. This past weekend I watched the entire series from fron to back andd enjoyed it. I tend to grey out the parts that are a bit painful to watch, but all in all it is still Star Wars and its not completely horrible. Thank you for nailing so many of the good points and bringing them out front and center.

  2. I would say the best article you’ve done yet. I would have thrown the Emperor vs Yoda fight in there somewhere or perhaps the recreation of Owen and Beru holding a young Luke staring off into the distance of the twin suns. Regardless, well done man.

  3. Michael A. Greenberg

    This is an Wonderful review. I feel too many people bash the prequels. They really are very good movies. OK they are not the original trilogy, but what is? The original Trilogy (Which also counts Return of the Jedi) Is probably the Greatest Movie experiance ever. The Prequels, if looked at on their own, are great movies. People have to understand, don’t compare them to the Originals. Nothing compares to the Origianls. Look at them as they are and you will understand how good these movies really are. No Question about it.

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