I read this article in which the author attempts to defend the political shrewdness of Star Wars Episodes 1-3 over 4-6…
Here’s the link.
It comes off like a debate student charged with defending an unpopular topic. He attempts to draw parallels between the post 9-11 world and the world of the prequels. As Phantom Menace came out in 1999, and Attack of the Clones was well in to production by the time 9/11 happened, this is a bit laughable.
But it got me to thinking: Is there any ground on which one COULD claim superiority of the Prequels? Special effects aside (as it seems unfair to put the 70′s up against the full weight of 30-odd years of technological advances), in which, if any, ways does 1-3 come out ahead?
Being a big fan of arguing about shit that doesn’t matter in the slightest, I’m all about picking up the standard and charging up the hill of unpopular opinion. Now, by no means does this mean I believe that the prequels win in a straight comparison, and yes, I’m fully aware of the suckitude that is Jar Jar Binks, and midichlorians. If you ask me which of the films is the best, I’m likely to say that none of them pass a 7/10, but Empire is probably the most watchable, with the first 30 minutes of Jedi a close second, and the Podrace 3rd.
1)The tragic nature of Anakin’s path, is far superior than any character arc in Ep 4-6. The Original trilogy has characters that change over the course of the films, but it’s all pretty superficial. Luke is meant to have matured, but it’s not well handled or particularly strong. Anakin, for all of his other faults, follows his heart, and tries in vain to protect those he loves. Yes, he makes some bad choices along the way, but his is by far the strongest of all the characters in the Star Wars universe.
2) The lightsaber battles are much, much better. No comparison. Now, the “decades of technology” argument might have a little to do with this, but mostly, it’s about the movement and the choreography. Luke has a few nice moments in the OT, but it’s no contest. Darth Maul runs circles around pretty much every fight in the OT.
3) The characters are more fleshed out, and more complex. Lucas isn’t exactly known for his brilliance with character depth, but 1-3 gives us characters with struggle, who react to what happens around them, who make decisions based on their emotions. Apart from the previous point about Anakin, we have Padme, who starts out as a one dimensional figurehead, but over the course of 3 films, becomes much more than that. Even Obi Wan follows a path from student to master.
4) Better droids. While there’s no arguing that R2D2 is pretty much the coolest droid in universe, Episodes 1-3 have the Droidekas. In fact, one has to wonder why the Emperor didn’t use them more after he took over. They’re pretty bad-ass. The Battle droids are also pretty sharp, and even the comical B1 battle droids (the little tan-colored guys) were decent. One might make an argument for the Gonk Droid from the OT, I might be swayed slightly due to the childhood memories of the action figure, and it’s lame-but-coolness.
5) More aventure in exotic locations. Now, this might be touching on the “30 odd years of technology” part, but while the original trilogy brings us to Death Stars, Ice Planets, Swamps and cloud cities, The prequels take us further, and spend more time exploring their environments. We have Naboo, which has more than one (!) biome. We travel to the edge of the universe to the clone making facilities. We have a battle on a spaceship that is suddenly forced to deal with gravity. We explore Coruscant, and Kashyyyk. We battle in the lava on Mustafar. We explore the rainy high-tech world of Kamino. Even the sets themselves are bigger, more expansive. The fight on board Dooku’s flagship comes to mind.
So there you have it. Some good things to say within the frame of a larger evil. Thoughts? Disagreement? Just want to vent about Jar Jar? Knock yourselves out!