With the new Star Wars movies coming out, most recently The Force Awakens, there’s always a group of people that will defend Episodes 4, 5 and 6 as being the crème de la crème, which you can’t fault them for. Most of that fan base are the older crowd, and they have every right to consider the originals to be what they describe, considering they grew up with those movies, but they’ll never mention Episodes 1, 2 and 3 because they consider the prequels to be the worst Star Wars movies in the Star Wars timeline. As someone that has spent many years of his life dedicated to watching Star Wars and collecting Star Wars memorabilia, such as action figures, t-shirts, video games, posters, etc., I feel it is the right time to discuss why the prequels are actually worth watching.
Granted, there are many reasons why they shouldn’t be anywhere near the face of this earth, but there’s absolutely no reason people should disregard their existence. In its simplest form, the Star Wars prequels are there to help people understand what happened before the well known Star Wars movies happened. You know, things like where Darth Vader came from, or how Anakin Skywalker came to be, and where Obi Wan Kenobi learned his best work.
Yes, the prequels do hold some valuable information, and they are worth watching to get the full picture, so, I’m going to discuss ten reasons why the prequels are worth watching, and to even the playing field, I’ll also discuss five reasons why they aren’t worth watching.
15. Young Anakin Skywalker
I can only imagine what it was like to see the original Star Wars movies and see Darth Vader for the first time without knowing his real name or where he came from. Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace exists solely for that reason. With the preexisting knowledge of Darth Vader existing, you get to see Darth Vader in a newer, much younger form. Thus brings Anakin Skywalker into the picture to solve all those questions. Yes, Anakin Skywalker portrayed by Jake Lloyd is the young boy that eventually ventures into the dark side and becomes Darth Vader.
14. Backstory For The Original Trilogy
When you think about Star Wars, it’s not just about the original trilogy anymore. Through the years, we’ve gotten the prequel trilogy, The Force Awakens, and soon to make its debut, Star Wars: Rogue One. You really only get half the story of what Star Wars has to offer in the original trilogy. For that reason, the prequel trilogy exists. Especially for those of us, like myself, who like to know the whole story, even if it means pushing yourself through the prequel trilogy. And I mean that with the utmost respect, because I personally enjoy the prequel trilogy, for many reasons. But, at the end of the day, it’s really only there to offer some background as to what led to the original movies.
13. Liam Neeson & Ewan McGregor
One of the beautiful things about the prequel trilogy that sometimes gets disregarded is the choice of actors. The two main actors that I want to focus on here are Liam Neeson, who played Qui Gon Jinn, and Ewan McGregor who played Obi Wan Kenobi in the entire prequel trilogy. Talk about putting two actors that nailed the roles perfectly. Liam Neeson is of course known for his work in Taken, amongst other great movies, and Ewan McGregor who is known for his work in Moulin Rouge, so the two of them were just a natural fit for these roles, and they both nailed them with flying colors.
Would somebody like to explain to me why The Phantom Menace is the only movie in the entire Star Wars collection that features a full-on, energetic podrace? This is such a fantastic idea for something on the side in the Star Wars universe, and it was literally put to its full potential in one movie. Though granted, it being in the first movie of the entire franchise is something of a blessing, because it adds a bit of excitement while at the same time, showing why Anakin Skywalker was known to be such a fantastic pilot throughout the series, and his skills with a podracer are top notch. This is probably one of the best scenes in all three movies, though it falls a little bit short when you put the lightsaber duel with Anakin Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi into the equation.
11. Darth Maul Battle
This was and still is a pretty common trend, but was mostly prevalent in the prequel series, by creating something great, and only featuring it for a little bit (without putting it to its full potential). Now, I would agree that this criticism could stem from George Lucas‘s lack of enthusiasm in the filming of the prequels, but I’ll be getting to that later on in this article. The Darth Maul lightsaber duel is possibly one of the best scenes in Star Wars movie history, and it’s what makes The Phantom Menace truly one of the best in the prequels, but unfortunately, the first movie is the only place we see Darth Maul at his full potential which unfortunately leads to his imminent demise.
10. Hayden Christensen (Pre-Vader)
While the prequel trilogy brings in a lot of criticism, one of the common occurrences of criticism stems from the actor choice for Anakin Skywalker in the second and third movies. If you didn’t know, Anakin Skywalker was portrayed by Hayden Christensen. Not a fan favorite by any means, especially for those that are heavily into the movies. But for me, he fit the role very well, even if his acting was garbage at times. He did the part justice and really did add his own swing of emotion into it, even if it wasn’t captured properly at times in the prequels.
9. Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala
Now, who says Star Wars can’t contain a love story. I mean, let’s be real here, the originals actually brought a love story into the equation before the prequels did, y’know, with Luke and Leia not knowing they were related? But of course, you had to know where Luke and Leia came from, and that’s why Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala share an on and off love story in the prequels. Even though it didn’t end up the way most people would like, this particular one is still very well done in terms of the acting, and the way they fall in love, eventually leading to Padmé’s pregnancy with Luke and Leia and the unfortunate downfall of Anakin Skywalker.
8. Obi Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker Lightsaber Duel
By far one of the best scenes ever filmed for any Star Wars film, and that includes The Force Awakens, which had a lot of great scenes. I know there are people that really didn’t like the prequels, for their own reasons, but the lightsaber duel between Anakin Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi wasn’t just a lightsaber duel, is was best friends losing each other, or a father losing his son. At the same time, it was an emotional rollercoaster brought upon by the love we all had for the strong bond that Obi Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker shared throughout the prequels.
7. Yoda and Darth Sidious Lightsaber Duel
While Obi Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker are duelling each other, you have Yoda and Darth Sidious going one on one simultaneously. While being one of my favorite scenes in the entire series, the way the directing went with these two scenes playing simultaneously was not only a genius move, but an emotional one as well, which to me is why I find the third movie in the prequel to be so memorable. There’s so much to take in, and so much emotion that can come out.
6. Birth of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia
As previously mentioned with the Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala love story, further on into the series we find out that this was also the reason for the birth of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. You find this out of course after Anakin Skywalker meets his demise and falls completely into the dark side, causing Padmé Amidala to give birth to Luke and Leia before passing away. We should never forget the reason behind the existence of Luke and Leia is due to the love interest of Anakin and Padmé.
Moving on from the ten reasons you should watch the Star Wars prequels, it’s time to get into the five that I believe are reasons why people wouldn’t want to watch the prequels, or it’s the reason people were turned off by them…
5. Green Screens Galore
One of the biggest criticisms with the prequels, and it’s something I actually agree with despite loving the prequels, is the use of green screen. I’m sure for long time Star Wars fans that loved the thought and originality of the originals were far more disappointed with the green screen usage as new fans, and it’s completely justified. George Lucas was an entirely original film maker and lost motivation to continue such a great series, and settled for green screen technology which made the movies watchable, but far less impressive than the originals.
4. Acting Issues
While I did mention that the prequels had their fair share of great actor choices, there were still some flaws with the choices the actors took with reading their lines, or expressing emotion. Unfortunately, Hayden Christensen is one of the most criticized for this exact reason. People didn’t believe in his emotion and thought he was trying too hard. While I can agree with some of that, I still think anybody else would have done far worse than he did, and he really didn’t do that bad. But, admittedly, there are quite a few cringeworthy moments in the prequels.
3. Death of Qui Gon Jinn
Possibly one of the worst directing decisions and one of the worst things that happened in the Star Wars universe was the death of Qui Gon Jinn near the end of The Phantom Menace. Now, I understand that for story sake he had to go, and honestly, what’s a more amazing way to go then in a fight with Darth Maul with your padawan. However, I personally would have loved to see Qui Gon Jinn in at least one more of the prequels if it were possible, but I understand that for story sake, it just wouldn’t make sense.
2. George Lucas’ Lack of Enthusiasm
It’s really unfortunate that the mastermind behind the whole Star Wars universe is the biggest criticism that the prequels receive. Yeah, George Lucas has an evident lack of enthusiasm with the prequels, and it’s evident in some of the acting choices, and just the overall direction that the prequels went in, in some cases, but not all. I feel that if George Lucas took the prequels more seriously like he did with the original trilogy, the entire line of Star Wars movies would be amazing. But, unfortunately what we got is what we got, and what we got is heavily criticized movies in a fantastic series of movies, that is still evolving today. So either way, hats off to George Lucas for making such a thing possible, even if you want nothing to do with it.
1. Jar Jar Binks
I’ve saved the best for last. Possibly one of, if not the worst decisions ever made in any Star Wars movie is the creation of Jar Jar Binks. He’s only ever useful a few times in the prequel trilogy, but really, he serves absolutely no purpose in the movies as a whole. He’s basically just an added character to add some interesting dynamic to the prequels, but I think the prequels would have been just fine (if not better) if Jar Jar Binks had never existed. Of course, there are those theories that he was once a dark jedi, and honestly, my respect for his character would skyrocket if I found out that those theories came true.
That’s really all there is to it. I’ve listed out ten reasons why you should watch the Star Wars prequels, and five reasons why you shouldn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I think the prequels are still some of my favorite movies of all time, but that’s more due to the fact that I enjoy all the movies equally, but for different reasons of course. They are still worth checking out, even if you’re just getting into Star Wars, and I really hope that even though their considered some of the worst movies ever made, that people end up coming around to them and enjoying them as much as they can enjoy the original series, because they are great.