The hype cannot be contained among film-goers and Star Wars fans alike with the release of The Force Awakens. J.J. Abrams has effectively breathed new life into the saga, and we couldn’t be happier for it. It almost makes counting the days to Episode VIII much more justified. From just one viewing of the film, it’s clear that Abrams really got down to why people fell in love with Star Wars all those years ago. All he did was put that on the big screen, and it was a glorious ride.
However, there was a lot riding on this movie’s shoulders, largely due to it being the first big screen Star Wars adaptation since the prequel trilogy. If we’re all honest with ourselves (no matter how big of a Star Wars fan you claim to be) those were pretty bad. Going for nearly all CGI, some lazy acting, as well as one of the worst love stories captured on film (only to be beaten by Twilight), not to mention Jar Jar Binks, there is a lot to hate about Episodes I through III.
That doesn’t mean they don’t have their shining moments though. I mean, you can’t expect someone like George Lucas to make nothing but bad decisions, can you? As a matter of fact, there were plenty of things to love about the prequel trilogy, as well as many moments that had me smiling with delight. So before you write off the prequel trilogy entirely, here are 10 things those movies did right.
10. Sith Backstory
Darth Vader and Darth Sidious are both Sith (as we all know), but they were never directly referred to as such throughout the original trilogy. It wasn’t until The Phantom Menace that we learned about the Sith. We were shocked to learn that The Emperor had been operating behind the scenes since the very beginning, and that he had many apprentices before choosing Darth Vader for the Galactic Civil War. It opened up the Star Wars universe for more stories and depth about who the Sith are, and we’re glad for it.
9. Darth Maul
On the topic of the Sith, I would like to point out one of the best characters to come out of the prequel trilogy – Darth Maul. Being the mysterious Sith apprentice during Episode 1, his lack of words and sick face paint made him a warrior to fear. Not to mention when Obi-Wan and Qui Gon finally faced him, that dual lightsaber is just too cool. He may not be on the same level as Darth Vader, but he’s pretty close, so much so that fans are petitioning for him to return in the Clone Wars show. Oh yeah, George Lucas killed him off at the end of the first film.
8. The Jedi Council
Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi throughout the original trilogy hinted at the Jedi being peace keepers rather than war generals. This was solidified in the prequel trilogy with the inclusion of the Jedi Council. There was structure in how the Jedi were made, and the best of the best became members of the Council. It was this group that decided what to do should evil ever arise, and with Darth Sidious on the prowl, they did. In the matter of one film, they became members of war, moving from their comfy chairs to the screams of battle. How’s that for a good setup?
7. Qui-Gon Jinn
Arguably, Qui-Gon’s presence in the prequel trilogy is largely unnecessary, but for an unnecessary character, man is he awesome. Portrayed by Liam Neeson (one of the best actors in said trilogy), Qui-Gon is not your average, everyday Jedi. He gives a rebellious vibe, but just so happens to be one of the most powerful Jedi Masters. He would’ve been on the Council, but they deemed him too disobedient of Council orders. However, in a powerful twist of events, Qui-Gon turned out to be wiser than the Council could have ever hoped to be.
6. Obi-Wan Kenobi
As I said before, the acting in the prequel trilogy is pretty bad, but that’s mostly on Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman. Ewan McGregor had the immense task of playing Obi-Wan Kenobi in his younger years, and thankfully, he did not disappoint. There is a certain amount of charm and confidence that you’d expect in a younger form of Ben Kenobi, while at the same time, we learn how he became so wise in the future. We also constantly see Kenobi going on all kinds of crazy adventures, such as battling General Grievous on an enemy planet and flying to Geonosis on a spy mission.
Most of the CGI used in the prequel trilogy was pretty terrible, especially in the first film. However, that didn’t stop Lucas for using it in one the best sequences in the prequels. Yes, I’m talking about the podracing. While for the sake of the plot, it seems a little silly, it’s pretty darn cool. It pushed CGI to its limits while at the same time delivering some impressive sound effects (as Star Wars is known for). We don’t like little boy Anakin, but that scene is probably the most justifiable reason that he exists.
4. Lightsaber Battles
One of the things the original trilogy wasn’t able to do well was have some impressive lightsaber battles, due to technical limits at the time. With the advancements made 20 years later though, we were able to see some truly jaw-dropping fights. From the first scene in The Phantom Menace, we are treated to quick, precise movements by Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon, and it only gets better from there. The fight between Darth Maul is one of the best in lightsaber history, and there’s no denying that General Grievous’s four lightsabers makes for some inspiring sequences.
3. The Battle of Geonosis
When we learned that there would be a prequel trilogy for Star Wars that gave us a look at when the Jedi had many numbers, we always wondered what it would be like to see a bunch of lightsaber-wielding masters all on the battlefield at once. Luckily, at the climax of Episode II, we got it. We see dozens of Jedi all charging, lightsabers in hand to an insurmountable of droids, and the fight only gets better from there. It’s one of those moments that nerds started drooling at. This is why Star Wars needed prequels.
If there’s one thing John Williams does well, it’s make a darn good soundtrack. He’s been in Star Wars since the very beginning, and he returned for the prequel trilogy. He more than delivered on his epic score throughout all three of those films, and it certainly makes them more watchable. As a matter of fact, he may have even outdone his work on the original trilogy, and that’s probably the only area where the prequels might be superior. Not to mention “Duel of the Fates” is one the best pieces of music in cinematic history.
1. Master Yoda
Yoda was one of the most interesting characters to come out of the original trilogy. How could something so small be one of the most powerful Jedi in the galaxy? Well, Lucas answered all those questions in the prequel trilogy. Yoda, for all intents and purposes, is amazing. The first time we saw him pull out that green lightsaber, we all knew we were in for a treat. He’s such a great Jedi that when Order 66 came to wipe out all of the Masters, Yoda was one of the few they couldn’t manage to take down. He also dropped two guards with just a wave of his hand.