The “Star Wars” prequels have become the punchline to a bad joke. People’s minds have become so clouded by all the things they hate about these movies that they tend to miss some parts that were welcome additions to the series. Yes, some will argue that the bad outweighs the good, but given the amount of time, money, and effort that went into these films, it’s important to recognize when all that paid off.
10) The opera house scene
This scene is actually highly praised and talked about, so I put it lower on the list. The scene introduced Darth Plagueis who became a beloved character in the novels. It was beautifully shot, and it was well acted, but what makes people remember it so much is what it did. It provided much needed lore to the entire series that made sense, and worked to the series’ benefit.
9) The droid designs
Unfortunately, the prequels had nowhere near the amount of cool alien designs as the originals. However, where they lacked in those designs, they more than made up for in the designs of the droids. The droids had personality much like C3PO and R2D2, but could actually fight. Later introduced was General Grievous, leader of the droid army. Although he was a bit of a pushover in “Revenge of the Sith,” his high body count, and headhunt to defeat Shaak-Ti in “Star Wars: Clone Wars” was badass.
8) Anakin’s story
Mixed with Hayden Christensen’s acting (especially his early acting) and the awful dialogue fed to him by the writers, as a character Anakin wasn’t even a shadow of Darth Vader. Although poorly delivered, Anakin’s backstory made perfect sense. He was raised a slave after he and his mother were abandoned by his father. He was accepted into the Jedi Academy under very non-traditional terms. His mother was then tragically and brutally killed. He breaks a major code of the Jedi by getting married. His wife gets pregnant, and bewitching dreams make him fear that she will die in childbirth. As he cannot take another major death in his life, he turns to the only person who seems to have answers. After watching the originals, this course of action makes the most sense, and, to be fair, not all these aspects are executed poorly. For example, the scene where Anakin learns his wife is pregnant is very well done. Anakin’s storyline is fitting for the dark lord of the Sith, if not for some sand here and there.
7) The Jedi Council
In the original films, the way of the Jedi is shrouded in mystery. Very little is explained about their methods, traditions, or rules. This is rectified in the prequels with the Jedi Council. Along with some incredible character designs and set designs, the Jedi Council taught the audience the morals of the Jedi, their rules for joining, and opened the door for great side stories.
6) Ewan McGregor as Obi Wan
If you get the chance, watch some of the special features for “Revenge of the Sith” about casting choices. In the section about Ewan McGregor being cast as Obi Wan, from the special effects people to George Lucas himself, everyone just praises the man. McGregor actually looked like he could be related to Alec Guinness. In “New Hope,” we got to see old Ben Kenobi square off against Darth Vader. Although the fight is nice taste of lightsaber duals to come, many people saw this and thought “Man, I would love to see this old man fight in his prime.” McGregor captured everything we wanted to see. We saw a warrior go through battle after battle while still paying homage to the great Alec Guinness.
5) Ian McDiarmid’s triumphant return
Some people can do sic-fi movies, and some people can’t. Although he is a terrific actor, Samuel L. Jackson is clearly not very comfortable with some of his dialogue in the prequels. However, Ian McDiarmid shines every moment he is on screen. When he is merely the chancellor, McDiarmid sounds so slimey yet controlled. You can hear a sense of evil in all of his words while still putting on a believable show. When he finally becomes the Emperor we love to hate in “Revenge of the Sith,” he has so much fun with the role that it’s intoxicating. He commands the screen throughout the film, and everything out of his mouth his pure gold.
4) “Dual of the Fates” and “Battle of the Heroes”
John Williams can do no wrong. In the original films, his music graces the screen and perfectly accompanies the action. The prequels added his classic tracks to the films, but then had these two songs as well: “Dual of the Fates” from the battle with Darth Maul, and “Battle of the Heroes” for the final showdown between Anakin and Obi Wan. While the scores in the previous films added to the ambiance, these two perfectly captured the inner turmoil the characters were going through. They made the fights feel like more than fights. These songs just couldn’t fit in another sci-fi movie, as they perfectly embody everything that is “Star Wars.”
3) The sets
The original films had to rely on tight, intimate scenes complete with puppets, animatronics, costumes, and wonderful set designs. They simply did not have the ability to create the large environments. Tattoine being a barren desert is no mistake. That can be done easily. Endor being a massive forest and Hoth being a planet of ice and snow aren’t mistakes either. Those worlds are easy to create as they could be shot at actual locations in the world. With the advent of CG, we got to see some incredible environments. Say what you will about the Gungans, their home world is sick. The lava planet Obi Wan and Anakin fight on is incredible. Every time a new world is introduced, there is a long panning shot just so the audience can drink it all in. Although the prequels tended to overly rely on CG, the environments that were created using CG were out of this world.
2) The lightsaber battles
Each of the original films had one lightsaber battle. The battle between Obi Wan and Darth Vader in “New Hope,” is kinda underwhelming when compared to what came latter. Both fights between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader are cool, but none of them have any “wow factor.” The prequels showed that it was possible to have multiple lightsaber duals, or even two on one fights. They were better choreographed, and had incredible music accompanying them (See No. 4). Most importantly, it also showed that the lightsabers could be original themselves. Darth Maul’s double bladed lightsaber and Count Dooku’s curved blade were awesome within themselves, and they opened the door for even cooler blades in the future.
1) Everything that came as a result