No one is arguing they are as good as the originals. At least no one sane. That said, just because Episodes I, II & III aren’t as good as some of the best sci-fi/fantasy ever captured on film that doesn’t mean they necessarily suck. Sure there’s Jar-Jar, that awful speech about sand, the video game level that masquerades as the climax of Attack of the Clones, several questionable casting decisions, and a memorable “No” might all be damning evidence to the contrary.
That, however, is not what this list is about. If you can get beyond comparing the films to the originals there’s actually quite a lot going on in the three Star Wars prequels that is actually pretty damn cool. Don’t believe me? Need to be convinced? Okay, here are ten reasons why the Star Wars Prequels Don’t Suck (and I’m not even counting my longtime crush Keira Knightley as one of them).
Of all the worlds we’ve seen in the Star Wars universe Naboo is one of the most interesting. The sequels may not deliver Alderaan (in anything more than a cameo), but Naboo turns out to be the next best thing with some of the best production design of any Star Wars film location. The design of the planet also offers the sleek fighters and beautiful silver Nubian yacht our heroes use to escape the Trade Federation forces. And, even though it gave birth to Jar-Jar, the underwater world of the planet is equally fascinating.
9. The Podrace
Yes, the prequels would have been far more effective if Anakin Skywalker had been introduced as a teenager (and the actress playing Amidala had actually been twice his age). That said, be eight or eighteen, he is a pretty good pilot. Do you remember the cheers in the theater the first time audiences saw podracing? It may not offer the same awe on repeated viewings, but the sequence is certainly one of the highlights of Episode I and delivered its share of movie magic.
8. The Jedi
From Qui-Gon Jinn to the Jedi Council to Obi-Wan Kenboi and Anakin, the prequels finally give us more Jedi roaming the galaxy than just one farm kid from Tatooine. You can certainly make arguments about how some of these Jedi are used, but they are nevertheless still pretty awesome. The number of Jedi, and their differences, are further explored in The Clone Wars animated series.
An entire planet that is one interconnected city. Think of the number of spin-off movies, books, and comics that could be spent doing nothing more than fleshing out such an amazing location. Not only does Coruscant give us the Jedi Temple and the Senate, but it also provides the best action sequences of Episode II as Anakin and Obi-Wan chase an assassin tasked with killing Senator Amidala.
6. Kamnino and The Clones
For decades we wanted to know about the Clone Wars. The introduction of Kamino (another intriguing new world added to the Star Wars Universe) and their cloning facilities begins filling in that period of time. It also launches The Clone Wars animated series which delivers one of the most beloved Jedi not named Skywalker, Kenobi, or Yoda in Anakin’s young padawan Ahsoka Tano.
5. Palpatine’s Maneuverings
Say what you want about the man, but Palpatine spends the entire prequels making everyone dance as his puppets. More than the story of Anakin Skywalker, if you take a step back, you can argue the prequels are actually the story of how a Sith Lord comes to control and entire galaxy, and completely under the noses of an entire Jedi Temple just blocks away. How he grooms Anakin into his final apprentice, playing on the young man’s desires and fears, helps push Skywalker to the precipice and eventually over the edge and firmly into the clutches of the Dark Side.
4. Duel of the Fates
How can the prequels suck if hands down the very best lightsaber battle takes place in the first movie? Yes Luke vs Vader and the rematch are great, but Duel of the Fates has it all. Operatic score, amazing multi-level set design, and three well-trained Force wielders (one of whom is another entry on this list).
3. The Birth of Darth Vader
Revenge of the Sith has several memorable moments which all tie together to the first time we hear “Lord Vader, Rise!” Beginning with Anakin and Palpatine’s discussion about the power of the Sith, to Anankin choosing to out Palpatine as a Sith, and the sequence of him looking out over Coruscant and immediately questioning that choice, to the brutal end of Obi-Wan and Anakin’s battle on Mustafar, to the building of a monster and the first words spoken by the Dark Lord of the Sith, the birth of Darth Vader is filled with cinematic gems. And as for that single word which ends this scene, well since this is a list of the good parts of the prequels, we won’t mention it here.
2. The Separatists are Actually the Good Guys
Did you notice that every one of our heroes is actually fighting on the wrong side until the very end of Revenge of the Sith? That’s right, Obi-Wan Kenobi and the entire Jedi Council are actually fighting to allow a Sith to consolidate his power and eventually become Emperor of the galaxy. In a scene cut from Episode III (available in the extras) we even see Padme join the Separatists along with everyone else who will eventually create the foundation of the Rebellion. Are several members of the Separatists, such as the Trade Federation, selfish (and also pawns under Palpatine’s sway)? Sure, but most of the systems who join the Separatist movement have genuine concern about the Republic (which turn out to be well-founded). Their distrust isn’t a bad thing (especially because on the other side you have a power-hungry madman with an entire Clone Army at this control to bend their will to his own).
1. Darth Maul