Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sorry, I Like the Prequels Better

I have a confession to make: I like the Star Wars prequels better than the original trilogy.

Prequel Trilogy DVDI know, I know; I'm insane, I'm a heretic, burn me at the stake, blah blah blah... I like Star Trek better anyhow, so you might as well pile that wood extra high.

Hear me out, though: I like the Star Wars prequels better than the original trilogy, but the original trilogy is better than the prequels.

Wha-huh?

In terms of plot, characters, dialogue, acting, and aesthetic design, the original trilogy is generally superior. Yet, as a whole, I enjoy the prequels more. I openly concede that the prequels are riddled with problems, but there's so much that I like about the prequels that I'm able to shrug off all the parts that make me cringe or roll my eyes.

I'm easily won over by spectacular action sequences, and the prequels blow the original trilogy out of the water in this regard. Don't get me wrong; the original trilogy has some fantastic fights and explosions, but the prequels' lightsaber battles are far more intense, and the space battle that opens Episode III is still breathtaking to me.

Battle over CoruscantI don't really have a favorite character in the original trilogy; all the actors do a fine job, and all the characters are interesting enough, but nobody really stands out more than the others to me. Ewan McGregor's Obi-Wan Kenobi, on the other hand, is a shoo-in for my favorite character in the prequel trilogy.

Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan KenobiIt's not just the fact that he bears a striking resemblence to yours truly (more than one person at college greeted me as "Obi-Wan!"); he seems genuinely passionate about the role, and there are times when he sounds exactly like Alec Guinness does in the original trilogy.

Ewan McGregor and the neat-o action sequences are the two biggest aspects of the prequels that I like more than what the original trilogy has to offer. Are they the sole reasons why I prefer the prequel trilogy? No. In large part, I prefer the prequels because I dislike them less than I dislike the original trilogy.

To be clear: I like all six Star Wars movies. But there are aspects of each one that I dislike, and it just so happens that I can get over the prequels' problems easier than the originals'.

The problems I have with the prequel trilogy are usually a number of small issues, and the awesome action sequences tend to make up for the larger issues. The problems I have with the original trilogy, on the other hand, are almost always big ones.

Additionally, my issues with the prequels usually relate to the Star Wars universe itself--something feels out-of-place or fails to capture the spirit of Star Wars--while my issues with the original trilogy usually relate more to my taste in movies. In other words, the prequels' problems bother me as a Star Wars fan, and the originals' problems bother me as a moviegoer.

I've often fantasized about how to fix Star Wars so that the prequels would be every bit as good as the originals, and so that the originals would be more appealing to me. I do this kind of thinking all the time with other fandoms I enjoy, but Star Wars seems to be more in need of repair than any other fandom I enjoy, including such problem-filled fandoms as Indiana Jones, The Matrix, Mega Man, and even Star Trek!

Collage of Shame: Indy 4, Matrix 3, MMX7, NemesisWhen a lousy Mega Man game comes out, fans are disappointed; when a lousy Star Trek movie comes out, fans complain and then go back to watching Wrath of Khan; when a lousy Star Wars movie comes out, George Lucas has RUINED THEIR CHILDHOODS AND MUST PAY WITH HIS BLOOD.

As for me? The prequels and the Special Editions of the originals haven't ruined a thing. I've already stated that I like the prequels, and aside from a few dorky decisions here and there, I prefer the much prettier Special Editions. Whether Han shot first, or some time during the Battle of Hoth, it doesn't make much of a difference to me. Call me what you will, but the feeling I get from a movie as a whole is far more important than the individual details.

To give you an idea of where I stand in terms of liking the movies, here's my preference, in order from least favorite to favorite: New Hope, Phantom Menace, Empire, Clones, Sith, Jedi.

Yes, that's right. The original Star Wars is my least favorite. I'll explain why on Monday, hopefully before you're done tying me to the stake. You'll notice, however, that I like each of the movies in the original and prequel trilogy more than the one that came before it; I view the trilogies as whole stories more than individual movies, and I like the conclusions more than the introductions.

I doubt anyone would say that all six Star Wars movies are 100% perfect, so I wonder what fans would change if they had the chance to alter the films to their liking? To make things more interesting, what if they could only change one thing about each movie? People whine enough about midi-chlorians and Ewoks, but if they had just one shot at polishing the tarnished Star Wars legacy, what would do the most good?

Baby EwokThis is a question we'll be exploring this coming week, not just with Star Wars, but also with some of our favorite flawed fandoms. Whether we're talking about movies, video games, comic book series, or anything else, we'll discuss the one thing we wish we could change about each thing we bring up. If you feel like suggesting some changes of your own, please do so in the comments section!

Also, if you're in the commenting mood, please check out our celebration of 10,000 hits and tell us what new hobby or fandom you think Alex and I should try out next!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to change into this flame-retardant jumpsuit.

5 comments:

tarepanda said...

I think that perhaps people are angry about the state of the Star Wars movies because the original trilogy was changed two or three times from what people were originally comfortable with... and then, on top of that, the prequels were crappy.

Imagine if, for Star Trek, they released remastered versions of TWOK; they cut out the slug-in-the-ear sequences, made it seem like Khan had telepathy, and took out the models only to replace them with rubbery, artificial-looking CGI. I think the Star Trek fans would be incensed.

On top of that, imagine that fans wait for yeaaaaars to get a new Star Trek movie like they did, but rather than what they got, they get some kind of Starfleet Academy 90210 with totally out-of-character characters, crappy writing, weird retconning, and terrible directing. But good fights.

tarepanda said...

I found someone else that looks a lot like you: Reed Richards's father in Fantastic Four 571.

http://www.tenjou.net/dump/father.jpg

Flashman85 said...

When you put Star Wars in that context, the rage does make a lot more sense.

As for Reed Richards' father... Whoa. We oughta start up a Club for People Who Look Like Me.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't even finish reading this pathetic stab you've taken at writing. Let me just tell you what you've written: "I like this... I don't like this...I like this guy because I like him and he looks like me...Neato."

You say absolutely nothing of substance or interest and yet you manage to ramble on for several paragraphs.

I guess you might just be an eight year-old in which case, good job on your spelling! You get two gold stars!

Otherwise, keep on writing but keep it to yourself and don't pollute the already filthy internet with your tawdry scribbles. And if by the grace of God you someday improve come back and write something worth reading.

Flashman85 said...

Hi Anonymous,

I see that we both value meaningful communication, which is why I'm confused about your comment.

You accuse me of saying nothing of interest for several paragraphs, but your summary of my writing amounts to, "I like this...I don't like this." Without providing any specific examples of how I failed to capture your interest, your comment can be summarized as, "I don't like this," which by your standards, is of no value whatsoever.

You also seem to have oversimplified my explanation of why I like the character of Obi-Wan. I did acknowledge in a mildly tongue-in-cheek way that the actor's resemblance to me was a contributing factor, but I went on to say, "[Ewan McGregor] seems genuinely passionate about the role, and there are times when he sounds exactly like Alec Guinness does in the original trilogy." In other words, I appreciate Obi-Wan because Ewan McGregor's commitment to the acting craft and his reverence for the role is evident in his performance. This seems quite different from, "I like this guy because I like him and he looks like me," does it not?

I recognized that this post was likely to make diehard fans of the original Star Wars trilogy angry, which is why I made every effort to explain my position thoroughly without belittling the original films. Similarly, a comment such as yours is likely to make a writer upset unless you explain your position thoroughly without belittling the writer unnecessarily.

I set out to express a potentially inflammatory opinion in this post, but I provided as much explanation as possible to facilitate meaningful and productive discourse. You set out to express a potentially inflammatory opinion in your comment, but you presented me with an unsupported accusation, an apparently inaccurate summary, and a condescending tone that ignores the fact that your comment is subject to the same criticism you make of my post. Perhaps you could clarify your standards of what constitutes "filth" and "pollution" on the Internet?