Defending the Indefensible

There’s a video out there — a long annoying video — that is a full bore attack on the Star Wars prequels. Even having slogged through most of it, I stand by what I previously said (and Robert’s insightful comment). I think the movies are decent to almost great. That they are not as good as the original trilogy doesn’t bother me; I didn’t expect them to be. A lot more works than doesn’t. And much of the anger is generational — i.e., most intense among those who grew up on the first trilogy.

I was actually mulling over making my own video response to the critique. But I can’t imagine where I’d get the time.

I will add one thing to my previous post: the prequel trilogy was a losing proposition from the start. Prequels, in general, do not do well. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a single on that really worked except for the prequel half of The Godfather. Reboots sometimes work, but prequels rarely do.

The reason is not because prequel makers are idiots but because they are faced with not one but two impossible tacks. First, they have to match the quality of a film that was so good it merited a prequel. Even a small regression to the mean is inevitable. It’s just not easy to make two magnum opi.

Second, prequels are, by definition, narratively confined. We know where it’s going to end, so drama and surprise are out. More importantly, the plot ceases to flow from the characters. The characters become slaves to the plot. This is one of the biggest problems with the Star Wars prequels — characters like Padme have to serve more as walking plot devices than actual characters.

As a writer myself, I have often envisioned the end of the story only to find the characters marching it off in a different direction. With prequels, that freedom is lost.

Still, I enjoy Episode I-III for what they are. They do a reasonable job, although not as a good a job as they could. And I’ve never really understood how someone could be so enraged by them as to do things like make an annoying and deliberately obtuse 70-minute video.

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