The Star Wars Prequels Are Bad, But I'll Love Them Forever
Anyone who listens to my appearances on "Lights, Camera, Barstool" will know that my cynicism knows no bounds. I have an inane ability to bring down the mood, and I'm extremely bothered by what's become of movies today. But even I am capable of appreciating things for what they are. I'm a kid who grew up on the Star Wars prequels. And as much as I am capable of criticism, I'm also capable of praise. I can love something, even if that something comes with the heaviest of flaws. And that flawed something is the Star Wars prequels.
When I say "The Star Wars prequels are bad," I'm talking about the trilogy as a whole. Even in my undying affection for Star Wars, I can't sit here and say that the prequel trilogy worked. "Phantom Menace" is one of the most boring Hollywood movies ever made. I understand Lucas surrounded himself with yes men, but, amazingly, no one told him that it wouldn't be wise to make a movie in which nothing happens. That lightsaber fight, though? So freaking cool.
“Attack Of The Clones” is a better movie than Menace. I know some people don’t agree, but at least there is action and movement. The final 30 minutes features some things of actual consequence. But to compare the two is splitting hairs. They both have beautiful visuals and boring stories. Unless you grew up on these movies like I did, they’re hard to recommend. Now, “Revenge Of The Sith?” That’s a pretty awesome movie. In a lot of ways, it redeemed the prequel trilogy. But you had to drag your feet through a lot of mud just to get there.
Sith isn't perfect, but it has a lot of awesome shit in it. The same can't exactly be said about "Phantom Menace" and "Attack Of The Clones." Those are hard movies to sell. On a technical level, they're amazing. John Williams's score is magnificent. The CGI and visuals still hold up pretty well, but there are so many elements where George Lucas fumbled the ball. They feature convoluted stories and awful dialogue. People complain about lousy acting, but Robert De Niro, in his prime, couldn't have delivered some of this dialogue and made it sound convincing. I wouldn't recommend two-thirds of this trilogy to anyone, yet I love them. I will always love them. The nostalgia will never die.
Don't get me wrong, I've had plenty of fun bashing these movies. I spent so much of middle school watching Redlettermedia tear apart every single frame of these movies. But the prequels are rare instances in which even the criticism adds to the experience. It is possible to acknowledge even the heaviest flaws and still hold that love in your heart. This is where I get up on my soapbox. I don't think there is any person at Barstool who is a bigger softy when it comes to the things that make him nostalgic. I'm sure people will roll their eyes while reading this, but the older I get, the closer I feel to these movies. I did commentary tracks for the prequels with my buddy Anthony about a year ago, hoping that I would finally get some closure about how I felt about these films. I watched them with an objective lens, and while I saw and acknowledged every flaw, I couldn't bring myself to feel any hate. These films are a part of me, and that's okay.
I understand that the prequels suffered from the same level of corporate shilling that the sequels did (I'll write about about those movies at some point.) You had the toy tie-ins and the Burger King meals that came with Star Wars figures. You saw Yoda or Darth Vader’s face on every Pepsi can in the world, but even that had a charm. It made the movies feel like they mattered just that much more. And if you wanted to see them, you had to wait three years in anticipation. I’d sit staring at the clock while attending St. Gerard elementary, desperately waiting for the 3 o'clock bell to ring so I could race home to see Star Wars. There were no discussions about whether or not Star Wars went "woke." There were no spin-offs. There were no TV series. There were movies and the movie theaters you had to go to to see them. Those days are dying. Nowadays, there’s a new Star Wars product every week. You can sit home on your couch half asleep and put on any random Star Wars property. Those precious moments of anticipation will never exist again. The prequels, to me, will forever be a reminder of a time in which life was a lot less complicated. You’re only a kid once, and as a kid who grew up with a tremendous amount of anxiety, the prequels were a perfect microcosm of my childhood, flawed, imperfect, stressful, annoying, but meaningful. To a whole generation of people, they mattered. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.