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The title of this article is certainly ambitious, but I have no intention of changing anyone’s mind. You either like the originals better, or you like the prequels better. I can’t change your mind on something so sacred as Star Wars is for many.

Star Wars Episode 4, which was the first film in the Star Wars series, earned 775.4 million at the box office. Episode 1, the first of the prequels, earned 1.027 billion. That’s a lot of money. And clearly we can tell that the prequels earned more. That certainly doesn’t mean it was better.

Look at these (kind of brutal) review scores of episode 1 vs episode 4.

episode 1 reviews (Google summary)
episode 4 reviews (Google summary)

When you watch the entire Star Wars series, it’s hard not to choose which you like better: the prequels or the originals. For me, I love both of them, but I do have a favorite.

I’ll tell you which trilogy I prefer in a bit. Right now, let me talk about what others say about the films.

“The original trilogy is better.”

Last year, Rob Bricken of io9 wrote an article titled “Dear young people who have Star Wars prequel nostalgia: Stop it” in which he essentially trashed the prequel trilogy. Let’s look at some of his points before moving on.

What’s rather odd about Bricken’s piece is that he ironically seems to have strong nostalgic feelings towards the original trilogy. It’s strange that he can have nostalgia for a film series but tells others not to.

In his article, Mr. Bricken essentially destroys his own argument by admitting that the original trilogy was flawed in a number of ways.

“The original trilogy is not perfect. We old people like to pretend it is, but it isn’t. The dialogue, especially in the first movie, is terrible. The performances in the first movie are also terrible.”

He admits that the original films are flawed in several different ways, but is still a fan. Rob is not as forgiving to the prequel trilogy. As one of his main points to explain why the prequels were a tragedy, he cites Anakin’s awkward romancing of Padme and mentions the scene where Anakin tells Padme he hates sand.

Those seem like pretty weird reasons to hate entire series of films. They certainly do not warrant a dismissal of the whole trilogy. If bad acting and awkward dialogue in the first movies was tolerable, why can’t you handle the prequels?

No one can talk about the prequels without talking about Jar Jar. That annoying creature from Naboo just wouldn’t go away. Jar Jar is hated from sea to shining sea and Bricken made sure to bring him up.

I will not defend Jar Jar because he doesn’t deserve it. In my mind, he’s an awful character that should have been destroyed by that droid carrier back on Naboo.

The invocation of Jar Jar into the argument of which trilogy is better usually involves someone calling the prequels childish. I find this point a rather stupid one to make. George Lucas himself has admitted that all the Star Wars films were geared toward children.

That would explain all the seemingly stupid and silly characters found throughout the Star Wars universe. Those Ewoks from Episode VI couldn’t have been more “childish.” And while Chewbacca is nowhere near on par with Jar Jar, he is certainly not a serious character.

Star Wars films have never and will never be serious. Sure, some scenes are more serious than others, but there has always been comedy in them. One could argue that with all the political maneuvering and other complex events going on in the prequels, that they were more serious in tone than the originals.

My take on the which trilogy is better

While I’m not old enough to have seen the originals when they first came out, I started my Star Wars career watching the originals. I remember the first scene I ever saw: Luke was attempting to use the Force to raise his fighter out of the Dagobah swamp. He gave up and walked away, then Yoda used his power to pick the ship up and out of the swampy waters. I was immediately captivated by that scene.

A fan, I became.

So since I started out with the originals, no one can claim I have some bias against them. This is where I say that I prefer the prequels to the originals. I’ve listed my reasons so you can quickly and angrily finish this post. You’re welcome.

1. The freaking effects

Were they overused? Maybe. Were they unrealistic? Sure. But the original trilogy had essentially no “effects” as we know them today. The lightsaber duels were nothing short of pathetic. I mean seriously, who wants to watch two guys fencing with light-up sticks?

With the much better effects of the prequels, we get to see what Lucas actually envisioned when he thought up the Star Wars universe. Obviously, it’s not the original trilogy’s fault for being created before digital effects.

2.  Complexity

I didn’t mind a more complex Star Wars universe. In fact, I preferred it. The originals were about as black and white as you could get. Of course, there was the surprise revelation about Luke and Leia’s father being Darth Vader. Besides that, it was a pretty straightforward movie. The prequels had a ton of moving parts to keep the story going. The originals, on the other hand, did not.

Lot’s of people say complain about the trade disputes and the other political aspects of the prequels. I thought the conflict over trading and separation was a fine way to propel the Republic into the Emperor’s hands.

3. Emotion    

Ok. There were a couple weird scenes in the prequels with Anakin and Padme. But in Episode 3, I thought the Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen did an excellent job of conveying the emotions that Obi-Wan and Anakin were feeling. At the end of Episode 3 when Anakin is dismembered by a reluctant Obi-Wan, we see exactly how Darth Vader was created and how Obi-Wan felt. It was brilliant.

I thought Lucas did a pretty good job showing viewers how Anakin turned into Vader.

Conclusion

In the end, both trilogies were great and were loved by millions. I will concede that Phantom Menace was all around a pretty bad movie. The other two, though, were great. Sure there were a couple filler battles and awkward romance, but those things don’t ruin the movies for me.

What do you think? Which is better the originals or the prequels?

 

[Photo by FDV]

 

13 comments

  1. 1. The effects of the original trilogy were revolutionary at the time and frankly hold up better than the prequels do. The curse of digital effects is that they age considerably worse than practical effects. Also, I have trouble taking you seriously when you consider the light saber duels in ESB and ROTJ “pathetic”. Sure they were unrefined compared to the golden age of the Jedi, but at least they had grit and weren’t over choreographed dances like the saber fighting in episodes 2 and 3.

    2. I’ll concede that I like more breadth to my Star Wars as well, but I also felt like the “complexities” of the PT were not that well realized. In TPM the Jedi order had nothing to do, nobody gave an ever living fuck about trade embargos, etc. Since these are films designed for kids, what good does it do to have these superfluous elements. Seems quite like a betrayal of the gameplay for the core audience.

    3. The actors.… so you don’t think Mark Hammil and Carrie Fisher were better than Hayden Christianson and Sam Jackson? Also you didn’t even mention the award winning Alex Guiness. Are you kidding me?

    I’m beginning to think a 12 year old wrote this piece.

  2. I keep telling myself that I will never understood the hatred toward Jar Jar. And I still don’t. How is it that so many people can hate a character that is basically clumsy? That’s his real crime. He’s clumsy. And for that . . . Jar Jar is hated. It must take a really disturbed mind to pour so much hatred upon a fictional character whose worst trait is that he is clumsy. Very disturbed.

    1. His real crime is not simply that he’s clumsy. His crime is that his character is all around terrible. I don’t know if you’re alluding to me having a disturbed mind for hating Jar Jar, but I’ll address that too. Being able to realize a character is a stupid, misplaced one doesn’t make you disturbed. On the other hand, liking a character that is very clearly a terrible one may make you disturbed.

  3. I’m sorry, but I don’t agree with you. Jar Jar is not one of my favorite characters. But I still believe that a good number of fans need to be seriously examined for the level of hatred they have expressed toward the character. Jar Jar has done nothing to generate such hatred. You don’t have to like the character, but hatred? For a character who is basically naïve and clumsy? That’s enough for someone to hate a character like that? If you want to hate . . . fine. But I still cannot help but wonder why you would do so for a character like Jar Jar.

    1. Star Wars has some of the most devoted fans of any movie series. If you don’t understand why jar jar is so hated then you probably started out watching the prequels

  4. Do you honestly believe that you can speak on behalf of all STAR WARS fans? I understand why Jar Jar is hated. But if I told you why, you wouldn’t believe me. And by the way, the first STAR WARS movie I ever saw was “A New Hope” . . . and that was back in 1977. However, I still love the Prequel movies. And I love the Original movies. I just don’t love “The Force Awakens”.

    1. I speak for the vast majority of Star Wars fans when I say jar jar is a shit character. On other aspects of the film, I cannot speak for Star Wars fans, but jar jar is where most fans find common ground.

  5. You speak? You speak for the “VAST MAJORITY OF STAR WARS” fans?

    Oh come on. You don’t know how many STAR WARS fans share your feelings anymore than I know how many share mine. Who are you kidding?

    If you feel that Jar Jar is a “shit” character, fine. But for me, Jar Jar does not strike me as the type of character worthy of such rabid hatred. And I cannot help but wonder why you would pour so much energy on hating a character that is basically clumsy and naive.

    1. Obviously you don’t talk to other people. If you ask 99% of Star Wars fans whether or not they like jar jar, they’ll tell you no. So I suggest you talk to other human beings and you’ll find that I do speak for the majority.

    2. LJones, would you be interested in writing a piece about Jar-Jar? Maybe something like “Why all the hatred for Jar-Jar is Misplaced” or something like that? I’m wanting to include different perspectives.

      Let me know if this interests you. Email me at chance@oatboat.com

  6. I prefer the matte painting scenery and location shoots of the originals….too many scenes in the prequels looks so bad by today’s standards.

    Personally, I think the original effects hold up better 40-50 years later than most of the prequel effects a scent decade or two…less is more, and Lucas did a lot more with a lot less in the 70s and 80s…

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