When you mention you’re a Star Wars fan to anyone outside your normal social circle, you tend to get one of two reactions. One is the “Eurgh, what did I just step on?” look as they inconspicuously try to get as far away from you as possible, and the other is the knowing smile and the awkward attempt at conversation, usually on the subject of “Is there any other bounty hunter cooler than Boba Fett?” (The answer to that of course, is yes!)
Mention to the latter however, that you’re a fan of the prequels and you’ll normally get the exact same reaction as the former gave you the first time. My point is, it’s never cool to admit to being a Star Wars fan, and even less cool amongst other Star Wars fans to admit you like the prequels. Well I’ll freely admit to not being cool just as I’ll freely admit to being a fan of George Lucas’ most recent offerings and here’s why:
Episode One is where it all began, telling the tale of young Anakin Skywalker long before the Clone Wars, his tragic downfall and rebirth as evil alter ego Darth Vader, and the eventual rise of the Empire. What’s not to like here? First off, the special effects, the backdrops and the set design are all second to none. No matter what you think of this movie you cannot say it’s not a beautiful film to look at, from the virtual paradise of Naboo to the swarming metropolis of Coruscant and the rolling arid landscape of Tatooine, it’s a feast for the eyes and the imagination alike.
Of course, sets don’t make a movie or Kevin Costner’s Waterworld would be right up there in IMDB’s top five. The Phantom Menace also heavily features non-stop action and excitement, none more so than Anakin’s pod-race. Space age hovercars speeding at over 400mph through tunnels, avoiding pot shots from Sand People and the treachery of other drivers; this is true edge of the seat stuff. You can almost feel the wind rushing past your face as we follow every bump and pothole in young Anakin’s path. If you watched that scene and felt no rush of excitement then I’m afraid you’re dead.
In Episode Two, one of the highlights for me was seeing the Jedi charge into battle on Geonosis, fighting the Droid army. It was like being a young boy again, full of imagination and wonder, watching these legendary warriors, lightsabers ablaze, united in a magnificent last ditch charge against their enemies. It’s also a bleaker movie than the previous as it charts the beginning of Anakin’s descent into darkness. This is portrayed with the death of his mother and his subsequent decimation of the sand people, women and kids included, that captured her. In an interesting side story, (or George Lucas’ attempt to include as many characters from the original series), we discover the origins of Boba Fett. Remarkably, we discover he is a clone of another Bounty hunter named Jango Fett who allowed his DNA to be used for the creation of the Clone army, the prototype of the infamous Clone Trooper. In return for this, he asked for his own clone he could raise as a son, aka Boba.
Episode Three was by far the darkest of the new trilogy, and I would even argue, the whole series. The Jedi are to a man, killed off somewhat brutally through backstabbing and treachery. There are decapitations and amputations galore in this one and we are even treated to the sight of General Grevious being burned from the inside out leaving a smoking husk behind. From start to finish it’s a rollercoaster ride of emotion and excitement. Everything you would expect from a Star Wars movie.
Throughout the prequel trilogy, the big winner for me is the lightsaber battles. They’re faster, more aerobic, and just a whole lot cooler looking! The original trilogy had only a geriatric, a clunky robot man and a young apprentice that could barely use a lightsaber so it goes to say it wasn’t too exciting. In the prequels however we had the acrobatic Darth Maul and that magnificent double lightsaber of his, General Grevious who wielded not one, but four at the same time, and who could forget the jaw-dropping scenes of master Yoda bouncing off the walls and somersaulting his way into Jedi superstardom!
George Lucas, whilst not renowned as being the best director in the world, is without doubt a masterful storyteller and that is exactly what he has created; a magnificent space yarn which rouses both the emotions and imagination of all those who watch it.