Over Christmas break my 4-year-old nephew was watching Star Wars: Attack of the Clones and I sat down to watch some of it (after all, Star Wars is a family affair). The next day Spike TV was showing the originals and I caught parts of Return of the Jedi.
“Who’s that guy?” Ari asked when Luke Skywalker strode onto the screen. My nephew had never seen the original trilogy, only the prequels. Sacrilege!
All of which transported me back to the wonderful world of Star Wars. The other day I borrowed Revenge of the Sith from the library since I don’t remember watching it since it came out in theaters. And as if watching Attack of the Clones again wasn’t bad enough, Revenge of the Sith was painful.
Apparently I enjoyed it despite its inconsistencies the first time around, but now the lack of a sensible plot and unbelievable character motivations was just too much. If you really want to revel in the Star Wars prequel bashing, check out the profanity-laden reviews by Harry Plinkett (I’m serious about profanity-laden. They’re beyond inappropriate in spots as well, so be warned).
In some ways it feels good to have someone else point out the inconsistencies and show me why the prequels always feel so flat. My biggest complaint has to be the over-use of digital effects. You’d think George Lucas would have learned his lesson with Jar Jar Binks, but oh no, he introduces General Grievous in Revenge of the Sith, a digital character with no weight whatsoever. Who is this guy? Why do we care? He’s like a lame version of Darth Vader, more machine than man, but the Emperor is still tinkering with proportions and this one is too much machine.
And it goes well beyond characters. Almost every scene in the prequels is on a green screen. Nothing is real. It all looks and feels fake. Sure, the matte paintings in the originals weren’t perfect either, but that’s why they were used sparingly. Lucas turns to digital backdrops in every scene of the prequels.
For a current comparison I think the digital effects of Transformers are just as fake, but the backgrounds and action are real. When a Decepticon slices a city bus in half, Michael Bay cut a real bus in half, so at least the destruction looks real even if the alien robot doesn’t. In the prequels we don’t get so much as a model, we get digital everything. Lame.
I could go on and on but three paragraphs is already too much. I still love the original Star Wars movies, but I think the prequels will forever stand as an example of the downfall of excess.
But let’s end on a positive note. Perhaps my favorite writing about Star Wars is this piece that explains the inconsistencies by imagining R2-D2 and Chewbacca as integral leaders in the rebellion. That’s awesome.