Why I Liked the Prequels Better Than the New Star Wars
In case George Lucas ever reads this, I just want to say that not everybody has turned their back on you, George. I actually loved the prequels. All of them. I've noticed you've seemed a little grouchy and put-out the past decade and a half. I totally get it. You didn't have to make any more Star Wars movies after the original trilogy (or Orig Trig as I like to call it). But you did. You did it for the fans. And they repaid your generosity by crapping all over your life's work. I think that sucks.
Let me be clear: I really enjoyed the new Star Wars movie. As a kid who was 9 when the first movie came out it checked all the boxes for me. So, I come here not to bury The Force Awakens but to praise it.
Further, I'm not saying this just to be a contrarian. It's the way I actually feel.
I like the prequels (Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith) more than I do this latest movie. These are not perfect movies. Not by a long stretch (although Sith comes close). I just feel that the prequels were better movies. Here is why...
Obviously, spoilers are ahead.
Spoiler #1: Force Awakens is almost a remake of A New Hope
If not a remake, at best it's like the world's most expensive fan fiction. I get that most people didn't like the prequels. So, the strategy (and, believe me, there was a strategy) was to play it safe. Give the fans what they want. "Everybody loved the original! Let's just do that again!"
See if you can tell if this is the plot to Force Awakens or A New Hope:
Our protagonist is an orphan living on a dusty desert planet.
The protagonist comes into possession of a droid that is carrying information vital to the rebel cause.
The protagonist is suddenly taken off the desert planet and thrust into a galactic space opera which he or she is a central part of.
The protagonist learns about the Force from an aged mentor. Who dies in the 3rd act.
The protagonist is pitted against a bad guy who used to be a good guy but betrayed his own mentor.
Our heroes find themselves in a space bar with all kinds of weird alien creatures.
The bad guys use an incredibly powerful weapon to destroy a planet. The good guys have to then destroy the mega-weapon.
You can't tell me which movie this is because it could be either one. This movie was written by a committee with an eye toward pleasing focus groups, not by an auteur with a creative vision like George Lucas.
Spoiler #2: The Bad Guys in Lucas' Prequels were Better
Darth Maul. Count Dooku. The Emperor. THESE were villains. Think about how intricate Palpatine's plot to seduce Anakin to the dark side was. The multiple levels of manipulation. His use of unwitting pawns. The Emperor was a complicated bad guy.
Kylo Ren whines about his emotions and ends up getting bested by two characters that had never held a light sabre before that very day. What a puss.
Spoiler #3 : The Prequel Plots were WAY More Complex
Prequels — Trade alliances, blockades, votes of no confidence. The aforementioned manipulation. These plots had multiple layers. I don't know why people hated them.
Now I remember.
Force Awakens — Basic Hero's Journey plus references and callbacks equals ... Abrams is a genius, I guess?
Well, at least they sold a lot of Campbell's Soup with R2-D2 on the can. I guess now I can start looking forward to the next sequel which, I assume will take place on a frozen ice planet, a swamp planet and a cloud city, right J.J.?