Star Wars Episode VII: Will the Prequels Curse Extend to the Sequels?
Gotta love Star Wars. Lightsabers. Heavy breathing. Jar Jar Binks.
No. Never say that. That’s the perfect way to get yourself kicked out of every nerd party in America. Why? Because nobody likes the prequels. Nobody, that is, except wannabes who start with the prequels to try and fit in, or artificially create some connection with their “secret” crush. And ever since Disney announced that they were making more Star Wars films, the question has remained: will these be three more films that we have to try and rip from our memory, leaving scars so epic in proportion that they make Edward Scizzorhands look like a supermodel?
With that in mind, I wrote this post. A look at what went wrong with the prequels, and what we know so far about Episode VII.
- Prequel Problem #1:Jar Jar Binks and everything he represents.
While all of the prequels have problems, the biggest one is found in Episode I. George Lucas went from a pretty dark feel with the Vader-Luke battle to a type of horrid silliness only to be rivaled on The Wiggles and Barney. It was the deplorable result of trying too hard to cater to a younger generation of potential fans. Thus we have Jar Jar Binks, podracing, trade disputes, and, of course, cute little Anakin.
- Prequel Problem #2: Space ninjas are actually diplomats
The original trilogy gave us a pretty cool hint at the Jedi Knights. They were good with a lightsaber, could lift objects with their minds, and even be these super cool blue ghosts after death. They were warriors. Except not. Surprise! They’re actually diplomats that solve trade disputes. Isn’t that cool? No? Well I guess that ruins my original idea of making the Ninja Turtles politicians . . .
- Prequel Problem #3: A forced love story
I’m not going to spend a bunch of time talking about how Hayden Christensen was the wrong choice for the role of Anakin, but regardless of acting skill, Episode II was ridiculous. Instead of making the love story an intriguing side story like they did with Han and Leia in the original trilogy, they had to make the entire story about that, as well as completely ignoring the fact that Padme is, you know, like 10 years older than Anakin. Instead we have to pause all of the things and show all of the Jane Austen-esque courtship with all of its cringe-worthiness.
- Prequel Problem #4: Bad villain decisions
Palpatine was incredible. In fact, he’s the reason why I still enjoy Episode III while still cringing through much of the first two prequels. But his choice of apprentice on the other hand was kind of ridiculous. Along with the problem of making space ninjas diplomats was the problem of making the Sith apprentice a politician as well, even if an evil one. I never could quite buy Count Dooku as a credible threat. On the other hand, Darth Maul is one of the very few things that Episode I got right. He was absolutely incredible, being scary, alien, and silent, the very qualities that made Darth Vader so intimidating (even though he was human, the suit gave him a very alien appearance). Imagine how much better Episode II’s face-off would have been with Maul fighting Yoda instead of Dooku fighting Yoda, as well as the interesting personal struggles that could be found with Obi-Wan losing to Maul after having lost his master to the fiend years earlier. It would have been so epic. Instead we have another politician/warrior that diluted the epicosity of the struggle.
So there you have it. Four huge problems that really screwed the prequel trilogy beyond repair. Now here’s some of what we know so far about Episode VII. This isn’t everything mind you, but these are the highlights.
J.J. Abrams is directing
Old news, I know, but very relevant. Old-school Trekkies have criticized Abrams for making the new Star Trek franchise an action-filled, soft sci-fi universe, more likened to Star Wars than Star Trek. I don’t think that’s necessarily fair, but it does show that Abrams’ style is very compatible with the Star Wars universe. As far as directing goes, it is in capable hands. Just get ready for the lens flares.
The writers are very capable
The writers of the screenplay include Abrams himself, Michael Arndt (Catching Fire, Oblivion, Toy Story 3) and most exciting of all, Lawrence Kasdan, who helped pen the screenplays for the original three Star Wars films, but not the prequels. This is a very capable writing team, and I’ve very hopeful for the story itself.
Lucas is a creative consultant on the new films.
That’s both bad and good. Obviously Lucas created this amazing world, but he also has a tendency to screw up the good that he’s previously done. We’ll have to see how that plays out.
The original cast is returning
Luke, Han, and Leia that is. This is most definitely good news. Despite all of the nursing home jokes, this should keep the films more to the spirit of the old ones, which is most definitely good news.
Adam Driver will play the villain, and Palpatine will return
Palpatine will presumably return as a force ghost of The Emperor. As for Adam Driver, I’m not familiar with his work, so I can’t speak to whether that will be good or bad, but the Star Wars filmmakers have generally done a good job with the casting (except for Hayden Christensen, of course), especially with their villains, so we can probably trust their call on this one.
A lot of things ruined the prequels. But the creative team this time around is much better equipped and will probably steer away from the silliness that made the last few so terrible. Especially when you see the dark nature of Khan’s character of Abrams’ Star Trek: Into Darkness, it’s pretty easy to see how Abrams will take the saga away from that direction. That combined with the original cast returning as well as a screenwriter from the original trilogy makes for a hopeful set-up. If the new movies are bad, it won’t be due to the same problems that plagued the prequel trilogy, that much is for certain. ~ Logan Judy, Extremis Star Wars Contributor