Bashing the Star Wars Prequels has almost become an art form on the Internet. There are lengthy, (and quite hilarious) video reviews that eviscerate the films, and even entire websites dedicated to mocking the much-maligned Episodes I-III. As a life-long Star Wars fan, I decided to try to counter all this hater-ade drinking by taking on the challenge of compiling a list of at least ten genuinely awesome things about the Star Wars Prequels. I actually came up with a whopping twelve scenes/moments, before trimming it to the aforementioned ten. So without further ado, here are the Top Ten Good Things About The Star Wars Prequels!
10.) Anakin Becomes Vader
All right, so the moment where Vader frees himself from his binds, clunks around Frankenstein’s Monster style, and lets out the now-infamous NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! wail, is laughable – but the sequence before that, when the charred face of Anakin looks up in horror as he is entombed in the visage of Vader – is haunting and iconic. The brief sequence is made even more unnerving by the pressurized “THUNK” as the helmet slides into place, using the classic sound effects from Vader’s private chamber in The Empire Strikes Back. It’s a chilling few minutes that seals both Anakin’s body, and his fate – inside an iron prison of his own making.
9.) Obi-Wan Vs. Anakin
Star Wars fans waited almost 30 years to see the fateful duel between Master and Pupil over a blazing pit of lava, and though it was much different than many folks imagined, it still delivered the goods. Anakin and Obi-Wan traded venomous verbal barbs, intense Force-pushes, and hundreds of punishing lightsaber blows, until the crushing final moment where Anakin’s anger and hubris gets the best of him. Anakin’s legless body engulfed in flames is one of the series’ most haunting images.
8.) Liam Neeson
Let’s forget for a moment that the character of Qui-Gon Jinn was wholly unnecessary, and focus on the awesomeness of Liam Neeson. In the face of bumbling CGI Rastafarians, a precocious child actor, and having to perform in a green screen wasteland; Neeson lent the proceedings a sorely needed credibility. When he spoke in his commanding, yet wise voice, he projected all the necessary qualities of a venerable Jedi Master, which arguably saved the film from being completely unwatchable.
7.) The Pod Race
This sequence gets a bad rap thanks in part to a grating “play-by-play” from an annoying announcer, and some campy alien racers, but I’ve always felt that it was an exhilarating, tense action set piece. Lucas is a long-time speed demon; he loves fast cars and racing, so he made sure Industrial Light & Magic infused the Pod Race with a truly convincing sense of speed for the audience. This thing is fast folks, and filled with spectacular crashes, feuds among racers, treacherous twists and turns, and a nail-biting photo finish. It even has Sand People shooting at the racers! The one aspect that truly makes the Pod Race a classic, however, is the sensational and immersive sound design by longtime Star Wars sound-effect genius Ben Burtt.
6.) Anakin Butchers The Tuskens
In what is arguably the darkest scene of the Star Wars saga, John Williams’ intense score swells up around an enraged Anakin after he finds his Mother brutalized by a tribe of Sand People. As she dies in his arms, Hayden Christensen displays a terrifying look of anger and vengeance, then gives himself over the Dark Side of the Force for the first time -brutally slicing down two Sand People. We later discover that he murdered the entire tribe, women and children included.