Unless you’ve been living in the mouth of the Sarlaac for the past few months, today is one of the greatest days in the history of Blu-ray—the Star Wars Saga has arrived!
Nine discs of goodness are about to encompass plenty of people’s weekends and that means once again zipping through the Prequel Trilogy in a reasonable amount of parsecs. I know what you’re thinking, the prequels aren’t exactly on par with the original trilogy.. But just like how Luke Skywalker felt about Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi, somewhere underneath the so-so exterior are still good films, whether you choose to see them or not.
Here are ten reasons why the Prequels rock:
Knock The Phantom Menace all you want, but yippies and whoopies aside, the Podracing sequence is an effects extravaganza primed and ready to make your speakers explode and house vibrate. That and a cameo from bounty hunter Aurra Sing make it one of the few saving graces of Episode I.
#9. Yoda Fights!
In The Empire Strikes Back, we were introduced to the most bad-ass Jedi in the galaxy—albeit at that stage in the story, he was more theory and less practice. The prequels rectify this, as the minuscule Jedi master lays the smack down in all his superball-like bouncing glory. Bad may win the battle, but Yoda is pretty awesome fighting the good fight, disproving the old adage “those who can’t, teach.” Yoda most definitely can.
#8. Christopher Lee Joins the Galaxy
The Star Wars prequels got a much-needed boost of gravitas from one of the most revered fantasy/horror actors of all time: Christopher Lee. From Dracula to Saruman, the British actor also had the distinction of joining the Star Wars saga for Episode II (and a little of Episode III). Sure, his Darth Tyrannus/Count Dooku is just a stepping stone towards Anakin becoming Vader, but the seemingly thousand-year-old (and still kicking) Lee gets to deliver his own brand of evil in a galaxy far, away.
#7. No Han Solo
Yes you read that correctly, I said no Han Solo in the prequels is a good thing. Vader, Greedo, and Boba Fett as wee li’l tykes—not that cool. But the suavest space pirate in movie history not being turned into a whiny li’l brat? I’m thankful, to say the least. Don’t tell Mr. Lucas, he’s liable to throw some little kid in Han’s vest on Chewie’s shoulders in the Revenge of the Sith Special Edition.
#6. The Rise of the Empire
While earlier versions of our favorite characters and mythologies are handled without too much consideration of the original films, watching the Galactic Empire comes to power is actually pretty awesome. It’s a political movie set in space. Palpatine’s duplicitous dealings matched with an army of Fett clones (who must have degenerated over the years since they’re aim is atrocious), it’s a sight to see at the end of Revenge of the Sith, as Chancellor Palpatine peers out at his emerging soon-to-be empire.
#5. The Beauty of Coruscant
The prequels introduce a lot of new and exciting locals, and none are more spectacular than the Imperial capital of Coruscant. Picture New York as one giant planet (which it kind of is already), multiply the traffic and population to the nth degree and you have Coruscant. It’s where a bulk of the prequel saga takes place and most of the action scenes there are pretty good. The speeder chase in Attack of the Clones showcases the city’s nightlife perfectly.
#4. The Clone Wars
“General Kenobi, you served my father in the Clone Wars…” said Princess Leia.
With those words, an entire generation was enthralled by just what the Clone Wars were and how they fits into the Star Wars canon. The prequels give us the beginning and the end of the war, but right smack in the middle, thanks to Lucasfilm and Cartoon Network, is The Clone Wars computer animated cartoon series. The show is far better than anyone thought it would be and is required viewing for any Star Wars fan worth their weight in Republic credits. The opening of Revenge of the Sith, which is the end of the war is one of the best action sequences you’ll ever see!
#3. Ewan McGregor’s Transformation into Alec Guiness
When we first meet Obi-Wan Kenobi, he’s just a brash young Jedi Padawan. But with each film of the prequels, Ewan McGregor’s performance begins to mimic that of Alec Guiness’ in the original trilogy—from “you don’t want to sell me death sticks,” to lopping off someone’s arm at a cantina, to changing his look to match Guiness’ to never losing a fight in the entire prequel trilogy, McGregor proves why the Jedi were once the most respected people of the galaxy and why Obi-Wan Kenobi is quite possibly the best of them all.
#2. Lightsabers Duels Galore
The original trilogy introduced one of the coolest weapons in all of moviedom; heck, in How I Met Your Mother‘s future timeline, Marshall carves Thanksgiving turkey with one. I would surmise that even if you haven’t seen Star Wars before, 9 out of 10 people all know what a lightsaber is.
But the original movies don’t showcase the Force-welder’s weapon of choice the way it was meant to be seen. The battles between Vader and Luke are epic, but they’re epic because of the story, not the action. Here, the action is epic—a three-way dance between Darth Maul, Qui-Gonn, and Obi-Wan; Mace vs. Palpaltine; and a slew of Jedi’s storming the beaches of Norm. Which brings me to number 1….
#1. Obi-Wan vs. Vader in a Duel to End all Duels
It’s alluded to in the original trilogy and in some of the novels, but the climactic lightsaber battle between Obi-Wan and the brand spanking new Darth Vader is the quintessential moment of the prequel trilogy. Minus a few pointless lines of dialogue (“I hate you!” or “You were my brother, Anakin!”), the climactic battle between master and apprentice is truly amazing and worth the almost 30 year wait to see. The fact that Steven Spielberg supposedly helped frame some of the shots makes it even better. When Anakin gets char-grilled and Obi-Wan grabs his former pupil’s lightsaber, walks away still in disbelief over what his former friend had done and what he himself had to do, it’s heartbreaking and the perfect denouement to a more-than-ok trilogy.