Let’s Settle This: Star Wars Prequels Vs Original Trilogy

The title of this article is certainly ambitious, but I have no intention of changing anyone’s mind. You either like the originals better, or you like the prequels better. I can’t change your mind on something so sacred as Star Wars is for many.

Star Wars Episode 4, which was the first film in the Star Wars series, earned 775.4 million at the box office. Episode 1, the first of the prequels, earned 1.027 billion. That’s a lot of money. And clearly we can tell that the prequels earned more. That certainly doesn’t mean it was better.

Look at these (kind of brutal) review scores of episode 1 vs episode 4.

episode 1 reviews (Google summary)
episode 4 reviews (Google summary)

When you watch the entire Star Wars series, it’s hard not to choose which you like better: the prequels or the originals. For me, I love both of them, but I do have a favorite.

I’ll tell you which trilogy I prefer in a bit. Right now, let me talk about what others say about the films.

“The original trilogy is better.”

Last year, Rob Bricken of io9 wrote an article titled “Dear young people who have Star Wars prequel nostalgia: Stop it” in which he essentially trashed the prequel trilogy. Let’s look at some of his points before moving on.

What’s rather odd about Bricken’s piece is that he ironically seems to have strong nostalgic feelings towards the original trilogy. It’s strange that he can have nostalgia for a film series but tells others not to.

In his article, Mr. Bricken essentially destroys his own argument by admitting that the original trilogy was flawed in a number of ways.

“The original trilogy is not perfect. We old people like to pretend it is, but it isn’t. The dialogue, especially in the first movie, is terrible. The performances in the first movie are also terrible.”

He admits that the original films are flawed in several different ways, but is still a fan. Rob is not as forgiving to the prequel trilogy. As one of his main points to explain why the prequels were a tragedy, he cites Anakin’s awkward romancing of Padme and mentions the scene where Anakin tells Padme he hates sand.

Those seem like pretty weird reasons to hate entire series of films. They certainly do not warrant a dismissal of the whole trilogy. If bad acting and awkward dialogue in the first movies was tolerable, why can’t you handle the prequels?

No one can talk about the prequels without talking about Jar Jar. That annoying creature from Naboo just wouldn’t go away. Jar Jar is hated from sea to shining sea and Bricken made sure to bring him up.

I will not defend Jar Jar because he doesn’t deserve it. In my mind, he’s an awful character that should have been destroyed by that droid carrier back on Naboo.

The invocation of Jar Jar into the argument of which trilogy is better usually involves someone calling the prequels childish. I find this point a rather stupid one to make. George Lucas himself has admitted that all the Star Wars films were geared toward children.

That would explain all the seemingly stupid and silly characters found throughout the Star Wars universe. Those Ewoks from Episode VI couldn’t have been more “childish.” And while Chewbacca is nowhere near on par with Jar Jar, he is certainly not a serious character.

Star Wars films have never and will never be serious. Sure, some scenes are more serious than others, but there has always been comedy in them. One could argue that with all the political maneuvering and other complex events going on in the prequels, that they were more serious in tone than the originals.

My take on the which trilogy is better

While I’m not old enough to have seen the originals when they first came out, I started my Star Wars career watching the originals. I remember the first scene I ever saw: Luke was attempting to use the Force to raise his fighter out of the Dagobah swamp. He gave up and walked away, then Yoda used his power to pick the ship up and out of the swampy waters. I was immediately captivated by that scene.

A fan, I became.

So since I started out with the originals, no one can claim I have some bias against them. This is where I say that I prefer the prequels to the originals. I’ve listed my reasons so you can quickly and angrily finish this post. You’re welcome.

1. The freaking effects

Were they overused? Maybe. Were they unrealistic? Sure. But the original trilogy had essentially no “effects” as we know them today. The lightsaber duels were nothing short of pathetic. I mean seriously, who wants to watch two guys fencing with light-up sticks?

With the much better effects of the prequels, we get to see what Lucas actually envisioned when he thought up the Star Wars universe. Obviously, it’s not the original trilogy’s fault for being created before digital effects.

2.  Complexity

I didn’t mind a more complex Star Wars universe. In fact, I preferred it. The originals were about as black and white as you could get. Of course, there was the surprise revelation about Luke and Leia’s father being Darth Vader. Besides that, it was a pretty straightforward movie. The prequels had a ton of moving parts to keep the story going. The originals, on the other hand, did not.

Lot’s of people say complain about the trade disputes and the other political aspects of the prequels. I thought the conflict over trading and separation was a fine way to propel the Republic into the Emperor’s hands.

3. Emotion    

Ok. There were a couple weird scenes in the prequels with Anakin and Padme. But in Episode 3, I thought the Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen did an excellent job of conveying the emotions that Obi-Wan and Anakin were feeling. At the end of Episode 3 when Anakin is dismembered by a reluctant Obi-Wan, we see exactly how Darth Vader was created and how Obi-Wan felt. It was brilliant.

I thought Lucas did a pretty good job showing viewers how Anakin turned into Vader.


In the end, both trilogies were great and were loved by millions. I will concede that Phantom Menace was all around a pretty bad movie. The other two, though, were great. Sure there were a couple filler battles and awkward romance, but those things don’t ruin the movies for me.

What do you think? Which is better the originals or the prequels?


[Photo by FDV]