Years before George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney, the filmmaker set out to bring back the magic of the original Star Wars movie trilogy by telling the story of Anakin Skywalker's turn into Darth Vader via a prequel film trilogy. Audiences were eager to see more from the galaxy far, far away, but the end result was not as they hoped. The prequels have repeatedly been on the receiving end of criticism due to an over-reliance on VFX, wooden acting and dialogue, among other common complaints.
At the same time though, the backlash against the Star Wars prequel trilogy has brought out defenders of George Lucas' films, based on their creativity and how they expanded the Star Wars universe. Well, it now appears as though you can count Star Wars: Episode VIII writer/director Rian Johnson among those supporters.
Johnson took to Twitter to play Devil's Advocate and defend the execution and ideas behind the Star Wars movie prequels. Whether this is actually how he feels about the prequel trilogy or if Johnson was just trying to stir up conversation remains to be seen, but he still defends them because of their intended audience and their deep exploration of the theme of fear.
@HeerJeet Pssst. Devil's advocate: the prequels are a 7 hour long kids movie about how fear of loss turns good people into fascists. ¯_(ツ)_/¯
— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) December 26, 2016
Regardless of how serious Johnson's comment is, he is not wrong in taking this approach. Fans of the original Star Wars trilogy may have grown disappointed by the prequels over time, but initially a number of Star Wars fans agreed that Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace was a worthy addition to the Star Wars lore. Elements such as Jar Jar Binks and an extended podracing sequence show that The Phantom Menace in particular was partly intended for a younger audience, as Johnson noted.
Moving ahead of Episode I, Episodes II and III (Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith) do do explore the impact of fear, as Anakin goes to extreme measures over and over to try and save those most important to him, eventually leading him to the Dark Side. This journey could be an impactful one, but for most viewers it's difficult to appreciate thanks to Hayden Christensen's performance, among other factors.
Johnson is probably going to have a hard time convincing the majority of fans that the prequels are not as bad as their reputation suggests. For many fans, simply uttering the word "midichlorians" is enough to bring their distaste for the Star Wars prequels out. Still, it is interesting to see Johnson go out of his way and defend the prequels at all, when he doesn't have to. He was admittedly playing Devil's Advocate and only pointed out a few potential positive takeaways from the movies, so Johnson may not be a complete supporter of the prequels, but just the ideas of them.
Source: Rian Johnson
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019