Star Wars Prequels Posters

You’d be hard-pressed to find a longtime Star Wars fan who has a lot of nice things to say about the prequels that George Lucas returned to direct in the late 1990s and through the early 2000s. The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith were undoubtedly huge hits, but they haven’t received much praise from the Star Wars fanbase. But maybe that’s just the opinion of the most vocal fans. Is there a chance that the prequels aren’t as bad some fans think they are?

A new documentary called The Prequels Strike Back: A Fan’s Journey finds filmmaker Bradley Weatherholt speaking to dozens of Star Wars fans, including the reliably talkative Kevin Smith, as to whether or not the prequels are the absolute disasters that many think they are. Watch The Prequels Strike Back trailer after the jump.

As one of the Star Wars fans who doesn’t find a lot to love about the Star Wars prequels, I can still appreciate what this documentary sets out to accomplish. It’s easy to forget the expectations that come with a Star Wars movie, especially when it comes to creating an entirely new trilogy about 15 years after the last movie hit theaters in 1983. But then again, when you look at how much more well-received The Force Awakens was when compared to the prequels, there’s still something that doesn’t feel quite right about the prequels.

I’ll be the first to admit that the Star Wars prequels are not some of the worst movies of all time. In fact, there are some great parallels between the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy that make the saga feel rather harmonious and cohesive as a whole. But the problem is that parts of the prequels are just so cringeworthy and unacceptable. Whether it’s Hayden Christensen’s performance as Anakin Skywalker or the clunky dialogue thrown into the mouths of the characters, there’s some bad stuff there.

Now, one could argue that the original trilogy has its share of flaws like that as well. Mark Hamill’s acting in Star Wars: A New Hope is nothing to write about, and there’s some equally cheesy dialogue here and there in the original trilogy. But the films of 1977, 1980 and 1983 just felt more authentic, despite the fact that more miniatures were apparently created for The Phantom Menace than any of the original trilogy films.

Anyway, as a die-hard Star Wars fan, I’m fascinated to see what arguments are brought to the table, and maybe there’s a chance I’ll be persuaded to watch the prequels again with a new perspective. But just having rewatched them during a massive Star Wars marathon leading up to The Force Awakens last year, I think I can hold off for a bit.

Nearly two decades after the release of Star Wars: Episode I, Star Wars fans still heatedly debate the merits and the shortcomings of the controversial prequel films that brought to the world Jar Jar Binks, Darth Maul, midichlorians, and a purple lightsaber.

Unsure what to make of the films, a Star Wars fan treks across country interviewing dozens in search of answers. Are the prequel films masterpiece or disaster? Is George Lucas an inconsistent hack or a champion of a singular vision? And most important of all, is there a way to bring balance to the dark and light sides of fandom? As our hero discovers, much to learn, he still has.

The Prequels Strike Back will be released digitally on September 14th on Amazon, YouTube and VHX. Or if you live in Austin, Texas, you can catch it at the South Lamar Alamo Drafthouse location on October 6th. Get tickets over here.

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