Before Return of the Jedi, most Star Wars fans could agree on almost everything. The first two Star Wars films were universally praised for their technical innovation and great storytelling. Subsequently, most fans found fault in Jedi mainly because of the Ewoks. It seemed that George Lucas was really beginning to cater to Star Wars merchandising possibilities targeted squarely at kids.
Then came the polarizing prequel trilogy. And all hell broke loose.
In 1999, practically every Star Wars fan was optimistic that the saga was really going to continue. Sure, Lucas had tinkered with the original trilogy by adding new digital effects, but that wasn’t the worst offense. Maybe it fell apart when you started reading about blockades and Trade Federations, or perhaps it was the moment Jar-Jar Binks appeared on screen ("Mesa Jar-Jar Binks"). Bottom line, the prequels felt different than the original trilogy.
Let’s forget prequel trilogy bashing for a moment. We all know its faults. Lucas might not have given these new characters the best lines, but he did come up with some worthy successors to his original galaxy far, far, away. Ultimately, time, and a new generation of Star Wars fans will judge the merits of the prequel trilogy.
It’s time to take another look at some prequel characters that kind of rocked out.
Supreme Chancellor PalpatineIan McDiarmid’s Emperor in the original trilogy wasn’t explored much. He didn’t have to be. You knew he was evil. You knew that he controlled Darth Vader (the fallen Jedi, Anakin Skywalker). While the prequel trilogy didn’t explain the Emperor’s motivations other than wanting to rule the galaxy, it did provide an interesting arc for his alter ego, Senator Palpatine, who eventually wormed his way into a position as supreme chancellor. It is as Supreme Chancellor Palpatine in Revenge of the Sith that McDiarmid’s performance rises above all others. He seems to be the only actor in the prequels who can take Lucas’s lines and make them sound almost like poetry. Almost. Everything prior to his transformation into the over-the-top Emperor was pitch perfect.