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George Lucas knows that you don’t like the Prequel Trilogy. If he has paid any attention to the criticisms hurled at his last three Star Wars films, he understands that the movies centered around the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker failed to live up to fan anticipation. But when a founding member of Lucas’ Star Wars universe throws shade at the writer-director, we wonder if it stings more than usual.
In a particularly candid interview with The Guardian, Anthony Daniels – who has played C-3PO in all of the major Star Wars movies – bit the hand that repeatedly fed him by tossing George Lucas’ Star Wars prequels under the bus. Discussing how his new director, J.J. Abrams, ended up being more collaborative than Lucas had been, Daniels talked about the reasons that he believed the prequels missed their mark with fans, describing them as cold and distant. He surmises:
The effects are clever but pointless. The skill is there, but so what? Coldness, that’s the word. Bleakness, even."
I might have gone with "dry," as well, as the political subplots driving the Prequel Trilogy were difficult to invest in for even the most ardent Star Wars fanatic. Trade routes and Senate maneuverings do not make for tense, dramatic fare. That’s part of the reason why I believe Revenge of the Sith gets the biggest pass from Star Wars fans, because at least in that one, we saw the ultimate emotional betrayal between Anakin and his mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor).
Dismissing the Prequel Trilogy as cold and distant is nothing new. That judgment is the bulk of the reason why J.J. Abrams has gone out of his way to bring practical effects back to the Star Wars universe. He has talked at length in interviews about wanting to replicate how the team filmed scenes back in the 1970s and 80’s, hoping to recapture the warmth and magic of the initial trilogy, which spans episodes four through six. "We have walls," Daniels jokes in the Guardian interview. "Actual sets!" Point taken. While I think it will be cool to see physical ships and practical effects in Abrams’ upcoming sequel, if the story isn’t worth a damn, the new Star Wars universe could get off on a shaky first step.
Back to Anthony Daniels for a second. Who gave him a double dose of truth serum? While I admire his candor, the actor used this Guardian interview with crap all over J.J. Abrams’ "ludicrous" security measures, the plot of The Force Awakens, and the way that C-3PO is used, in general, in the film series. But it’s enjoyable to hear him reminisce on the shooting of the original films, establishing his place in the legacy of this iconic franchise as it’s preparing to blast off into a new stratosphere.