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While Star Wars is one of the popular franchises in the history of film, there is little love for the three films that make up the prequels. However, Rogue One's Riz Ahmed actually likes the first three episodes of the Star Wars saga, and he's got a pretty good reason. While many have been critical of the prequels focus on galactic politics and trade disputes, rather than lightsaber fights, Ahmed says that the fact that the prequels told a more adult story was exactly what was good about them.
People say that, but I did not have a massive problem with the prequels at all. There were some elements that stood out. Jar Jar Binks, I didn't enjoy him as a character. But people had a problem with them because they weren't broad and tough and cheek. I enjoy that. I enjoy the fact that it was about grown-up politics and the dissolution of the League of Nations and World War and the rise of fascism. I really enjoyed that and I really enjoyed Clone Wars. I really don't see what the big problem is, to be quite honest.
The fact that the first Star Wars movie in decades, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace opened with a political dispute over galactic trade struck a bad chord with many fans. In actuality, the entire prequel trilogy is essentially one long political game played by Palpatine in order to subvert the Galactic Senate and turn it into the Galactic Empire. It's certainly not the Star Wars trilogy fans were expecting.
Having said that, Riz Ahmed's comments to Screen Crush certainly have us reevaluating. As a story of political intrigue, the Star Wars prequels work pretty well. Is it really so terrible that the Star Wars prequels were about that? Political stories usually make for great film drama. There's no reason that the same can't be true for a galaxy far, far away. Ahmed says that if all Star Wars movies were the same the series would be boring. Clearly, the purpose of the standalone movies like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is to be able to tell different sorts of stories and we're all for that.
At the same time, we wonder if maybe the problem with the prequels might have been that there actually wasn't enough of the political aspects. When you combine the politics with characters like Jar Jar Binks and pod racing, maybe the problem was the dissonate tones that the films tried to juggle. The movies weren't sure if they wanted to be broad entertainment for the whole family or a serious political struggle. Either one is fine, both is tough to pull off.
I rewatched the prequels as part of a marathon leading into the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens last year and while they maybe weren't quite as bad as my recollection, I can't argue that they were particularly good. If you can make that argument, please leave it in the comments.