I know what you're thinking. You're thinking I'm scum. Perhaps rebel scum for daring to utter the opinion that the Star Wars prequel trilogy is anything but utter garbage. Maybe you're right, maybe you're an authoritarian sack of shit that can't handle someone having a different opinion to you. I dunno, just a thought I guess, but here's my coming out story; I LOVE the Star Wars prequels.
So let me tell you a little story before explaining why I love the prequel trilogy. The first time I saw Phantom Menace was around the time it was released in the cinema. I was 13, had never watched a Star Wars movie in my life, and only really randomly ended up watching this when I was presented with a pirated VHS tape from a family friend. You know what? I thought it was awesome. It was like nothing I had ever seen before, the aliens, the lightsabers, the space battles were all awe inspiring to me. And Darth Maul? Fuck me, Darth Maul got my nips hard and everything, all jumping around and shit, murdering Qui Gon like a boss. Oh, and that Pod Race was just spectacular. What really was there not to love about this movie?
After my first viewing of Phantom Menace, I didn't give much thought to any of the other Star Wars films that preceded it. I wasn't as invested emotionally or nostalgically than you see a lot of Star Wars fans are, I simply got back on with my life, which at the time was probably back to ferociously masturbating any time I got some alone time. So then the next time I witnessed some Star Wars joy was Clone Wars, a continuation of the Skywalker story and our first introduction to Hayden Christensen as who would inevitably become Darth Vader. A stroppy teenager struggling to find his place in the universe, dealing with his own internal feelings and conflicts in this vast universe which featured a galactic war that was just incredible to witness on screen. The huge battles had been ramped up, the colour and the complexity of this war continuing to a point I found to be truly magnificent.
Then came the final instalment, Revenge of the Sith. This was what all Star Wars fans had been waiting for, and even though at this point I hadn't seen the originals, I was very excited for this, and it was the first Star Wars film I went to see at the cinema. The opening space battle is still by miles one of my favourite opening scenes to any movie ever. It's intense, it's chaotic, and it comes to a satisfying conclusion when we see the ship crash to the ground of the planet below. Ho-Ly-Shit that is amazing. And let's talk about General Grievous. He's a unique villain in the Star Wars universe, and one of my favourites in that he's a fighter like any other, capable of wielding a lightsaber with the best of them, yet he's a fucking robot (kinda). The final fight sequence between Obi Wan and Skywalker/Vader is just splendid to witness, a true visual spectacle from the colours of the lightsabers, to the explosions of molten rock all around them. These are two badass dudes, and one of them will become one of the most powerful bad guys in the Star Wars universe.
So why do I enjoy the prequels so much? Sure, a lot of the criticisms against the trilogies are perfectly valid. Some of the green screen work is horrid, some of the characters flat and pointless, and some of the acting questionable, but you know what? I still love the prequels. Despite the issues, the series is visually stunning at times, fun, and just a true sight to behold. I think my love of the prequels is benefited by the fact I had not seen the original movies beforehand. I had no rose-tinted nostalgia, I had no reason to hate these prequels due to an attachment to the originals, no matter how good or bad they may be. I actually didn't watch the original Star Wars trilogy until just before the release of The Force Awakens. Considering that was a continuation of that trilogy, I was told I had to actually watch it before I could go and see TFA. I loved the original trilogy just as much as I loved the prequels. When seeing it, I understood exactly why so many people would have such a protective attachment to it, but it also didn't take away my enjoyment of the prequels.
The prequels existed to expand and add something different to the Star Wars movie universe. The tone was different precisely because the story was told in a different timeline to the original trilogy. The Jedi had been virtually defeated, the Empire reigned supreme, and all hope was lost, but that simply wasn't the case in the prequels. This was the birth of the Empire, the burning out of the light and the dawn of the dark. You could see that in the progressively darker tone from Phantom, to Clone, finishing with Sith. When we experience nostalgia, very little will actually manage to convince us that our vision is wrong, and anything that attempts to improve upon that nostalgia may ultimately fail. We let that blinkered view taint our own expectations of future films in a series. If it doesn't match the tone of the thing you love, then it simply isn't worth your time or effort. I think a lot of Star Wars fans give the prequels an unnecessarily harsh time, and I have no shame in admitting that I'm one of those scumbags that thoroughly enjoys them.
Oh, and one more thing, I actually don't hate Jar Jar Binks.