Both polarizing and exciting, Rogue One has done its job: Make sure people are talking about and thinking about Star Wars all the time. And though this “story” was marketed as a “standalone” movie, it probably relied on much more previously established continuity than The Force Awakens. In fact, Rogue One is better described as a well-liked Star Wars prequel film than a standalone movie. Leading directly into the events of the very first Star Wars — Episode IV: A New Hope — Rogue One connects more dots and influences more canon than perhaps any other movie of its kind.
Among popular fictional worlds, Star Wars is unique: Back in 1977 it probably didn’t seem possible that something like this would even deserve a prequel, much less four. That’s right: There are now four Star Wars prequels in total, and the Han Solo film in 2018 will make it five. With that in mind, there’s never been a better time to rewatch the much-maligned official prequels: Episodes I, II, and III: The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith.
Here are five good reasons George Lucas’s bratty babies deserve another look right now.
5. Lightsaber Fights Like These are Probably Never Coming Back
There wasn’t a lightsaber duel in Rogue One, which was a first for a Star Wars movie. And the hyper-kinetic, acrobatic fight choreography of the lightsaber duels in the prequels was absent from The Force Awakens, too. Stunt coordinator Nick Gillard created extremely intricate fights for all three films, including one of the weirdest trademarks of the prequels: every single film contains a three-way lightsaber fight. Though The Force Awakens cast underwent rigorous stunt-training, Gillard did not work on the film. Even the most cynical fan can admit one of those prequel lightsaber battles is still thrilling.
4. The Political and Social Commentary Is Suddenly Relevant Again
After the 2016 United States presidential election, a lot of fans started comparing Trump to Palpatine in the Star Wars prequels. And while this exact comparison isn’t exactly apt, the overall broken political system in the Star Wars prequels takes up a lot of these stories. Anakin even quotes George W. Bush! At first, it’s easy to dismiss all of this stuff as boring and confused gobbledygook, but consider this: Maybe George Lucas was actually trying to make a statement when he cast Jar Jar Binks as a ridiculous lawmaker.
3. They’re Still Star Wars Movies
It’s a weird defense of the prequels to be sure, but at their basic core, the Star Wars prequels do set up most of the things in the Star Wars universe that everyone loves. Plus, there are plenty of amazing and beautiful moments that just feel like Star Wars movies. The pod race from The Phantom Menace is a good example, but the asteroid field chase in Attack of the Clones is another one. The Force may not have been with these movies in every single minute, but the Force is there if you know where to look.
2. They’ll Help You Understand Rogue One
Since everyone has watched Rogue One, and hardcore fans have seen it at least three times, it’s actually fun to sit down and watch Revenge of the Sith right now. Because the first scene of Rogue One takes place so close to Revenge of the Sith, the connective tissue between the prequels and the original films is probably blended the best in Rogue One. The big example of this is Jimmy Smits as Bail Organa. In Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, Bail is a reserved conscientiousness objector who bails out (pun intended) Obi-Wan and Yoda at the last second. But by the time of Rogue One, Bail is secretly working for the Rebel Alliance. If you are only looking at the political events in the galaxy, then Rogue One is a great sequel to Revenge of the Sith.
1. Ewan McGregor
Without a doubt, the main reason to rewatch any of the three Star Wars prequels is Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi. While he’s not given a lot to work with in these films, McGregor manages to give a great performance in each movie nonetheless. And he manages to pull off the impossible: making audiences believe he is the same man Alec Guinness played in the classic Star Wars films. McGregor’s voice showed up in The Force Awakens when Obi-Wan Kenobi spoke to Rey. Here’s hoping the rumors are true and McGregor is back as Obi-Wan in Episode VIII.