9) John Williams’ Score
Lucas may falter often in the prequels, but composer John Williams is as strong as ever, and evidently as confident as he was scoring the original Star Wars trilogy two decades previous. If anything, the naturally theatrical Williams fits the prequels – more operatic in scope and execution than the original trilogy – better even than he did the less OTT Episodes IV–VI.
The introduction of an apocalyptic choir for The Phantom Menace is inspired, heightening the bombastic tone, while Williams’ innocent love themes for Attack of the Clones do such emotional heavy lifting that they almost make Anakin and Padme’s romance compelling.
Perhaps Williams’ prequels high-point, though, is saved for the Revenge of the Sith opener, with war drums and ecstatic strings helping to make one of the prequels’ most uncomplicated and fun sequences so exciting.
8) Incredible Design Work
There’s just no faulting the invention on display in the Star Wars prequels.
The fashion sense of Naboo alone warrants an entire thesis exploring the real-life background, as do the planet’s WWII-like aircraft. Then check out the giant doughnut-shaped spacecraft of the Trade Federation, and its insect-like droid army, complete with clunky, chunky war machines.
Look at the devil-like Darth Maul, an instantly iconic villain wielding a double-edged weapon and covered head-to-toe in tats. Look at the worlds themselves: Naboo, with its Venetian-style structures above and Jules Verne-esque bubble kingdoms that lie underwater; Coruscant, a giant, sleek metal cityscape, like cities of the Earth grown to planet-size; Tatooine, a Western-like lawless desert of crime and high-octane sports.
Every one is a marvel of design – and that’s just The Phantom Menace.