From The Mary Sue:
“Things We Saw Today: Looking Back at Twenty Years of The Phantom Menace
Hating the prequels isn’t a replacement for a personality.
This week marks the twentieth anniversary of The Phantom Menace, as well as the anniversaries of other prequels Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. io9 ran a fantastic piece on twenty years of the film, as fans at Star Wars Celebration reflected on what the prequels meant to them both growing up and watching it as adults. There have been some bad prequel hot takes, including one saying the films need to be remade, but it’s time that people stopped complaining about the prequels.
Lucas wanted to tell a different story with The Phantom Menace and the prequels. He wanted to get political, to show the Jedi to be a flawed organization, and to tell a darker, more tragic story than the original trilogy. While there are some missteps, the prequels are not the worst films ever made. They gave us The Clone Wars and Ahsoka Tano. They gave us the endlessly courageous Padmé Amidala.
The Phantom Menace centers on Padmé as a teenaged queen of a planet who takes matters into her own hands. It gives us a younger, more brash Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the best lightsaber battle of the series. It has a gorgeous score, and the worldbuilding is fantastic. Most of all, for those of us who were kids when we watched it, it’s amazingly fun. There’s podracing and laser swords and cool costumes. It does what it is supposed to do: expand the Star Wars galaxy and entertain the audience, and even if it’s not perfect, it still means something to a great number of fans.
Besides, the prequel jokes are old. A good “I don’t like sand” meme is one thing but hating the prequels (and the sequels) doesn’t seem like the best way to express love for the franchise. It’s possible to critique what you don’t like without turning it into a personality trait, and to also respect the fans who do find meaning and love in the prequels. Don’t tear down fans of any age who love the franchise because they found it through the prequels. It’s not a good look.”