I think if a person watched the Prequels and hated them, I would say “who knows, there is something better in the Star Wars universe you might enjoy” and encourage them to give the OT a chance. If they loved them, I’d say, go see the originals, but keep in mind these were made a decade earlier and don’t match up perfectly.
Many fans (myself included at one time) put Star Wars (and to an extent, George Lucas) up on a pedestal. This means we hold it to an unrealistically high standard OR we treat it in a cultish manner that prevents us from seeing anything wrong with it, and make us defensive towards those who don’t share our zeal or obsession. I don’t hate the Prequels, it’s really just that I was disappointed with Episode I. It was a bit of an overload back then too… too much hype, and I backed off a bit from the franchise then, retreating into the stuff I liked. Something similar happened with Disney star wars, but by then I wasn’t as invested to begin with so it wasn’t so shocking. I became jaded, cynical, and this is probably boring you, so you should skip to the next post. OR, continue on… I warned you. 😉
For some people, they gave up on Star Wars because of the prequels. Others went back to the OT. A few people grew up with the Prequels and didn’t ever care to get invested in the originals. It never fails that when a new installment of something this popular comes out, it will cause “divisions” in the “fandom” (it’s talked about as if it’s a nation, religion or family, when the only thing that unites “Star Wars fans” is some generic love of a brand).
I recall when Force Awakens came out, the #1 argument from those who overwhelmingly supported it was “at least it wasn’t the prequels” or “star wars is back” or something similar. That opinion soured for a lot of folks with the disappointment of the next two movies, but for a time it seems like dislike of the prequels was on full display.
I don’t begrudge fans their opinion. Yes, at one time (in the 90’s) I was “shocked” to learn that my favorite piece of Star Wars, ROTJ, was regarded by many as the “worst” thing in the franchise (other than the Holiday Special, I guess). All of the people I knew, I guess were fans my own age, so they all disagreed, but everything I read was that ESB was the best, and ROTJ was the worst. Oh well. I don’t begrudge those people their opinion. I remember spending time on forums where if you hated the Prequels, you were considered “not a true fan” and even a “bad person,” some kind of bandwagon “hater” or “snob” who didn’t “get it.” People would defend the prequels by pointing out flaws in the OT, and say it was still George Lucas’ vision so take it or leave it. It was a weird time. I had problems with the prequels, mainly episode I, but I didn’t hate them. Then again I did hate the last jedi and while I see just how goofy Rise of skywalker was, and didn’t consider force awakens anything special, I didn’t hate solo (I just didn’t bother to think of it as “canon” in any way shape or form) and while Rogue One was fine, it came across as a really desperate attempt at fanservice. I only bring that up because I feel like a lot of the same arguments and feelings got brought up with that trilogy/series run as what happened with the prequels. I don’t think it’s fair to just say new stuff always will cause a conflict between fans who like the new stuff better than the old, or because people hate change or others feel obligated to like everything to be considered a true fan. Tastes are different. I didn’t hate the Mandalorian or Rogue One or Solo (even though it wasn’t anything really special) so I’ll defend myself against those who would say I hate stuff just because it’s new or different from what I previously accepted. I didn’t start liking the prequels recently, I always did, but I agreed with those who heavily criticized them (again, especially Episode I). If you disagree with me, I don’t judge you a lesser fan, by no means. If you’re the type of person who wants to nitpick, who is going to be disappointed if the episodes don’t all gel together perfectly, I would not want to set you up for failure though.
And someone is going to read this now and say I’m a hater, I’m a cynical jaded fan who hates everything, who has standards that are too high, who has nostalgia goggles on, who can’t tolerate people enjoying themselves. Bollocks I say. Far from it, I’m perfectly willing to admit other people have different tastes and that’s not better or worse, just different. I thought the Mandalorian was fine. It wasn’t bad. Not revelatory, and I can nitpick it if I want to, but to me Episode II and III were fine.
Does the Prequel Trilogy enhance the original star wars? If you mean does it make you want to go see the originals again… sure, I guess they do that. They are based around stuff that is said in the background of the classic trilogy. Basically all the snippets that Obi-Wan and Yoda say about the past, are what we see on screen. The trouble is that back then it was mysterious, so we used our imaginations and what we got may not have measured up. And the other thing is that historically speaking, the Prequels were mainly a new creation of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, they weren’t what George Lucas “always intended” (and that’s fine, I have long ago rejected the hype that he had a perfect 12 part saga all planned out in his head… the man clearly is just a mortal filmmaker who had some cool ideas and collaborated to create some really awesome stuff, even if it’s not godly perfection).
I try NOT to hold the Prequels in my mind when I’m watching the OT. If I do, I end up nitpicking stuff and it becomes less enjoyable and more laughable. “Obi-wan, you lying drunk!” “Chewbacca, you jerk!” etc. No, I just ignore the Prequels except when I’m watching the prequels or some material based upon them (like the Mandalorian). But I can’t avoid thinking about the OT when watching the Prequels, to a certain degree, so it’s tough.
As a fan of another franchise, Highlander, which has massive continuity issues from one installment to the next, I have learned to check a lot of that nitpicky-ness at the door and just trying to enjoy it for what it is. I don’t do major movie marathons and have a clipboard in front of me. It’s fun to do the nitpicky thing, but I got most of that out of my system when the movies were still in theaters. Again, I don’t begrudge someone who wants to do that.
For sheer entertainment value, I consider Episode II up there next to Empire Strikes Back. It may be because I didn’t see ESB in theaters originally… I wasn’t a teenager when it came out and it wasn’t my favorite growing up. I appreciate it now more than I ever did, but I genuinely enjoyed myself seeing Episode II (far more than Episode I), and I acknowledge that as far as a lot of fans are concerned, it is the worst of the prequels! And for me Episode III was really the only one that “needed” to be made, and yes it could have been better, but it was pretty good. I watched it TOO much in 2005-2006, so the point where I hadn’t seen it for years (Until recently when I did a week long marathon of the Lucas movies, after seeing Rise of Skywalker).
Again I think if all a person knew was the Prequel Trilogy, I would recommend they give the OT a try, because I think overall its better, and better or worse, it was what started it all, but I think they hold up today, regardless of technological advances or cultural changes.
I love that fan editing exists, everybody has a different idea of how to improve these movies. I appreciate that effort, and I also appreciate the films for what they are, warts and all. To a degree I like laughing at bad movies too, but despite some of the inherent hokiness (sp?) of Star Wars in general (I love Star Wars, again, don’t get me wrong), I expect it to be good, and so it’s jarring when it doesn’t live up to the standard I set for it. Still, the Prequels really weren’t bad, even if a lot of the CGI looks dated now. And as time goes on, do worse movies soften my attitude to previous installments? There is probably some truth to that as well.