Rogue One has been called a lot of things—“A Star Wars Story,” an anthology film, a stand-alone adventure—many of which are synonyms for “prequel.” Prequels are an inherently bad idea, and they are generally executed in a manner that makes them even worse, retreading imagery from the movies ostensibly “after” them as self-important foreshadowing, and glibly trading in self-aware references in the place of actual jokes.
While Rogue One trades in all of these prequel clichés, it is still much, much better than George Lucas’ prequel trilogy. There is no reason to watch the prequel trilogy in 2017, but if you did, you would remember how much worse a Star Wars prequel can get—its plastic acting, pristine PlayStation 2 set design, groan-worthy humor, and presence of Jake Lloyd have all somehow gotten worse over time. The prequels have been edited and re-edited a billion different ways, removing Jar Jar Binks, cutting them down to a single runtime, even ushered into watchability by Topher Grace.
But one of their most legendary forms makes them watchable by making them even less sensible, replacing all of George Lucas’ original dialogue with its baffling Chinese translations. As read by voice actors who do surprisingly accurate impression of Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, and the rest of the doomed, listless denizens of a galaxy far, far away, the Chinese subtitled editions drop the pretense of logic and turn into full-bore comedy. Lines like “Mr. Speaker, we are for the big” or “Batter to death them” are about as logical as the movies’ contrivances deserve. A handful of videos that compile the best scenes from these editions have been making the rounds lately, and they are worth revisiting. They’re both entertaining on their own and a sterling reminder of how bad a prequel can possibly get.