DISCLAIMER: Before I really get started here, let’s get this out of the way. These movies are not going anywhere, despite how much we all want them to. I recognize the lack of cinematic quality that these movies presented, but Episodes I, II, and III are canon. Hayden Christensen is canon. The Trade Federation is canon. Jar Jar Binks is canon. So what I’m going to do here is try to piece together something that we can get out of George Lucas’s debacle of a Star Wars Prequel Trilogy. So buckle down into your podracer and let’s get into it.
EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE
Imagine this. You are thirty-three years old. You were raised on Star Wars. You were so incredibly enthralled by Luke Skywalker’s saga as a child, you just couldn’t wait to bring your own son to the theater for him to have his own Star Wars experience. Then you took him to see Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Quite frankly, I have one thing to say: I am so sorry Dad. There are so few good things to take away from this movie. In fact, if you take this movie as a whole it is completely unnecessary. The following two movies could survive without this one. There is so little character development, so little relevance that it’s insulting. Now, I am not going to attack the easy target, Jar Jar Binks. Everyone knows that he sucks. Yes, every single thing he does is cringe-worthy but that goes without saying. The true menace here is kid Anakin. Holy shit this kid is the worst. Here are some of his key lines: “Are you an angel?” “I’ll win the podrace *pause* I think” “You mean I get to go with YOU in YOUR starship?….Yipppeeeee!!!” I actually feel incredibly bad for Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor for having to deal with that little shit in front of a green screen for so long. This movie could have survived if it only had one unbearable character, but if George Lucas expected the average viewer to be able to endure Jar Jar AND kid Anakin, he must think we are 4 years old. This movie isn’t all bad. John Williams’s score is incredible as always. The podrace was awesome. The lightsaber fights stepped it up exponentially. Darth Maul is an incredible bad guy.
Final Verdict: Still really bad.
EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES
This was an improvement. Just like how the Detroit Lions went from 0-16 to 2-14 from 2008-2009, it was hard to do much worse. Maybe I am being hard on Episode II. It is actually pretty captivating. The Trade Federation has thrown itself right in between the Jedi and the Sith as their droid army continues to grow. The Republic is incredibly outmanned and Obi-Wan Kenobi is led to a clone army, which has been growing in secret for years. War is imminent. But one big thing gets me. So the Trade Federation is pumping out droids as fast as they can to send into battle, while the Republic is pumping out clones. This really seems like a battle between two groups of pretty expendable forces. Like who wins? The side who can create soldiers faster?
Another issue is Anakin’s scene where he goes to save his mother. This is the most important part of Anakin’s character development. He murders an entire village of sand people and is essentially acting like a Sith. George Lucas makes this scene two minutes long. But it’s cool Georgie! You can have a half hour car chase to begin the movie or a 45 minute coliseum battle, but no how dare you expand on Anakin Skywalker’s character??? This is only his story of turning to the dark side. Why include the first step? Idiot.
But the biggest problem with this movie: the scenes between Anakin and Padme. These scenes almost destroy the movie. They are so incredibly awkward you are just caught waiting for them to be over. These two have so little chemistry it is absolutely spellbinding that they were able to fall in love. Why couldn’t they just have Jim and Pam sub in for these scenes? I buy that love story. It sucks that I cannot buy into the most important love story in the Star Wars galaxy.
Final Verdict: Improve the love story and this is a good movie.
EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH
So I like this movie. I liked it when I was a kid seeing it in the theater and I still like it now. Chancellor Palpatine does an excellent job of seducing Anakin to the dark side. The Jedi Council continues to frustrate Anakin and with the inevitable death of Padme, by the end of the movie you could barely blame him. Episode III also does a much better job of establishing a great friendship between Obi-Wan and Anakin. However the scenes between Anakin and Padme are still really bad. They are stone walls. It’s just hard to watch.
Yet, putting those scenes aside, this movie is actually pretty well done. All the cards fall into Palpatine’s lap after playing both sides for three movies and he gets his apprentice, the newly named Darth Vader. The final 45 minutes of the movie are incredibly sad as you helplessly watch Order 66 essentially wipe out the Jedi Order, Vader slaughter younglings, and the final battle between Master and Padawan. At points, the dialogue spoken by Hayden Christensen is pretty laughable. Let’s do the quote thing again: “Love won’t save you, Padme. Only my new powers can do that!” “From my point of view, the Jedi are evil!” “This is the end for you…my former master” WHO THE HELL TALKS LIKE THIS? Maybe George Lucas had this predisposition to make sure Anakin Skywalker speaks in lines that seem totally planted and non conversational. Putting this aside, Revenge of the Sith is absolutely the high water mark of the prequel trilogy with scenes of success, friendship, and eventually tragedy.
Final Verdict: Great film, for prequel standards.
After this revisit to the Star Wars Prequels and issuing my father the most sincere of apologies, I would like to issue a thanks. Thank you Disney. The Force Awakens was absolutely incredible and I appreciate what you have done to my beloved franchise. I look forward to Episode XIII and trust the process.
May the Force be with you, always.
By Beau “Pink” Santomero