Why the Star Wars Prequels Failed

Count Dooku
Sir Christopher Lee as Count Dooku

Like most children of the 1980s, I grew up surrounded by Star Wars. Star Wars lunch pales were the rage at school. Star Wars toys, books and magazines littered my room. And the Darth Vader outfit was the Holy Grail of Halloween costumes.

Yet the most admired of all things Star Wars were the movies themselves. Amongst my peers it was agreed that these films were the pinnacle of cinematic greatness. They were spoken of with reverence and awe. And the bearded, benevolent toy maker – George Lucas – was viewed with the same enchanted wonder as Santa Claus.

Over a decade later my generation packed the theaters again, this time to see a long-anticipated prequel, The Phantom Menace. I was there opening weekend, and still recall the palpable anticipation amongst the crowd. I remember the costumes, the plastic light sabers and the thrill that our childhood dreams were returning. When the film ended, the theater broke into spontaneous applause.

Today The Phantom Menace is widely reviled. But on opening weekend it was beloved by most fans. For whatever shortcomings it possessed, this film was the beginning of something we all longed to see – the tragic saga of Darth Vader.

And that’s where the prequels failed miserably.

What Went Wrong?

To be sure, they were not terrible films. I actually enjoyed them on the level of popular entertainment. If they were stand alone space fantasies, they would have been fine. The problem is that they grievously undermine what made the original trilogy so great, which is the mythos.

The original trilogy, taken as a whole, was about the redemption of Darth Vader. Rarely has a villain penetrated public consciousness to such an extent. Beyond the costume and booming voice, what elevated Vader to mythological heights was his backstory. Darth Vader was once a great man, who experienced a tragic fall into darkness. What remained was a disfigured fusion of man and machine, entirely consumed by evil. This is the stuff of legends.

So when the prequels were announced, this is what we expected to see: the fall of a great man. The first prequel was disappointing in this regard, but we were able to forgive it. It set up the story, leaving room for two films full of the great man and his fall. And so we waited.

But the great man never came.

Instead, we were treated to the tale of a whiny, arrogant brat who continuously defied his teachers and thumbed his nose at tradition. We were expecting a wise and powerful Jedi master. Instead, we were given a one-dimensional caricature of Maverick from Top Gun, minus the coolness.

Anakin Skywalker, as depicted in the prequels, can best be summarized with one word: annoying. He is self-centered, self-serving and ultimately trivial. We just want him to go away.

But alas, he sticks in our minds, making it hard to view the real Star Wars trilogy with the same reverence. The fact that annoying Anakin was superimposed into the final scene of Return of the Jedi only added insult to injury.

What Could Have Been

George Lucas is an artist, and as such it’s his prerogative to tell the story as he sees fit. So be it. I’m reticent to tell another artist how he should have approached his craft. But in this case the error was so egregious because of what Lucas set up in the original films.

What George Lucas should have done was delivered on what he promised: the story of a great man and his fall into darkness. In doing this, he could have skipped the Phantom Menace in it’s entirety, for it served little purpose in the greater narrative. He could have centered the first two films on an intelligent, thoughtful Jedi master who was lured to the Dark Side. The third film would have then chronicled the crusade of a tortured, badass Darth Vader who traversed the galaxy hunting down Jedi. That would have been epic.

But instead George Lucas gave us something very different: the adventures of an annoying hot-shot kid who somehow inexplicably morphed into Darth Vader. When you consider what could have been, one cannot help but feel letdown.

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RINA KEATON
RINA KEATON
1 year ago

I grew up in the 1970s and the 1980s. You want to know what was really wrong with the Prequel Trilogy? Fans like you who couldn’t deal with its moral ambiguity and who couldn’t deal that it was not a remake of the Original Trilogy. Spare me the “lack of mythos” shit.

Tim
Tim
Reply to  RINA KEATON
1 year ago

The moral ambiguity, or differences to the OT weren’t the problem. It was more the terrible execution in all of the fundamentals of film-making. Acting, writing, directing. Not to mention the awful cartoonish visual effects. They’re mediocre movies, at best.

Mark P
Mark P
1 year ago

While the prequels came no where close to the originals I still found them fun. I was so anxious to see how Anakin was going to turn to the dark side. I thought episode 3 was really good, minus the ending. The part where Vader yells out NOOOOOO was so corny. In all, the way Anakin turned I thought was well thought out. It wasn’t going to happen overnight, and he kind of got caught in a place between Palpatine and the Jedi. Ultimately I think the Jedi feared him and his power.

Lastly, why does everyone hate on Hayden Christensen so much? He wasn’t all that bad. I think the originals just set the bar sooo high. It was hard, maybe even impossible to top that. People were expecting it to be so much more than it was.

Daniel
3 years ago

Revenge of the Sith is an outstanding achievement.

Problem is for Episode 3 there is guilt by association.
No matter how good Revenge of the Sith is, its hard to forget the problems of Episode 1 & 2.

Take Return of the Jedi for example. No matter how many problems it had. Episode 4 & 5 were so awesome that nostalgia forgives the atrocious mistakes that Return of the Jedi has.

John
John
Reply to  Daniel
2 years ago

Yeah, that 40-minute-long lightsaber battle which takes place in five locations and which holds zero suspense since we know that both characters will fight again thirty years later was quite an achievement- it managed to involve massive special effects and choreography and still be as boring as hell.

Daniel
3 years ago

Revenge of the Sith is much better than Return of the Jedi.

The first 45 minutes at Jabbas Palace sucked.
Dumb musical. Dumb C3PO moments. Dumb Salacious Crumb.

Boba Fett’s take down by a blind man from behind sending him head first into the Sail Barge then dropping him into the Sarlac’s mouth. C’mon Lucas seriously.

Annoying Salacious Crumb chewing on C3PO’s eye. That was almost as dumb as the worst Jar Jar moment.

Then we get to Endor. After the awesome Speeder Bike chase Endor just slows the pace of the film.

Then we meet the stupid Teddy Bears.
Why oh why?

Then the scene which Leia finds out Luke and her are family. The acting was unconvincing just like Attack of the Clones.

Then the Ewoks beats down the emperors best troops down with sticks and rocks.

Daniel
3 years ago

Revenge of the Sith is an fantastic movie!

Michael
Michael
3 years ago

In retrospect,

Just like he ripped off the classic “hero’s journey” story for Ep. 4,, George could have looked to classic stories to tell the story of Anakin Skywalker’s fall. There is, after all, a quintessential fall from grace story: Macbeth. The prequels could have just followed the same basic storyline as Macbeth, with Annakin in the role of Macbeth, Qui-gon in the role of Annakin’s cousin, the ruler of the Republic, Obi-Wan in the role of Macbeth’s friend, and Palpatine in the role of Lady Macbeth (I don’t mean Palpatine and Anakin are married, I mean Palpatine serves Lady MacBeth’s dramatic function.

EPISODE I:

During a climactic and decisive clone wars battle, Annakin, a noble, charismatic, gifted soldier is visited by a force ghost who tells him he is strong with the Force and that a prophesy foretells that he will one day rule the Republic. Anakin’s good nature makes him skeptical, however. After the battle, Anakin and Obi-Wan, his Jedi friend, with whom he fought side by side, come back from the clone wars heroes. Qui-gon rewards them by making Annakin second In command of the republic, but doesn’t reward Obi Wan, since Jedi are above that sort of thing. Thinking his promotion is the first sign that the prophesy will come true, Anakin begins to secretly harbour ambitions to rule the galaxy. Palpatine (secretly a Sith lord and who was the force ghost who visited Anakin in the first place) befriends Anakin and persuades him to kill Qui-Gon in order to inherit the throne. Annakin resists at first, because he’s a generally good guy and because Obi-wan has noticed his powerful force proclivities and wants to train him to be a Jedi. Annakin succumbs to Palpatines wishes, however, and murders Qui-gon in an emotional duel. He frames someone else for the murder, however, and becomes ruler of the republic.

EPISODE II:

Annakin rules the republic, but is consumed with guilt over what he did to get there. Palpatine comforts and advises him, but simultaneously moves in secret, organizing all the armies loyal to Qui-gon against Annakin’s Republic and the Jedi, all the while Annakin thinks Palpatine is on his side. Obi-wan, Annakin’s real friend, along with yoda and a few other jedI escape the assault on the Jedi temple and are forced to flee. Palpatine convinces Annakin to make him second in command.

EPISODE III:

The Jedi eliminated, the armies invade the Republic. Annakin, still guilty over what he’s done, but clinging to his power, goes into hiding where he meets and falls in love with Padme. Obi-wan tracks him down and makes a last effort to turn him into a Jedi, but Annakin, consumed by guilt and still clinging to his power, refuses. The two duel. Eventually, Annakin is wounded by Obi-wan. Padme, having given birth to Luke and Leia, begs Anakin to flee so they can raise their family in peace, but Anakin refuses and accidentally kills Palme in the ensuing argument. Obi-wan takes pity on Anakin, tells him he’ll take the children to safety. Palpatine, having now become emperor, tracks down Annakin and instead of murdering him, plays upon his guilt and ambition and turns him into Darth Vader. He then renames the Republic the Empire.

No clones, no jar jar, no secret separatist political garbage, no expendable clone army against expendable battle droids whose battles have no dramatic tension because both armies are expendable, and, for the love of all that is holy, no Frankenstein scene where Darth Vader yells, “Noooooooooo!”

My Macbeth rip off idea may need a little polish, but ANYTHING would have been better than those prequels. I wish Disney had erased them from canon along with the EU and remade them. Also, will the mouse house PLEASE release the unaltered OT? My favorite films of all time have been unwatchable for 30 years!

OT4EVA!

S
S
Reply to  Michael
3 years ago

That was awesome dude!

Dave
Dave
3 years ago

I’ll sum up my problem with the PT in one scene – the very end when Luke and Leia were born.
Now let’s rewind to Return of the Jedi.
Luke asked Leia if she remembers her mother, her real mother, and she mentions her real mother died when she was really young and she seemed sad…you all know the scene.

Then in Sith; Padmé dies in childbirth.
I remember being in the cinema and loudly yelling “you got to be kidding me!!” And everyone around me hissed like vipers.
That one scene just said to me how much Lucas either never bothered to check the continuity of his own movies or just plain didn’t care.
Star Wars fans know the OT back to front – and I’m sure a little error like this would be noticed… by everyone but Lucas.
There is plenty wrong that I hated about the PT – but this once scene summed it up for me.
What irks me is how much time people, fans and the like have spent trying to explain how this could work, citing her use of the force – which Luke could have done and “remembered” his mum too.
It’s none of that; it’s just plain shitty writing.

Michael
Michael
3 years ago

I’m one of those Star Wars fans who doesn’t bash the trilogy because everyone else does. I’m not one to follow the crowd, so to speak. The trilogy was good…ish. Not God-awful, but…good. I liked Darth Maul, he was different, and I wanted to see more of him. Imagine Star Wars where HE was Vader… Cool, huh? Anakin’s fall to arrogance wasn’t even gradual, it was like….years pass, he was cute and loved pod racing, now he’s creepy and self-centred, and has perverted fantasies about Padmé. It was neccessary, the trilogy…but disappointing. We had 4,5 and 6…so needed the first three. Pod racing, Darth Maul, the rise of Sidious and Vader. I liked it. But, Christ it has so many flaws. The overuse of holograms…the mediocre CGI…the bad response times to said CGI, like when Jar Jar is shocked, and Obi reacts…3 seconds later. All in all, it was SW for SW fans, and newer ones…it needed to be done, but wasn’t done well enough to wow us original trilogy fans. The Force Awakens made more money than the entire saga, I’m pretty sure. Like, 5 billion in total. That’s insane….minus the killing of ” you know who”… It was pretty sweet. Abrahams should have taken over in the late 90’s, when the trilogy was started. Imagine that. Like THe Force Awakens…but the prequel trilogy….done so much better, with hundreds of less flaws.

solly
solly
4 years ago

The concept and ideas of the prequels were, in and of themselves, fine.

But there are better ways of telling what Lucas wanted to tell and they all revolve around character-driven storytelling.

In a nutshell, there was no sense of mystery in the prequels. None at all.

Everyone knew Anakin was going to fall, which is fine, but better writing and direction would have given the feeling that perhaps, just perhaps, he wasn’t.

That would require the viewer to have an investment in the character of Anakin.

However, if Lucas wanted him to be a whiney brat, fine. But then you would need another character to act as a foil, one that the audience could identify with, throughout the trilogy.

The simplest approach would have been to use Obi-wan or, at a clutch, Padme.

The art of storytelling is the art of character. And in the prequels, there really wasn’t any. That was the only flaw. Had more respect been shown to that concept of characterisation, everything else would have flowed more naturally.

Alas, it wasn’t to be.

Liz Moore
Liz Moore
4 years ago

The prequel movies worked on a better level for me than the original movies did. I found them more complex and fascinating. Perhaps you could not deal with the more complex emotions portrayed in the prequel trilogy. Or perhaps you’re just one of those STAR WARS fans who prefers that the story telling and characterization at the more simplistic level of especially the 1977 film. Hmmm . . . pity.

Toby
Toby
Reply to  Liz Moore
4 years ago

You can´t be serious? Complex emotions? The love relationship between Anakin and Padme could hardly feel more unrealistic. Their dialogue is just horrible. Btw why do you think the Original´s were more simplistic? Because there was no deep and wise character like Jar Jar? Or Queen Amidala? Watto? Darth Maul, the villain who says two lines and just dies.

Toby
Toby
Reply to  Toby
4 years ago

What was so complex about the storytelling anyway? Sure it senate debates but they were boring not complex.
I really recommend you to watch Mr Plinketts Prequel reviews. They sum up everything that was wrong with these films.
“I don´t like sand.” What is the complex meaning behind this only your supreme mind can handle.
Why does every scene needs to have lightsabers?
What was so deep about child Vader? That he was “so wizard”?
Why are there midichlorians? I can tell you that: Because Lucas was lazy. Instead of SHOWING us Anakin´s force abilities he just tells us: “His value is higher then other´s so of course he´s awesome.”

You finally need to get rid of your nostalgia. Just because you saw those films in cinema when you were a kid and liked them doesn´t allow you to say they´re better in anyway. All professionell movie critics I know rate these movies mediocre, maybe III good.

Toby
Toby
Reply to  Liz Moore
4 years ago

You know what a good movie needs? Good acting. Did Jake Lloyd act well? No, neither did any other kid in these movies.
Did Hayden Chritiansen act well? Well let me put it like this: “His acting was… coarse and rough and irritating and gets everywhere.”

Were the lightsaber battles good? In I and II, no, in III, yes. Because it had actual emotional background. Their flawless choreography in the Darth Maul battle just lacks all humanity and emotion. But then Qui-Gon dies and Obi-Wan is pissed. He´s pumped. He just wants to kick this guys ass. Hey maybe now I´ll get emotionally involved. And then… it´s right back to highly choreographed fighting.
Remember when Luke got really pissed and snapped when Vader was taunting him him? Remeber how worked up and emotionally he got? He just started beating on Vader. There was no grace or complex choreography. He was just pounding him into submission. Filled with rage. When you´re worked up with emotion you begin to lose your composure and control. You expose your humanity a little. Obi-Wan should´ve done that, just a bit.
In Empire there´s also very little complex choreography. Luke is just barely keeping up in his fight with Vader. Vader is just basically toying around with him. He could totally kick his ass at any moment but he holds back. This was their first duel. There is a lot going on between the characters outside the fact that they are swinging swords at each other.
There is even a lot more going on at the end of Jedi. Luke was realising that he was kinda becoming his father and taking his place. The Emperor was proving a point that hate and anger can be a powerful ally. You got things like temptation, anger, revelation, defiance, sacrifice, revenge and redemption.
What´s happening at the end of Phantom Menace? Two emotionless monks fight a Sith with about zero character over… something.
Lightsaber duels have less to do with the fight itself but more so with the internalization of the characters.

Were the special effects good? NO, definitely not. It was a complete CGI mess, lacking any kind of humanity or emotion.

Finally, which characters were ruined?
Vader: We knew he was a bad guy but did he have to be a violent child murderer? No. That´s actually quite fitting. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
Emperor: “Take your Jedi weapon.” That´s what the Emperor said in VI. He was kinda making fun of such a weapon. Because just like Yoda, he was so good with the force he didn´t need such a weapon. But now he has one, just so there can be more lightsabers in this already lightsabers-crowded movie. And just like Vader, remember when Mace Windu was about to kill him? No. No. NOOOOO.
Yoda: Like the Emperor, he got a lightsaber just so there could be more stupid pointless sword bashing. Why did this wise force Master, who could move an entire X-Wing with his tiny fingers, had to be a always-pissed looking old guy? “Wars not make one great.” Still, he just starts one in Clones.

KL
KL
Reply to  Liz Moore
3 years ago

Said the current generation that grew up on Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey.

S
S
Reply to  KL
3 years ago

Truth!

Bill Smith
Bill Smith
Reply to  Liz Moore
3 years ago

> Perhaps you could not deal with the more complex emotions portrayed in the prequel trilogy. Or perhaps you’re just one of those STAR WARS fans who

That’s not a rebuttal, that’s an ad hominem, casting aspersions on the character of the writer rather than posting any logical or reasoned disputation.

> I found them more

Personal anecdotes do not constitute logical or reasoned disputation in and of themselves.

> Hmmm . . . pity.

That is condescending sarcasm, i.e. nothing more than a hostile emotional response, rather than any sort of logical or reasoned disputation.

Ken
Ken
Reply to  Liz Moore
1 year ago

“one of those STAR WARS fans who prefers that the story………..Hmm . . . pity.”

This is what I hate about the Prequel fans, they pass the hate to the Original Trilogy and the Sequels (especially the Prequels as a lot of annoying Prequel fans that are a bunch of elitists who think Prequels are superior than the Sequel fans) and they call it simplicity. The simplicity of the Originals made it so good while the Prequels was so much full, complex and full of chaos on trades and stuff that people don’t even think of thus lacking appeal to the audience.

solly
solly
4 years ago

In the end, Lucas had every right to feature children, Jar Jar and a whole bunch of what many consider to be annoyances in his films.

If he wanted to tell the story of Anakin as a child, well, unnecessary as it probably was, it was his prerogative.

The only issue is that he could have been handled it a whole lot better.

Liz Moore
Liz Moore
Reply to  solly
4 years ago

If he wanted to tell the story of Anakin as a child, well, unnecessary as it probably was, it was his prerogative.

Unnecessary? For you? I’m sorry if Lucas had inconvenienced you.

solly
solly
Reply to  Liz Moore
4 years ago

Was that reply directed at me?

Err, if so, you may have misread my comment.

Bill Smith
Bill Smith
Reply to  Liz Moore
3 years ago

“Unnecessary? For you? I’m sorry if Lucas had inconvenienced you.”

Once again, you have used condescending sarcasm, i.e. nothing more than a hostile emotional response, rather than provided any sort of logical or reasoned disputation.

Robert
Robert
4 years ago

There are far worse movies than The Phantom Menace, but expectations were high, as they should be, and these expectations weren’t met. There’s nothing wrong with high expectations. If I go to restaurant expecting a good steak, but am disappointed, it doesn’t do any good to point out that there were worse restaurants. If I go to Denny’s, I know not to expect great food. When I watch Star Wars, I’m not expecting the equivalent of eating at Denny’s. You shouldn’t expect your movie to be one of the top-grossing movies of all time by not meeting expectations. Let the quality of the product drop and people aren’t going to buy it.

That’s what happened with the prequels. Attack of the Clones paid the price for The Phantom Menace. A New Hope is the #2 biggest box office take adjusted for inflation, with Empire at #13 and Jedi at #16. The Phantom Menace did pretty well at #18, but Attack of the Clones comes in at #91 and Revenge of the Sith at #63. The Force Awakens is at #11 and still rising.

Jar Jar is a huge problem with TPM, for many reasons. Him stepping in poop just wasn’t funny. Then there were the midichlorians, sure to get a groan from Star Wars fans whenever they are mentioned. But a big problem is Anakin’s story starts out on the wrong foot. Anakin is made a little kid who destroys the bad guys by accident. He should have paralleled Luke in A New Hope. Instead, he’s never the hero. By the time Attack of the Clones comes along, he seems to already be sliding to the dark side.

There also is the incoherent plot, where a vast array of coincidences has to happen in order to meet up with Anakin. Sure, the Force may nudge things, but it ought to be a nudge, not a chess game. In A New Hope, Luke is involved because Leia sent for Obi-won and Obi-won was keeping an eye on Luke. Perhaps it’s a bit of a nudge for them to meet up with Han, but only a small one. There are just too many coincidences in TPM.

Tim
Tim
4 years ago

I agree with most of your thoughts. One issue though, you seem to imply you would’ve liked to have seen Anakin as more mature. A wise Jedi Master as you put it. The problem here is the timeline as established in the OT. We know Obi-Wan was about 60 in ANH. Also that he had Anakin has his pupil before the Republic was replaced by the Empire. We also know this happened around the time Luke & Leia were born, who are supposed to be about 20 in ANH. This all points to Anakin being only about 20-25 years old himself when he fell to the Dark Side & when the twins were born. Everything suggests he’s about 40 at the time of ANH. So I don’t think the PT could’ve avoided having an Anakin who is young, like Hayden Christensen age. There’s also the comments by Yoda in ESB. That Anakin was reckless & filled with anger & fear. So I’m not sure having a mature, assured & wise Anakin would’ve meshed with the info we get about him in the OT. Doesn’t mean we couldn’t have seen a FAR stronger portrayal though.

Jorge
Jorge
Reply to  Tim
4 years ago

But this presupposes a prequel timeline which flies in the face of what we thought we knew at the time of the Original Trilogy. Sebastian Shaw was in his 70’s or late 60’s during the filming of ROTJ. Alec Guiness was slightly younger and is referred to in the films as ” an old fossil”.

We’d have to assume that Leia and Luke were born part way into Anakin’s turn to the Dark Side. Furthermore , we need not take it as necessary that the fall of the Republic and the Rise of Vader took place exactly simultaneously. In the Original Trilogy, I get the distinct impression that the Empire has held sway for longer than just 17 years. It implies a complexity to past events that just doesn’t mesh with the 3 film story that Lucas decided to tell in the Prequels.

So here’s the thing; the events surrounding the fall of Anakin Skywalker were originally a mythic anchor of the original Trilogy. They were meant to be vague. They were never meant to be recounted in the same way Vader’s redemption was. They didn’t need to be told and should not have been told. Going there destroyed the magic. I think this is the central flaw of the prequels.

Tim
Tim
Reply to  Jorge
4 years ago

Firstly, Sebastian Shaw’s age isn’t relevant IMO. Anakin was depicted as old & sickly looking due to his injuries & living under the suit & mask for 20 years.
Yes it’s possible (viewing only the OT) that the Empire was already in power when Anakin fell. However that arguably diminishes the significance of his fall. I guess Lucas wanted the drama of Anakin being instrumental in the fall of the Republic & Palpatine’s coup. Either way this is a separate matter from my points about the age of Anakin & the twins. My point was you couldn’t have an older wiser Jedi Anakin. Doesn’t work given that the twins were hidden from him when the were born, & all of Ben’s hints suggesting Anakin was young at the time.

Logos&Eidos
Logos&Eidos
4 years ago

For years I heard people that defend the PT say that “nothing would have lived up to the hype or the OT and that people would have been angry no matter” and I thought that they while right, were making excuses for the PT not being as well revised as the OT. After the info on the Force Awakens began to be released/leak I began to realize why the masses rejected the PT.

It’s something more fundamental than PT not being an as well told story. The PT was it’s own story, with a look, feel and rhythm distinct from OT and the distinction more than anything is the source of the Hate.

Star Wars is more than just a phenomenon, it’s a part of peoples lives and I dare say souls. The masses wanted the same look, feel and rhythm as the OT, and when they received a Star Wars that was not that they rejected it vehemently. So many of criticism leveled at the PT can be broken down into” They did something different from the OT”.

The PT was a new model of a car, but what the masses wanted was their old car fixed up. From all appearance the Sequel Trilogy is going to be exactly what the masses wanted out of the Prequel Trilogy, the OT with a tune up and a fresh coat of paint. However this leaves me a little crestfallen, because I would prefer the new car over the restored older one.

Jimbofurg
Jimbofurg
Reply to  Logos&Eidos
4 years ago

I completely agree. I will be incredibly disappointed if the new movies are just a rehash of the original trilogy with new characters.

Aaron russell
4 years ago

Man you nailed it! Phantom menace could have been eliminated from the series altogether. Two films about how Anakin went from hero to Villain, and then the 3rd film entirely villain Darth Vader hunting down the last remaining Jedi.

Andrew
Andrew
Reply to  Aaron russell
4 years ago

Overall I disagree. I think the author nailed it that Phantom Menace was a big mistake; it could have made a good standalone kids’ movie but should not have been part of the prequels. The story line of the first three films should have started at the beginning of the Attack of the Clones (AotC) movie, and there should have been an additional movie between Clones and the Revenge of the Sith. This movie should have mirrored Empire Strikes Back and had Anakin and Padme marry at the end. Revenge of the Sith should be largely unchanged, but should not have included Anakin killing younglings, which made Anakin/Darth Vader an unsympathetic character. AotC should be largely unchanged, but Anakin and Padme’s relationship should have been less serious until the next movie, eliminating many cheesy moments. A movie featuring Vader hunting down Jedi would have the same problem that Episode 1 had; it wouldn’t further the story of Anakin’s fall to Darth Vader and then redemption and it would make him a less sympathetic character. The originals already accomplish the task of depicting Vader in his evil state.

S
S
Reply to  Aaron russell
3 years ago

Truth!

S
S
Reply to  Aaron russell
3 years ago

To all the artsy, film School chicks critiquizing the film and taking about complex emotions and nuances, I would highly recommend going to YouTube and watching a making of Star Wars documentary, there are several. The reason why I suggest that is to try to help you understand the complete picture of how the Star Wars movies evolved into what they are today. We are talking about a new director creating a sci Fi movie that included never before seen sound effects, special effects, language effects and they did it with pennies. Fast forward to the prequel and it’s easier to put yourself into Lucas’s position. The creative aspect of the film had endless possibilities with the touch of a computer key. CGI, green screens, costuming, the ability to make literally anything happen because there were no physical limitations as there was one in shooting the originals. The goal of the prequel was to satisfy 2 audiences. Make true Star Wars fans happy and bring on a new generation of fans. This pull was what I believe Lucas’s downfall. Lucas on the side of the original fan base and the financial and franchise people on the side of the next generation. That is why we have a monotone, old school dialogue with a modern special effect backdrop and it didn’t work. It’s so obvious that Lucas felt defeated while making the movie that he lost even the desire to ensure that the 2 trilogies were true to each other and they were not. It was not a typo that the original trilogy were Episodes 4-6, what was Lucas’s vision when those films were being made for 1-3, whatever that was is what we should have been given. And to reference the actor choice for Anakin. Mark Hammil was not a great actor, but he worked as Luke because of the dialogue and the schematics of the film. But we know what the final product of Dath Vador was before meeting Anakin, there was no room for error in the acting choice. It was the wrong choice..It’s a cop out to say that they could not have pleased everyone. Especially after the magic that was Episode 7. And the stand alone Rogue One. Which was very reminiscent of the original trilogy even more so than Episode 7. It’s all my opinion. Which doesn’t mean squat. But Lucas sold the whole thing including his own creative voice to Disney before he originally planned and I don’t think it was because of the 4 billion

Lee
Lee
5 years ago

I believe that the major defect of the PT movies is that many fanboys refused to accept them for themselves. They wanted a return to the storytelling style of the first trilogy that featured characters who were flawed, but able to overcome such flaws and triumph in the end. These fans could not accept the possibility of good guys who helped brought about the Empire, due to their mistakes and flaws. They especially could not deal with Lucas’ portrayal of the Jedi characters as non-ideal beings who made massive mistakes. This is why these same fans still tend to cling to Yoda and Obi-Wan as ideal characters and use Mace Windu (who did not appear in the OT movies) as a scapegoat for the Jedi’s mistakes. They couldn’t accept Anakin as a morally ambiguous character, instead of a borderline juvenile delinquent, whom many had assumed he would be.

Despite their claim at how much they loved “The Empire Strikes” (which had its own set of flaws, like the other OT movies), they couldn’t accept the moral ambiguity of the PT movies. Yet, “The Empire Strikes Back” turned out to be the most morally ambiguous of the OT films. Which would probably explain why it made less money than the other two films.

These fans would not allow “Star Wars” to develop into a complex and fascinating tale. They wanted the franchise to remain mired in the past.

Grendelwolf
Grendelwolf
Reply to  Lee
5 years ago

Want to know why people hated the original trilogy? Red Letter Media comically explains why the prequels failed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABcXyZn9xjg

It has nothing to do with people being ” Fanboys” of the original trilogy, it goes waaayyy deeper than that.

John
John
Reply to  Grendelwolf
2 years ago

“Mr. Plinkett” just annihilates the prequels, but it’s no more than they deserve. They were all steaming piles of dung, Revenge of the Sith was just the one that smelled slightly less fragrant than the other two. But they were all crap.

David
David
Reply to  Lee
5 years ago

I don’t think so. What killed the prequels was poor writing (especially the dialogue), over-use of CG, a completely needless and pointless beginning in chronicling Anakin’s pre-pubescent years, terrible acting, poor pacing, lame enemies (Niemoidians and Poggle the Lesser I’m looking in your direction), poor directing, and of course……..Jar Jar.

Let’s start with the dialogue. I’d challenge anybody name a film with worse on-screen chemistry between the central couple. Even Ben Affleck and J-Lo in Gigli put Anakin/Portman to shame. And we can’t blame Portman, she did the best she could with the crap she was dealt and we’ve seen plenty of evidence of her being great in other films. Equal blame goes to Lucas for writing that trash and Hayden because he’s a marginal actor at best.

Next up is the over-use of CG. I’m not anti-CG by any means. When used with taste and relative moderation it’s fine. Some of the visuals in the PT were simply stunning. But the lack of actual sets without a doubt detracted from the acting performances of the actors (as they have attested to since). Kind of hard to get into the moment when you’re surrounded by green screens instead of actual settings. So many examples to choose from. Let’s use the surgery scene at the end for example. Lucas already had Hayden in burn makeup, and was using a physical Vader suit. And yet he chose to digitally superimpose Hayden in burn makeup onto Vader’s body as the helmet is lowered and it just looks like a poor photo shop job. Terminator 2’s CG has held up better.

Anakin as a child. Did we really need to see that? What purpose did it serve (aside from attracting the children in the audience)? It served zero purpose within the arc of the story. We didn’t need to see him as a happy go lucky kid to establish he was once and man of goodness and innocence. The films should have started with Anakin as a grown man and focused on a steady manipulation by Palpatine over the course of 3 films, rather than bits and pieces within two films. I think Liam Neeson’s portrayal as Qui Gon would have been a better representation of what Anakin should have been……the kind of Jedi we all pictured before the fall.

Terrible acting, especially by Hayden…..although he redeemed himself to some degree in ROTS. Sam Jackson as Windu was equally lifeless and is without any doubt the worst performance of his career. He came across as a crabby curmudgeon of a Jedi master with more snark than wisdom.

The pacing, which detracted from the telling and weight of the story. Episode III could have been SO much better if the focus had been on the Palpatine/Anakin mechanic instead of wasting screen time by drawing out the Obi Wan/Greivous battle (especially that idiotic chase scene with the lizard), drawing out the Anakin/Obi Wan battle with the piece of installation falling into the lava river and the subsequent battle on that thing as well as the bit with them standing on the lava droids. Just stupid. Take out that stupid elevator shaft sequence at the beginning or the bit about them getting caught in the ray shields. All of that is wasted screen time that could have been better spent delving into Palpatine’s seduction of Anakin. Don’t believe me? Read the Episode III novelization. MUCH better and MUCH darker. THAT is what the film should have been.

Neimoidians, Poggle the Lesser, the stupid battle droids in general all detracted from the film. Just tedious and tiresome to watch.

The directing. It’s no accident that the best films in the OT were the ones Lucas didn’t direct. I could go on for days about Lucas’ decisions with regard to Anakin’s portrayal, or even palpatine’s. The opening scene in Sith where Anakin and Obi Wan is battling Dooku, the whole bit with Palps feigning enthusiasm……when neither of them were even paying attention to benefit from it. He should have been shown just sitting there with malevolent eyes with some good foreshadowing before switching back into his guise once he was back involved in the sequence. I guess Lucas thought the kiddies were too dense to figure out who Palps really was or that there was anybody among the living that didn’t already know exactly who he was. And of course, that left the “reveal” completely empty. He didn’t have to dumb it down in the first 3 films but felt the need to do so this time around. Anakin’s transformation was so half-assed and unconvincing it was unbelievable. So Palps finally reveals himself to Anakin, and Anakin is supposedly so upset (although the acting performance didn;t make it believable in any way) that he draws his saber and says he’d like to kill him. 10 minutes later he switches at the drop of a hat and agrees with everything Palps says about the Jedi wanting to kill them and all the senators. It was so poorly done. Ian McDermid saved those scenes from Hayden and Lucas’ mediocrity. Again, read the novelization. It was so much more in-depth and believable. And don’t tell me Lucas didn’t have time to flesh that out……as he had plenty of screen time to waste on lizard chases, elevator escape scenes, and overly long lightsaber duels in a lava river. These are just a few examples……of MANY.

Jar Jar. He makes Episode I unwatchable. And don’t come at me with the Ewoks, at least they didn’t have dialogue and weren’t occupying government positions, and weren’t pushed as main characters across two films. Their emotive chatter has more endearing that anything portrayed by Jar Jar. “Jar Jar is the key to whole thing”. That’s what Lucas said, and that illustrates the depth of his psychosis.

Spare me the tired line about the prequel haters desperately clinging to the child hood memories because we were all ready to love the prequels…..just as we’re ready to love the new films. We were all there packing the theaters. We were the money spenders that gave that box office those numbers…….not the kiddies at that time who loved Jar Jar.

Episode I is literally unwatchable. Episode II is passable. Episode III is pretty decent and IMO the 2nd best film in the series (even if it could have been so much better with just a few small changes).

Andrew
Andrew
Reply to  David
4 years ago

I agree with most of what you said. I think you would like my comment above.

Jdh
Jdh
Reply to  Lee
4 years ago

The good guys weren’t just flawed, but stupid. Why in the hell did they use clones made from a guy that tried to murder a senator & several jedi & worked for the leader of the seperatists!? How were they surprised when they ended up killing them? The PT jedi were just stupid.

Not to mention the acting. Not yo mention the dialogue. Not to mention the sitting and talking all of the time. Not to mention Anakin & Obi Wan didn’t seem like that good of friends. And so on.

John
John
5 years ago

Good job.
The majority of comments on the prequels are from a 3rd graders mind. They know nothing of writing or why some movies work. They say its the writing in the same way a snob says “the book was better”.
The fact is if these were books the writing would have been fine because all you have to point out is Anakin is lovable for the story to work.

What people don’t get is it’s a major talent to be a lovable bad guy and as you point out Hayden is just annoying. What people cant see because of horrible execution is Anakin is supposed to be like Han solo. Solo was a creep on paper. Just read his lines. So it how you cast and execute. We needed to love Anakin and root for him like Solo but Lucas couldn’t see HC didn’t work.
Just look at Ewans performance. He was awesome…very natural in delivering his lines. Brits and Aussies are much better at handling high society dialog and this was the royal setting of the old republic. Knightly would have also worked better than Portman. Charlie hunan would have rocked. So again, execution is key and quite frankly Lucas directing was terrible in spots but my kids loved the movies and there’s a bit of revisionist history from people…. Phantom was excellent and Sith got excellent reviews but the squeaky wheel gets the oil and point taken, the Prequels should have been much better.

Alexander
Alexander
5 years ago

JJ Abrams sucks. Marvel Cinematic Universe sucks. People suck. Lucas rules. Star Wars 1-6 rules.

Toby
Toby
Reply to  Alexander
4 years ago

Make it 4-7.

Jomama
Jomama
5 years ago

Omg so many Lucas prequel apologists here in this chat, it was a steaming pile of dog crap compared to the writing and story of the first film. George Lucas borrowed the idea from the original Flash Gordon films (moving letter opening and all) he said and I quote that he wanted to make a “soap opera in space”. The acting in the original movies was great and mixed in with some cinema special effects and it was gold. The prequel acting was horrid and just mind numbing… Child actor in the first then Hayden after, omg poke my eyes out, and the fact that everything was just CGI’ed to death including main characters themselves, overkill. Just take an old awesome movie like say Jim Hensons “The Labyrinth” cute funny original entertaining puppets” now go back and redo it all in CGI and suddenly it’s not as charming anymore and it basically becomes that totally boring childesh and a forgettable summer film come and gone like the box trolls or something. To quote Yoda “This is why you fail”

John
John
Reply to  Jomama
2 years ago

To me, there will always be three films- Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. No “New Hope.” No “Episode IV, V, VI.” And no “special editions.” Just a great trilogy with a story arc we could follow to a satisfying conclusion. The rest is just unnecessary tacked-on crap.

Sam
Sam
5 years ago

I thought I might have stumbled across an interesting article. I read through the preamble, then upon arriving at the beginning of your actual thesis I found this: “To be sure, they were not terrible films”, which is completely untrue. Reading anything you write after that would be the equivalent of listening to a creationist lecture about theoretical physics and the origins of the universe. Frankly, I don’t see how anyone who thinks the prequels are anything other than complete crap could ever be considered an authority of any kind on story telling, pop culture, or “writing characters”, as you put it. If your review was to begin by acknowledging that the prequels were total failures in every possible way that a film can fail, except by making money, then we could have proceeded from that common ground of mutual understanding. Instead, I’m stuck writing this comment, which will probably not be read by more than a few netnerds, in the desperate hope that somehow this small drop of truth will eventually contribute to the elevation of our collective critical consciousness. In other words, I believe that for the good of our culture we need to filter out all of the morons and their collective stupidity from our cultural zeitgiest. To put it in even more simple terms, people who don’t or can’t recognize what a total bag of shit the prequels were should not be involved in either creating or criticizing cultural materials.

Sam
Sam
Reply to  Sam
5 years ago

To clarify, I am NOT implying that Mr del Drago is a moron, rather that, because there are so many morons, I am highly intolerant of critics and reviewers who allow foolish ideas to persist. I stand firm that any review or analysis of the prequels must acknowledge the abysmal films that they are, or the author immediately discredits his or her self.

Liz Moore
Liz Moore
Reply to  Sam
4 years ago

[“To clarify, I am NOT implying that Mr del Drago is a moron, rather that, because there are so many morons, I am highly intolerant of critics and reviewers who allow foolish ideas to persist. I stand firm that any review or analysis of the prequels must acknowledge the abysmal films that they are, or the author immediately discredits his or her self.”]

My God! The arrogance of this comment. All STAR WARS fans have to agree with you or risk being . . . what? Idiots? That’s your way of thinking? I’m too disgusted to comment even further.

Drake
Drake
Reply to  Sam
5 years ago

So basically you’re saying, “If the critics don’t acknowledge my exact thoughts then their review is total garbage.” What’s the point of even reading a review if all that will satisfy you is a reflection of your personal maxims?
Also, you state that anyone who doesn’t agree the prequels are bad are complete morons? You do realize the luster of a film, or almost any art work is mostly subjective; do you not? In short, you’ve criticized the stubbornness of creationists, yet you yourself are expressing that your views, are superior to this mans simply because they are yours.

Kit Fisto
Reply to  Drake
4 years ago

Drake, how can you not see that the prequels are an exception to the usual rules? I would normally agree that ‘art work is mostly subjective’. Someone can think, for example, that Anchorman is the greatest comedy ever filmed, and I’ll happily concede that our tastes and criteria for ‘what makes a good comedy / good film’ may just be vastly different and incompatible. Someone can tell me Guardians of the Galaxy is crap and I won’t sweat it; it’s just their opinion that it’s crap, and it’s just my opinion that it’s not. And who cares anyway? But please, you MUST realise that the star wars prequels are an exception to this. They can very clearly and irrefutably be demonstrated to be incompetently scripted, acted, plotted, and paced. The lacklustre CGI is demonstrably used as a band-aid to compensate for massive failings throughout every other aspect of the films – AND GUESS WHAT! THE CGI HAS DATED NOW SO IT WAS ALL JUST A BIG SOGGY CRAPPY WASTE OF MONEY! The films completely fail on every level and anyone who takes umbrage at that statement has no idea what they’re talking about.

janet
janet
Reply to  Sam
5 years ago

So basically you are saying that people who do not think as you do should not have the right to have an opinion much less express it. Movies, books, and art are open to interpretation. Some people will love it, some hate it, while others are indifferent. Just because some people might like the star wars prequels does give you the right to call them morons and then say that they have no business commenting on pop culture. They have every right to comment on pop culture. And your comments about creationists is a very low blow. Not only do creationists not have anything to do with star wars, but you are saying that because they have a differing opinion than you, then they have no right to speak. You, sir, are a narrow minded bigot who needs to learn to accept the fact that your opinion is not the only that matters, nor is it necessarily the correct one.

Kit Fisto
Reply to  janet
4 years ago

Janet, you said that Sam is “saying that because [creationists] have a differing opinion than you, then they have no right to speak”. This is an outright lie. Could you please demonstrate where in his post Sam suggested this. I think you will find that all he in fact implied was that if he heard a creationists speaking/lecturing about physics or the origin of the universe, he WOULD NOT LISTEN. He never implied the creationist had no right to say those things. Are you seriously suggesting that by refusing to listen to someone, we are limiting their freedom of speech? That is nonsense. Everyone is free to ignore a speaker, just as the speaker is free to speak. To call someone a bigot for expressing that view is nothing short of idiocy. But I suppose you posted to defend the prequels (even though they are utterly irredeemable and terrible in every single way that films can be terrible), so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

MM
MM
Reply to  Sam
4 years ago

The jab at creation scientists was unnecessary. There are a great many well educated ones out there and it would not be a bad thing listening to them on the mentioned subjects.

Kit Fisto
Reply to  MM
4 years ago

Wrong. If they are creationists it therefore follows that they have a deeply flawed understanding of what is reasonable and what is absurd in terms of how one acquires knowledge or makes decisions. Deciding to just believe whatever is written in some old book may not be a criminal offense but it certainly is an act worthy of derision, and one which rightly casts doubt upon a person’s competence.

John
John
Reply to  MM
2 years ago

Wrong. There are creationists who practice science, but their belief in creationism has NOTHING to do with science.

Kit Fisto
Reply to  Sam
4 years ago

A brilliant and uniquely memorable post, Sam. Indeed your assessment of the review as being “the equivalent of listening to a creationist lecture about theoretical physics and the origins of the universe” is extremely clever and insightful. I am frankly amazed that people such as ‘Drake’ and ‘Janet’ have seen fit to actually respond in defense of the prequels. There is NO defense of them and anyone who thinks that any aspect of them can be defended in any way should certainly not be listened to about characters, plot, pacing, dialogue, visuals, tone, etc etc. Don’t they realise that harping on about “it’s subjective, you’re a bigot” and so on is the equivalent of arguing for The Cheeky Girls to be ‘not that bad’ in comparison to The Beatles, or could even be considered as good as The Beatles (because “subjective, nyyyeh”), and throwing a hissy fit when someone patiently explains all the very many ways they are utterly wrong and know nothing at all about music.

aswin jagannadhan
aswin jagannadhan
5 years ago

I always used to wonder why people didn’t like the prequel. I liked them because of the graphics, the way in which the Coruscant and the other space cities were displayed . But now I get it when u compare the actual story of the Darth vader in the Original triology with the brat in the prequel, it is kind of annoying. I did hate the fact they put Hayden Christensen as annakin, he showed no compassion, no remorse and no shit. A beautiful Analysis-Antonio Del Drago

alberto legaria
alberto legaria
5 years ago

I think the old and the new were excellent but I think that what there doing the new movies is just bull

Lee Jones
Lee Jones
5 years ago

[“The truth is it didn’t if you were growing up with the originals ofcourse nothing will replace it, I was born in the 90’s and I can’t see nothing wrong with the prequels they are even better you people are just from a different time.”]

I grew up in the 1970s. And yes, “A NEW HOPE” was the first STAR WARS movie that I saw. I disliked it when I first saw it. But I eventually grew to love it. I felt the same about the other two Original Trilogy films.

By the time “THE PHANTOM MENACE” hit the theaters, I was a full-fledged fan of the STAR WARS franchise. When I saw the 1999 film, I became a big fan of it. I saw it three times. I can also say the same about “ATTACK OF THE CLONES” and “REVENGE OF THE SITH”. In fact, my two favorite SW movies are “THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK” and “ATTACK OF THE CLONES”.

When I first read this article and some of these comments, I’m annoyed that some people – including the author – call themselves speaking on behalf of all STAR WARS fans. Some people eventually claimed that they were speaking for themselves. It’s a pity that they had failed to phrase their response that manner.

I also noticed that some tend to think that one has to be born or raised in a specific decade to appreciate a certain decade. I just want to point out that I am a SW fan who saw the movies from the beginning, back in 1977. And I love ALL SIX FILMS.

Dennis Sweatt
5 years ago

So, so bad. Still lay awake at night thinking about the prequels.

callie smith
callie smith
6 years ago

I’m sorry I half to disagree with you on this. My whole family love the star wars prequels. Because they explain what tragedy, anger, and fear darth Vader went through if he was like yoda AND Kenobi why would he fall to the dark side. I believe he lived up to his expectations of star wars. Star wars the clone wars series focus on anakin skywalker Strategy In war, AND Explained ABOUT His padaone Ashoka. The movie was based on his emotions about how he felt about the Republic
And the council. As I watch the movies and the series I see the same person the same anakin skywalker. I grew up watching the old and the new star wars and I think George Lucas did a beautiful job on all of them. Not every star wars fan feels like the prequels were a disaster sir.

maxerior
maxerior
6 years ago

i saw the first trilogy first and then the prequal later i have only seen the preqauls 4 times each but i still have to say if annakin was a great hero with hardly any faults and a wise jedi like obi-wan kenobi then it wouldent be as intresting as watching him grow up and be what you call “anoying”and thered be nothing to relate to but i do have to emit they could have lowered down on the cry babyneess.(thas just my oppinion).

Andrew
Andrew
6 years ago

The prequels failed miserably in more ways than one. Watch the Red Letter Media review on YouTube. He breaks down the entire trilogy and illustrates what’s wrong with them. He’s not bagging the films for the hell of it. He presents a valid argument. It’s a long review so bring popcorn. Long but worth it.

John
John
Reply to  Andrew
2 years ago

Mr. Plinkett should be required viewing for anyone who wants to defend the prequels.

Jedi 482
Jedi 482
8 years ago

After just re-watching all 6 films, I think that I, II, and  111 would have all been amazing if the dialogue was well written. The story was good, in a big picture sense. The actors are all talented. The visuals are amazing without question. Sound and music are superb. The problem in my opinion, was with the dialogue. There was nothing in it that made the audience connect with the characters. The characters also did not experience a true range of emotions; there was no conflict in anyone but Anakin, and it was the conflict we all expected which robbed it of its ability to make people connect with him. I think that if the character development and dialogue were richer the movies would have been received better. The Empire Strikes back is a great example. It is considered by many fans and critics alike to be the best of the original trilogy and it is because it is during this chapter that the audience develops a true sense of who the characters are as people. This is what I think gave the series its lasting power, and it is what I think the prequels are in the greatest need of.

Luke
Luke
8 years ago

Sorry for all the grammatical errors…

Luke
Luke
8 years ago

I actually didn’t find Anakin’s fall to be inexplicable. Anakin developed a crush on Padme early on as a child, and had obvious strength in the force. As he grew and began noticing his talents, he became cocky. He also grew a strong liking for Padme as he thought about her more and more. Love at first sight? Anakin demonstrated arrogance as a teenager with talent may. But he wasn’t an incredible douche. You see the entire time he’s respecting the council and speaking very politely towards them. Even with Obi-Wan, though they have fights, Anakin still gives in, agrees, and apologizes. This shows how he tries to be a good student despite his arrogance. And this sort of behavior is common in teens. Anakin sort of complains when talking to Padme that he finds Obi-Wan frustrating because he’s holding him back, he believes that he’s ready to be a jedi, but is being denied. Many people I’ve spoken to call it ambition. But this was arrogance. Though before Anakin’s complaint he acknowledged his admiration for Obi-Wan and how truly honored and humbled he was to be trained by him.  Now we can get his arrogance, but it moves on to Anakin finally gaining the ability to pursue his mother now that he’s on his own solo mission.

He takes Padme to Tatooine because he misses his mother dearly. Since the first movie he’s confessed his fear of things changing. He didn’t want to lose his mother, and with his nightmares of her being in pain, he felt that he had to see if she was okay. He goes on to pursue her and ends up finding that she was tortured and more or less killed by a tribe of Sandmen. Now that he’s finally felt the loss he feared, he lashes out and kills the tribe of sandmen. When he makes it back, him being so sad and hurt, he begins ranting angrily about how he killed the sandmen, and how they were so horrible “like animals”. He then begins blaming Obi-Wan for not letting him move on and learn more about the force which he believes would’ve saved his mother. He vows then that he would one day be so powerful that he’d  be able to save the people he loved form dying. Anakin obviously is not able to handle loss. So Anakin goes on to saving Obi-Wan, falling more in love, and losing his arm. Anakin gets married then.

So what has been covered? Anakin is arrogant, or ambitious, as some would call it. He wants to gain more power and become a stronger Jedi due to his arrogance and because of his fear to lose the people and things he loves. Anakin can’t handle loss. Anakin’s passion and powerful emotions lead him to lashing out (sandmen).

Now in episode III, we see Anakin as Jedi. He has clearly grown a stronger bond with Obi-Wan seeing how they have a stronger sort of chemistry in how they work together a bit humorously in the beginning, how Anakin coordinates Obi-Wan when flying to save him despite Obi-Wan’s pleas for him to leave him alone. The sort of humorous bickering between the two in the beginning is sort of a friendly kind of bickering which just shows how they’ve grown a strong bond. Instead of lashing at Grievous after his insult, Anakin simply makes a witty rebuttal.

Anakin and Obi-Wan then make it to Douku’s room where they prepare for battle. This time, Anakin is calm and collected. Obi-Wan says that they have to take him on together that time, and Anakin notes that he was about to say the same. This shows how Anakin has indeed become more mature and adult like. He’s not as arrogant and irresponsible as he once was. He also has more control over himself. Anakin and Obi-Wan engage in battle with Douku where they’re split up and Obi-Wan is knocked out. Right here we see how Anakin has indeed become stronger in battle and no longer as emotionally engaged. He defeats Douku and that was the end of it. But with Obi-Wan down, Palpatine urges Anakin to kill the count. Anakin has resistance, but he does have an obvious anger at Douku for what he’s done, and for taking his arm. With urges coming form the one man who seems to understand Anakin, and seems to be the friendliest to him (in terms of Anakin hearing what he’d like), and the urge for revenge, Anakin kills Douku. Anakin feels bad for what he’s done then is urged to leave Obi-Wan. Anakin refuses and insists that his fate would be the same as theirs. Once again showing Anakin’s love for Obi-Wan, and compassion for others.

They go through a long ordeal of landing the ship (thanks to Anakin’s great skills as a pilot). He once again shows his maturity by insisting that Obi-Wan get to take credit for the mission, but Obi-Wan insists on Anakin taking his “glorious day”. This shows once again, their brotherly love for one another, and Anakin’s maturity. Then we find out about Luke and Leia… Anakin is now dreaming about losing Padme and beings to worry losing someone else he loves. Anakin seems to still be unable to take this kind of loss and promises Padme that he won’t let her die. On top of this, Anakin at the temple is being fueled by Palpatine with high esteem, which helps feed Anakin’s restrained arrogance. Being promoted to the council is a high honor, the rank of master. Anakin now has his hopes up, his arrogance now starting to spring up a bit. But when he’s denied the position of Master yet, is still on the council, Anakin can’t take it. He actually complains to the council, but gives in and apologizes. This shows that Anakin is still arrogant, still with a lust for more power, still feeling denied, and as earlier verified, still with a heavy fear of loss.

Anakin is trying throughout the movie to figure out what to do about what’s going on with him. He confesses knowing that he knows he’s not the Jedi he should be, and that he knows his thoughts are wrong, and he doesn’t know what to do about it. He seeks Yoda’s help to figure out how to help Padme (anonymously), but Yoda’s advice is’t satisfying for Anakin. He can’t lose Padme. Anakin understanding his wrong thoughts, admits to Obi-Wan, before he leaves, that he’s sorry about how arrogant he’s being, and how he’s not acting right. Obi-Wan tries to cheer Anakin up by telling him that he’s wise, and he’ll be a Master some day. The two seem to have a great bond, and Anakin shows to have real humility and insight.

As Anakin is working for Palpatine, he’s being constantly swayed by Palpatine about how the Jedi may not be so great, the flaws, the similarities between Jedi and Sith, then he begins tempting him with the power to save those he loves. Palpatine acts a bit like the devil, though actually if you were to fully analyze the saga,m you’d see that the point is how these Jedi were flawed, but that’s another analysis. Anakin is now being tempted by the dark side. He wants to be a good jedi, he wants to fight his temptations, he wants Padme to live, he shamefully wants more power and recognition.

Finally Palpatine reveals himself to Anakin. Anakin knows that the only way to save Padme, not lose something again, gain power and gain rank is through Palpatine. But he also doesn’t want to be evil and fall to the dark side. Anakin is denied the mission and is to wait in the council chambers. He sits and cries over his delima until finally he defies his orders to go on the mission. He comes to see the Mace Palpatine situation. Anakin sees that Mace Windu will now kill Palpatine (once again, there is another analysis that goes with this). If Palpatine dies, the war is over, but he-to his knowledge- will lose Padme, chance for greater power, rank, etc. If he stops Mace, he will have become a Sith. Anakin pleads with mace to leave Plapatine to the courts, but Mace argues that he has control of the courts and is too dangerous to be kept alive. This reminds Anakin of Palpatine’s arguments against the Jedi, and how Palpatine used the same logic. Anakin, makes the last minute decision to stop Mace, and as a result he’s killed.

Anakin has done the unspeakable and has now made his choice. Form there Anakin feeds his dark side by killing the jedi. He continues to grow more and more powerful. and the more powerful he becomes, the more blinded he becomes. He’s now a dark monster. We see that when Padme comes to take Anakin away, Anakin says no. He insists that they didn’t need to hide anymore because he can now control the galaxy and can make things the way he wants. He no longer needs to worry about losing anyone, hiding from or anything. Now the galaxy can be fixed how he wants it, and he can take back lives. He also insists on killing Palpatine and having total control. He’s become power hungry. He no longer has to fight his arrogance, fear of loss, anger, etc. He can now embrace it all. He’s free. It’s not about Padme anymore. It wasn’t entirely her to being with. But when he sees Obi-Wan who sneaked on. He slams into anger mode, and turns on Padme for he believes his love had betrayed him.

They fight, he’s totally brain washed, and in the end, his arrogance is what leads to his metaphorical death. Now he’s a miserable monster. That my friends is how Anakin became evil.

Note that Anakin wasn’t entirely some spoiled brat, and he did show humility. In Episode II, he was a cocky teenager, but still showed respect to his superiors, with an exception toward Obi-Wan to whom he still apologized to, listened to most of the time, and constantly tried to save. By Episode III, he was very much matured, and had an entire movie’s worth of trying to fight his inner evils, knowing and acknowledging how wrong his thoughts are. An spoiled brat would have just straight up gone evil. Anakin was a good person, and a talented Jedi trying to overcome his temptations to the dark side at a time of questionable politics and the Jedi’s own faults. He was being swayed by Palpatine who had been watching over Anakin and trying to tempt Anakin into evil since he got there.
Lucas has studied psychology, history, etc. before writing this story. The entire story was written in the early 70’s after Viet-Nam. Hence the similarities to the Viet-Nam/ Iraq wars, and the whole Separatist scare, which could easily be translated into COMMUNISTS!

Stevo the Magnificent
Stevo the Magnificent
8 years ago

Good and insightful article, I still think though that the prequels were not a story that needed to be told (all the necessary and relevant info concerning the backstory was given in the original Trilogy), that being said though, if George Lucas insisted on doing them – which he did – they still could have been SO much better…  

Lucas should really have written the story outlines of all three prequel episodes in advance so he knew how it all fit together, he should have employed a screenwriter(s) for each prequel episode to help craft an effective script, he should have employed an outside editor rather than a paid Lucasfilm employee to help shape a tight and focused final cut of each prequel episode, and Industrial Light & Magic should have been working on each respective episode if not exclusively then almost exclusively during their post-production phases so each and every visual effect shot would be rendered to it’s very fullest potential, just my opinion though…

Luke
Luke
Reply to  Stevo the Magnificent
8 years ago

I see what you’re saying, but I think the visual effects probably were done as best as they could considering II and I were nominated for Oscars for the effects. Actually, Episode I’s effects still are amazing in my opinion. Also, Lucas actually wrote the story for all six in the 70’s and revealed after Episode VI that he wouldn’t make the next three until computers caught up with his vision which makes since considering Coruscant. As for writing, I think Lucas finds writing to be his personal touch to his movies, despite the fact that he never saw himself a good writer and we’ve run into corny dialogue in every single movie he’s made. So, I think that they were done as best as they could as far as a Lucas movie goes, and I honestly love them. So I’m good. But it’s my opinion as well…

Amethysteagle60
Amethysteagle60
8 years ago

What I would have loved to see was a actual “brotherhood” between master and apprentice, both being about the maturity level (maybe even at times Anakin being more) basically what I wanted from Anakin is a noble, respectable, master of the force. Not some prepubescent spoiled brat that whines “I wanna be a Master, I wanna be a Master, I wanna be a Master NOW! And I don’t need to godda bed!” The only thing I really liked about the prequels was that he wanted power to save others from death. BTW the romance sucked! Good topic.

James
James
8 years ago

This is a good article. I just read an article on Yahoo about why the Prequels were better (in which the author was crucified in the comments section) and then a Google search brought up this article.

George Lucas gets unfairly criticized for the prequels in my view. First of all, Star Wars is his creation. He came up with it, an original idea that has enraptured and entertained tens of millions of people. How many of his critics can say the same? A show of hands? I didn’t think so. So he can do whatever he wants with it.

The problem with the prequels is people had overly high expectations for them, and what they found they liked when they were five years old they probably didn’t like when they turned 25 or 30. Phantom Menace did have a compelling story arc, an old Jedi master who discovers potential in a young lad, but whose own apprentice disagrees with him about training the boy.

The problem comes when Lucas tries to explain Anakin’s origins and give a scientific explanation for the Force. Take those out and focus more on the Jedis and the Phantom Menace is pretty good. (I can live with Jar Jar-no more annoying than Threepio).

But again this is Lucas’s vision and he can do what he wants with it. I still enjoy all six movie.

make2drinsk4u
make2drinsk4u
8 years ago

I feel a lot of questions and illustrations of Anakin becoming a leader and a great man along with falling to the dark side have been covered simply by watching The Clone Wars animated series (the best so far has been the second season). There’s a lot of cold heartedness going on with his character, for example the way he stabs the Mandalorian conspirator in the back without thinking twice. His leadership as a Master to his Padawan pushes him even further up the ladder. Especially the fact that his little Padawan kicks so much butt. I hate to say it, but the 14-15 year old little girl has never really got on my nerves. I’d adopt her and be proud to put a bumper sticker on my car: “My kid lightsabered your honor student’s a**”

Arbour
Arbour
9 years ago

You’ve barely scratched the surface, though. What about Jar Jar Binks, Boss Nass, Captain Panaka, Captain Ric “Obvious” Ollié? The wooden acting? Scenes that made no sense with characters talking without really, you know, communicating? How about the way R2 and 3P0 were forced into the story without having a good reason for being there (plotwise)? What about rehashing the plot of the original? The lack of interesting designs for costumes, creatures, starships etc.? The emptiness of it all? Everything set up in the original trilogy was blatantly disregarded or changed. 

James
James
Reply to  Arbour
8 years ago

Some of this is relevant but some of this isn’t. The main problem with Jar Jar was his voice but then C-3PO had an annoying voice as well. There was plenty of bad acting in the original trilogy as well (Luke’s whining, Leia’s pomposity, the lack of emotion when Alderan her home world is blown up, etc.)

Realm Wanderer
Realm Wanderer
9 years ago

I have to agree with Koehn. The Force Unleashed is ten tonnes of awesomeness. If that were ever to be made into a film, I’d be first in line to watch it…and not far beyond first the day after that 🙂

A. Howitt
anihow
9 years ago

I was born In 1980… so I never really got the excitement from the original series like my parents (who graduated High School in 1977), but I want to just share what my experience is.  
Star Wars wasn’t something we watched once while we were growing up…… it was something we watched a dozen times or more.  We had the Ewoks board game, and some figurines (admittedly, something my dad bought for himself not us kids) and it was something we enjoyed as a family well through the ’80’s and beyond.
The new trilogy…. that’s a whole different thing.
I have watched the first one twice.  Anakin was cute, I liked the action, enough said.
The second one I watched once…. and the third one I didn’t even bother with.  
To me, that speaks volumes about the quality of the films.  The original trilogy was a family night treat with popcorn, and the newer trilogy didn’t keep my interest enough to finish.  I’m not saying it was garbage, just saying that to me, it wasn’t something special, and I think a whole lot of people feel that the original films were something extremely special.

Adina Harris
9 years ago

I grew up in love with the original movies.  I am a nerd who has lines of many scenes memorized.  That may be sad, but here’s something sadder than that: the only reason I sat through the prequels was because I thought Ewan McGregor was attractive…in spite of a lousy hair stylist!  This was a great read, and I think it takes guts to say what you did about George Lucas.

Koehn
Koehn
9 years ago

If you played the game the forced unleashed you get “your Third movie” not lucas’.  Its straight Jedi Hunting and trying to squash the rebellion.  Im not gonna lie its pretty sick.

Antonio del Drago
Reply to  Koehn
9 years ago

Thanks for suggesting this.  I’ve heard great thing about The Force Unleashed, and its epic storyline.

Laurie Anismom2
Laurie Anismom2
9 years ago

Being an arrogant little s#*t is part of what allowed him to succumb to the darkside. It was only one of many weaknesses that Sidious preyed upon to make that happen. His greatness played a virtual tug of war with his immaturity inside him causing constant turmoil and the perfect circumstance for the Dark Side to slip in with the promise of power to prevent the things he feared most, loss and helplessness. I am 54 years old and treasure all 6 movies as they are.

Rendrag
Rendrag
9 years ago

I agree that the major defect with the prequels was the underdevelopment of their central character, Anakain Skywalker.  Indeed, watching Obi Wan rhapsodize philosophically in a New Hope about how great a person and friend he was is now comical.  I doubt that is what Lucas was going for.  If that was the only wart on the face of the prequels it would bad enough, but the number of plot holes and other plot devices that didn’t work likewise hard to overlook.  The writing is juvenile and trite, which makes getting to the good cinematic scenes “not worth the effort,” to quote Obi Wan. Indeed, I tried to watch Revenge of the Sith a few weeks back in order to watch the cool labersaber duels at the end, but I couldn’t get  past the lame rescue scene in the beginning.  

Aiden Sawyer
Aiden Sawyer
9 years ago

Derek, I might be more inclined to agree with your perspective had the acting not been so weak. Then again, the writing of the character was just as weak. In A New Hope, Obiwan expresses a deep respect for Anakin and calls him a good friend, but that is not what I felt in the prequels. He was more like someone Obiwan had to baby sit. His character was a self-centered punk with too much power for his own good. If I can’t respect him, how am I to believe Obiwan could. Unfortunately, Lucas never claimed to be making the prequels for those of us who grew up with the original trilogy. He wanted to gear the new film towards a much younger audience, and all the flaws called about be everyone above would not even register to the younger target audience. I can’t claim to know his motivation, but I do wonder if this decision was based on toy sales, where there is actually more money to be made than in ticket sales once everyone takes their slice of the pie. Tragic. I would have much prefered to see Tony’s version.

feyelvenwarrior
feyelvenwarrior
9 years ago

Hey Tony!

Your topics are all very interesting and thought provoking! I do not usually post comments via the internet (I prefer face-to-face conversation) but this particular story is very near and dear. Please bear with me. 

My very first cinematic experience was the original Star Wars viewed at a local drive-in whilst gorging on gut fulls of popcorn, soda, and candy. It was wonderful carrying over euphorically into my adulthood. The other movies followed nearly as enjoyable the characters and story cementing pleasurably into my young memories. When it was announced that Lucas would create more movies in this setting we Star Wars “babies” were ecstatic in our anticipation. 

As you said, the first movie came and went leaving us mildly pleased with the intro to this new but familiar series. And then Lucas dropped the ball. 

In the 70’s and 80’s we watched the original trilogy with great awe marveling at the flashing light sabers and laser play while space ships powered across the screen. We didn’t mind the terrible lines or the goofy actions of certain characters. It was all new at that time.

It is no surprise to me that you nailed what was wrong with the movie in that we never see the transformation of this amazing powerful iconic character. It does surprise me that Lucas did not figure this flaw out himself. Hayden whined and cried so much in the second movie I had to close my eyes and turn my head away in disgust. If this is the character Lucas intended him to portray he did an excellent job. But how was this supposed to make us like the young Darth Vader? Personally, I hope he never works again. And, although Natalie Portman is cute, her earliest and greatest work occurred in The Professional with Mr. Reno. The rest of her filmography is rotting flotsam. But these actors are only facets of what was wrong with the newest three films. 

With these new movie offerings, I think we old school fans went into the theaters with much more expectation. In the older movies, the dread lord of the Sith was scary and dark but swung his lightsaber and moved like an old man. I went into the theater expecting to see a young vibrant warrior using deadly ‘force’ and acting like a super fighter; someone EVERYONE would dread, perhaps spending an entire film hunting down and killing other jedi like what was eluded to multiple times in the first trilogy. I and many of my siblings and friends wanted to see the badass that the whole galaxy feared. We wanted to see Anakin as a young man in fighting and slaying in the most famous villainous dark suit of all time. We never see this. 

Certainly there are a host of other things that could be construed as lacking or perhaps things that could have been used or questions answered better. For example, it always struck me as amazing the character of Grand Mof Tarkin. In the first movie, he commands Vader to do something and he instantly obeys! Remarkable! What power does this seemingly ordinary human have over Darth Vader, the most powerful jedi in galaxy? Could not he have been a character in the new trilogy and a ready-made foil for the transformation of the blooming dark Sith lord? But then again, what young actor out there could possibly mirror Peter Cushing?  

I apologize for making this a book-length comment and to anyone I may have offended. Thank you for your kind attention.    

Antonio del Drago
Reply to  feyelvenwarrior
9 years ago

Hey Brian!

That’s an excellent summary of the problem.  Thanks for sharing it.

Doug Reynolds
Doug Reynolds
9 years ago

I never thought about the prequel were terrible; however, I would really like to see the prequels you would write.

Antonio del Drago
Reply to  Doug Reynolds
9 years ago

Hey Doug!

Thanks for your vote of confidence.

Derek Payne
Derek Payne
9 years ago

While I respect your opinion, I must disagree. I found Anakin’s journey to the dark side to be epic. Anakin’s fall is not tragic because he is a great, but rather because he has such great potential. He is the chosen one, the person the Jedi believe will give the galaxy a happy ending. He doesn’t need to be a great man because everyone already knows that he will be. He represents their ultimate goal, the elimination of the dark side. In losing Anakin the Jedi Order loses all hope for the future.

Part of what makes Anakin’s fall to the dark side both tragic and believable is that he is not already a wise master. He is a young man with difficult problems and he is searching for a solution. He must choose whether the light or dark side will help him reach his goals. By following Anakin through this emotional time we witness both the powerful allure of the rising dark side and the fading of the once revered Jedi Order.

Antonio del Drago
Reply to  Derek Payne
9 years ago

Hi Derek,

Thanks for posting your perspective. 

Toby
Toby
Reply to  Derek Payne
4 years ago

In my opinion, this prophecy is one of the major flaws of the Prequels. Everyone talks about it but no one explains it? Who wrote it? When? Where? Why? We hardly actually see Anakin doing anything a Chosen One would do, we´re told. That´s why there are Midichlorians. We don´t really see young Anaking doing anything special with his abilities we´re told.

Same with Anakin and Padme: She´s the reason he has to choose which side to take. But their relationship just feels horrible. Wooden acting, very poor and unrealistic dialogue. I just don´t feel any kind of chemistry between the two. Just like the prophecy, we´re told that there´s a relationship and we should like the two together, but we´re not shown.

The idea behind the Prequels is actually very good and the core story gives Vader a very interesting and logical background. However, a lot of design choices managed to ruin these movies for me in many ways and that is actually really sad. If we started with Anakin as Padawan and would slowly see his abilities grow, just like his relationship with Padme, and have actual good dialogue, the movies would be a lot better.

Daniel
Reply to  Toby
3 years ago

Great question.

The fact that Anakin was the one and only human being who could pilot and race in the deadly Pod Races seems almost miraculous even in sci fi standards.

Obi Wan said in the original trilogy that Anakin was the best star pilot in the entire galaxy.

As for his force powers, need i even explain. Go back and just watch.

solly
solly
Reply to  Derek Payne
3 years ago

Everything you wrote sounds fine but for many fans, it just didn’t come across that way on the screen.

Gavintonks
Gavintonks
9 years ago

hi I always wondered why i felt they missed they boat good insight thank you

Antonio del Drago
Reply to  Gavintonks
9 years ago

Thanks Gavin!

Rtpaulson
Rtpaulson
9 years ago

I thought the first movie had some great artistic imagery which flowed well with the music. Qui Gon was likable for his noble air, however no endearing characters developed. Nothing attractive apart from some spectacular imagery. But what can Star Wars be without the spunk of those two classic comic-heroes, Han Solo and Chewbacca? The following two movies were just filled mostly with fast action and had no real appeal. It was centrally just an attempt at showing how Darth Vader became evil. What for? Where’s the mystery in that? The prequels were just the opposite of the original trilogy, which focused on light overwhelming darkness through incredible odds. Whereas the Jedi in the prequels appeared weak and pathetic, and unable to control a dilinquent child. Instead, evil was shown as that which conquers against overwhelming odds. So in his story, Lucas goes from exalting light to exalting darkness. It is totally the reverse, and it is especially that which makes the movies so very unappealing to me.

Antonio del Drago
Reply to  Rtpaulson
9 years ago

Thanks for sharing your analysis, RT.  I largely agree with it.

solly
solly
Reply to  Rtpaulson
4 years ago

A good foil, and one hinted at in the original trilogy, would have been Obi-wan’s own temptations to the Dark Side.

“Was I any better when you taught me?”

So much there to work from…

Realm Wanderer
Realm Wanderer
9 years ago

Nice article. I really enjoyed the prequels, but this was mostly because of the beautiful graphics and brilliant lightsaber fights 😀 The story of Anakin’s fall to the dark side really was atrocious. They did make him out to be an arrogant little sh*t when indeed, what they should have done was show him to be an honourable jedi master whose emotions in the end got the better of him, transforming him into a black-helmet wearing jedi-slayer.

Antonio del Drago
Reply to  Realm Wanderer
9 years ago

I agree, the prequels were visually splendid.  On the level of action and spectacle, they were fun films.  It’s a shame that they didn’t work on a greater level.

Antonio del Drago
6 years ago

DaVeyBachar While I don’t necessarily agree with your conclusion, I appreciate you taking the time to leave a thoughtful, well reasoned response such as this.  You certainly make a lot of excellent points that are worth considering.

billy
billy
6 years ago

If you want to see the great jedi anakin watch the clone wars series. the films focus more on his great potential and the way it tears him apart as he becomes part of sidiuses plans. There are also hints in the films about his true greatness such as the fact he has saved obi-wans life 10 or 9 times. The time he is truly great is between films 2 and 3 which is where the series sorts things out. over all i recon the prequels were great and watching anakin grow then fall made a great overall story.

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