What Went Wrong with the Star Wars Prequels?

what went wrong with star wars prequels, George Lucas, Kristen Lamb, writing, story structure, novel structure, why did we hate the Star Wars prequels, Star Wars, Kristen Lamb

I am a serious nerd. I grew up on J.R.R. Tolkein and played Dungeons and Dragons all through high school. Trekkie conventions, RPGs, Renaissance festivals, you name it. I had the punch mark on my Geek Card. I still remember being 3 years old standing in line with my father and uncle for hours as we eagerly waited to see this new epic film…Star Wars.

Two hours later, I was hooked. I grew up ankle deep in action figures, and logged so many gaming hours on Atari’s The Empire Strikes Back that even my dreams were pixilated. So when George Lucas announced, many years later, that he would be releasing the prequels to Star Wars, I was soooo excited.


I Still Love Star Wars

But please don’t hate me. So sorry, but I just didn’t like the prequels. I have tried to watch them many different times and yet found my mind wandering. I couldn’t keep up with what was going on and I felt, in some way, that I had failed. Maybe I wasn’t a true geek after all. Maybe I would have to turn in my Geek Card.

So this last Memorial Day weekend, I decided to give it another college try. Maybe this time things would be different. Nope…still didn’t like them. Ah, but this time I had a new perspective since I have spent the past two years blogging about writing. What went wrong? What can we as writers learn from this?

Episodes 4-6 remain brilliant examples of storytelling genius, so what happened with the prequels? I think the business of making money took precedence over solid storytelling. The movies were a huge success for their purpose—filling lots of seats and selling loads of merchandise. But, in a way, it saddened me because these movies could have set a new bar in master storytelling.

As writers, we can learn a lot from these movies.

Mistake #1 Bad guy’s plan was far too complicated.

If you need to use a Venn diagram to explain the bad guy’s agenda, then your plan is too complicated. I STILL don’t know what the Emperor’s plan was. Maybe I am missing something, but it seems to me that Senator Palpatine’s plan rested way too much on chance.  What if Queen Padme Amidala had not given the vote of no confidence that started the ball rolling? Truly great bad guys don’t base their plans on a craps shoot.

what went wrong with star wars prequels, George Lucas, Kristen Lamb, writing, story structure, novel structure, why did we hate the Star Wars prequels, Star Wars, Kristen Lamb

I still am not quite sure who ordered the clone army. If Palpatine ordered the clones, then he was pitting them against the droids…which he was controlling as well???? Huh? And then, if the clones were created off the bounty hunter Jango Fett to be an army for the Republic to fight the rebels, then why, when Obi-Wan discovered the clone planet, did Jango Fett go running to hang out with the leader of the rebels, Count Dooku? The guy in charge of the droids? Which are about to be attacked by the clones?

This either makes Jango Fett the dumbest guy in the known universe or Count Dooku the biggest patsy in the known universe. Neither is really good for the purposes of storytelling.

I am certainly no one when it comes to the ways of business in Hollywood, but it seems to me that if you want to make millions off selling action figures to kids, it would be a plus if they could understand the point of the story. Star Wars was not complicated. It was complex. It was brilliant storytelling and the bad guy’s agenda could be summed up in one sentence.

It was so simple even a kid could understand it.

Mistake #2 Heroes are not babies, and bad guys are not whiners.

OMG…I wanted to SLAP Anakin Skywalker. If the end goal was to make Anakin into DARTH VADER the greatest bad guy EVER…then no whining. Scene after scene of Obi-Wan just doesn’t take me seriously got old really quickly.

Yes, as writers it is a great goal to have flawed heroes, because perfect characters lack depth. But, I feel there are certain character attributes that will alienate fans. Whining is one of those.

Mistake #3 Unforgivable acts.

If we lay the movies out in order, the story is really about Anakin Skywalker. It is supposed to be a redemption story. That is fine so long as we care to see the protagonist redeemed. The whining was bad enough, but when Anakin-turned-dark killed the Younglings? I was done. May hordes of a thousand fleas infest his undies.

I hoped he died a horrible death from that point on. To me, there was no redeeming him. He was a Little Kid Killer.

What is sad is that the scene was shock value, not good writing. In my world, where I get to write the prequels? Darth Maul would be threaded through all three movies. He was an AWESOME bad guy who got killed off far too soon and, frankly, far too easily. There was no reason that Darth Maul could not have made it to movie three.

In this parallel universe where Hollywood cares about my opinion, Anakin could have still been on the fence, wavering—Dark Side or Light Side? Dark or Light? Go Dark and save my love? Trust the Light, but risk that she dies?

The Emperor, in that final full-court press, could have ordered Darth Maul kill the Younglings, and then Obi-Wan could have killed Darth Maul. We would have seen this coming. Darth Maul looked like a Little Kid Killer from the beginning, and we’d be happy Obi-Wan sliced him in half.

Little Kid Killer. Take THAT!

Anakin could have unwittingly aided Darth Maul in this horrible act, and, feeling he had done the unforgivable, finally committed to the Dark Side—making it a classic Prodigal Son story. We would have felt for Anakin, for his belief that he could never make things right. We would have sat on the edge of our seats, longing for him to make amends and come home.

There was no reason for Anakin to kill little kids other than to shock the audience.

And don’t get me started on Padme. Really. She is this awesome heroine in the first movie. She’s a warrior and a stateswoman. In movie three we die of…a broken heart? Seriously? Two BABIES are not enough for her to press on? For me, this was totally out of character for the Padme presented, rendering the final funeral scene contrived melodrama. It didn’t ring true.

Characters can act out of character. They shouldn’t be predictable, but there is a fine line that will rip apart believability if we cross it.

Mistake #4 Too many characters.

I am certain things work differently in Hollywood. I know there is a lot of merchandising that rakes in buckets of cash to fund payroll and overhead. That’s fine, but we writers can still learn. The prequels had characters for the sake of having characters. The problem with a super huge cast is that it is far harder for us to connect emotionally. We have too many “people” vying for our attention.

My opinion? Jar Jar Binks was dead weight. He was like trying to go into battle with a hybrid of Ace Ventura meets Rain Man. Why would Qui-Gon take a loose cannon like that along? Jar Jar Binks was a moron and a walking danger to everyone on the team. Comic relief? Perhaps. But it was a stretch…especially in Episode 3 when he is now a politician? The same guy who stuck his head in an energy beam?

Oh dear.

I feel there were some really fascinating characters—Qui-Gon Jinn and Darth Maul—that were killed off far too early when there was no need…other than to introduce brand new characters so we could have more action figures to sell.

The end result of crowding the cast was that the key characters got far too little attention, so we couldn’t watch their arc progress. Thus the actions seemed contrived and forced.

The lesson here? Be careful how many characters you slate in your novel. Movies get more leeway because we can see the characters. We don’t have to learn their names to keep up with the story. I have edited many pieces where they author has a half a dozen characters introduced on page one. This will give the same effect. It will overwhelm the reader and dilute their concern for major players…just like in the Star Wars prequels.

Mistake #5 Characters should progress naturally.

Characters’ wants and needs need to grow logically and organically out of the conflict and be in line with the character’s personality. They shouldn’t feel things and decide thinks simply because we, the writer, need them to. I felt this was the case with the doomed love affair between Padme and Anakin.

It felt forced. The writers needed them to be stupid so that Anakin going to the Dark Side would make sense (which it still didn’t). The problem was that they had created a heroine who was far too pragmatic and self-sacrificing to turn into some mindless ninny. She was the type of leader who was unafraid to get in the mix and to do what was best for her people. She wasn’t some vapid, self-centered socialite, so why did they suddenly have Padme acting like one?

Because they needed her to.

Anakin was adorable in the first movie, but by the second we knew that sniveling rat would sell out at the first opportunity. What on earth would a powerful woman like Padme find attractive about a guy who spends most of his time with her complaining about Obi-Wan? It’s like Jersey Shores goes to Tatooine.  Blech.

Most of the other interesting characters either DIED before we could see a progression OR they got so little screen time—had to make room for C-3P0 and R2D2 banter—that we just missed it. Obi-Wan might have been a really great character…had we ever gotten to know him.

Mistake #6 Don’t explain everything. Sometimes the magic is in the audience not knowing.

Think of a magician. When a magician makes a woman float in the air, all the audience wants to know HOW he did it. But what if the magician stopped the show and gave them what they wanted, and said, “Oh she isn’t really floating, she’s just held up by super strong filament”? That would ruin the magic and likely the magician’s career.

We all want a little magic, and with Star Wars, The Force was mystical, mysterious and magical…until the writers explained The Force as sentient microcells known as Metachlorians.

Great. Thanks.

If you have super-technology, magic, ghosts, or anything far-out in your stories, don’t feel the need to explain. The second a reader picks up your books, she has suspended disbelief so you don’t need to spend precious story time making her believe. She already does. We believed in The Force long before anyone concocted a Metachlorian, and many of us wish they hadn’t.

Ah, but these 6 problems are all symptoms of a plot that has no core conflict—back to mistake #1.

All the problems in the movie stemmed from the simple fact that the Emperor didn’t have a simple plan with clear objectives. Thus, what happened was that the story needed to get more and more complicated to make up for the fact that it was missing a core conflict.

The Star Wars writers were trying to fix plot holes with Narrative Bond-O—more world-building, more characters, more subplots, Metachlorians— and the story got more and more complicated all to make up for something that would have been fairly easy to fix had they stuck to the rules of good storytelling.

The writers needed to simplify the bad guy’s plan.

Had Palpatine/Darth Sidius had a simple plan, the story would have then been able to be complex. See, in the movies we grew up with? Star Wars, The Emperor Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi—the antagonist’s objective was crystal clear and so simple a 4 year old could understand it. That left room to develop characters that will live on forever. Writers will study these stories for generations to come.

So what do you guys think? Did you love the movies and I missed something? Tell me what you loved. Did you have the same experience? Were you disappointed? Why? What do you feel could have improved the movies?

I love hearing from you! And to prove it and show my love, for the month of June, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of June I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!



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  1. I love how everything can be tied to writing! 🙂 Fun and thoughtful post!

      • Greg Renter on February 11, 2013 at 3:29 pm
      • Reply

      As far as the Star Wars saga goes, I am a rabid fan. The prequels were not good I agree wholheartedly, IV,V,and VI will live long in our memories of a wonderful childhood story that was well-told and well balanced on the big screen. The issue with the prequels however is as much a flaw with human nature as much as anything else and this is why the prequels just didn’t work (and why prequels today still don’t work as well as any original feature). The problem with prequels in general is that we KNOW the outcome, and so the dramatic finish of something like Vader telling Luke he was his father etc in TESB could not be re-generated.

      Think of the last time you recorded a sports game. Now think of how badly it sucks when someone told you the final score BEFORE you could even watch it. You went through the motions of watching it anyway, but there was no drama, no excitement, no edge-of-your seat WOW moment when Anakin would have been sliced and diced by Obi-Wan because again, we knew it was coming. The action was ok at times, but when you know the ending, it destroys the story, because you knew who won and you knew who lost.

      Forget now for a moment that you don’t know about EP II, III, IV,V,VI. and just watched the Episode I Phantom Menace for the first time in 1977. IF Lucas could have made that movie in 1977 (impossible I know since CGI was not here, the crew would have been gigantic because again computers weren’t around in order to replicate robots etc). But JUST suppose he could have pulled it off. NOW think of how successful that film would have been. Even with Jar Jar Binks, that movie on its own would have been much better acclaimed since we had no idea what would happen next. And how suspenseful would it have been not knowing who Sidious was, where Palpatine fit etc. That movie would have shot to a solid 3-3.5 stars, maybe even 4.

      Episode II simply continued the story arc, much like Episode V TESB. Granted not as powerful an ending as Episode V, but Anakin’s hand being sliced off would have been just as horrifying as Luke’s hand being sliced by Vader. So again, great action in this story, and now because the story is fresh without knowing how it all turns out, Episode II does work better than how it was originally perceived – I would have to give it 3 stars, maybe 3.5 even with the corny lines and whiny Anakin. Remember, we don’t know him as a badass yet so maybe whiny is just his character.

      Finally, the coup-de-grace was Episode III, where it all goes to hell. Most people agree Episode III was the best of the prequels, it was dramatic, and I found myself sooo saddened when Anakin killed the younglings. Was it necessary? No. Was it dramatic – yes! Again, without knowing IV, V and VI at this point, Episode III was a great movie and George really did pull it off. – 4 stars.

      Forget now for a moment that you don’t know about EP IV,V,VI. and just watched the Pahtoow for a moment that you don’t know about EP IV,V,VI. and just watched the Pahto

      1. I agree and it’s why I am not a fan of prequels. NOT knowing WHY is a large part of the magic. It’s a lesson I have to hammer over and over and over into new writers. Yes, your readers WANT to know why but since when is giving people everything they WANT ever been a good thing? Thanks for the thoughtful comment :D.

        1. Love your post, I rarely find people who look at the central problem with these kind of bad movies. There was a problem with I II and III right off the bat with the writing, I remember sitting in the cinema with my family and saying-out loud-‘what the hell is he(Jar-Jar) actually doing in this movie?’
          We all know it was to try and bring in kids to link in with the original trilogy’s kid hook, but that was based around better story telling and better acting.
          I’m still cringing about the upcoming continuation by Disney.

        • Sam Ogbonna on March 11, 2014 at 2:33 pm
        • Reply

        I just don’t think Lucas was qualified as a writer to script all the prequels, especially considering the sophisticated writing skill needed to dramatize the fall of Anakin Skywalker and the rise of the Empire. I’m reading an old paperback about the making of The Empire Strikes Back at the moment and in an interview in the book Lucas states emphatically that he hates writing. I guess that says it all.

  2. Getting worried about my book, then slapped myself round the face. No whining!! It goes for authors too. Hah! Happy moment! Just realised I can sum up the plots of both my books, and both bad guys’ evil plans, with one sentence each. Happiness.

    You’re right, of course. The simpler the foundation, the stronger it is. No doubt that’s why architects don’t use glass for foundations and concrete for skylights.

    1. I was thinking the same thing, being a worry-wart myself.

      I think the one-sentence goal is a good ideal!

    • Terrell Mims on June 13, 2011 at 2:48 pm
    • Reply

    The best part of the prequels was the way to examine them for what not to do. I so agree.

    I am still ticked that they killed Darth Maul and Qui Gon Jinn, two of the most badass characters, since the originals.

  3. I’m glad to hear someone else say those movies were unwatchable. I tried three times for Episode 1. Good for insomnia though.

    1. I never made it through Episode 1 either — kept falling asleep. I thought something was wrong with me.

    • Sherri on June 13, 2011 at 2:50 pm
    • Reply

    Padme never would have fallen for that loser/child killer. Period.

  4. I agree with your analysis of the prequels (only you say it better). I thought I enjoyed the original three more than the prequels because I was a kid. But I think you’re right: it’s more complicated than that. Plus, Jar Jar Bink made me want to crawl into the popcorn maker and suffocate. I think that’s an extra lesson: don’t use gimmicks to appeal to your audience; your real readers will see through it. Oh, and don’t crawl into popcorn makers…

  5. Great post! If you have the time, check out Red Letter Media’s long (and I mean looong) series of YouTube reviews/critiques of the prequels. If you can get past the random bouts of bad taste and misogyny, you’ll find it’s the definitive treatment on the subject.

  6. Hey, loved the post!

    I wrote a long blog entry “defending” the prequels, but I realize I wasn’t so much doing that as identifying the (probably unintentional) symbolism behind them–they really played up the man vs. machine idea.

    But I completely agree with your opinions here. I always felt Darth Maul shouldn’t have been a “one and done” villain. Heck, I felt that way about General Grievous, too. Or Dooku, for that matter. Lukas should’ve picked one and made him the bad guy. Or introduce all three in the first movie and develop them separately.

    Let’s concoct a convoluted plan to overthrow Lukasfilm. Together, we can rule the Star Wars galaxy and eliminate these cinematic turds from canon.

  7. I agree with the storytelling analysis – about the only redeemable points from the prequels was the special FX scenes (that probably cost the most money and were probably extended at the cost of cutting scenes that might have helped the whole thing make more sense) – in particular the races in the first one, Yoda finally showing off in the second, and the space battle at the beginning of the third. Another big weakness is the fact that now everything ties to the cartoons which tie to the comics which tie to the novels, etc etc. This just adds to the complications and no one could possibly keep up with everything even if they WANTED to.

    1. I totally agree. I loved the FX, but hated the story. My husband is a big SW geek, though, and constantly reminds me how this and that tie together for a complete picture. Whatever. I like to irritate him by saying nothing outside the movies is “real.” Guess I’m just a purist. Lol.

  8. Agreed, the movies stink. Having you break down WHY they stink though, was extremely helpful. Love this post!

  9. I agree with you on ALL accounts. Jar Jar Binks is the worst character ever concocted (his entire race was just filler). Darth Maul would have made an awesome minion throughout the films. I hated that Qui-Gon Jinn died. Midocloriwhatsits… Kid-Killer… Bad guy with no plan… Clones from ?… YAAARRGH. It makes me angry just thinking about the films. At least the first prequel was somewhat good. The second film is just a blur of Anikin with his stupid behind-the-ear braid complaining about Obi-Wan, so much so, I don’t remember a single scene from the film… well, I do remember somewhere along the way, Yoda had a nice CG fight with someone, Count Dooku maybe? At least I remember the pod-racer scene from Phantom Menace. The third film was so horrendously unfocused that I just wanted every single character to die (though I knew that they wouldn’t). I remember at the ending when Anikin turns to the Dark Side, I was like “Whaaaat?”

    So I feel you, Kristen. You’re not the only one who didn’t like the prequels. I just pretend they don’t exist. They were honestly a conglomeration of characters and CG effects to generate profit. They could have been spectacular. They could have surpassed the original trilogy. But they didn’t. They failed horribly. And did you know that they created an animated Star Wars TV show? The Clone Wars, based off an animated film that they did not too many years ago. I haven’t watched it, but just goes to show they’re still milking the franchise for all its worth.

  10. My midichlorian count senses that you are dead-on with this article. But I have to disagree on one point, though. Anakin was also a whiny bitch in Phantom Menace. Who can forget the sad funeral of Qui-Gon Jinn and Anakin’s immortal words, “who’s gonna take care of meee nowww???”


    1. Oh, you are RIGHT. I must have blocked that from memory. I recall thinking he was a self-centered little twit. That and how long does it take for him to show a little remorse that his mom had not been freed from slavery too??? Ack!

      1. Gotta love Anakin spouting YIPPEE! and all that optimism despite being a slave his whole life.

        You think that’d be a bit more sobering.

      2. Well, in truth, Luke was a pretty whiny character at the beginning, at least in New Hope. He complained to his Aunt and Uncle about being made to do chores, and he complained to Obi-Wan about not being able to do things, he did this later with Yoda — when he couldn’t raise his X-Wing from the bog on Dagobah.
        There are clearly parallels between the two characters, however, Lucas was in full control of the prequels, while there were others working with him to shape up Luke and the like in the original series.
        I personally think the problems with the prequels come down to Lucas himself, and simply no one on the production telling him: “No.” Or calling him on his actions. The prequels were about the visuals, which were still rather bland. There are some great sequences the podrace for one is still hair-raising for me at least the bits in the original teaser trailer were.
        All in all, they’re a lost cause in my book. Society should just shelve them and move onto newer things.

        1. I missed that parallel between Luke and Anakin! There are a lot of subtle ones between them, that being a similarity I hadn’t even considered.

          But what’s interesting about your opinion is that I could swear I read somewhere that for the first few movies, Harrison Ford refused to do a lot of things Lukas told him to and even improvised many of his own lines!

          1. I believe you’re correct. There was also a point in Empire where Kershner let Ford improvise more of this lines, and that is where you get the natural vibe. That is also why there is a marked difference between Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Spielberg loves his actors to improvise and become the characters.

            The similarities between the two are rather short as Luke grew into a fantastic character, and of course Anakin well… didn’t.

    2. I can give that one to a kid who’s grown up a slave (always belonged to somebody) and lived a very sheltered life up to then, slave or no. I would have expected him to go, “Okay, take me back to my mom NOW.” and the Jedi to be “no prob, kid. One spacebus ticket back to the armpit of the galaxy.”

      I know Lucas *said* the entire arc was supposed to be about Anakin’s fall and redemption, but the only thing coherent that came out of everything in the prequels was the destruction of the Jedi Order. That’s all everything centered around. The prequels were an amazing plot-gymnastics routine to destroy the Jedi Order. Everything else served that, including Padme’s character, and Palpatine’s character (which could have been so much better than “creepy grandpa”)

      I’m in the minority, since I thought Qui-Gon was a little too “smart grandpa” type. A truly smart grandpa would have found a better mark than Quatto to trade his republic creds for the ship part.

    3. Glad I’m not the only one who thought Anakin was innsufferable from the beginning. The only line that made him seem realistic was “I’m a person and my name is Anakin.”

      All the whining made the scene where he finds out Padme is dead a big joke. I find that tragic.

    • Deri Ross on June 13, 2011 at 3:14 pm
    • Reply

    Haaaaaaaaaaaaa! You so perfectly summed up all the conflicting emotions I felt about my disappointment in the prequels. I agree with every single word. I somewhat like #1, when Anakin was small and the story line still had promise, but I HATED that they killed Qui-Gon and Darth Maul. I seriously thought they were going to be much bigger players in the story. And I completely get you with Padme and her whole character change. She has classic “victim of domestic abuse” syndrome by the final movie. Worst female character development ever (aside from that chick in the Twilight books – but I won’t go there). I honestly thought Padme was going to die a heroic death saving her children from Anakin. I was throwing popcorn by the time he became Darth Vader and did his horrible “NOOOOOOOOO!!!!” routine after finding out she died. Actually, you explained more about the convoluted plot in this blog than I have been able to get from watching the movies repeated times, and that’s WITH my 12 year old patiently explaining it to me.

    “Count Dooku was IN on the whole thing, Mom. That’s why he looks so shocked when Palpatine told Anakin to kill him. Geeeeeez! No I’m not going to explain how General Grievous is involved again. You should have watched the cartoon with me that came in between the movies.”

    My son has collected action figures and learned the back story of every single minor character that had maybe 2 1/2 seconds of screen time. But he’s also autistic and had memorized the wind speeds that make up the Fujita scale and every type of penguin that exists by the time he was 4. Without such gifts I’m lost.

    I have never been able to put into words so well what was wrong with these movies, and like you, I was such a die-hard Star Wars fan, it felt sacrilegious to NOT like them after waiting for so long. Being able to see the problem laid out so well really does help me see how easily it would be to fall in the same traps and how to avoid them in writing. =)

  11. Whiny heroes are a problem (William Hurt playing a pathetic, whining Rochester in Zeffirelli’s Jane Eyre was almost comical), whiny villains even more so.

  12. I enjoyed Part 1 for it’s entertainment value. That was it. It was no great movie, just sort of entertaining. When Anakin killed the younglings I would have thrown the movie against the wall if it had been a book. It was out of character for him, IMO. But it did allow the writers to move the character to the dark side.

    Don’t get me started on how Padme changed from the first film to the second. I’m just not going to go there.

    And I can’t believe you were only 3 when you stood in line to see the first movie! I feel so old now. But I do remember standing in a long line to see the movie. Afterward I thought it was the most awesome movie in the world! Guess I’ve got some geek in me, too. 🙂

  13. Those three Star Wars prequel movies constitute the largest, most boring prologue that I’ve encountered. Collectively, they demonstrate why most authors don’t need prologues and how a prologue should not be done.

    Viewers and fans could have connected the dots and figured out what came before “Star Wars: A New Hope.” What Lucas should have done is continue with events that came after “The Return of the Jedi.”

    Suzanne Adair

  14. I was so disappointed with the first prequel, I didn’t see the others until they came out on TV, and even then I only watched them in short spurts. For a long time, most of my knowledge about the prequel trilogy came from playing Lego Star Wars with the kids.

    There was one problem you didn’t mention which usually plagues all sequels — the need to account for everything that happened in the original movies, including concepts the writers never dreamt of during the first movie. “What? You’re my father?” “What? You’re my sister?” Trying to account for everything that The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi added to the canon was almost impossible, and they shouldn’t have tried.

  15. O.M.G. I so hated the prequels. DEEPLY DESPISE for all the reasons you listed here. It’s like they thought that lots of pretty special effects would make up for lack of plot. And don’t even get me started about how angry I was that they CGed Hayden Christensen in over the original Darth Vadar when they did the “upgrades” to the originals. That was absolutely unnecessary and MADE NO SENSE. The world that was established did NOT have them returning to their youthful appearance when they died. They looked as ghosts exactly like they did when they died (except Darth had hair). So WHY did they disrespect the hell out of David Prowse, who already didn’t know when he was filming the movie that James Earl Jones was going to get the voice?

    Anakin was a moron. And Padme was turned into a twit. And I did not for one second buy the character progression in the third one where he flipped to the dark side. Just…NO.

    • Solveig Engh on June 13, 2011 at 3:40 pm
    • Reply

    Although I could hardly be classified as a geek (too old), I loved the original StarWars. It always seemed strange that I couldn’t generate enough interest to sit through any of the prequels–even after listening to explanations from family. Boring is the word. Now I feel exonerated.

    As for my writing, I’ve blogged in the past and plan to blog again–but have no plans to write fiction. Yet I love your blog because your analysis is spot on. It enhances my reading enjoyment.

  16. Wow. This a hundred times over. I think those prequels should be watched by every writer as a lesson in how not to tell a story.

  17. Ok….Deep breath….
    For a long time I’ve been explaining my attitudes to the prequels.
    1. Whizzy lightsabre fights with young, fit Jedi, not old men vs Cyborgs, or young untrained twits Vs old cyborgs. Excellent.
    2. New places, new people, backstory. Cool.

    Naturally I am not blind to all the shortcomings you outline. Yes, there are big disappointments. But here’s the thing. It’s George’s story. He wants to tell it his way. Thjat was my response to the guy who came out of Episode One ahead of me saying Darth Maul shouldn’t have been killed. Yes, he was a cracking villain, but his death allowed the Jedi to think the threat was over.

    See how I get sucked in to defending the story? You’re right, let me say that again, you’re right, you’re right you’re right. The treatment of Padme was a complete disgrace, and I wonder why Natalie Portman turned up for filming after reading the script for Episode Three. But I think the biggest issue here was time. George established his three movie set, but turning Anakin the “Annie-esque” chirping kiddie into a Heroic Jedi and then on into a fully-fledged Sith would take more than six hours. That’s the advantage they have in the animated Clone Wars series – the chance to develop the character, show the million tiny bad decisions that turn someone from a good person into an evil person through good intentions and manipulation.

    As for the Emperor’s plan, you’re right, it was maybe too complex for us to understand at first. That’s why the first film is called “The Phantom Menace” – no one can see the real danger. He orders the clones because he’s arranged the droid army to engender the split between the seperatists and the Republic, but he wants the Republic to win because that’s where his seat of power is. Jango returns to COunt Dooku because Palpatine doesn’t trust Dooku.

    I love all the films, even the flawed ones, but I’d rather the prequels had been a twenty seven part tv series. The same applies to Harry Potter, by the way.

    1. Thank you! I’m one who defends the prequels on their merits. I loved the Phantom Menace, but I think that’s because I was watching Qui-Gon Jinn’s story, which I still love watching it for.

      The other thing with Jango is he’s a bounty hunter motivated by the almighty credit. He was paid for his genetic material and then paid by the separatists to fight for them.

      1. Virtual high five, Patrick! If it was “Have these prequels now” or “Wait until we can get the story up to scratch” I would pick option number one. “Fanboys” said it all for me. I was so paranoid that George Lucas would die or the world would end before the prequels were complete. Embarrassing, I know, but there you go.

  18. First, that photo of Darth Vader had me rolling with laughter. Granted, I’m a dog person.

    I am also a huge Star Wars fan, from the very beginning. Can’t agree more about the disturbing, and purely for shock value, scene when Anakin kills the younglings. Sooo unnecessary. The drastic changes in character from #1 to #3 with Padma and Anakin also had me reeling and annoyed in many ways. Your points on Jar Jar….hilarious and so true.
    Food for thougt. I’m still a Star Wars fan;)

  19. I once read that when Lucas wrote episodes 1-6, way before ep 4 came out, most of it went to 4-6. The rest was used for ep 3. So it’s almost like Lucas was thinking, “Anakin does something really, really bad and becomes Darth Vader. Okay! Moving on to ep 4.” After watching the prequels, his decision was right on the money.

    It doesn’t seem like any story planning went into them as proven by my most hated scene: (My memory’s a little fuzzy on this) Towards the end of ep 3 The Emperor asks Anakin to join the Dark Side and his response is something like, “Yeah sure, that sounds cool.” What???? I sat through three movies for that? Arg!

    1. The way I heard it (Excuse me for wading in, Kristen!) was that George originally conceived the story of Obi-Wan and Anakin, drafted it and realised it was too long. He split it in two, then split each half into roughly three segments, making the latter three first. Some of the backstory got affected by decisions made in the first three movies, plus all the fiction written after the first three movies came out.

        • Paul on March 21, 2014 at 5:04 pm
        • Reply

        That’s all been proven now to be horsebull. I don’t honestly believe that George had anything really set in stone planned beyond the original Star Wars. In fact, I think his orignal ‘three movie screenplay’ wound up only being the first film. He just didn’t have the budget or the technology to stretch the story of the destruction of the Death Star beyond a single film.

        There’s plenty of evidence in continuity errors during the original trilogy to show that it was being made up as he went along. Despite interviews to the contrary, his ‘fully developed story’ for episodes V, VI and I, II, III was so thin as to not be worthy of the lofty term ‘outline’.

        He had no real plan for the rise and fall of Anakin. Ever. He had what wound up being the first movie and the rest of it was just a panicked reaction to keep the series going and fill in the blanks.

        1. But good writers could have made this EPIC instead of a DISASTER.

        2. There’s no way George knew the entire story beforehand. He never would have had Leia kiss Luke if he knew then that they were siblings.

          1. Right? Ick!

        3. But good writers could have made that happen. Heck, look at some of these beautifully thought out threads. He could have hired half the commenters for this blog post and done better, LOL.

    • malindalou on June 13, 2011 at 3:54 pm
    • Reply

    I agree with you! The characters started out wonderful in the first movie but they and the plot fell apart in the second. I lost interest in the story by the third movie and never have watched it. (And yes, Jar Jar Binks was only good for his jokes.)

  20. Brilliant. I’ve never been able to sit through these and now I know why.

    I also know why some of my stories that were exciting to write did not work. I do the the “too many characters,” and “villain with a complicated agenda” things. This is really helpful.

    Yes, it was George Lucas’s vision. And because he was already a superstar, nobody would have dared to tell him–Mr. Lucas, this is OK, but look how much better it would be if somebody actually understood what’s going on? If we want our vision to be shared by others, we need to make sense..

  21. I could simply never get past Jar Jar Binks. The lights went out there and then for me.

  22. Wow. Very interesting blog! I am a SW fan. I have parts of the prequels that I loved and parts I hated. As far as the Jengo Fet thing, that was intentional. The Senator had planned in advance to kill of the Jedi. Hence having the clones. Get them close enough to the Jedi so that they trusted them, then stab them in the back. Literally. I don’t know if you’ve read any of the Expanded Universe SW books (I’ve read over 50) and you’ll learn more about.

    But anyways, I loved Anakin, but hated the whining too! He seemed to have a bi-polar problem. LOL! And I think the most disappointing part was the way Padme’s character de-evolved. Going from heroic to sorry and a little bit crazy. If I’m not mistaken, in the original SW book, based on episode 4, the first movie, Padme was supposed to have given birth, and moved to the planet Leia grew up on with baby Leia. Luke was sent away. Leia would have grown up knowing her mother. But as Hollywood does, things change to make them more interesting. Heck, Yoda used to be blue instead of green in the original book! I was disappointed in the fact that Padme gave up on life so easily. Even my kids said that sucked.

    In the end, there were good points and bad ones, but in the end, George Lucus got paid!

    1. The thing with the plot to wipe out the Jedi using the Clone Army, is that if your audience has to read a seperate series of books or comics to understand what your movie is about, it’s still too complicated. A good story needs to stand on its own.

        • Paul on March 21, 2014 at 5:28 pm
        • Reply

        This. There should have never been whiney Anakin. We should have met him an established pilot, cocky, brash and, most importantly, likeable. He should have been almost Han Solo like. Capable, interested in the greater good, but willing to cut corners where needed.

        It should have broken your heart when he finally cut too many corners and wound up on the dark side.

        The fall of Anakin should have felt like Han leaving the Rebels to their fate at Yavin. As it is, I find myself actively rooting for the whiney, impatient, POORLY acted Anakin to just turn to the dark side already.

        1. I wanted to SLAP him. We should not want to SLAP the protagonist.

  23. Blech. I couldn’t even watch the third one I was so disgusted with the second. My boyfriend describes the prequels as the negative progression of the hero’s cycle and the original three as the positive. Makes sense, but if that were really what Lucas wanted to do, why, like you said, did he not spend more time on real character progression? Why did all of that fluffy confusing stuff get thrown in?

    Ugh. Just no.

  24. Yes! When I watched Padme die–I yelled at our television (we usually rent DVD’s) and stormed about the stupidity of this strong woman dying of a broken heart. My husband heard me rant for days. Days, I tell you. Come on!!

    Very entertaining AND informative post. 🙂

    1. I know. I saw Ep 3 in the theater a week after my daughter was born (we had plans to paint my belly like the Death Star for opening night if I hadn’t popped by then) and I’m sitting there with a week-old baby sleeping in a sling and thinking, “you’re telling me that woman just had not one, but TWO babies (apparently via oompa-loompa droid with some scary attachments) and she just GIVES UP? Sorry honey, you don’t get to do that with newborns. The hormones alone will pull you through.”

      And then as I left the theater, I’m scratching my head and thinking about surprise!twins. “These people have everyday Faster Than Light travel and they couldn’t figure out an ultrasound with two heartbeats?”

      PS: For all you fans out there…if you cet the chance, check out Carrie Fisher’s one-woman show around “Wishful Drinking” – it ran on HBO a few months back and it’s a riot.

  25. Great analysis. Your thoughts on Jar Jar and the Metachlorians…hilarious. And so true. Those movies just come across as dumb. I wonder if Lucas will ever relinquish control and give someone else another stab at it.

  26. finally an explanation! my son adored “star wars” – the number of weekends lost to “the trilogy” still bewilders me. but the prequels? now i understand what went wrong – maybe if i’d taken notes while we watched.

  27. I was never able to follow/understand the prequels. They were more boring and illogical to me than the poorest travellogue/political documentary. For all of the reasons, I now realize, that you have analyzed.
    When they rerun on TV, I don’t watch them.
    I’m very disappointed to find out that the Force was made up of Metachlorians, and not some nebulous energy of the galaxy, as I always imagined.
    I am going to keep on believing (thinking of) the Force in that way. Otherwise it’s just too painful a destruction of the original Star Wars mythos for me.
    It’s hard to believe how they butchered the prequels. They could have sold a lot of action figures and made a lot more $ in DVD and rerun sales over a lot longer period with a story of the same caliber of the originals. IMHO.
    Thank you for this article. It explains it all.

  28. Excellent blog. I totally agree with you on just about all of it.

  29. I, too, have problems with the first three movies which are actually the last ones filmed. I can’t sit through them. Jar Jar Binks is one of the disappointments. I keep telling myself that I’ll give them another shot, but don’t know that I can justify that many hours when there are sooooo many other things I want to do.

  30. Great post, Kristen. Very insightful. You summed up so well what I’ve been trying to articulate to myself for years but could never quite push past the sense of being betrayed by Lucas to form the words well.

    Have you read Ryan Britt’s comments on The Phantom Menace on Tor.com? He also makes some really interesting points. http://www.tor.com/blogs/2011/05/the-fandom-menace-what-were-really-owed-from-or-favorite-sff-creators

  31. OMG, now I don’t feel so bad! I thoroughly hated them. I only saw one in a movie theater; that’s the only one I ever made it all the way through. The acting was horrible, the writing was horrible (don’t get me started on Jimmy Smits–Senator Bail Organa–declaring he and his wife always wanted a child) — the only purpose they served was to show off special effects. And really? They weren’t all that special.

    I was 19 I think, and every time I came into the apartment (even if I’d just gone to the store for milk), my brother would say “Did you see Star Wars yet?” Over and over and over … Finally I want to see it just to shut him up. It was phenomenal. The death star? Incredible. I was in awe.

    Was I too old to appreciate the final three? I don’t think so. Yet every time I try to watch them, it’s like watching embarrassing home movies from the past. You are spot on with your post!!


    PS — I keep wanting to ask about becoming a part of #MyWANA…

    1. Just come and join us. No permissions needed!

    2. Okay, you’re in. Welcome to #MyWANA 🙂

      The #MyWANA concept is all about having a community that supports its participants. Notice, not members. It is free and open to anyone. Join us, we’d love to get to know you!

    • Matthew Rantala on June 13, 2011 at 5:39 pm
    • Reply

    Awful, awful, and completely awful pretty much sums up SW 1, 2, and 3. I don’t think anyone mentioned Lucas’ moralizing (“Death Stick”) as another low point.

    And I agree with your assessment of Darth Maul–great, unused potential as a character. Kind of reminds me of Boba Fett–Fett had more of a role but I thought he was under-used in The Star Wars Trilogy.

    My blood pressure still gets high when I think how Lucas messed up the SW universe. Blaaach!

  32. I love the way you mesh SFF-geekdom and writing together. A woman after my own heart! As for the SW prequels, well, I have mixed feelings. Liked certain things, didn’t like others. I certainly agree that a lot of it doesn’t make sense. The biggest problem I see is that the story of Darth Vader, like any tragic fall, is dark by necessity. It’s a dark story line. Very adult. But SW makes a lot of money by marketing to kids. So, I think Lucas hoped to get the best of both worlds (a dark story line and lots of kid marketing), and ended up getting the worst of both worlds (confusing plot, lame Anakin, and annoying Jar Jar).

    1. You can tell a dark story aimed towards kids. Most fairy tales are pretty darn dark, even when cleaned up and Bowdlerized. Heck, Disney crushed the souls of a million kids when Bambi’s mom–and they didn’t have to show it or explain it away with midichlorians.

  33. I loved the prequels, probably because I was in my early-mid teens when they came out and I wasn’t paying too much attention to all the specifics of the plot. I was in it for the special effects and the romance between Anakin and Padme.

      • Amanda on May 22, 2012 at 9:03 am
      • Reply

      FINALLY, someone with good taste. If it weren’t for the Anakin/Padme romance, I wouldn’t have even bothered with Star Wars. It’s an epic love story, better than Romeo and Juliet and Eward and Bella.The old Star Wars movies are so boring, I fell asleep. Seriously, they’re awful.

  34. I remember watching the second SW prequel with my dad. That’s all either of us remember — being together in the theater. Neither of us remembered anything about the movie. Not a plot point, a scene, not one single thing stood out. And this was when we were walking to the car moments after the movie ended! In fact, that conversation in the parking lot about not remembering the movie was the most memorable thing that happened all evening. The second movie was so boring I don’t remember the name of it. WOW!

    Rule number one: before making a movie make sure you have a story people will remember.

  35. Jar Jar Binks was designed to appeal to the 4-8 set. My kids inexplicably loved him. I guess in the same way they love Spongebob. But Spongebob is one thing, Star Wars with Spongebob…makes me cry.

    In the hands of a different writer (and fwiw, I believe Lucas’s ex-wife was one of the writers/editors in the original three scripts which is why they have all the stupid cut out of them), the tale of a whiny emo-kid given great powers and limited consequences of those powers could very easily run afoul of them in a personal way that affected the people he cared about most…would be an awesome tale to tell.

    Do yourself a favor and check out some of the Old Republic stuff (like, a few millennia before anyone named Skywalker crossed paths with the Jedi Order.

      • KL on January 21, 2015 at 11:33 am
      • Reply

      That had already been done, and far more effectively, in the Star Trek episode Charlie X.

  36. I’m just going to say A-EFFING-MEN! to everything you just said, and move on. Thank you.

    • Larissa Hardesty on June 13, 2011 at 6:19 pm
    • Reply

    Wow. This post is awesome! I’m not really a big SW fan, although I have watched the original movies numerous times. With the prequels, I saw the first one, wasn’t impressed, and haven’t seen either of the others.

    • Rocket on June 13, 2011 at 6:22 pm
    • Reply

    Everything I felt and didn’t know how to express. I love the differentiation between ‘complicated’ and ‘complex.’

    • shawn on June 13, 2011 at 6:30 pm
    • Reply

    Anyone else pick up on C3PO and R2d2 have no known all these charachters, was created by earth vader, but have amnesia of who’s who in episodes 4-6. Hellooooooo continuity police..

    1. Er…C3PO gets his memory wiped by Captain Antilles at the end of Episode 3, and R2 D2 could be shouting ‘Hey guys, remember me?” every minute of 4,5 and 6 and we’d never know.

      1. “R2 D2 could be shouting ‘Hey guys, remember me?” every minute of 4,5 and 6 and we’d never know.”

        Just have to say: LMAO!

        • Shawn on June 14, 2011 at 12:00 am
        • Reply

        Except that all the charachters seem speak R2D2’s language, and seeing that C3PO would consistently have dialogue with R2, then it is not a stretch that R2 would have filled him in on what he’s missed. I never saw where his memory was erased, but that is pretty coincidental, and as we all know you can not write to many coincidences and expect to be taken seriously, Again, the continuity police needed to be called on this one..

  37. This is a fantastic post! The only reason I bothered to see all 3 of the prequels is because Ewan McGregor starred in them. (Shallow, but true.) The movies were an absolute mess. I feel the same thing happened with the Indiana Jones sequels.

    I’ll definitely be back to read your blog. 🙂

    Also, I twittered this post: http://twitter.com/#!/annemariewrites/status/80344485510397952

  38. You nailed it. I felt like I was caught in a Happy Meal toy with all of them. Who needs a script? We’ve got Jar-Jar. Thanks for the great post.

  39. Anakin drove me NUTS in the prequel. Whiny, whiny, whiny, poor me, wah!
    I expected him to be good and slowly turn bad at the same time being strong.
    And the point of killing the children? It didn’t show to me he went to the dark side, just that he was a serial killer.
    Jar Jar Binks was in the movies for humor sakes only. I liked him but he didn’t progress the story much.
    Now I admit I enjoyed the movies just because they were Star Wars 🙂

    • Texanne on June 13, 2011 at 7:45 pm
    • Reply

    We loved the original trio of movies and have an original R2D2 cookie jar from that era. Survived the Northridge quake, it did, though it totally lost its cookies. Slam cut 20 years later.

    I grabbed the first available grandkid and whisked her off to see Episode 1. It was soooo baaaad. After 20 minutes of that interminable and pointless race thingy, I took out my notebook and worked on my own story by the light of the movie screen. The Force is generated by what? That’s a flaw that can’t be fixed or worked around. He dismantled the most important aspect of the movie, and for what?

    Back in the daylight, bored and confused grandkid in tow, I concluded that I was now too old for the Star Wars magic. Later, I realized that Lucas was also too old. He obviously just didn’t get it any more. He should have rested on his laurels, which were amazing. I never wanted to see Eps 2 and 3. It would have been like watching a beloved teacher decomposing.

    Excellent analysis, Kristen. You give good crit.

    • A.R. on June 13, 2011 at 8:13 pm
    • Reply

    Haha! Great post…I have a few more problems for you to ponder.

    1. Who was Anakin’s father?

    In one of the movies his mother says he didn’t have a father, which made it seem like the miraculous conception part deuce. Plus the fact Anakin had an unheard of amount of Midocholorians surrounding him. But that was just left up in the air and never touched again…could his father have been a Sith, maybe Lord Palpatine, and someone told George–“You’ve already used the surprise father trick!” So they cut it out of the movie.

    2. How dumb are the Jedi?

    They always mention Anakin will bring balance to the force, but then they turn around and say the Sith do not exist. Huh? If you have 1,000 Jedi vs. 0 Sith, then the person who brings balance to the force will either make less Jedi, more Sith, or a combination of both until they are equal. Regardless of how they do it, if you’re in power you’ve got a very big problem. Yet, they looked at this person bringing balance as a savior. Their math is crocked.

    3. Anakin killing the younglings…

    I hated this part too. Lord Palpatine: “I want you to kill kids.”

    Anakin: “Okay”

    Way to put up a fight, hero.

    4. Obi Wan Kenobi…WORSE. JEDI. EVER.

    Is it just me, or is Obi Wan Kenobi afraid and incompetent in order to make Anakin look like a hero. All the Jedi talk is just that about feeling the force and letting go. “I’m afraid to fly…” “I can’t take on Dooku alone, I need you, forget about Padme, forget about your mother…”

    Ps…How did he age so much in the time it took Luke and Leia to grow up?

    1. LOVE your comment and point 2 has me laughing so hard I am clutching my keyboard. That didn’t make any sense to me either. Thanks for such a thoughtful and detailed response. LOVE IT!

      • Sarah on June 14, 2011 at 2:52 pm
      • Reply

      I seem to vaguely recall someone claiming that Anakin’s father may have been “the Force,” which just annoys me. Yes, please, let’s turn the mythic force into a god. We needed a good Zeusian god around the place.

    2. 1.) There is some suggestion in Episode 3 when Palpatine is telling Anakin about the Sith Lord Darth Plaugeis about that Sith Lord using special techniques to create life. Presumably he’s refering to Anakin’s own Immaculate Conception. That said, WTF would a Sith Lord be doing implanting magic fetuses in slave women on backwater desert planets?

      2.) Here here on your second point.

      3.) Does anyone else hate the word, “Younglings?” we can’t say children, kids, young? We had to make up a new awkward word for children?

        • Lee Mastroddi on December 24, 2013 at 3:59 am
        • Reply

        A few years late, but you are using the term “Immaculate Conception” incorrectly (although you correctly capitalized it). That has nothing whatsoever to do with a woman conceiving without intercourse. Look it up. “Virgin Birth” is the term you want.

  40. Kiss kiss kiss kiss kiss kiss.

    And a few slobbers too. You’ve explained it soooooo beautifully. We are big Star Wars fans in this house. The family joke is that our youngest (who turns 20 this fall), well, her first word was ‘Jedi’ spoken just like Jabba the Hut.

    And we hated the prequels.

    Your explanation is being forwarded to my wife and three children. They will love it, because we have all felt the same way you did, as if we missed something. But it wasn’t us missing something, it was Lucas missing something, and that something was that you have to have a story.

    Thank you Kristen for doing such a wonderful job of putting this into words.


  41. Kristen, between you and Terrell, you guys have it nailed! I thought I was the only one who didn’t understand what the heck was going on in Episode 2.

    As a mystery writer, it’s oh-so-tempting to make the plot complicated – we’re supposed to keep the reader guessing as long as possible about “who-dunnit.” I’m still trying to figure out how to walk that line between Venn diagram crazy-complicated and smart complexity.

    Not only am I writing a WIP, I AM a WIP!

  42. I absolutely loved everything you have written in this post. It’s not condescending, it’s just TRUE. I was SO excited when The Phantom Menace came out. I was there in the theatre, all of 13 years old, clutching my popcorn, and I fell ASLEEP after being bored to tears for an hour. I’ve seen it several times since then and you know what always comes to mind when I think of it? Podracing. As for the other two, I can’t stand Hayden Christensen as an actor and think the whining just comes naturally for him. The only thing redeemable about him is that Padme loves him and even then, I have to wonder, WHY? Spot on. I loved this.

  43. I love this! I haven’t watched the prequels since I committed to writing and hadn’t given a thought to why they were so disappointing. I like this more for the SW analysis than the writing advice. Though that’s good too. 😉

  44. As terrible as the Prequels are, without them we would have had the awesomeness that is RedLetterMedia’s reviews! If you haven’t already, you should watch those. He breaks down the prequels masterfully and doesn’t whine about Jar-Jar or Anakin, instead breaking down the “story” of the film. He does it all in a hilarious way.

  45. Like you, I grew up an avid Star Wars fan. Also like you, I hated the prequels. I never cared enough about the characters to get emotionally invested in the story.

  46. You are so right. Have you seen these? You’ll appreciate them: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxKtZmQgxrI
    Watch all 7.

  47. There were prequels? Hmm, I vaguely remember something about that. I think I’m in denial, or perhaps it was my attempt to forget them with heavy drinking.

    This may be sacrilege, but IMHO, the entire series went downhill when they injected ‘cute.’ And yes, I mean episode six, with the Ewoks. I was a kid when I saw the original, and I handled it just fine. Better than fine, actually. I didn’t need teddy bears or comic relief salamanders. CP3O and R2D2 added just enough ‘funny’ to the movie.

    And the prequel’s plot about some kid on a backwater desert planet being discovered by some Jedi master, falls in love with some royal chick, gets a backbone when his Jedi master is killed, goes to train with another Jedi master…
    I think I saw that movie before. Star Wars and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back I think they were called.

    As far as whiny Anakin, well, Luke was pretty whiny himself. I’m still trying to work out why emo Luke worked, and emo Anakin didn’t.

    1. Actually I agree that Luke Skywalker was a whiny pain, too and the least interesting of the cast. I am a Han Solo fangirl from WAY back :D.

    2. Emo Luke worked because Emo Luke *cared.* And he grew. Emo Luke started out whining about his own life, but very quickly moved on to whining about other people’s lives, and even while whining, he *did* things. He stood up to a planet-killer for a good cause. Back to Kristen’s original point–it was very clear–kill the planet-killer that blew up the princess’s planet, that was about to blow up the rebel base. It was kill or be killed and Luke stepped up.

      Anakin, even in TPM, whined and just kind of happened into a starfighter that happened to fire up (yes, it’s cute kid material), but he didn’t really *care* about saving the planet, and the planet wasn’t in black and white, life or death danger. The people fighting for it weren’t mostly from there, and it wasn’t scheduled to be wiped off the face of the galaxy. The worst that would have happened is that the planet would switch allegiances and break off from the Republic. Out of tens of thousands of planets, it would be like my family deciding we’re seceding from the Union. (which is another big failing of the prequels is that they just couldn’t get the scale right). Anakin’s dilemma wasn’t “kill or be killed.” It was “stick your nose in somebody else’s business or stay out of the way and either way, it doesn’t really affect you.”

  48. I am a fellow geek, and I too ADORE episodes IV, V and VI. I watched episode I, and the only thing I remember from it is the cool-looking race scene. I didn’t bother going to the others after that, because in my experience if I can’t remember the plot of something, it means I thoroughly didn’t enjoy it.

  49. Awesome analysis. I agree with everything you said, and I’m a die-hard Star Wars fan. I thought the first prequel was a solid movie. Not good, not bad, just solid. After that, it’s all down hill. The other movies

  50. I only watched the prequel movies because of my little nephew. I don’t remember anything about them, really. How sad is that? Well, maybe not so sad after reading your breakdown. 🙂

    I still love the originals!

    • Heather Borean on June 13, 2011 at 10:15 pm
    • Reply

    Bang on. Especially about Padme. As a woman I love seeing strong female characters. I the first movie she was awesome. After that she kind of melted.

    Loved the originals, like the Phantom Menace, but the rest can go fly.

  51. Star Wars, the first three movies were exceptional and played on a wealth of adventure and a strength of character that is at the heart of what we all want. They were based on the Monomyth, Joseph Campbell’s Hero of a Thousand Faces and we all felt the power of the concept with no need for explanation. Lucus has said this himself in interviews.
    The “other three” are special effects and as far as story is concerned, wastes of film. Except they made a ton of money. The sell out is appalling. Yet there it is. Kristen, you didn’t miss anything, rather, you saw the very heart of the matter.
    Great deconstruction.

  52. Great thoughts! I totally agree with your assessment of Anakin and Padme’s relationship. I didn’t like the first one, thought the second one was OK, and liked the third one. But the best part of movies 2 and 3 was getting watch Yoda fight!

  53. George Lucas may not be the greatest writer or director in the world, and Luke has his share of whiny moments too, but listen to Joseph Campbell wax rhapsodic about the mythic elements of that “Star Wars” and its sequels. It’s beautiful, archetypal stuff. “Empire” and “Return” were far weaker in many ways (although I know many people believe “Empire” is the best of the lot); Lucas always loved his adorable aliens far too much and didn’t nuance his archetypes enough (the gloating chuckles of the Emperor? really, he might as well have been stroking a cat or twirling a mustache). Nevertheless, Lucas had a sense of the sweeping narrative arc in those three.

    The prequels were about playing with the new CGI toys and making as much noise as possible. They were about stick figures moving in a beautiful yet one dimensional world. Other than Qui Gon Jin, there is no soul. Other than the light saber duel between Qui Gon and Darth Maul, IMO the greatest light saber duel in the series, there is nothing worth watching these films for. (I love your idea about keeping Maul alive for Kenobi to deal with in the end! Call it “closure” not “revenge.”)

    Great post!

  54. Episode 1 was so horrid I couldn’t sit through it. I never bothered with 2 or 3, yet i’ve seen 4-6 probably ten times each. I never read books, comics or saw TV shows, and i don’t buy that my lack of understanding is the reason the early episodes were so bad. The movies should stand on their own.


    • Shawn on June 14, 2011 at 12:09 am
    • Reply

    I think we should get Lucas on here and get to the heart of the matter… which is the wrting sucks, and the CGI was so busy that it made the dialogue droll. I think the story needed more time to develop instead of this hasty on the fly, sloppy way it turned out.. I’d prefer to have no CGI and good plot, than the other way around. Then again, I’m in to movies solely for entertainment value, explosions, guns, chicks, and chicks with guns making explosions.. =p

  55. The biggest mistake, plotwise, was to make them the story of Anakin, who is not a likeable character, and was played pretty woodenly by the actors. If you can’t empathize with the main character, there’s a big problem.

    It should have been the story of Obi Wan Kenobi, who would have made a much better hero.

    1. That’s funny you say that. I have stated the same thing. Great minds thinks alike :D.

  56. I loved the original Star Wars and even saw Return of the Jedi earlier than most people 😉 but I hated the prequels. I think I’ve only seen one of them so even the names you mention are foreign to me. Fab how you managed to link it to writing. I’ve definitely heard it before not to introduce everyone on the first page. Way too confusing. Great post as usual!

  57. Because so much of the Star Wars movies have Biblical undertones I think the killing of the Younglings were a tie into the story of King David (although he wasn’t King yet) killing entire villages of Philistines, innocent children and all. Like David, it added complexities to his character, i.e. – good guy doing bad things. That said, I agree with an earlier comment that Padme would NEVER have fallen for such a whiner! Great post, thanks!

    1. I meant to say he killed entire villages of innocent Israelites(meaning he became a traitor) FOR the Philistine King.

  58. I am such a Star Wars fan – I remember waiting in block long lines to see the first one when I was little (I want to say the 8-9 year-old range).

    I grew up wanting to have Han Solo’s babies. And Leia in the bikini?? Dang. She was smokin’ hot enough (almost) to make you want to play for the other team, so to speak.

    Luke? Mostly whiny, but they did a great job of making you root for him. Anakin? A little bitch…I couldn’t stand that pipsqueak. But here’s Natalie Portman, rocking the first Prequel and then they turn her into the co-dependent Boo-hoo Girl?? I never forgave them for it and retained almost nothing of Prequel 2 and 3. I’m with Tiffany White…it’s gone from my memory bank.

    Thanks for this great post – it lets me know I chose wisely!

    p.s. You’ve gotta admit that Jar-Jar Binks tongue was a source of INTENSE comic relief in the first movie! Come on…admit it….

    1. Yeah it was funny, but so was Ace Ventura. It was Episode 3 when they had this moron addressing the senate. HUH? REALLY? I don’t buy it. Thanks for such a thought ful comment.

      1. Keep in mind this is the same galaxy where an ENTIRE PLANET *elected* a 14 year old girl as its QUEEN and galactic representative. Some days, I think that galaxy kinda got what it deserved. *shakes head*

    • FunkyBlue on June 14, 2011 at 2:11 am
    • Reply

    My big missing piece was at the end when Vader was “created”. Think about it. Anakin was promised Padme would be fine if he turned to the Dark Side and after he did, he was crippled and burned so badly that he needed the suit to live, but Padme was safe and alive, right?

    Palpatine tells him she’s dead and all we get is a NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

    I wanted anger. I wanted Anakin to take on Palpatine. He had to have felt lied to. His life was ruined and the man who made him change his life that ended up with him in his state and his love dead was standing right there.

    The entire end of the 3rd movie, Vader was fircely loyal to Palpatine but you never got an explanation of why. There was no reason he should have been. The fight had to happen so Palpatine could put him down and assert dominance. A show of his force to bring Anakin in line. But it never happened. All we got was “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO”…

  59. ” It’s like Jersey Shores goes to Tatooine.” <–Ha! You've always got one line in each post that makes me laugh out loud.

    Thanks for this post today. It made me reevaluate the plot in my new WIP and realize there were some things I could cut to make it less complicated and I think it's better for it!

  60. Brilliant brilliant brilliant! I actually read this whole thing aloud to my husband because it was so dead-on. Thank you for finally clarifying my discomfort with the prequels. I will definitely be linking back to this on my blog because every writer and every Star Wars fan should read this. And now I kind of want to go to Hollywood and give George Lucas a spanking.

    – Liz

  61. I hated the prequels as well, but Lucas made the point that they marketed to kids. He said on “The Daily Show” that kids hated the old ones, but LOVED the new ones and with the veteran fans, a reverse effect. He is a business man first, and a director/writer second.

    1. Then he forgot that it’s not the 5 year olds who hold the wallet. It’s their parents, who remember the original awesomeness.

  62. I’m impressed with all of you people that you managed to actually remember any of these movies in that much detail. Couldn’t we just agree that the originals were great, but the prequels sucked.
    I saw the first prequel in a cinema and since then have only watched the rest when they come around again and again and again on TV. I have caught chunks of the prequels, usually while I am waiting for something better to start, and each time they fail to hold my attention.
    That is pretty poor, I am a movie lover who normally has to watch to the end of most movies and I was a star wars fan. I recall that when the third of the originals came out I came back from vacation with my kids to see all three in sequenceon a special day at one of our local cinemas.
    What is also astonishing is that somehow the effects are worse, despite the advances in video technology since the originals were made. I suspect that the effects would look better if the stories held together.

  63. And here I’d thought I was dense for not understanding the prequel plot. (Whether I am in fact dense, based on other evidence, is another story.) I would have enjoyed this analysis even if it had not been a writing lesson. Thanks!

  64. Jar Jar Binks was designed to appeal to the 4-8 set. My kids inexplicably loved him. I guess in the same way they love Spongebob. But Spongebob is one thing, Star Wars with Spongebob…makes me cry.

    In the hands of a different writer (and fwiw, I believe Lucas’s ex-wife was one of the writers/editors in the original three scripts which is why they have all the stupid cut out of them), the tale of a whiny emo-kid given great powers and limited consequences of those powers could very easily run afoul of them in a personal way that affected the people he cared about most…would be an awesome tale to tell.

  65. So with you on all of this, especially the Padme story line. Awful. She goes from being a leader to just dying because of? What? So awful to see her character diminished like that. Love the Darth Vader dog. Too cute.

  66. I’m in total agreement here. However I would like to suggest that a lot of the reasons for the prequels sucking fall directly in their creators lap. A long time ago, in a country far far away…no one believed George Lucas could make a space opera work on the big screen. Cast, crew, if you read their honest opinions in biographies and the like, he was the one getting a vote of no confidence. His leads joked that that his most common direction was “do it faster, and be more intense.” Back then these people ignored him, they trusted their feelings and produced three-dimensional characters that the audience cheered for.

    After episode IV, Kirschner took over the director’s chair and Lucas worked on perfecting the look and feel of the film, something Lucas is almost unrivalled in. By the third film however Lucas was no longer a wunderkind with a couple good films under his belt, but a heavy hitting technocrat who had revolutionized the industry and I think Jedi suffered for it. No longer could anyone stand up to him, or tell him no. This was his dream and the cast and the crew were there to visualize it for him. Many will disagree, but I think that Ewoks were a sign of Lucas’ meddling.

    Action sequences were bigger, but already you could feel the creators deadening hand at the wheel, flogging the story into his desired shape. Forget the fact that the third film was really just a rehash of the first one, with slightly more going on, but again too many characters were involved to make us care as much as we did the first time around. From Lando and his Sulusstan co-pilot to Admiral Ackbar, sure they were fun, but really they were set pieces to take over for the part of the story we already saw, and to sell more merch.

    Decades later The Phantom Menace is released, big name actors like Liam Neason, Natalie Portland, and Ewan McGreggor, people who really know how to lend a role gravitas are hollowly parroting lines in a galaxy where no one uses contractions. Later firebrands like Sam Jackson seem stiff as cardboard. Why? They can’t say no to the giant behind the camera. The whole set of prequels can be summed up by Lucas’ oft lampooned mantra, “faster and more intense.” Yes the plot sucked, sure they could have deepened the characters, and we can all agree that Jar Jar was a mistake. But I blame it on the kid with big dreams, who came from obscurity to powered, maybe a little too quickly and fell to the lure of Hollywood’s dark side, believing in your own hype. Lucas is a master of imagination, and the simplest of his ideas can make millions IF he turns it over to others more interested in connecting with the audience and shaping his dreams into legends.

    1. Natalie Portman, damn autocorrect.

    2. Beautifully put. Thanks for such a thoughtful comment.

      1. Thanks, you’ve definitely got a new reader. If you’re ever interested we’re always looking for contributors over at Geek-Life.com. I write a series of articles primarily dealing with my personal brand of geek, tabletop RPGs.

    3. the dog should have starred in the following prequel: “star wars: attack of the cloned canines.”

      God forbid…

  67. You nailed it. Story was confusing. Too many characters. MC sucked. This article sums up everything I was furious about with Episodes I through III (well, Episodes I and II. I was so ticked off after those that I still have never watched III).

    The “special edition” releases of Episodes IV through VI also sucked. I loved how Tatooine was sparse and austere in the original. Adding a bunch of crappy computer-generated aliens wandering the streets simply cluttered the scene. Maybe I’m old school, but for me, more isn’t necessarily better.

    Great article! High-five on being a Star Wars child geek too 😀

  68. I hated the prequels but I actually understood why Palpitine would make a droid army and a clone army. It was to enact a state of emergency and take control. Still there was a lot of unnecessary garbage and the important points were never made. It has been noted that in an attempt to lighten the mood there are frequent comic moments in the movies. The problem is they are so close together that you cannot laugh at the comedy and you cannot invest in the dark moments. Neither work because of each other’s presence.

    This is what I expected from 1-3 to convert Anakin to Vader. Obviously I didn’t get it.

    Episode 1
    Anakin is discovered and is taught how to use the force. He and Obi-wan are friends. They encounter Darth Maul and he defeats various Jedi (possibly including Kwi-gon, which makes Obi-wan have to teach Anakin)

    Episode 2
    Anakin and Obi-wan get involved in the clone wars. Anakin is shown to be far superior to other Jedi’s he stops listening to their advice because he feels he doesn’t need to. A really great writer would even get the viewer saying “Yeah don’t listen to them!” Anakin fights Maul or Siddius and looses. He’s crushed (emotionally) by his failure.

    Episode 3
    Anakin encounters Maul again and starts to use the dark side to fight him. Obi-wan aborts the fight before he wins so he doesn’t fall to the dark side. Anakin now hates Obi-wan for not letting him defeat Maul. Palpatine convinces Anakin that the Jedi are a threat to the republic and they should be hunted down. Que montage of Anakin crushing Jedi (it was supposed to be Vader that killed the Jedi, not clones). He is beaten by Obi-wan but is rebuilt by Palpatine and gets even more Dark Side (not Far Side this time!) training from Palpatine. Out of respect for his old friend and out of some kind of respect for Yoda’s skill, he banishes them to remote planets. He then defeats Maul and Palpatine reveals his nature as Siddius.

  69. Your analysis is spot on, and explained even more reasons why I didn’t like the prequels. George focuses on the “Hero’s Journey” and utilized core mythical concepts in drafting the original trilogy. In these, he somehow lost his way. He tried to out-Star-Wars Star Wars. As anecdotal evidence in favor of your argument that the original trilogy was so simple a 4 year old could understand it, I submit the following:

    My two boys, ages 4 and 6(and their sisters soon to follow I’m sure) are huge Star Wars fans. They watch all six movies on a regular rotation, yet the only movies they ever ask me questions about are the prequels. I’ve never had to explain the characters or plot to the original trilogy and in fact, THEY constantly explain that wonderful story to ME. But the prequels? I find myself stuttering trying to explain those stories.

    I did, however, “get” what the emperor was up to, but it was far to complicated and was a three movie attempt to present a single twist. He was the separatist tail wagging the republic dog, not a bad bit of intrigue if only better carried out. Why couldn’t they have used the Anakin character portrayed in the “Clone Wars” CARTOON SERIES over Darth “where’s my blanky” Vader? Besides, at the end, when the Palpatine explains that Vader killed his love with his anger, which is, of course, one of the Dark Sides cherished qualities, wasn’t that counter-productive?

    1. I highly recommend checking out Star Wars Clone Wars tie in cartoons that were done by Gennedy Tartovsky (sp?). They did so much with so little that I would have preferred to have seen the prequels directed by this team rather than Mr. Lucas.

    • Kevin B. on June 14, 2011 at 6:26 pm
    • Reply

    The thing that bothered me the most were the gems scattered tgroughout all three movies. Lucas seems to suffere from some kind of psychosis over a lost childhood and as Stygian Jim already pointed out quite beautifully, He is an unrivaled technocrat but a horrible writer. It seems that it would have been much easier and more believable had Darth Maul been “the big bad” throughtout the three films with the reveal it was Palpatine behind everything in film three, perhaps part of the problem was that they seemed to make them the films from the standpoint that since everyone knows how it turns out lets not bother with pretending they don’t.

    1. Here here Kevin. I would have liked to have seen a nice paralell between the Emperor/Darth Vader scense from the original, only revealing who the Emperor was by the final film.

    • Gus on June 14, 2011 at 6:34 pm
    • Reply

    If Twitter were around at the time, Jar Jar Binks would’ve been a trending topic on opening weekend. Now, those would’ve been some hilarious tweets.

  70. Hmm…okay, let’s see; Palpatine’s plan was:

    1. Create a threat that destabilized the Republic both financially and militarily.
    2. To do this he commissions a droid army and has his catspaw, Dooku, start a Separatist movement.

    The goal of this is to create a situation where democracy seems too slow to deal with the general needs of the situation, thus making a supreme executive attractive. Through personal machinations and manipulations (and a little Jedi mind trick), he makes sure he is in the right place at the right time and manipulates Jar-Jar into nominating him while he is acting congressman from from Naboo, a situation he helped create.

    3. Using the threat of the Separatists, clones are commissioned which not only have all of the best genes, but are programmed since birth to obey the directive to attack the Jedi when it comes.
    4. The war escalates, with Palpatine using Dooku to recruit generals like Grievous (you see a lot of this in the Clone Wars shows and movie).
    5. This escalation requires a lot more clones, and eventually there are almost no normal, non-clone troops. During this time, agreements are made with key factions like the Trade Federation and the Banking Guild in order to secure their support at the right moment.
    6. At a key moment, Order 66 was issued and the clones turned on the Jedi, with no one to stop them, and suddenly obeyed the orders of the Separatists, who were of course always working for Palpatine through Dooku.
    7. Palpatine used the resulting chaos to justify martial law, the dissolving of the Republic as it had existed, and declared himself emperor with two armies (droid and clone) and all the important financial and trade factions backing him.

    So it was essentially a coup done from both inside and out. It doesn’t seem too complicated to me, but then again, I am a student of history and things like this have happened many times in the past. They happen in banana republics every month or two, and some would claim they are happening in the US right now. I don’t know what to think about that.

    As for Anakin committing an unforgivable sin, I have to agree completely. I think it was meant to give him the property of “evil bad-ass” and something extreme was needed after three movies of whining, but it just didn’t work.

    Some blame also has to go to Padme…any woman who, after hearing her boyfriend say “I just slaughtered an entire tribe of sandpeople, including women and children. Wanna get married?”, says YES needs her head examined.

    I agree completely with the midichlorian issue, as do most fans. A mystical life-force is just a bunch of microorganisms…great, that certainly fills me with wonder…

    Overall I agree that they were pretty bad, with flashy fight scenes becoming the main reason to watch them. The series “Clone Wars” is much better and gives a much better feel for the whole period of time, as well as the ability to actually like and enjoy the characters, as opposed to being more or less annoyed by them.

    1. See, I saw that plan too, but what confused me was then why did Dooku tell Obi-Wan that there were Sith hiding in the Senate? Why would he give up the game plan like that? Btw, you and Jim are more interesting than the original post, LOL 😀

      1. Thanks Kristen, but any post that gets this much discussion means you must have your finger on the pulse. Bravo. 🙂

      2. Saw the plan. Respect the plan. It was sneaky, playing both sides and winning whichever way it came out. I, too, am a student of history, politics and wars and it was an excellent plan. Telling Obi-Wan about the Sith in the Senate made sense because the Jedi already suspected the Sith and this made them look treasonous as they turned their attentions inward. How else would you have had Mace W. consider having the Jedi take control of the government?

        Better rewrites needed, but the stories weren’t beyond salvaging.

    • Carla Krae on June 16, 2011 at 12:05 am
    • Reply

    Part of how Palpatine has everything happen like he wants is that he sees the future and reads thoughts. He’s more powerful than the movies have time to show – he’s like a lich, grabbing a new body when he needs one and existing as a Force spirit. He created Darth Maul out of pure Dark Side, and is Anakin’s father. There’s so much pay-off if you’re familiar with the greater Star Wars universe in books, comics, and games.

    • Carla Krae on June 16, 2011 at 12:08 am
    • Reply

    As for the prequels themselves, Lucas is great at directing tech and special effects, but he doesn’t know how to communicate with actors on acting terms. So they had to guess until he said “Yes! That’s the performance we’ll keep.” The style doesn’t work for all actors. Empire Strikes Back is considered the best not only for the story, but the director.

  71. Actually, I liked episodes 1-3 so I won’t tear it down. Anakin is cute and I couldn’t remember episodes 4-6 so I had no point of reference. Yet, somehow, I got so sick of watching it and I just couldn’t stand to be in the same room as the first three episodes.

    The Clone Wars, I don’t like to watch. It’s too much sequel!

  72. Like some others here, I haven’t managed to watch the prequels. I told myself it was just because of Ewan MacGregor’s bad acting, but in fact I think it was because they were all basically just backstory – the kind of thing novelists are now encouraged to leave out or at least disperse through the novel instead of sticking it in at the beginning in a large indigestible chunk.
    Also, although I do have some geek-like tendencies, I’m not geeky enough to learn all these weird names etc and even with the original Star Wars movies I got on fine without remembering the name of the funny little thing that floats up and down, or knowing exactly what happened to Han Solo after he was frozen!

  73. Kristen: You are spot-on about the flawed prequels. My favorite are #3 & #5, which are tied together based on characters acting–well–out of character. I love your alternative ending and to piggy-back on it, the movies would have been so much better if:

    Qui-gon & Obi-wan spend Episodes 1 & 2 pursuing Darth Maul, thinking he’s the uber villain.
    In Episode 3 Qui-gon goes down fighting to protect younglings against Darth Maul’s savagery. Then Obi-wan slices & dices Darth Maul–only to find out his apprentice–the whiny Anakin and his bud Palpatine are the real uber bad guys.

    But it would take more than an ending like this to fix the prequels, as noted in the other 129 comments. (Great comments by everyone else! Is this a blogpost record?). I could never grasp how the poster boy of evil in the galaxy far, far away, evolved simply because he missed his mommy and was worried that he might loose his main squeeze. And speaking of Padme: Watching her de-evolve from a strong leader to damsel-in-distress was–distressing–to say the least.

    ‘Nuff said about Jar-jar and I didn’t care for C3P0 and R2D2 being involved, especially since Obi-wan would have remembered them by Episode 4.

    I agree with Neal that the Clone Wars animated series is better than Episodes 1-3. But then again, the bar is set so low, anything is an improvement.

    Up until a year ago, Wizards of the Coast use to publish the Star Wars Roleplaying game that went further into the details of nearly all the Star Wars eras.

    1. Speculation among fans is, there’s another reason why the prequels are so bad:



      1. Everything you wanted to know about Star Wars, but where afraid to flash your Geek Card, can be found on Wookiepedia:


  74. We share a lot in common; I too saw episode four on opening day as a wee one and spent a wonderful, imaginative childhood with Han, Luke, R2-D2, and hordes of stormtroopers. I can safely say Star Wars put me on the geek course of my life that continues through to this day.

    All my love for Star Wars was dashed, and more, with the release of the prequels. I’m almost ashamed to admit to even being a Star Wars fan nowadays. Now I am a father, and there’s a simple fix to this. The prequel movies are not canon in my house, we don’t own them, we don’t watch them, end of story.

    The force is based on spiritualism, not a blood-borne pathogen.

  75. Oh, and here’s Mik’s Minis!


  76. Thank God I’m not the only one who was pissed at what they did to Padme in the end (among other things). Died of a broken heart? Come on. I try to tell myself that maybe, when Anakin was choking her, lack of oxygen killed off a few brain cells. Like … most of them.

    But it doesn’t work.

    If only there had been better writing for the prequels! Then maybe my generation (I was eleven when the first prequel came out) might have gotten an experience as magical as our parents did. Now … I teach eighteen-year-olds, and half of them have never seen the original Star Wars. I blame the prequels.

      • Jenny on May 22, 2012 at 8:33 am
      • Reply

      You’re wrong on so many things. Padme dying of a broken heart was the perfect death for her. If Anakin had actually killed her or if she had been able to survive his conversion to the dark side, then it would have undermined their strong love, the “can’t live without each other” kind that Romeo and Juliet had. And the prequels are perfect just the way they are. Thank God you didn’t write them yourself otherwise I would have hated them. And the original trilogy sucks. It’s so boring and old.

  77. This was a great low-down on the HUGE problems with the second Star Wars trilogy. And Mistake #2 is the reason I could NOT watch the second and third installments of Lord of the Rings. Frodo was a big whiny baby in the first film, and I thought that totally missed Tolkien’s characterization of the hobbit as a reluctant and scared, but essentially caring and brave hero. By the end of the movie, I was rooting for someone to take that sniveling hobbit out and replace him with someone I could root for. Thankfully, the books remain intact with their charm.

    • Joseph Miller on June 18, 2011 at 2:06 pm
    • Reply

    This was a great insight into what went wrong in the prequels. The only thing I would add is that they also made a mistake in having Anakin and Padme’s romance happen on Naboo… with no real threat. The thing that made Han and Leia’s romance believable was the “love under fire” element. Han and Leia fell in love while being chased around the universe. When I first saw the second movie and Anakin and Padme got on the refugee ship, I thought awesome! The bounty hunter or someone else is going to attack the refugee ship back to Naboo and then Anakin will save Padme’s life and romance will blossom and… no! They arrive on Naboo without incident and then start rollicking in the fields… this is Star Wars not Little House on Naboo! Okay… rant over.

    • Nhex on June 18, 2011 at 7:50 pm
    • Reply

    Anyone who thinks the story of the original trilogy was any better might wanna think twice. i like star wars, not because of specific plots but because of the original universe it created. There is more beyond the movies like the video games. i personally think the story on both trilogies had a point but was not great, i really didnt care because the greatness filling the movies is way higher than any storytelling. Now try other movies like maybe “No country for old men” there they want you to care about the story, in star wars they want you to care about the epicness/greatness of the universe it created and that is all i care in star wars. I actually think the Halo series (the video game) ha a better plot.

  78. Here is a general comment on why the prequels irritated me. In concept they had years to work on them but the movies don’t reflect that. They lack polish and refinement- which is kind of funny because this didn’t require eloquence.

    It reminds me of a group project from college in which there are multiple authors writing on a common theme but no one steering the ship. Since they have started late they rush to finish the project and then one or two people try to tie it all together.

    So what you end up with is something choppy and uneven.

    • Ross Parker on June 19, 2011 at 9:55 pm
    • Reply

    Great article on what went wrong. I totally agree they were a mess.

    There’s a great article on how the prequels could have been better here: http://fanfix.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/%E2%80%A6the-star-wars-prequels/

    • Kelli McBride on June 20, 2011 at 2:09 pm
    • Reply

    I too hate the prequels. Perhaps those of us who were young when EP IV came out have a different perspective on the 2 trilogies because Star Wars IV was so different from anything we’d seen before. We were not the jaded audience of today when it comes to Sci-Fi. Also, Darth Vader scared the hell out of me when I saw the original movies. I can remember the angst about whether he was Luke’s father or not, and the shock when he cut off Luke’s hand and then revealed he was. Awesome moment. And the best scene in all the films is in Ep 6 when Luke looks at Vader’s severed hand with the wires sticking out, then looks at his hand, then turns off his Lightsaber and turns to the Emperor and says, “You’ve failed your highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me.” That’s what the whole series has been about – the moment when we stand up to evil and choose to die rather than go against our prinicples. There is no moment like that in the second trilogy. At the end of the three movies, what has it been about? There is no triumph. We’ve invested all that time in Ep 1-3 and we’ve been robbed by all the things Kristen mentioned – whiny Anakin, illogical plots, overly complicated schemes, and Lucas’ tendancy for cuteness (e.g Jar Jar and Ewoks – shudder).

    I would like to add to the list:

    1) Using famous actors throughout the movies. The best quality of EP 4-6 is that most of the actors were unknown to American audiences. We completely associated them with Star Wars. I never have been able to accept Samuel Jackson as a Jedi. I keep waiting for him to pull out a beret.

    2) Reusing imagery from the first trilogy. I couldn’t believe the end of Ep. 2 – it was a complete rip off of the ending of Ep 5 in the way it was framed. Except I remember sitting in that theater at the end of Empire Strikes Back (The best of the entire series) and being stunned, shocked, saddened, and totally impatient for the next episode. I had stood in a line that snaked around the theater for 2 hours to get a ticket to that film, and it was worth every minute.

    3) Anakin’s age in the first and the big leap in age in the second film but relatively no age leap in the third film. I totally did not buy the romance between Padme and Anakin, and I agree about her characterization by the last film. There was nothing in the plot that would account for her abandoning her children and giving up.

    4) Ultimately, I’m not sure these movies could be saved, and Lucas should have made episodes 7-9 instead. We knew where they were leading. Where was the suspense? Sure, we might not have known specifically how Anakin turned to the dark side, but we knew it was coming. In Ep. 3, there is NO WAY we could have seen that Leia was Luke’s twin sister (in fact, I remember Foster writing a book called Splinter in the Mind’s Eye about Vader, Luke and Leia, right after Ep. 4 – it was a great book and had a romance building between Luke and Leia), we couldn’t have believed that Vader had anything worth redeeming much less that he was Luke’s father. Those moments of surprise cannot be replaced. I rarely watch Ep 4 anymore because I know Vader is not completely bad. I still love Ep 5 and 6 because of the character’s and their interaction. The use of “I have a bad feeling about this” and the wonderful back and forth dialogue, which I readily believe is part of improv between the actors.

    Ep. 1-3 have all the depth of most movies we see now days based on video games. And the criticism about marketing is spot on. These films were created to tap into the money making machine that is Star Wars. The original films, especially films 4 and 5, did not have that as a motivation because the phenomenom was still so new and unexpected.

    BTW, I refuse to believe in the metachlorians. The Force is with me. I will not reduce it to something that can be explained with science. 🙂

  79. Not only did you perfectly articulate everything I’ve felt about these movies since I first saw them, but you gave me some great storytelling elements to ponder in my own writing (I actually went back and asked myself if the villains in my fantasy novel had plans that were simple enough to sum up in one sentence).
    Plausible character development seems to trip up a lot of authors and screenwriters these days. If a character doesn’t fit the story, pick another one to fill their place, don’t just change them to fit your endgame.

    • Winjoe on July 11, 2011 at 1:20 am
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    What still ruins the prequels for me is the tone. It is so jarringly (jar-jarringly?) different than episodes 4-6. Ugh. Also, things just don’t match up. The scene in Star Wars after Ben saves Luke from the Sandpeople and proceeds to cryptically explain the complicated relationship between himself and Luke’s father simply doesn’t make sense anymore. Unless Ol’ Ben lost his mind wandering the desert. Seriously, that scene was kind of the springboard for the entire reveal in “Empire”, and now it doesn’t match up with the prequels at all. Where was this friendship with Anakin Ben so obviously treasured? It isn’t evident in the least during the prequels. Guinness is a great, great actor. His performance in Star Wars is pretty amazing. I don’t think Lucas was capable of creating the relationship between Obi-Wan and Anakin that Ben explains to Luke. I know they were his own words from 25 years earlier, but they took on a real importance the way Guinness performed them. Lucas wasn’t up to the task of creating prequels that explained complicated character motivations, so he simply ignored any attempt to do so.

    • David on September 4, 2011 at 8:44 pm
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    Great summary of what is wrong with the prequels. My biggest irritation was that Lucas attempted to introduce every single character from the original trilogy during the prequels, even Chewbacca. I understand Yoda and others who are part of the storyline, but R2D2, Boba Fett? I am surprised that Greedo did not make an appearance.

    • Mike on September 5, 2011 at 12:58 pm
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    Christopher Nolan’s Two-Face, portrayed by Aaron Eckhart is the perfect explanation of what went wrong in the prequels. First, what does TDK and SW:ANH have in common? Good characters. Han Solo, Luke and Leia, and Chewbacca basically are the heart and soul of the story and the camera rarely leaves them alone for very long. So it’s almost incidental we’re in space in the middle of a war, that’s just the backdrop. The prequels are a much more ambitious, and IMO, better story line than the original trilogy. Plus we’re following the original trilogy’s best character: Darth Vader.

    The new trilogy has tons of great characters like Dooku, Sidious, Yoda, Mace Windu and Jango Fett. Here is the problem though, aside from Obi-Wan, who was an awesome character in the prequels, the rest of the great characters have barely any screentime. Instead of giving someone like Mace Windu or Dooku the bulk of the screentime you get Jar Jar Binks and “paint-drying” Padme hogging the screen. Then there is Anakin.

    So why did I bring up Two-Face. Well, Two-Face faces the same problem as Anakin. Two-Face is the cooler of the two “egos”. Anytime Harvey Dent is onscreen you’re naturally waiting for him to go evil, so you have to play his character a certain way. You have to make Harvey Dent really likeable, which Nolan did, so when he turns bad and kills younglings you’re crushed. You feel emotionally let down.

    Hayden played Anakin all wrong when he wasn’t evil, and it’s not simply his fault, it’s the script. Lucas makes it abundantly clear he has a dark side because HE WHINES CONSTANTLY. When people complain we, as humans, sense they are unhappy, so instead of being worried we’d lose Anakin we’re sitting there going “JUST DO IT ALREADY, PULL THE TIGGER! We KNOW you want to!”.

    Nolan on the other hand made Aaron Eckhart play Dudley-Do-Right with a tinge of aggression, so we knew what would be exploited by the forces of evil but also were secretly worried about losing this great person. The cartoon, BTAS, did much the same. We should be saying “No, not Darth Vader”, instead of “I can’t wait for Vader to get here”.

    The cartoon is doing a much better job of this, but let me tell you what I would do. First of all, Anakin needed to act a lot more like Luke Skywalker. Naive and enthusiastic, and he should’ve wise-cracked to his opponents like Spider-Man. He should’ve been brash and even silly at times. You, as an audience member, should’ve questioned his seriousness, although it should be evident that he is immensely powerful (something they did well). If he was slightly more free-spirited and wise-cracking it would’ve given legitimacy to the council rejecting his rank as Master. Instead, he just comes off looking like a spoiled kid instead of a victim.

    Lucas should’ve focused all his energy in making me like Anakin Skywalker from the word go. After watching MacGruber and seeing how Ryan Philippe handles comedy I think I would’ve chosen him for the role of Anakin, or even Leonardo DiCaprio because of his roles in Departed, Shutter Island and Titanic (playing likeable and affable character there). Lucas too microfocused on explaining why Anakin could be seduced by the dark side, which didn’t need the massive explanation we got. Even back in SW:AotC they were forshadowing his dark side by showing how ornery he was. Unnecessary. It’s counter-intuitive, but if you focus on making him likeable and ignore “setting up” the Vader persona people will find their own character traits they feel forshadow Vader, rather than Lucas spelling it out for them.

    1. Wonderful and thoughtful comment and YES!!!! Annakin was the achilles heel of the prequels. He was a whining jerk we couldn’t stand and that diminished everything else and I totally agree that there were some superior characters that were virtually ignored. THANKS for such a well-thought comment!

  80. Kristen, as a writer, you nailed the problem of the Star Wars Prequels in a nutshell: whomever was ultimately responsible for the writing of the Prequel trilogy is guilty of bad writing. So many basics of good storytelling narrative were ignored in the writing of these films.

    George Lucas should have hired you to write the Prequels before he ever started filming, Kristen!

    • Pablo on September 8, 2011 at 2:51 pm
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    Mike nailed it. We should have LOVED Anakin. We should have seen his exploits with Obi-Wan as they adventured through the galaxy as friends. There should have been no question as to why Padme fell in love with him, because he’s a great guy. He’s a superior fighter pilot, a talented Jedi, a good friend, charming, dashing, powerful, but a touch too impatient, a bit too unwilling to play by other peoples rules.

    Remember that part at the end of IV, when they’re about to launch the attack on the Death Star and Luke is pleading with Han Solo to not take the money and run – but he goes anyway – and we’re heartbroken because now Luke’s going up against the Death Star without his supposed good buddy Han by his side? We should feel a heartache a hundred times greater than that when Anakin forsakes all and turns to the Dark Side.

    That dissapointment would then carry through and resound in IV, when you still can’t believe that Anakin would do what he’s doing. It would make the end of VI so much better when he gets his redemption and the Anakin that you love is back, but for a moment.

    I also don’t think R2 and 3PO should have been major characters in the prequels…you can still have them in the background – just so you can maintain the idea that they’re the only characters in all 6 movies – but they should have been barely known by the main protagonists. Having R2 as a standard bot on the Queens ship – great, perfect minor role, but leave him in the background and barely acknowledged. 3-PO should have been a translator droid in the senate. It’s what he was designed and built for – just like the many other protocol droids strewn about. He damn sure should have never been built by Anakin for fuck’s sake – there is zero history of that connection at all. In fact, I wouldn’t even have 3PO and R2 even meet in the original trilogy – or if you have to, have it not be a pleasant experience.

    okay, my two cents

    • Jack Smith on September 25, 2011 at 4:09 pm
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    Okay everyone knows the prequels were full of flaws. But being a true star wars fan I do actually still enjoy watching them. I was very young when I saw 4-6, and I was still young when 1-3 came out. Maybe because of my age I didn’t really see the flaws in the movies, which is why I am able to watch them. I also read a lot of books, comics, play a lot games, and spend many hours on the star wars wiki so I know a lot about the star wars universe, which makes them not complicated at all for me. I think the idea of the story is great, they just didn’t get the right words down. Partly, I think thats why they did the clone wars TV series. To explain things and to kind of correct some mistakes. Either way there are cool things about each movie. I think everyone enjoyed Darth Maul and Qui-Gon. I agree with you on that they should’ve lived on. They wanted Qui-Gon to die because Anikan really cared about him, but I think for that the really worked they would’ve put him in the second movie, and then have him move on to Obi-wan which would explain all the complaining. I also think what they did with that Jango-Boba-Clone was clever. It go a character from the original series that everyone thought was a bad-ass and related him to a bigger part. And finally, I enjoy the end part of Revenge of the Sith. I know it has the cheesiest lines that just make me sigh, but I like dark stories and all the bad things that happen to Anikan build up. I think him killing kids was nessescary because it shows how dark he has really gone. I know there a hundreds of flaws, but if your a true star wars fan you will just look at the bright side.

    • Samuel on September 26, 2011 at 5:50 am
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    Since we’re writers, it ought to be clear to us what the real problem with the prequels is: George Lucas is no writer. He is, bar none, the most important individual to work in American cinema since D.W. Griffith, and probably the most important figure in world cinema since Edison and the Lumiere brothers. He however cannot write dialogue fit for human beings and is an indifferent director of actors. The only moments that soar in the prequels is when a speeder or a spaceship is arcing across the screen. Once a human actor has to speak, it all goes downhill, however.
    The first Star Wars had the same problem as the prequels. Lucas got away with it because when it appeared the film was radically innovative. Nobody had seen anything like it up to then. Empire worked because, with the first film a success, he was able to get better writers and a better director than he was to sign up for it. That prompts the question: in 1994-1997, Lucas could have easily gotten any of the top eighty or so screenwriters and any of the top eighty directors in Hollywood to agree to work on the prequels for free. They would have known what being associated with Star Wars would mean in terms of name recognition for their careers. Lucas should have acknowledged his insufficient writing and directing skills and passed those jobs on to some other people. There would have been people fighting for the opportunity.
    I don’t know how writers can say that the problem with the prequels was too many characters. Actually, the problem is that there are too few of them. We have been hearing about the fall of the Jedi and the Galactic Republic since 1977 and when the time finally came around for the story to be told we have only about four senators who speak more than four lines a piece in the entire second trilogy. The Jedi get even fewer lines. How do you dramatize the fall of a republic when we don’t see or hear enough of the senators at the height of their power? We should have been shown some corrupt, venal, Roman senator types. The senate alone should have given us at least two unforgettable characters. How do you show us the Jedi at their full power and only Yoda, Mace Windu, Obi Wan, Anakin and a few ugly aliens get speaking lines? We should have had a Jedi Han Solo who goes down fighting in Episode III. Lucas lacked the literary skills to dramatize all that, and he should have been humble, acknowledged it, and stepped aside. He’ll always be known as the creator of Star Wars, regardless of who directs or writes it, and so he didn’t have to write and direct the prequels to put his stamp on them.
    Most of the film is a plug for action figures and for ILM. Jar Jar Binks was most likely conceived to show industry types that ILM could create a total CG character. The pod race in Episode I was put there to advertise ILM’s skills in animating flying vehicles. The entire story was warped and bludgeoned to make way for it. The trilogy was probably targeted at the core toy-buying audience. That’s probably why we see a 9-year-old Anakin in Ep I. Lucas wanted someone toy buyers could identify with. They should have been trying to make three films even better than Empire. People would have signed on to do that pro bono. We get a wrecked Star Wars and meanwhile Peter Jackson’s overrated LOTR films are getting fourteen Oscar nominations. Go look at those ridiculous Orcs or Uruk-hai again. Episode I was the most eagerly awaited film since Gone with the Wind, and Lucas blew it, and then he blew it two times more.
    Lucas also seems to have a poor command of the deep human motivations that power human actions. Someone who understood all that stuff could have had Anakin turning to the Sith without the fear of Padme dying. People turn evil for all kinds of reasons. Simple arrogance is enough. Lucas couldn’t engineer it. His understanding of evil is also simplistic. A director with a good understanding of human beings also is a better director, and he wouldn’t have people behaving like robots. As a rule, the pod races and space battles are vertiginous, and then human beings appear and Sesame Street is better. As for lines that are unforgivable, I’m not sure Lucas even revises his scripts. He types them and sends them to production. He owns Star Wars (Lucasfilm is a private company) so no one can overrule him. How else do you explain the following (inexact) quotes:
    “Anakin, I want to go fix up the baby’s room.”
    “Hold me like you held me on Naboo, when there was nothing but our love.”
    “We used to go there and listen to the birds singing and try to name them.”
    “Sand is not like you. Sand is rough. You are soft.”
    “The day we stop believing in democracy is the day we lose it.”
    “He can run and hide as he always does. He is a coward.”
    “The thought of losing you is unbearable.”
    “Obi, meesa so glad to be seeing you again.”
    “You mean I get to go with you in your spaceship? Yippee.”
    A conscientious writer would have fixed those in a revision. Lucas’s genius lies in other areas, however. The special effects for the first Star Wars, founding ILM, nonlinear editing, the summer blockbuster, starting the company that became Pixar, the digital effects revolution and the merchandising that shapes how Hollywood does business today were all pioneered by Lucas and assure his immortality. It doesn’t matter that he isn’t a genius screenwriter or director, so he should have delegated all that.

    • Sameul on September 26, 2011 at 6:18 am
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    One more thing. Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman were probably too young for the roles. We needed to see adults, not teenagers. Lucas was too busy thinking about how best to plug future action figures and toys and how to show off ILM’s technology to worry about all that.

      • Amanda on May 22, 2012 at 9:21 am
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      You are so off, it’s not even funny.

    • Samuel on September 26, 2011 at 6:38 am
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    From the article on Episode I in Time Magazine when it came out, and from other articles, Lucas was said to have had tears in his eyes when he saw a screen test of ILM’s animations of the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park. The entire disastrous prequel project started with that. Lucas was too enamored of CGI.
    As for the dialogue, good direction can obviate bad dialogue. 2001 A Space Odyssey is considered one of the greatest films. It has no dialogue whatever in its first 30 minutes and no dialogue in its last 30 minutes. What dialogue there is was deliberately kept wooden and simplistic. It’s press conferences and talk about antennae. The most famous line from the film “Open the pod bay doors, HAL,” is a flat command spoken to a computer. As for the prequels, good direction could have trumped lines like “Anakin, I want to have the baby on Naboo. I want to go and fix up the baby’s room.” BTW what are we doing with talk about a baby’s room in a SF-action picture? This isn’t The Hand that Rocks the Cradle.

      • solojon on September 29, 2011 at 6:31 am
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      Lucas is famously quoted for uttering the phrase, “A special effect without a story is a pretty boring thing.” It’s just sad that he was won over by overt CGI… I suppose FX will always age greatly as compared to the rest of the film, which is why I think in most cases (until it gets really good– we’re getting closer), it should be used sparingly, and not be so noticeable, like in Fincher’s Fight Club.

    • solojon on September 29, 2011 at 6:21 am
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    Wow, there are a lot of comments on this post, and three months after the fact. I suspect the release of the Blu-rays is fueling some of this ongoing discussion, but I just had to put my comments in.
    Kristen, I would love to hear what your “version” of the prequels would be. Some of the other commenters, Emmett and Ted have made a start, but I don’t think they diverge enough from the existing material, to be quite honest. I’ll try to explain in this “far too long” comment below…

    I confess that I have a secret hope that after Lucas passes on, someone will take up the mantle and do a re-envisioning of the prequels. I think it’s been a hell of a missed opportunity; Lucas could have told a terrific backstory. The wasted potential makes me genuinely sad.

    Lately (and because my opinion of the sequels have tarnished my view of the originals somewhat) I have started to think that it was almost a fluke that the original trilogy turned out so well, and after hearing all of the further “changes” to the original trilogy, I’m beginning to wonder if Mr. Lucas has not simply lost his muse, but that now he actually hates them (although after making millions upon millions from the merchandising, there’s simply no way he could just hate them, it must be a love-hate relationship of some kind).

    Watching some of the documentaries (From Star Wars to [insert film here], the BBC Omnibus and the excellent Fan “Filmumentaries” by Jambe Davdar) has given me some ideas and got me wondering what it might have taken for George to really recapture the magic of the originals.

    Personally, I think he should have taken a more grass roots approach (perhaps he did, but it’s not evidenced by how the prequels ultimately turned out), and try to go back to what made the original trilogy work. He could have even tried to create a new storyline in the universe, and then tie it subtly or overtly back to the originals. I think a writer shouldn’t be afraid to throw in some twists and turns now and then (e.g. the man we think is definitely going to be Vader turns out to be someone else), I mean, this is pulp Space Opera we’re talking about here.

    And taking that further, even just another storyline in that universe would have been acceptable for most fans that grew up with Star Wars.He could have even done a side story, not linked to Luke and Vader’s story (blasphemy, I know), and perhaps given Lucas a chance to be free of the perceived shackles and expectation about a mythology that has grown much larger than the person who originally conceived it.

    And that’s another unfortunate and challenging question– I see it all the time in the expanded fiction and the role-playing games. People are uncertain about what makes something truly “Star Wars”. Okay, so apparently Tattooine has to figure in there: a backwater, nothing planet that is supposed to be a completely obscure and remote desert planet on the edge of the rim…. which has now become the center of some of the galaxy’s most momentus events. What’s next? Lightsabers? Check. Jedi? Check. Aliens and starships? Check– on and on. But people, most likely including Lucas, were afraid to innovate too much or else it wouldn’t feel like the same universe. I’m not talking about changing Star Wars into something else, but recapturing the spirit and the heart of Star Wars, something that I think poor George failed to achieve. Idon’t think simply the inclusion of Tattooine, lightsabers, space ships and special effects is really what makes those films what they are.

    In terms of casting, why didn’t he try to create an ensemble cast that had great chemistry together? I agree with Kelli, they could have been relative unknowns, mostly just good actors that understood their characters and most important of all worked well together (and by that I mean had some kind of dynamism together). In interviews, Lucas has said he picked several Leias, Lukes and Hans, and mixed them all together in different configurations, to see who had the right chemistry. It’s clear he did nothing of the sort with the prequels.

    One quick aside: as far as dialogue goes, I think it’s more the film director’s job to wrangle actors and I don’t think a screenwriter servicing them by making dialogue easy to say necessarily serves the story or the characters.Sometimes characters spit weird dialogue that’s not easy to say, and in the case of Star Wars, I warrant that it gave the films an otherworldly quality, perhaps even reminiscent of an older, more classical time. And how many actors learn to speak in a different accent to serve the story or characters? That’s not as easy as you might think. Lucas certainly made the dialogue memorable; Ms. Fisher and Mr. Hamill seem to still be able to quote it.

    As far as characterization, I think Lucas should have gone back to the drawing board that he used for the original trilogy. If he was really bereft of inspiration, he could have adapted some of the (better) characters and ideas he had come up with initially, before they became the Star Wars we all know and love. A charismatic, aging failed Jedi who was also a pilot (as most of you probably know, Ben and Han were originally one person) could have given someone like Qui-Gon the extra nuance he needed to make him a truly compelling and charming figure.

    For my part, I think the prequels could have had some kind of love triangle at their crux. Anakin loves the woman who went on to become Luke’s mother (I never liked the name Padme for some reason), and the future Luke’s mother in turn carried a secret torch for Obi Wan. Obi Wan may not have reciprocated the feelings, but Anakin might still have resented Obi Wan anyway. Actually, this wouldn’t even have had to have been a pivotal force, but just another layer of intrigue between the characters.

    It’s a shame that there’s no possible way for Lucas to have recognized that a limited budget, which forced some restraint, could actually have improved the sequels. Like the old adage (and I’m paraphrasing here): “sometimes what you leave out is as important as what you put in.” And I think having the luxury to not go through a lot of the pain and suffering is a no brainer for a producer like George Lucas, but unfortunately not having some of those pains hurt the prequels.

    The truth is, whatever you may feel about his skills as a writer, he took a whole bunch of different ideas (Frank Herbert’s Dune, Flash Gordon, Hidden Fortress), mashed them together and made something truly great. Although I truly despise them, he had a few good ideas in the prequels, it’s just a shame he wasn’t able to repeat that formula and make it work.

    I’ve rambled on enough– excellent discussion, and I would still love to hear what other people’s “re-envisioning” of the prequels would be.

  81. Great post, Kristen! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. As with seemingly the vast majority of SW fans, I too have issues with the prequels, many of which are in line with your own.

    I was born in 1981, so although I missed out on seeing the original movies in the theater, I was still nevertheless exposed to them from a young age. And while I appreciated finally getting to see them in the theater with the release of the “special editions”, I was disappointed with most of the changes and additions (although I was relieved that my favorite film, “The Empire Strikes Back”, was the least fiddled with and that, in fact, most of the changes actually subtly enhance the film rather than detract from it – like the views out Cloud City’s windows).

    Anyway, I was pretty disgusted with “The Phantom Menace” when it came out. I remember thinking at the time that I didn’t want to know Vader’s backstory, that it was much better just left to our imaginations. Sadly, GL proved me right. Yes, he *could* have made it worth telling, but he didn’t …

    I tried for years to block “The Phantom Menace” from my mind, and I refused to go see the next two when they came out, although I did end up watching them years later when they were on TV. In many ways, I actually think “Attack of the Clones” is *worse* than “The Phantom Menace”. It’s so dull and plodding and boring. Even the action scenes lack any sense of tension. And don’t get me started on the creepy little Mama’s boy stalker that is Anakin. Ugh!

    I’m curious: have you read any of the prequel novelizations? I read them to see if they could add any insight to the rather convoluted plot and the like. Brooks’ version of “The Phantom Menace” is readable. Doesn’t really add anything worthwhile to the story, nor does it really expand on or explain Palpatine’s plot any better than the movie does (to address one of your complaints, though, I think the idea is that Palpatine is meant to be so superhumanly clever and intelligent that he would’ve found a way to get what he wanted even if Amidala hadn’t brought about the downfall of the previous chancellor and so on).

    Salvatore’s version of “Attack of the Clones”, on the other hand, is pure rubbish. Not only is it a literal retelling of the movie, he even deigns to throw in all of the deleted scenes, including one that is a redundant alternate version of a scene that actually made it into the final cut of the film. Uh, hello?! Anyway … Yeah, no insights there.

    Stover, however, did an absolutely brilliant job livening up “Revenge of the Sith”. He took many more liberties with the plot than the other two did, and as a result it makes a helluva lot more sense than Lucas’s version does, particularly when it comes to Anakin’s fall. I particularly love how he switches to first person so that you, the reader, *are* Anakin as he succumbs to the dark side. I would recommend giving this novelization a try if you haven’t already.

  82. I hated the prequels too. A whiny eight-year-old meets a badass queen and we’re supposed to believe they’re going to fall in love and get married? “Are you an angel?” Nice try with the lines you stupid brat but you’re not getting any.

    Love your version where Darth Maul kills the kids. His double light saber definitely needed to see more action.

  83. Spot on!

    • Edruezzi on December 29, 2011 at 4:18 pm
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    It wasn’t too much plot, or too many characters, or killing Darth Maul early or killing the younglings or Jake Lloyd being too young or mitochlorians or too much of a focus on special effects. The problem is that Lucas can’t write. He is also not a director of actors. To see how far back he had these problems put Star Wars (I hate the silly title A New Hope) on your DVD machine and then put Empire Strikes Back on right after it. Empire has far more sophisticated writing, far better dialogue, human beings with the kind of motivations real human beings have, a sophisticated meditation on the nature of evil and so on. Empire even has more nuanced camera work and lighting. There is nothing like the scene in Empire in Yoda’s hut where Yoda berates Luke for his focus on heroics and the future while Ben speaks from the ether in Star Wars. Another excellent scene is the one where Han is lowered into the carbonite chamber. Watch Carrie Fisher in that scene. For that matter, watch Billy Dee Williams in that scene. Empire pulled off the feat of taking Darth Vader, a cliché villain in the first film, and making him the most interesting character.
    And we all know why Empire worked. Lucas didn’t write the screenplay and he was not the director. At that time he was too busy getting ILM and Lucasfilm off the ground so other people worked on Empire. I wonder why Lucas didn’t subcontract the three prequels to other writers and directors. The films would have been classics for all time if he had.

    • Robbie on January 1, 2012 at 4:03 am
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    You are terrible at analysing this clearly.
    Just quickly:
    1) A lot of the Star Wars saga is reliant on the force. How does Sidious know that Anakin had a connection to death through Shmi and that playing the Darth Plagueis card would work towards swaying him? He was the Sith Lord, give him credit for being in control. It is a masterful story from 4-6 and 1-3. Palpatine aimed all along for the Sith to control the (to be) Galactic Empire. Count Dooku, under the counsel and control of Sidious, posed as Master Sifo-Dyas and commissioned the clone army. Palpatine wanted war at this stage, a war that would lead to him acquiring emergency power and in turn the position of Emperor. Jango Fett was hired by Tyranus (Dooku) to be the clone dna-dude and so thats why he fled to Geonosis because Dooku hired him. You seriously didn’t know that?
    Count Dooku, being in league with Sidious, supported the droid army of the Trade Fed and separatists because it would lead to the downfall of the Republic.
    2) I cant believe to are labelling Anakin as a whiner. He was around 20 or so in II and III and the idea of him being a tormented soul came out quite perfectly in his portrayal. Hayden Christensen himself said: “where we left him in episode 2, he was consumed by conflicting emotions” (on Anakin). The compilation of Padme, Palpatine playing him against the Jedi and Shmi’s death – Anakin is one who seeks power but is truly a good person, the chosen one, he is just doomed from the start. The person Anikan is spells out that he will make those decisions (like helping slay Windu) that lead to his fall.
    “There will be more depth though to that evil, because it’s not a conscious choice he made.” (Hayden)
    “Darth Vader became such an icon in the first film, episode 4, that that icon of evil sort of took over everything, much more than I intended. If it had been one movie that wouldn’t have happened, he would have been revealed to be this pathetic character at the end of the movie. But now by adding episodes one two and three people begin to see the tragedy of Darth Vader as what it was originally intended to be. I like the idea that the person you thought was the villain is really the victim and that the story is really about the villain trying to regain his humanity, it becomes really the story of Darth Vader’s redemption.” (George Lucas)
    “This transition to the Dark Side was where I was wanting to go from the very get-go, and I wasn’t really sure at the time why I was being asked to pull back. But now I understand its because it has to take place at very specific points in this film.”
    This is Anakin’s dichotomy.
    3) I agree that Maul was killed off too early. Coz he was awesome. But, that’s just the story and quite frankly I love Liam Nee – I mean Qui-Gon so I was glad to watch him die.
    You are stupid in saying someone else should have killed the younglings. In doing so Anakin completes his transformation almost to the Dark Side, it is a purely evil act that leaves him morally wrecked.
    And Padme freakin’ dies because Anakin has fallen to the darkness. Technically she dies in child birth and is so much in pain because of Ani that she can’t live. It completes the sadness of Vader’s tragic story, that all his failure was in vain.
    4) In a story where the setting is a whole freaking galaxy it would be strange not to have a large spectrum of characters.
    5) If you’re married, what do you see in your husband? Padme loved Anakin for her own reasons. For one he had undying love which was proved not infatuation after his ten year split of wanting her. Prophecy plays a large role in star wars too. They were the doomed lovers, but she loved him because he had undying love for her. He whines about Obi-Wan yes, but you fall on this all the time! The scenes in no.2 of Padme and Anakin on Naboo show their love growing. And on Geonosis Padme is hit with the death-ultimatum that leads to the realisation that she loves this younger Jedi.
    6) Im not even going to bother criticising this criticism because you basically fall back onto 1. Just repetition.
    Well, thats my vent because Im strong-skulled and I like to defend what I love, I hope people read this. Thanks for the stimulus!

    1. Thanks you for the awesome, passionate comment!!! It is great to hear from a fan. I really tried to like them, but I have a really short attention span, LOL. I never mind someone who disagrees if he does it passionately and respectfully like this :D.

        • Robbie on January 1, 2012 at 5:34 pm
        • Reply

        Glad I didnt come across as thick-skulled and rude! Cheers

      • Ond?ej Moravec on January 19, 2012 at 10:21 am
      • Reply

      I love you! 😀 That’s exactly what I feel about the prequels, they’re just great

      • Amanda on May 22, 2012 at 9:44 am
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      Thank you. You are much smarter than the blogger. May I just add that Padme fell in love with Anakin because he is handsome, sexy, a hero, manly, funny, charming, nice… Did I mention hot? LOL How could she have not fallen for him? Love the prequels and Anakin and Padme. They’re my fave. Can’t stand anyone who hates them.

    • Ond?ej Moravec on January 19, 2012 at 10:13 am
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    WTF is this…omg, prequels are so much better than the original trilogy…the best of all episode III, Anakin slaying younglings the most thrilling and shocking part… I don’t understand why people prefer the original movies

    • hoopermazing on January 27, 2012 at 11:49 pm
    • Reply

    What went wrong?
    George Lucas was involved, that’s what.

    The only truly great installment of the Star Wars franchise is the one that he neither wrote nor directed. I give George Lucas credit for managing to cobble together a fascinating alternate universe from bits and pieces stolen from a dozen movies and/or books (e.g. Dune, The Hidden Fortress, Metropolis etc…) But as a writer and director, he is a hack.

    • im16andIliveinEngland on February 28, 2012 at 11:35 am
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    Alot of the points made here, through out the post and in replies have been great, i respect you opinions, however i feel that a lot of people are wrongfully having ago at george lucas. If any of you were true fan boys you would understand that star wars is a story far bigger than either you nor i can comprehend let alone put into six films. Granted the prequels were rushed out in a race to make money, and a lot of the story was left out, but you don’t get the full story from iv, v or vi either. Star wars has become bigger than george lucas could have imagined. If you have questions then research them like i did. For example Anakin’s father was nowhere to be seen in any of the films….this is because he HAS NO FATHER. In my research i found that Darth Sidious and Darth Plagueis tried to encourage the midichlorians to produce life, only to fail. In response to this, the midichlorians- like the angel whispering in the ear of the virgin marry- gave rise to a child that would destroy the sith. The are other hate crimes against george that can simply be reprimanded with a little bit of research. Honestly, star wars is bigger than you would think, and if you just read up about things then you will understand more.
    Admittedly though, lucas and co. fu**ed up when i comes to darth Plagueis. I found that he was still alive living in naboo during the first and second films…WTF, atleast mention him, dont wait till the third one to mention him RIGHT AFTER PALPATINE HAS APPARENTLY KILLED HIM (yes, found that out in my research also XD).
    Sorry if what i’ve said has already been brought up, there is just so much that i cba to read it all
    First ever post on here

    • solojon on March 8, 2012 at 7:37 am
    • Reply

    This is an old but popular thread– Topher Grace (of That 70s Show) recut the prequels into one 85 minute film, no doubt you’ve all heard about it?


    He was hamstrung by the source material, but even so as a “project” it sounds like he was able to tighten the story up just by having a sense of focus and minding the right story elements. What do you all think of this kind of revisionist editing. I would love to see the cut, but sadly, I probably never will. I never got around to finding the Phantom Edit, I must check that out…

    1. Yes, want to start controversy? Mention the Star Wars prequels, LOL.

        • solojon on March 8, 2012 at 8:25 am
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        Ha ha, true. I guess it’s still quite a compliment (backhanded though it can be at times) that people feel so passionately about a conceived universe.

    • jeff on March 28, 2012 at 8:13 pm
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    Just wanted to say: for one, Padme dies because Anakin, who she loved to death, had killed the jedi, the younglings, and basically this is unimaginally bad, he broke her heart and he joins the dark side, becoming the one who asserts power to…………its terrible. i like episopde 1-3 but epidoe was way too sad, and i hate how darth vader sucks in episode 4-6, he was made ny the freakin force and so he cant just be this robot who cant be an agile fighter anymore!1

    • Samuel on March 29, 2012 at 1:17 pm
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    They’ve remade some films of recent, like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Total Recall will be getting a remake this summer. I hope someone remakes Star War Episode I to III.

      • Jenny on May 22, 2012 at 8:13 am
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      You’re an idiot. Star Wars Episodes 1-3 are perfect just the way they are. They should remake Episodes 4-6 which are horrible. You original Star Wars fans are all old geeks with crappy taste.

      1. You are allowed to disagree, but when you are mature you learn to do it respectfully. Just because I don’t agree with you does not permit me the right to call you names. We are all allowed to have opinions, even you. While I will never call you a name, I do feel that you might be better served in life if you learned manners.

    • Meadyaon on April 3, 2012 at 6:47 pm
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    I hate the prequel trilogy so much I do not consider the prequel trilogy canon. I will not have anything do with anything that has to with the prequel trilogy. The only way i will acknowledge the prequel trilogy is if it is rebooted which will only happen after Lucas dies.

    I think a big problem with the prequel trilogy was nobody challenged Lucas thing he wanted to put in the prequel trilogy. I would have challenged Lucas and told him why some that he want to put in the trilogy is stupid.

    Here is a young Lucas told about about spending time on the setting. I guess he forget about what he said when he was younger. http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/de8233c26f/george-lucas-on-special-effects

    I agree with you about how Padame dying a of broken heart even though she had children sucked. The prequel trilogy made what Luke asked about Leia’s real mother in ROTJ a lie.

    The statement at the in of this paragraph should the only way the force works.. The midichlorians were only used in my mind to show how powerful Anakin was is all. “Well the Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.”

    I would have love to have seen Lucas done like he did in ESB and not directed the prequel trilogy. I read that Lucas if I am right even admit he is a terrible director. He also need to have had constructive criticism of what he was doing with the prequel trilogy. In the original Star Wars, his only directions were “faster” or “more intense. ” Fisher later recalled, was: “Terrific, let’s do it again,” and, “Faster and more intense

    Darth Maul could have used better then he was in the prequel trilogy. Lucas could have made him be Sideous’s apprentice through the prequel trilogy and made him a very good bad guy.

    I would have like it Ankain was an adult in TPM and shown as good starpilot and cunning warrior before Obi-wan meet him in TPM. I never was never want to see Anakin as a child since what Obi-Wan Said about him eposide IVgoign into seeing T Anakin being an aduklt would make Anakin fall in love in love with Padame less creepy in my mind.

    I wish we could have seen Darth Vader in the prequel trilogy hunt down kill Jedi instead showing the Clonetroopers killing the Jedi. I do not care if the version of Darth Vader that was hunting down and killing the Jedi was Vader before getting the suit or after getting the suit. I was really interested in seeing Darth Vader slay Jedi not younglings. if Darth Maul had survived to ROTS you could have had Darth Maul killing the younglings instead.

    I another thing you could look at about what is wrong with the prequel trilogy is the Red Letter Media take on the prequel trilogy.

    I did not like how Anakin feel to the dark side to save his wife. I also felt Anakin’s fall to the dark side was to quick.

    We never got see Obi-wan serve Bail Organa during the Clone Wars. That makes what Leia said about Obi-wan serving her father during the Clones Wars on the recording a lie.

    • Jenny on May 22, 2012 at 8:36 am
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    What went wrong with Kristen Lamb? She was born with crappy taste. The Star Wars prequels are the best movies ever. The original trilogy sucks: it’s unbelievably boring and old. To all the haters of the Star Wars prequels, GTH!

      • Meadyaon on December 22, 2012 at 8:41 pm
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      Why do you think the PT was so great? Watch Red Letter Media’s review of the Pt and it might change might to the fact that the OT was better then the PT. In Red Letter Media’s reveiw of the TPM it says that tTPM did not even need to be made. If the PT was so great then why are a lot of websites that talk about remaking the PT if it was so great?

    • JC on June 7, 2012 at 8:02 pm
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    Nice article. Haven’t read all the comments, but as a Brit, I have to say Ewan Mcgregor’s accent was as iritating as Anakin and Binks. Liam Neeson would have made a MUCH better Obi won!

    • star silver on June 12, 2012 at 2:28 am
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    If you read Lucas’ own comments and the comments by those who worked on the prequels, you will find that a lot of your supposition is correct.

    The basic plotline of each of the prequels can be summed up in one sentence:
    “Buy this movie’s merchandise, kids!”

    • Meadyaon on July 22, 2012 at 3:27 am
    • Reply

    Watch the Red Letter Media reviews of the prequel trilogy to see what is really wrong with the prequel trilogy.

    • Steph on July 24, 2012 at 4:30 am
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    Always was more of a BSG ’75 (and ’80) girl, but I recently sat down and forced myself to watch the entire series. 1-3 is exactly the reason why I hated Avatar – thinly disguised epic love stories that I don’t care for. 4-6 was far more action packed (or at least, of the kind you would remember – favorably scar free from the epic love story that was Anakin and Padme).

    In one way, 1-3 felt far too modern and 4-6 just right for some reason. I would have respected the trilogy a whole lot more if he’d just kept to the dark and gritty theme of the other movies. :/

    • Tommo on August 11, 2012 at 6:03 pm
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    Just saying, but Jango Fett deliberately allowed himself to be used for the Jedi army of clones as he knew what they were (eventually) planned to be used for, which was order 66. All he wanted was the Jedi dead

  84. The original trilogy had a strong “everyman” character (Han Solo) as a foil/balance for the Jedi and the royalty. An everyman the audience could (and DID) relate to.

  85. Kristen, I liked you before, but now I love you -=)

    1. 😀 *hugs*

    • Anthony Smith on August 29, 2012 at 7:28 am
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    Do yourself a favor, need to watch these hilarious reviews of the Star Wars prequels

    Phantom Menace Review


    Attack of the Clones review


    Revenge of the Sith


  86. I read this blog post out loud to my husband, because he’s been saying this since “Episode 1” was released. “They went for effects and gave up story.” I love your take, and completely agree with you about QuiGon and Darth Maul. This blog post was awesome 🙂

  87. When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four emails
    with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service?


    1. Alexandra, I am so honored that you would want to keep up with the conversation. I don’t know why it does that and I believe that you can go to your original comment and uncheck the option. Usually someone pops in to help when we have this problem and I will do some digging. No idea why WP does this.

    • Meadyaon on December 22, 2012 at 8:45 pm
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    What do you think of Star War now that Disney owns its?

    • Samuel on December 27, 2012 at 1:45 pm
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    Well, the good news is that Disney is making three new Star Wars movies, and George Lucas isn’t writing or directing them

  88. I disagree with your article wholeheartedly. NOTHING went wrong with the Prequel Trilogy, as far as I’m concerned. I loved it and I still do. It’s darker and more complex than the Original Trilogy, but just as entertaining. Is it flawed? Yes, it is. But so is the Original Trilogy. Yet, both are first rate.

    I realize I cannot stop people from bashing the Prequel Trilogy. But I’ll be damned if I agree like some mindless basher that it was terrible. Screw that.

    1. Well, that is certainly your opinion and thanks so much for sharing. I did try watching the prequels a number of times and I feel that I am a hopeless editor. Occupational hazard. But thank you so much for taking the time to comment :D.

    • Samuel on February 15, 2013 at 10:52 am
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    It doesn’t matter what they did with Darth Maul. Given Lucas’s substandard writing, if they’d left Maul in the trilogy he would have been a pain in the neck by the second movie. Lucas should have stepped aside from both writing and directing those films.

    1. Can’t argue there, LOL.

    • Samuel on April 18, 2013 at 2:04 pm
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    George Lucas can’t write human-sounding dialogue and doesn’t care about actor’s facial expressions. Then the movies are dumb and cluttered with plot. They were made to market ILM and to plug toys to kids.

    1. I agree. It was to sell Happy Meals. Shame, because there is a lot of great stuff for fabulous storytelling.

    • Samuel on April 19, 2013 at 9:51 pm
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    Let’s face it. George Lucas is probably the most important person to work in American and maybe world cinema since D W Griffith or maybe even Edison and the Lumiere brothers. Hollywood today looks and works the way it does because of him. But he can’t write and he can’t direct, so he should have farmed all that out to other people when he was making the prequels.

    • Jack on June 30, 2013 at 1:45 pm
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    Has anyone mentioned bad casting!? Especially for anakin – very bad choice. I’m sure there are others but as hes the main character that is a big issue! Maybe too much CGI!? Didn’t make it FEEL real where as with the 4,5,6 even though you know it was fake and it’s just a film it felt like it existed which is a very powerful feeling from a film. I agree with everything that you said regarding the story and the writing and too many characters and etc. lets hope 7,8,9 will be better!!

  89. What is is wrong with this article?

    One, I disagree with it. Two, the title is misleading. It seems to hint that every SW fan agrees with the author, when in reality there are a good number of PT fans within the franhcise.

    • Ellen on July 27, 2013 at 10:33 am
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    Now, don’t let me tell you my opinion on a person who makes three fantastic movies in 1977, 1980, and 1983 without even understanding what made them so great, then after a while decides he wants to make another, pulls together some preposterous plots, wooden acting, and eye-tiring computer graphics, makes everyone disappointed and frustrated but doesn’t understand why, so makes another movie pulling together yet some preposterous plots, wooden acting, and even more eye-tiring computer graphics, gets another flop and still doesn’t understand why, and so on and so on, and is now still saying “Um, I don’t see why my fans don’t like the prequels. Gee, perhaps there wasn’t enough computer graphics? Oh, you know what? F*** ’em all!”
    One thing though is certain: this person cannot possibly be the same one who made the original Trilogy. It just isn’t possible. The mind who conceived Han Solo’s rude charm, the infinite poetry of the first light-saber duels, the seraphic wisdom of Obiwan, the effective humour of the droids, just cannot be the same one who made Jar-Jar, the plots about taxation, and all those characters so flat and blank that I can’t even find adjectives to identify each one by one. It is simply impossible, unless perhaps Lucas had some really serious brain surgery in between the two trilogies.
    Which tells us that, with no doubts whatsoever, the credit for the awesomeness of the first movies must go to the people who helped Lucas in a much higher percentage that had so far been granted them. In other words, by making those dull, non-sensical prequels, George might have made lots more money, and yet he forever undermined his greatness and made it obvious he was not the God behind the original three gems. And please don’t tell me “He’s changed, he now just thinks about money”, because every moviemaker is concerned about money, or he won’t make it. No, he is obviously incapable of making anything even remotely as great as the first movies, in spite of his huge budget, all the critics’ analysis and the suggestions of his fans, and this is just plain revealing: he never had a large part in the first movies at all. The genius was obviously other’s.
    That said, as much as a gigantic, ridiculous, painful flop the prequels were, I think the main point is: no prequels or sequels were ever necessary or useful.
    Think about that: the most effective way to devalue pretty much anything, is to make more and more of the same. What do you expect from another Star Wars movie? More light-sabers? More jedi knights, more dark lords, more starship battles? The same stuff, over and over and over. Would’t that take away something from the uniqueness, the greatness of the Trilogy? The Trilogy is perfect in itself, it contains all the causes and explanations one needs, it takes us from the problem to the solution in the most complete and satisfactory way, starting with an imperial cruiser capturing the good guy’s ship and ending with the death of the emperor and the conversion of the villain, it contains all the character prototypes we will ever need: the fair princess, the wise sage, the frightful villain, the heroic knight, the skeptic adventurer, the greedy merchant, the clumsy servant, it gives us fun, mystery, adventure, love, fear, pathos… honestly guys, what the heck do we need more?
    One might say “Hey, but wouldn’t it be cool to know what made Darth Vader so evil?” I say, well, nope. Part of the fascination with the Trilogy is that it gives the audience something to wonder about, to speculate on, to dream by itself. One can make up his own stories and explanation as to what happened to Anakin, or wonder how he looked like as a young man, who the emperor was, how the clone wars played out, or why on earth Javas had ended up with a language made of just one word. That is awesome, that is the essential ingredient of fascination: mystery! We really do not need to be shown how Obiwan trained, how Leia’s mum looked like, or when and how Darth Vader was reduced to half-machine. If you take away imagination from a fantasy movie, you may just as well tell your audience the scores of the next football match before it actually begins.
    Yes, the Star Wars universe is just so rich, so visionary, so exciting, that zillions more things can be made up to match and complement it. One can have fun with fanfiction, novels, games, and what have you. But do we really need more movies?? What’s there that can be added to the Trilogy, if not a repetition of the same motives, that will necessarily make the originals less shiny, and the repetitions unexciting? “Wait, but Luca’s original plan was for 9 episodes!” -9? 12? 57? Whatever- If so, the plan was ill-thought and ill-managed from the start. How could the prequels ever be exciting, given that you already know where they will take you? What material can you use to make 6 or 9 or dozens more movies, if you already showed it all and ended the story with the first three? What is there that we haven’t already seen? Some different-shaped spacecraft? Some other light-saber dance? Some other fancy Force trick?
    Nah, it’s clear and obvious: the prequels, as the frightfully upcoming sequels, are just a commercial operation, plain and simple. No matter that they will disappoint fans and take away luster from that unique, fantastic gift that was the Trilogy, adding more and more nonsensical, repetitive clutter to that universe. It’s about money, darling. Who cares about art?

    • Moriarty's Pet on September 27, 2013 at 3:08 am
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    Anakin should definitely not have been so whiny and angsty (wangsty, I believe, is the word). Watching Darth Vader, right up until the Return of the Jedi, where Lucas woobified and neutered him, you get the sense that he was a badass, with skill, focus and the iron-willed determination to achieve his goals, no matter what. In the prequels, he was just…pathetic. His cringe-worthy one-itis for Padme didn’t help any, and I’d argue even further ruined his character.

    And his downfall should never have been connected to Padme’s death. He falls to the dark side because his girlfriend is going to die? ARE YOU F***ING S***ING ME? His downfall should have been something akin to Arthas’ downfall in Warcraft III – he wants to save innocents, but to do so he engages with the dark side of the Force, which eventually corrupts him. Much better, much more sympathetic and noble, and makes far more sense, especially given Anakin’s slave background, where you’d assume he’d bit of a “champion of the common people” (would also lend a touch of irony to his fall – he began as a fighter for the oppressed, and ended up as the ultimate servant of a cruel and totalitarian authority).

    Qui-Gon should not have existed. His character was utterly pointless, took up valuable screen time that could have been devoted to other, more important characters like Obi-Wan and Anakin, and his death served absolutely no point. Obi-Wan doesn’t even mourn him, or even mention him, he’s just sort of…”meh, don’t care” about it all. Darth Maul worked best as an evil enforcer type, and if it was up to me, he would have eventually ended up as General Grievous, so that Obi-Wan seems murders the shit out of him, then he comes back, even more deadlier than ever (I’d also use his characterization from Gendy Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars cartoon – Grievous was absolutely lethally badass in that, they pretty much reduced him to a caricature in every subsequent appearance he’s had).

    Count Dooku’s character should have been merged with Darth Sidious. Leader of the Separatists, who’s really just using them to seize power, and will ditch them at first available opportunity. Darth Maul is his apprentice, who is later reborn as General Grievous, and the clone army is built by the Separatists, instead of the republic, and there are droids fighting on both sides, so instead of clones vs. droids, we have clones and evil droids vs. Republic troops, and good droids. No Palpatine. The entire political arc was atrociously done, and Lucas was clearly in over his head. Besides, this is freaking Star Wars, we’re talking about. You don’t need to have shitty political allegories sprinkled throughout in order to make it a better film.

    Padme’s character was just annoying, with her stupid moral idealism and all that crap…also, I hated that she was a princess-type just like Leia, so the central romance of the prequels ended up as another princess-and-pauper type thing. Really, if Lucas wanted to go with forbidden romance, he could have just had Anakin’s love interest be a female Jedi Knight. Now that would have kicked up the drama a few notches more, and would have avoided the similarity to Han and Leia’s romance.

    Obi-Wan was OK, but he should have already been a Jedi Knight in the first movie, possibly looking for a Padawan, and Anakin should have already been a young man, bold, resourceful, skilled and with some rugged bad-boy charm (and really, who else better to fit as our dashing-rogue type for the prequels than the future Darth Vader?) to boot. And no virgin births. If you want to have Anakin being raise by a single mother, just insert some backstory about his father dumping his mother when she was pregnant, and leave it at that.

    Anakin is the central character of the prequels, and his friendship with and loyalty to his master is the central theme. Maybe have Obi-Wan almost look to Anakin as his son, which adds an even more tragic edge to the entire affair when the carefree youth with a strong sense of justice whom he knew because a cold, cruel tyrant. Also, the Clone Wars should have began with the very first film. Maybe insert some EU characters along the way, such as Asajj Ventress and Cad Bane along the way, if so desired.

    Dooku/Sidious is captured at the very beginning of Episode 3, Anakin is sent to kill Grievous, but in order to defeat him and save the lives of innocents is forced to succumb to the Dark Side, which is what Dooku/Sidious planned all along. Anakin frees Sidious, betrays all of the Jedi’s secrets, allowing the Separatist army to crush them, and seize control of the Republic. The End. Maybe and end credits sequence, showing the first signs of the rebellion, but not necessary.

    • stella on September 27, 2013 at 8:29 am
    • Reply

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    I have never seen a great spellcaster like the great DR muku, he is so real truthful and faithful to his words. I had a happy family and i was married for 7years of happy marriage life blessed with two kids and we were so happy,,, and unfortunately my home and marriage started to crumble, it first started with me losing my job and then my wife and i started having problems few’s weeks later she started asking for a divorce and i was so devastated because i loved her so much. I contacted spellcasters and none were able to work it for me and then i lost hope in everything and i was almost giving up when i met a friend who came back from a business trip in africa and he told me about a great spellcaster who helped him win a contract worth 1.7m dollars and he gave me his Email olokunspellcaster@gmail.com and i decided to contact him and tried him out and after narrating my situation to him he told me that everything will return to as it were before and then he casted a spell, few days later my wife returned to me and i was once again recalled back to work and was even promoted from a sales rep to a marketing director so guys once again here is his Email address olokunspellcaster@gmail.com contact him all your problems he can help you out…

    • Dan on October 10, 2013 at 12:47 am
    • Reply

    I like your take on the prequels and since I’ve been watching and reading these notes on them, I’ve come up with some of my own for II and III.

    In II
    Anakin should have been more powerful, Obi Wan and Anakin are competitive with each other.
    Anakin and Obi Wan are brothers but Obi Wan’s jealous of Anakin.
    Anakin learns indirectly from Palpatine dark side powers, uses them in his accomplishments.
    Palpatine teaches Anakin other things i.e. politics and the republic
    Anakin saves Padme repeatedly through more elaborate methods, Padme falls for him.
    Anakin uses choke and electricity (why not? he’s not an android yet).
    Anakin convinces himself power is important there is no dark and light, learns more.

    In III
    Anakin falls for Padme, still competes with Obi Wan
    Palpatine continues to teach Anakin, becomes more of a father figure
    Anakin becomes convinced the Jedi will destroy the republic
    When Anakin finds out Palpatine is sith, his belief that there is no dark or light is reinforced
    Anakin kills Mace Windu along with other powerful Jedi while clones kill the kids.
    Obi Wan learns that Anakin is evil and confronts him. Anakin explains that the only important thing is power.
    Anakin shows Obi Wan his new dark powers, brags about how he’s used them for years.
    Anakin is about to kill Obi Wan when Padme arrives, she distracts him which leads Obi Wan to slice him in half
    After the babies are born, Padme committs suicide thinking she killed Anakin.
    Anakin hates Obi Wan for putting him in the suit, blames Obi Wan for Padme’s death too.
    When Anakin is about to kill Obi Wan, he pauses because there is still goos in him.
    Obi Wan tells yoda there is still good in him but yoda tells Obi Wan there never was.

    • Mike on October 29, 2013 at 6:42 am
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    Anakin’s not whiny, or a brat – he has Borderline Personality Disorder ( or whatever the equivalent behavioral disorder in a galaxy far, far away is.) Seriously. The initial diagnosis was made by a group of French Psychiatrists a few years ago, and it could not make more sense.

    “BPD’s … essential features are a pattern of marked impulsivity and instability of (the feeling of emotion), interpersonal relationships, and self image. Other symptoms may include intense fears of abandonment and intense anger and irritability, the reason for which others have difficulty understanding.People with BPD often engage in idealization and devaluation of others, alternating between high positive regard and great disappointment.”

    ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borderline_personality_disorder )

    It puts everything about the character – and the performance by Christensen – that seems so off-putting/random/out of context into an entirely different light. Anakin’s outbursts, anger, fear of loss, seemingly sudden changes of alignment, vague sense of identity ( “I feel lost … not the Jedi I should be”, he claims in Episode III ) alternating idealization/devaluation of Obi-Wan/The Jedi Order/Padme and ‘unexpected’ turn to the Dark side suddenly exist in context. It simply all fits too well to be accidental.

  90. The real problem with the Prequel Trilogy is that it is a reflection of what this world and humanity IS REALLY LIKE. It is not an idealization of what humanity likes to think it is, which is what the OT does.

    Many STAR WARS fans are pissed off that through the PT, Lucas pretty much painted an ambiguous, almost unflattering portrayal of our society via a science-fiction/fantasy story. And most humans are too scared to face the truth about themselves.

      • Mike on November 3, 2013 at 4:20 am
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      There is a new generation of kids growing up who love the Clone Wars tv show and love the Prequel trilogy and its characters.They love Anakin, think Padme is plucky, even find Jar-Jar funny. I see this more and more as parents blog their shock and confusion that their kids actually enjoy them.
      Either they’re a generation of idiots, which is absurd – or we of the OT generation horribly misunderstood the Prequels because we weren’t the target audience.

      OT fans wanted The Dark Knight, an R-rated evolution of the themes they saw as kids. They expected Star Wars to grow up with them. They expected every movie to be like Empire, which was a fluke. We went in to these movies with brains set to scan, filtering and grading everything until it reminded us of the OT, and when they didn’t conform to our expectations we blamed the movies. So many fans, for example, say Anakin’s ‘Fall’ in Episode III was out of context, too quick, illogical. But there are 2 1/2 movies beforehand clearly illustrating the progression of the character’s internal psychology, what he thought of the Jedi, what they thought of him, that the character had a natural streak of shame, an overcompensatory streak of pride, that he had a growing, exposed nerve of terror of loss based on an unstable early life punctuated by leaving his mother, then the loss of his father figure, the cold, initial rejection and perpetual mistrust of his adopted ‘family’ ( the Jedi Order ) then his mom’s preventable death, and how Palpatine had the power to exploit and deceive people and turn them against each other to get what he wanted. It’s all there, and if the writing is hammy, the character study is actually brilliant.

      But we couldn’t see it, because cognitive dissonance. We idealize the original trilogy, despite forming impressions of those movies at a time when our brains were not fully developed, when dialogue didn’t matter – in other words, as children.

      Look at this picture – http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20130226021751/starwars/images/c/cb/LarsGarage.png

      That is a picture of a 26 year old man acting as a 19 year old. He is sitting in his garage playing ‘rocketships’. If that scene was released in a movie today, both the character and the actor would be absolutely eviscerated. And we know this because the same spirit of innocence pervaded the PT and it was eviscerated ( by adults ) as a result. But Roger Ebert loved The Phantom Menace.

      We have accepted things in the OT that are corny or make absolutely no sense whatsoever – like the fact that the protagonist develops the early stages of a sexual relationship with his *sister* only to forget about it next time round. I imagine this would be a MASSIVE point of failure in suspension of disbelief for most adults seeing the movie. Further, the PT repeatedly asks us older fans to reconsider our relationship with the OT. I associate the classic SW overture that kicks in during battles with Luke Skywalker. I just do. So when it plays when Qui Gon and Obi Wan take on the droids in Ep I, there is a clash – the brain says ‘hmmm. that’s not quite right.’

      There is a naivety and an innocence to them that was even in the Originals. The Prequels are actually ‘fun’ movies. They have serious themes, but they are thoroughly willing to take the piss out of themselves. They will do physical comedy in Jar-Jar and show a teenager making an absolute clown of himself trying to hit on an older woman. I think you honestly have to watch them as if you’ve never seen the Original Trilogy in your life, with a completely open mind. I have come to think they might be the most unfairly judged series of movies in history. I realized this after the release of The Hobbit – people, especially in large groups, will have difficulty, even suffer emotional stress, when something *seems* like the thing they love but isn’t *exactly* the same.

      If you try telling a group of kids in 1982 that Michael Jackson will eventually resemble a thin white woman with straightened black hair who lives in an amusement park under investigation of impropriety with minors you will get the same thing. It will entirely clash with their shared, groupthink concept of “objective truth” ( He’s the coolest. EVERYONE knows that ) They won’t believe it – they won’t be *able* to.

        • Mrvn on November 26, 2013 at 9:49 pm
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        you wernt the target audience.. the younger generation was which is why we liked it. The epic spacebattles. The jedi trying to keep the peace on different planets. Its hard to put my liking of the PT into words. sometimes you gotta just not look too far into the movie and just enjoy it. it was asthetically pleasing.

          • Mike on November 27, 2013 at 4:45 am
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          No dude … lol … I agree completely. They’re better than my gen tends to think they are.

    • bart on November 3, 2013 at 10:27 pm
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    People who hate the prequels do so for political reasons and because they are emotionally immature. Jar Jar and midichlorians are not enough to make or break a film. The vengeful, warlike masses are allergic to the moral of the tragedy, as well as being allergic to the truth in its anti-political cynicism.

    • derek armentrout on November 26, 2013 at 4:57 pm
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    How about having darth maul survive all 3 prequels-anakin grows in the force, taught by qui gon, eventually maul kills qui gon in front of a young anakin, which he can’t do anything about, which plants the seeds of vengeance and power, obi wan trains him, at some point maul returns and upon orders kills the younglings, which further fuels anakin’s anger and hatred, obi wan can’t slow him down, he slays maul and at some point is revealed that palpatine wants him to be his apprentice and he must make a gut wrenching choice between the power he has discovered and his loyalty to the jedi order…something a little more complex and understandable.

    • Mrvn on November 26, 2013 at 10:02 pm
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    With palpatines plan, well he probably thought the jedi were a forced to be reckoned with so he had to come up with some complex plan to get rid of them whilst being a policitican and not being openly know that he was consorting with the tradefederation/ confrederacy. He had to maintain his policical power whilst secretly maintaining a military presence in order to gain supremecy of the galaxy which cant be done by soley military suppression. So he made it look like the jedi were the bad guys to sway political power in his favor. I love how deliciously complicated and open to interpretation it is.

    Making Padme seem like she died of a broken heart makes it more dramatic rather than saying she died from the strain anakin put on her chocking her and then shortly going into labour and dying because of such. shes was also emotionally depressed having her significant other turn to the dark side and become someone that she no longer knows.

    Although Jar jar may not be an imporant character its neccesary to have him there because if the whole movie was just the stone cold jedi all the time the tone of the movie would be too serious and boring. and his character did get attention from viewers whether it be negative or positive. I have an irrational love and hatred for him.