In honor of the new Star Wars Episode VII and the trilogy it's sure to spawn, I want to go back and reflect on the most controversial entries in the series. The Prequel Trilogy. Movies 1-3 that told the story of the fall of the Jedi, Anakin's life story and the rise of Palpatine and the Empire. Whether you love them, hate them or are indifferent, you can't deny that these films had MAJOR fundamental issues as movies. Now I'm not here to bash these films or replicate the many other prequel reviews, just to talk about the most uniquely glaring issues I found in a relatively short read. Especially considering how much movie company's love reboots these days...once they're done with this new trilogy and milking all of the solo movies they can, you know they're gonna turn around and reboot these films, especially considering their reputation. And to be honest, it is for once, not a bad idea. Hopefully, they’ll leave the Original Trilogy alone, as I imagine they’ll be persecuted for that but who knows? Rumors are going around that Indiana Jones is on the drawing board. But moving on I concede that Ewan McGregor was born to play young Obi-Wan and several others don't deserve all the poor rep they have and sometimes still receive, but ultimately I think this is a very real possibility after the next 5-10 years. So without further adeu..
Top 6 Things the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy did wrong (Opinion)
1. Anakin’s motivation to succumb to the dark side (or lack thereof)
Perhaps the biggest issue for me personally, was how Anakin became Darth Vader. This is a monumental moment in Star Wars history, and arguably the main reason why people are watching this movie, besides light sabers of course. Everyone wants to know how the epic villain Darth Vader became the cyborg tyrant he is in New Hope and its sequels. And yet when it all comes down to it, Anakin killed hundreds of Jedi, little children and helped enslave the Empire NOT to save his wife, but on the vague idea that he could feasibly save his wife from an equally vague premonition. Did he really think that killing all of those people would be OK either way? Now it would be one thing if say, Padme died for one reason or the other and his rage pushed him over the edge and then he went on a killing spree, but even that is sketchy. What makes more sense is if Anakin is tempted to the dark side, then ‘betrayed’ by the Jedi and horribly scarred and maimed and then maybe his wife is still killed in the crossfire. THEN he becomes a dark half-dead murdering psycho, fueled by pain and hatred and living off of the darkness. Not saying that this is how it should’ve gone down, just saying this is a story line that makes more sense. Not “Oh maybe she could die, and the Chancellor once knew of a Sith who could bring back the dead, and oh crap he’s a Sith, Let’s Kill Everyone!” I was very curious about Vader’s wounds and perhaps how being horribly scarred pushed him over the edge or what not, but by the time it happened it felt like just desserts not a tragic fall. I mean he slaughtered little kids!
2. Bad, Bad Guys (They all suck)
Ok, so in the original trilogy we had: The Empire and their Death Star, the soldiers Stormtroopers, Darth Vader himself, the ever-beloved bounty hunter Boba Fett and Emperor Palpatine. And Jabba the Hut, though he wasn't exactly a pressing concern.
Now in the prequels of course the villains must be more complex and secretive given that at this time the good guys are winning. So now we have: the best thing to come out of the prequels Darth Maul, the Separatist Confederacy guys, the not so threatening and ever-dumb droids, Count Dooku who was pretty cool except for the force lightning bit, General Grievous who would've been cool AND respectable he had more screen time backstory, and of course Palpatine himself who stole the show. And I guess whiny, makes no sense Anakin Skywalker.
The main issue is that none of these guys are all that interesting or even if they are, they don’t get any screen time to shine. Imagine if at the end of New Hope Darth Vader had permanently died and we got a new less interesting villain every movie following. Now that would’ve been a very different trilogy. Of course since it’s a different time and era there should be room for change but still, we needed consistency in order to follow the story arc. “But Palpatine is the main villain” Yes but he doesn’t really influence any of the main characters until the final movie. No one even knows he exists except the bad guys. Another problem is that there is a new Sith apprentice every movie. That just pissed me off, because that means Darth Vader is Lord Sidious’ third attempt. That’s like being the third wife or husband, no offense. It degrades their relationship and makes them both look like idiots. If say there were less Sith and everyone was part of the same conspiratorial plan to eliminate the Jedi, things would’ve progressed much smoother.
3. The Good Guys (Kind of??)
The obvious main protagonists of the film are of course Obi-wan and Anakin. But the main problem here is that neither of these characters is distinctly relatable. Obi’s like the perfect nice guy who complains every time someone blinks the wrong way, and pretty much nothing bad ever happens to him, except like Qui Gon Jinn who no one cares about after the first movie. I’m sorry but the guy is as boring as they get. Also, Yoda being Obi-wan’s Jedi Master is way cooler than Liam Neeson.
Then there’s Anakin who basically has like zero redeeming qualities. Seriously, he seems to make it his like goal to be a pariah and a psycho, with his creepy sexual remarks and rampant murderous tendencies, which no one seems to notice. You’d think Obi-wan might want to give the guy a Jedi psych test to make sure he’s staying on the right path, but no one even questions how he’s feeling, which considering how many Jedi turn to the dark side is a little strange. Also, the personality of the cheerful young boy in the first film and every other film after that don’t add up. Even Vader’s and Anakin’s personality don’t add up. It’s like they’re completely different people. I never imagine Vader choking out his PREGNANT wife because she let an old friend tag along on their date.
“It’s our ANNIVERSARY! Die!!” - Darth Vader.
Especially since the entire reason he killed all of his friends was because he was trying to keep her alive. That part had me confused, as that would be a clear sign to me that perhaps I am the crazy one, and it’s not just everyone else.
“Hmmm, maybe Padme didn’t deserve to be choked out because Obi-wan snuck on board her ship. Shame, bet she’ll remember to double check next time!”
But I’m not gonna lie, the cheesy “You’re breaking my heart!” line by Padme hit me right in the feels.
4. The Jedi as an order are Sidelined
One of the biggest crimes in the prequel trilogy is the lack of exploration into the Jedi order and the Force itself. Here we are in the prime of the Jedi Order the mystical knights we heard so much about but saw so little of in the first films, and yet every Jedi is basically a dull, carbon copy of each other with a different character skin. In each of the Original Trilogy films we saw a new power and there were vast distinctions between Jedi fighting and Sith fighting. First film there was the Force choke and Force Ghost abilities. Second film saw super jumping and picking up and throwing heavy shit at people, as well as premonition stuff. RofJ saw PURPLE Force-f$%*ing-lightning that at least in my case completely blew my mind. In the new trilogy this is pretty much nonexistent with little diversity, and even Darth Maul is basically a Jedi with a cooler lightsaber. Now there’s regular colored Force lightning that apparently anyone with a degree in Sithlore (Count Dooku) can do and it can be blocked by anyone with a lightsaber. Ok, so this automatically takes the Emperors threat level down 500 levels as if it wasn’t for Anakin he would’ve been crushed by the Jedi easily. In fact, how exactly did Anakin even succeed? That part was never really touched on considering he had to have killed 100s of Jedi all fresh from fighting Sith and blocking lasers during the war, so…
I know there’s a whole extended universe, but it would’ve been cooler and more trustworthy to see what types of powers people were throwing around back in the good old days on film, especially since all of the Jedi in the OT are either too old or too young to truly kick ass. Also very little expansion on the Jedi lore (besides that dumb prophecy that completely should’ve been avoided) makes for a very unhappy fan.
5. The Clones being Republic soldiers is Dumb (Period.)
Another relic from the original trilogy, that when first mentioned sounded like some sort of epic battle where we’d be excited to see just who or what was cloned and how they fought the Jedi. Turns out it was a bunch of comic-relief robots and one or two Sith versus a bunch of Jango Fetts and an army of Jedi. Literally. How they thought they’d win that war is beyond me. This makes the entire threat of war laughable as no one is really scared of the enemy. Even the Gungans and little kids can beat these guys! The soldiers would’ve made much more sense as normal Republic soldiers drafted into the war, that way we can see the societal toll the war has on Coruscant. And the clones could’ve been clones of someone super badass that can actually threaten the Jedi. Something that one of which would be a threat to the Jedi, but hundreds if not thousands could wipe them and the galaxy out.
6. Vader is never truly Vader till the last ten seconds of the film
Another major one for me personally is that Anakin doesn’t feel like Vader. Vader has a very distinct look with a distinct style and dare I say..swagger? Looking at him screams that he’s cold and calculating, and not to be messed with. Run away. He never seems to put much effort into pwning everyone into his way and when he does you’re really screwed. In fact the only way to really face him is to contend with death (Obi-wan) or take a step or two into the darkness (Luke). It would’ve been really interesting to see how Vader methodically hunted down the Jedi and helped set up the empire, but the entire movie he’s running around sulking and raging at things that are no one else’s fault but his own. Now to be fair he is technically, named Darth Vader, but umm, where exactly did Palpatine get that? He just had the title Darth Vader handy and prepared and no one took the time to explain, WHY the name Vader suited Anakin the child murderer. Of course now we know why, but them it just seemed to come out of the blue, like “Hurry up, give him the name, now let’s kill some Jedi!”
Personally, I think it would take entirely separate movies to show how Anakin is seduced by the dark side as a Jedi Knight and then a separate movie to show how he became Darth Vader and hunted down the Jedi. Like maybe have movie 1 be about him pre-Jedi/ early padawan years learning about the Jedi and finding himself. Movie 2 as a Jedi knight frustrated with the cause until he discovers Palpatine is a Sith falls to the dark side at the end of the film and movie three with him already planning the empire with Palpatine and most of it is focused between him, Padme and Obi-wan as he takes down what he views as an outdated order. Or something similar.
Once again this was not to hate on these movies, just to put ideas out there for the inevitable reboot. I hope one day to see a truly epic tale of a young Anakin on his path to become a Jedi and then his dissent into the Dark side, without wondering why we're still on Naboo or who the bad guy of this film is. Hopefully, there weren't too many typos. Discussion welcomed.