Back when I had a Quora account (don’t ever go to that pretentious site!) I was one of the top rated answerers in the “Star Wars” category. Which was amusing, because I mostly just made up answers to EU-related questions despite never having read an EU book. My answers would get upvoted because they ended up making more sense than the crappy EU novels, haha.
Anyway, someone asked the question “Star Wars fans, what do you think of the ring theory?”
This was my answer:
"I read through the theory and it’s kind of cool. It definitely shows that Lucas is a fantastic artist.
However, it doesn’t really tell us anything new. Lucas has talked about his poetry. And the author’s intention seems to be ‘this proves that the prequels are good’.
Another user joked that Lucas was too busy with his poetry, he must have forgotten to make the movies good. That sounds about right to me!"
Here was another answer:
"Personally, I see it as a form of denial or even bargaining, to use the well-known “stages of grief.” The grief among Star Wars fans is that most would agree the prequels sucked. Many fans have attempted various versions of denial or bargaining to try to convince themselves otherwise. But it usually comes down to them trying not to accept what their hearts and souls told them: that the prequels are not good.
The biggest problem with the ring theory is that even if the theory is true, it really doesn’t matter – at all. Why? Because the prequels are still not good chapters, or stanzas, or verses, or whatever you want to call them. So when you have a bunch of bad stanzas mixed in with a bunch of good stanzas, is the poem as a whole good? In my opinion: No. In my opinion: That poem has good stanzas and maybe good lines, but does not work as a whole.
Just because something is complex doesn’t mean that it is good. Just because something is well thought-out doesn’t mean it’s good.
One last note: I also feel like the theory is trying to say that if you don’t like the prequels, then you just don’t get them because you’re not smart enough. And, frankly, that’s not a good statement to be making. Anyone with eyes and ears should be able to understand a movie. That’s the nature of filmmaking. If you fail to make a movie exciting, then the audience doesn’t care how “deep” it is. To quote Lucas in that article mentioned above, “the now has to be engaging.” Each chapter has to be engaging on its own, or it doesn’t matter how complex the overall structure is. And the problem is that several of the “now” chapters are simply not engaging."
Here is yet another:
"Consider the set of integers as a representation of the possible number of parsecs required to make the Kessel run . . . oh, wait. I have to admit, when I got this A2A I assumed I would be answering in terms of the mathematical construct.
From a storytelling perspective, this writer is simultaneously re-discovering the wheel and over-reaching. Great novels, great movies, great stories of any sort often use the technique of a repeated theme or motif that exists both in small scale and in grand scale in a self-reinforcing way. Similarly, much of film-writing analysis and theory in particular has been about constructing the multi-layered and thematically-related sets of conflict and resolution that make an instinctively-satisfying story.
It seems logical to assume that, in developing the prequel stories (that had to dovetail with the start of the original trilogy) Lucas would have considered how to get there in terms of reversing the original stories somewhat. Whether this is genius or not is debatable, but it is stretching the point to assume that there was any kind of master plan going in; recall that despite what Lucas may have said over the years, Star Wars was not “Episode IV” until the re-release and while there is plenty of documentary evidence that Lucas’ original treatment for that film was culled down from a more sprawling story, there is no indication that even the outline of the first trilogy was defined at the start. And, as usual, crediting Lucas with the “big picture” is to minimize the contributions of Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett to The Empire Strikes Back, which is so central to the overall mythos, the magic of which which was so systematically destroyed by the prequels (midichloridians, indeed).
Finally, as Sameer Ketkar so succinctly points out, it hardly matters whether some grand wheels-within-wheels approach was taken to the story, since the results were so ineffective in any case. Considering Episode 2 as a mirror to Empire is particularly egregious; that film created Darth Vader and the Empire as a villainous force for the ages, but ask any casual fan who the “bad guys” are in Attack of the Clones – the simplest possible question for an epic film – and watch the confusion on their face as they try to sort it out.
So, to directly answer the question, I would say “not much”."
The ring theory is garbage!