By this point its pretty well agreed that Lucas screwed up the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Everyone goes into their own reasons but why they really sucked seems pretty simple to me. Lucas, in an effort to fully explain how and why the Republic fell apart and to satisfy fan boys with too much fanservice, completely lost focus on how the story should have gone.
Prequels by their very nature have to slow the story down and explain how things got to be the way they are in the first movie(s) shown. Episodes 4, 5 and 6 are tight and concise when compared to 1, 2 and 3. The second trilogy never gets into too great a detail on the galactic civil war, all we get is cursory exposition from time to time. To be honest, in my observation of the stories, Luke didn’t seem all that interested in the Rebellion himself. He was a kid who worked his uncle’s moisture farm and was looking for any excuse to get out of that place. He joined the Rebellion because his guardians were killed and he had no other choice really. So it wasn’t necessary to get into detail about the conflict, we just needed to know enough to give the main characters a reason for all the running, shooting and hyper-spacing. Also the first few minutes of Episode 4 tells you all you need to know. When you see the words EMPIRE and REBELLION then see a little ship chased by a ginormous ship its pretty clear what’s going on.
The Prequels in contrast go into full detail on why and how The Galactic Republic have issues with the Trade Federatizzznnnnnn…excuse me, I nodded off. That’s what happens when you have to read boring political shit. Look at the opening crawl of the film and really read what’s there:
Turmoil has engulfed the
Galactic Republic. The taxation
of trade routes to outlying star
systems is in dispute.
Hoping to resolve the matter
with a blockade of deadly
battleships, the greedy Trade
Federation has stopped all
shipping to the small planet
While the congress of the
Republic endlessly debates
this alarming chain of events,
the Supreme Chancellor has
secretly dispatched two Jedi
Knights, the guardians of
peace and justice in the
galaxy, to settle the conflict…
The bolded parts are what I call “snooze lines”. Taxation of trade routes? Blockade of ships? Endless debates?
And Lucas proceeds to show us all of that in detail. Instead of showing us the development of a young Anakin Skywalker, we get to see the convoluted schism that’s growing in the Galactic Republic. We didn’t need to know the intricacies of why shit was happening because this is Anakin’s story so we should be looking at the world from his point of view. We only need to know whats going as it pertains to him.
3 Fatal Mistakes George Lucas made with the prequels:
- ANAKIN WAS TOO YOUNG AND HAS LITTLE TO NOTHING TO DO FOR THE MOST PART IN ANY OF THE MOVIES.
Showing us a ten year Anakin Skywalker was a totally bad move. With the way Lucas wrote the story there was nothing for him to do and when you look at it, he only did two things of any significance in the whole film. The Pod-race scene and bumblefucking his way up to the droid control ship and accidentally blowing it up. That’s it. For most of its 2 hour running time Anakin is just in the background. Lucas completely wasted every opportunity he had to establish that character.
In episode 2 we see Anakin as a young adult but here he’s a full apprentice to Obi Wan, we never saw his training and development into a Jedi Padawan. They talk about his adventures but we never saw them. Again we only see Anakin do two or three things in the whole film. Fall in goofy-worst-chemistry-ever love with Padme, avenge his mother’s torture and murder, get his hand cut off by Count Dooku. Most of the film was spent with Obi Wan playing Columbo trying to figure out the overly convoluted schemes pertaining to the clone army.
In episode 3, we see Anakin killing up a bunch of people and succumbing to the dark side but because we’ve spent so little time with him up to that point, we’re not emotionally invested in his fall, we’re just watching it happen.
- MISUSED PADME
Lucas wanted parallels between the first and second trilogies so we see Leia, an activist princess, fully involved in the Rebellion. We first see her relaying the plans for the Death Star back to Alderaan but that was at the height of the rebellion so things are pretty much in a shambles and the Rebels need all the help they can get. Padme on the other hand is a Queen pre civil war and while Naboo was under seige and she was something of an exile for the duration of the story, the Queen was never at any point in any real danger. I mean the chick who was her decoy queen was never shot at or in danger of being killed. In fact Padme running around disguised as her servant actually put the Queen in harm’s way much more than if she just sat around wearing the kabuki garb. But the parrallel Lucas wanted to show was like Leia, Padme had no problem getting down and dirty herself if need be. But it was a pointless parallel because both of their circumstances are different. And Padme being the real Queen automatically removes her from the action. Forcing the issue just didn’t sit right with the film.
George Lucas in writing the prequel stories made the fatal miss step that many writers even successful ones make which is giving the person with the most power the most freedom to act. Which is not how rank and power works in real life and shouldn’t in fiction. The King or even General is never going to lead his troops into battle. The person who is at the center of power is the furthest removed from the action. Another great film franchise and TV show that makes that mistake famously is Star Trek.
Gene Roddenberry wanted to make a story about the adventures of a star ship crew. He wanted the show to feature characters who had the power to make decisions and make things happen so we follow the captain of the ship around the galaxy as he gets into trouble and has adventures. But centering the show around the captain and the first officers was such a confining mistake that he had to compensate by never allowing the captain, Kirk in the original series, to ever act like a proper captain. So you have episodes where Kirk, Picard, Janeway or whoever are constantly doing common reconnaissance or heading up away teams on dangerous missions. Things no captain or any first officer would be allowed to do. On one hand its understandable as to why it was done that way considering budgeting and cast size but still its a mistake. Lucas does the same thing but his reasoning seems to be closer to not caring how rank and procedure works than anything else (which is why Jar Jar Binks and Han Solo are given a General’s position with command power in their films even though they really did nothing to deserve it). So we end up with Padme Amidala, an activist Queen who is constantly getting into gun fights.
- WAAY TOO MUCH FOCUS ON SECONDARY/POINTLESS CHARACTERS
Because Anakin was a small child with nothing much to do, the first film spends most of its time following Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn around, then we see what the Viceroy is doing, the Gunguns, Palpatine and Queen Amidala/Padme. We spend so much time with all these other people it’s easy to forget that this is supposed to be ANAKIN’S STORY. And even in the other films we’re dealing with senate meetings and long scenes of expositions with other Jedi/Sith characters and lets not get into the detour with Jango Fett which was totally pointless and lightsaber fight scenes…God, so many lightsaber fight scenes.
What Lucas is that the Star Wars nine episode series is about the Skywalker clan. That’s it. That’s who we focus on, that’s who we follow. No Skywalker, no care! Lucas himself established this pattern and theme with 4, 5, and 6. When A New Hope starts off we see Vader and Leia, then we go to Luke, then back to Leia, then Luke again, some stuff with Vader and back to Leia and so it goes. That’s it. We see the same pattern in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. All the major points of all the films deal with a Skywalker.
If Lucas had paced 4, 5, and 6 the way he did 1, 2 and 3 then we would have seen long scenes with Grand Moff Tarkin and Ben Kenobi and Owen Lars. There would have been drawn out side stories with Greedo and Jabba the Hutt (actually there was one with Jabba that Lucas originally cut from the original Star Wars film then re-inserted in the later, tinkered with, extended versions but it doesn’t enhance the story one bit.). Boba Fett would have taken up a third of the last two films alone. And while we’re talking about “the Fett”, Stop riding his jock already!!! Boba Fett was a one off character who had little effect on the story and DIED in Return Of The Jedi…yes he died, he was supposed to, you know why, because he’s just a side character!
I get it, Boba Fett is cool looking, with the helmet and the gear and jet pack, I totally get it, believe me. He’s a space bounty hunter for cryin’ out loud! If man ever colonizes space, I guarantee you there will be a line around the corner for intergalactic bounty hunter and I’ll be at the head of it. I even had the classic Boba Fett poster as a kid. So yes Boba Fett is the man. But that doesn’t negate the fact that he was just a side character. His fanboy popularity is the reason Lucas shoehorned him into the prequels and even in that its pretty clear his presence is even more marginal than it was in 4 and 5. Every fan fiction story has Fett surviving the Sarlacc Pit and its so much bullshit. And I can only HOPE they don’t do a Boba Fett stand alone story!
I could go on forever about all the mistakes and bad turns 1, 2 and 3 made but rather than do that lets go into how they should have gone so that the prequels dovetail more smoothly into the next episodes. Keeping in line with how 4,5, and 6 went and how they focused purely on a Skywalker and the person most directly involved with them, my version of the prequels does this.
In doing my version, the most difficult aspect I encountered was showing Anakin’s rise and fall and properly stretching it out over three episodes. In episodes 4,5,6 there were three story arcs that ran concurrently but in and of themselves were pretty straight forward. Luke had the hero’s journey, Leia had the rebellion and Vader had straight villainy. In all of that there was no real conflict for the individuals. Luke goal was to be a Jedi, Leia’s to win the war and Vader to destroy the Rebels and turn his son into a Sith. Anakin, on the other hand, is the major focus so his journey is becoming a Jedi, faltering and turning into a Sith and that has to be laid out equally for each episode. The problem I kept running into was even though I was trying to shift focus to the proper character and change certain aspects of the stories, I was still using Lucas’s character more or less the same way he did and pacing and plotting was very similar. The result was by the third episode I would have a number of sub plots that needed resolution and Episode Three would become a jumbled mess that was more than twice as long as the first two.
And then it hit me. Is it necessary to follow the way or all the characters Lucas used to tell the stories? Is it necessary to know exactly the cause of the civil war? All of the background information we know about the Star Wars universe comes from the novels, what makes that the only way to tell these stories? Even though George Lucas okayed the information in the novels and comics he didn’t have that as a resource for 4,5,6, and since those are the works most beloved, I’m going to base my version of 1,2,3 only on the information from the second trilogy.
I’m not changing the underlying conflict between the Separatists and the Galactic Republic or the blockade of Naboo, I’m just de-emphasizing them in favor of watching Anakin become a Jedi.
It occurred to me that of all six films we only saw one Jedi training session and that was Yoda training Luke on Dagobah in ESB. There was one brief thing Obi-Wan did with Luke in ANH with a helmet and light saber but that was just a few seconds. There has never been a formal training sequence. Well here it is. A good portion of this first film will deal with Anakin’s training and rise as a Jedi Padawan as it should have all along.
In trying to closely adhere to the original trilogy’s style and pacing, it became apparent that Lucas was using the old 1950’s matinee style of telling this story. Which consisted of a lot of “wipe” transitions and a story line that was continuously forward moving. There are no flashbacks, jump ahead, narration, exposition or any other devices normally used today to tell a story. The only thing close that could fill in details would be the opening crawl and once that’s over its off to the races. I found it a bit confining way to tell a story personally but that’s how the saga goes. Telling the story in a different way just isn’t “Star Wars”.
Here’s my idea of the prequels redone:
Star Wars prequels rewritten treatment - The Phantom Menace - http://originaltrilogy.com/topic/The-Star-Wars-Prequels-rewritten-The-Phantom-Menace/id/16971
Star Wars prequels rewritten treatment - Enter The Clones -http://originaltrilogy.com/topic/The-Star-Wars-Prequels-rewritten-Enter-The-Clones/id/17141
Star Wars prequels rewritten treatment - Rise Of The Dark Lord - http://originaltrilogy.com/topic/The-Star-Wars-Prequels-rewritten-Rise-Of-The-Dark-Lord/id/17391