Originally posted by: corellian77
While the other two prequels definitely have their flaws, at least there was some meat to the story. AOTC offers up an assassination plot, a mystery, an (attempted) love story, and the outbreak of war. Then, with ROTS (in my opinion the best of the PT), you have a story that truly adheres to the classic definition of a tragedy: our protagonist (Anakin) undergoes a change from happiness to suffering (Anakin to Vader; married to isolated), often involving the death of others (Padme) as well as the main characters (the Jedi; Anakin himself in an Obi-Wan Kenobi-ish kinda way), resulting from both the protagonist's actions (Anakin deciding to save Padme at all costs; killing the Jedi) and the inescapable limits of the human condition (Anakin's fear of isolation; greed; his need for control).
In a way, I think you just described why I dislike the second two films a lot more, especially Sith. They include/attempt a lot more meaty ideas... and fail, to varying degrees of awfulness, at all of them - ESPECIALLY the most important ones. That, to me, makes them vastly more painful to watch. They put on parade exactly how terrible at storytelling they are. And many of those moments are classic plot points (a checklist of things we have been waiting for, as an earlier poster put it), which I would much rather not see at all, than see butchered. The Phantom Menace, meanwhile, aims lower, and comes out cleaner for it. It might not be better made, or have more "artistic" value to it, but at least it's not pretentious.