It’s interesting seeing people say that TPM looked “the most like Star Wars.” Certainly in terms of shooting on film, less CGI overall and more practical effects and real locations it looks more like SW than the other two. But in terms of designs I’m not entirely sure I agree. They definitely had some leeway with the film’s setting being years before and on some different worlds, but I think in some areas things definitely went too far afield and look like they’re from a different franchise altogether.
Well, I was more going for the over-all “feel” of the film, not necessarily specific designs.
I’ve learned to really appreciate the designs in the PT in the last few years, and I actually think it’s a good thing that the PT looks very different from the OT. I even thinks it makes sense for it to feel different too, which is why I like ROTS, though I don’t complain when they do feel OT-like either.
As for straying too far from the OT designs/feel, I personally think AOTC, and to a lesser degree ROTS, are the biggest sinners there. I’m curious about what things in particular from TPM you’re referring to. I always felt that TPM balanced new and old concepts really well.
The ship, set, and costume designs in general are too ornate and (on the whole) lack the rugged, lived-in and (most importantly) utilitarian feel of the OT. Even if they are justified in universe because of the film’s areas of interest (rich Naboo and Coruscant), it just doesn’t feel quite right for a SW film to have that kind of stuff as a primary focus. If the out-there designs weren’t so abundant, it probably wouldn’t feel like a problem to me.
But that’s not all of it. Pretty much all CG aliens in the film look silly and out of place. Not to mention the Gungans and their underwater city, which straddles a line between somewhat inspired and just plain wacky.
I will say I’m a fan of the battle droids. I probably would’ve preferred them a tad bulkier but they look pretty good.
That’s interesting, I’ve personally always felt that the Gungan City was one of the most Star Wars-y things in the PT. It’s like a cross between the basic ideas behind Cloud City and the Ewok village. One of the biggest problems for me with the whole idea of an “OT aesthetic” is that we never really saw that much of the galaxy in those movies, only a tiny, tiny glimpse of it. Tatooine, Hoth and Endor hardly gave us a real sense of what the rest of the galaxy might look like. The shiny-ness and elegance of Cloud City, which btw is supposed to be a small mining operation, always justified the look of Coruscant (and the “fancier” PT locales) to me. Though I do agree that some of the designs are way too fancy. I especially think Kamino looks very out of place compared to both trilogies.
And, yes, the TPM aliens can be a tad silly, especially the pod-racers. I think that’s a side-effect of Lucas specifically wanting make aliens that would be impossible as people in suits.
The way I see it the PT is supposed to be a “fall of Rome” kind of story, as opposed to the gritty, 1970’s, WWII influenced interpretation of sci-fi vibe that we associate with the OT. I’ve always felt that the Empire, despite it’s obvious references to Nazi Germany, has more of a Soviet Union feel to it over-all. Everything they make is kinda drab and angular, like a lot of Russian architecture and engineering used to be. It’s a galaxy with all the colour and life sucked out of it, and naturally, to rebel against all that, the heroes are all swashbuckling pirates and rebels. In order for the PT to work, IMO, it had to be more colourful, formal, and regal to show that bygone golden age that Obi Wan alludes to in ANH. At east that’s how I see it, and what I believe Lucas was going for when he made the PT.