In retrospect, the biggest problem with the Prequels is they’re told in a way that often ignores their own premise. In theory, the most interesting thing about the Prequel story template should be Anakin and the circumstances behind Alec Guinness’ wistful recollections to Luke in ANH. This is a classic “good guy turns bad” story. The problem is that this type of story is very difficult to write convincingly. This type of story was done in the Godfather Part I and also Breaking Bad - but the latter had 6 seasons of television to pull it off, and the Godfather involved a much less extreme transition from good to bad than is required for Anakin, who has to go from Obi-Wan’s good friend to a mass murdering tyrant in only 3 movies.
This is just a REALLY hard story to write convincingly in only 3 movies. It requires a lot of upfront planning of story structure. Yet bizarrely, it seems that Lucas wasn’t even primarily interested in Anakin’s story and the obvious drama that could be mined from it. Instead he wrote Episode 1, which was a meandering side-story that introduced us to the world of the Prequels, but barely connected with the other movies. It seems clear that Lucas didn’t see the “Tragedy of Anakin Skywalker” as the primary reason for writing the Prequels. Rather, Lucas saw the Prequels as more like a general backstory to the OT that showed how the Republic turned into a dictatorship and the Jedi order was destroyed. That could certainly be interesting as a political/military drama if done correctly, but Star Wars movies are generally simple character driven stories. It seems by the time Revenge of the Sith came around, Lucas suddenly realized this saga was supposed to be more about Anakin and less about Palpatine’s crazy schemes to get elected or mysterious clone conspiracies. But by that time, it was virtually impossible to make up for lost time and write a compelling arc for Anakin in only one movie.
Most of all, it’s eternally baffling to me that so much of the Prequels are framed around MYSTERY plots. Episode 1 is about a mysterious hooded figure who operates in the shadows. Episode 2 is a detective story about a conspiracy involving a mysterious clone army created decades ago for unknown reasons. But none of these mysteries are ever really explicitly resolved because ultimately they’re superfluous to the story. More importantly, why would anyone frame a PREQUEL around mystery plots, when we all know how everything turns out? We know the mysterious hooded guy is the Emperor and that all the Jedi die, so why pretend the story is some kind of deep, compelling mystery or political conspiracy thriller? The only reason the Prequels really should exist is because the story of Anakin and his mentor/friend Obi-Wan had the potential to be an amazing character-driven drama and fantasy/sci-fi adventure story.
Very good points, ones I never thought of specifically before. A much better script for all 3 prequels is needed to tell both the fall on The Republic and the fall of Anakin Skywalker simultaneously.
I really thought the whole plot where Palpatine is basically running both the Separatists and The Republic really strained credibility. At least have the reveal that Dooku was a Sith take place in ROTS - make the audience think he is truly a rogue Jedi fighting against a hopelessly corrupt Republic and that The Separatists were actually the good guys.
Also; remember how evil Tarkin and company were in SW77 when they are all sitting around the conference table on the Death Star? Now remember the similar scene on Geonosis, with all those weird comical looking aliens? Creates a completely different feel. The Separatists seemed like a joke.
I find myself sympathizing with Stardust1138 because I often lack tact in my strong opinions.
But he does have some ideas that bear looking at. If you miss some of the things that George included in the prequels (especially if that led to not liking them and not wanting to watch them again) then your hate of one or more of the prequels might be based on not having really understood the story. There are things I didn’t catch right away (at least not consciously) that have added to my understanding of the story. I’m also not content with just the films, but in learning more about the backstory behind the story. For the prequels there is a lot in the OT, but there is more in other places. George’s original vision of the Emperor was that he was a puppet (ANH novelization). He took that and the powerful Sith lord he created for ROTJ and merged them into the same character by making him duplicitous. So you have the public face of Palpatine. He’s is a nice guy, friendly, amicable. He seems genuinely concerned. A bit of a pushover really. But then you have the real power - the Sith Lord. He is using the force to manipulate votes and get his way. He uses the Trade Federation blockade of Naboo to become Chancellor. He lays the plan for the Clone Wars by picking the source for the clones and having order 66 instilled in them. He plays the victim when he is disfigured. It is a brilliant political move. And it is the reason the separtists are a joke. He intends them to fail. He wants to destabilize the Republic and seize power for himself. He made an enemy of the Trade Federation and this seems in part revenge.
And then there is Anakin’s fall. Something I didn’t consciously catch until recently is that Palpatine uses the force on Anakin to bend him to his will. Anakin was susceptible after he stopped Mace Windu and you can hear the special effect in Palpatine’s voice when he gives Anakin instructions to take then Jedi Temple.
It is all about what you noticed and how that impacted your opinion of the films. I had a bad first viewing of TFA and I don’t think I will ever truly like that film because of it. So really get that once your opinion is formed it is hard to change. But hey, this is Star Wars. Isn’t it worth digging deeper and seeing if you missed something that might change your mind and giving each film at least a second chance? I think it is. I keep giving AOTC and TFA more chances. Basically without an edit both of them are doomed as far as I’m concerned. But the rest of them can stand in their theatrical forms and I can appreciate them.
The other big thing that I think colors our opinions of films is expectations. If you expect too much or something too different from what we got, that can ruin a film. I try to avoid having any story expectations. I still get them. I felt sure that Rey was a real Skywalker after TFA. Or a Kenobi at least. The whole nobody and then Palpatine could have thrown me but I didn’t go into the film expecting that. I went in and let the story flow. I was totally unsurprised that Han died in TFA or that Luke died in TLJ. From how Lucas and Hamill talked, I knew Luke was going to die to pass the torch. I expected that Harrison would want Han to die. He got one of the most awesome death scenes as far as I’m concerned. The look, touching Kylo’s cheeck, everything was so perfect.
But we can’t all of us have the same opinion. Just remember how divided the fans were over TESB and ROTJ. We have some members here who all these decades later still don’t like TESB or ROTJ. And I bet there are many who would like to change their minds - for them to give it another chance. If they only saw it this other way. Well, that obviously is not happening at this stage. I think every Star Wars film deserves a second chance, but if your issue isn’t going to go away, then that might not do it. Though there have been some that have given these films a second chance and have revised their opinion of them.
So some opinions are never going to change. They are set and some of us don’t understand it, but there is nothing to do about it. Everyone has a right to their own opinion and tastes. It doesn’t mean the rest of us are wrong, we just aren’t on the same page. But likely there are a few films we do agree on.