Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005)
October 23, 2015 10:54 AM - Subscribe

As the Clone Wars near an end, the Sith Lord Darth Sidious steps out of the shadows, at which time Anakin succumbs to his emotions, becoming Darth Vader and putting his relationships with Obi-Wan and Padme at risk.
posted by PigheadedGnu (102 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Watched this yesterday; I'm pretty sure for the first time. I might have given up on it at the time after AOTC. Many of the plot points I could recall, but I think that was from other discussions and synopses.

Horrible acting continues. The plot is a bit more intriguing. Anakin's turn into Vader has not super believable.

Better than AOTC at least.
posted by PigheadedGnu at 10:58 AM on October 23, 2015


There's something very strange that happened the first time I saw this movie. I was so moved to tears by the execution of Order 66 and all the Jedis, even though what was on screen, I've noticed on other viewings, was not constructed in a way that actually provoked that reaction.

The power of nostalgia is very strong. Star Wars being the first movie I saw in the theater, the Jedis being wiped out is one of the oldest stories I'd ever heard but not seen represented anywhere, so it happening before my eyes made me weep even though the movie itself hadn't earned those tears.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:14 AM on October 23, 2015 [9 favorites]


I rewatched this a few years ago, and my main impression was that the Rick McCallum quote "It's so dense, every single frame has so many things going on" really wasn't an exaggeration. Literally everything that never existed is in this movie.

Ewan McGregor rides a giant feather-covered iguana to fight an asthmatic cyborg. There's a water ballet. An entire battalion of Wookiees fighting in a pond, or whatever. One's memory can really only scratch the surface of how much insane (and entirely unnecessary) imagery was crammed into this thing. It's EXHAUSTING.
posted by incomple at 11:21 AM on October 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


I saw this in theaters. I had to leave to go to the bathroom and I decided to just stay there for 20 minutes or so.

I missed the whole lizard thing. It was OK.
posted by selfnoise at 11:27 AM on October 23, 2015 [6 favorites]


I saw this movie on opening night (because at that point I was morbidly committed) and I laughed a lot. A lot. Like almost got in a fight with the guy behind me in the parking lot afterwords "A LOT"

I think the structural problem with the film, like the previous two, is that it doesn't know who the story is about. Sure not-vader is on screen a lot but he doesn't seem to be the main character.
posted by French Fry at 11:39 AM on October 23, 2015


I hope to find a chance to re-watch it tonight or tomorrow or this weekend, in general, but I've seen it a number of times (cause I have a love-hate relationship with the movie, a'ight?) and here's some general thoughts and reactions I've had considering it.

The power of nostalgia is very strong. Star Wars being the first movie I saw in the theater, the Jedis being wiped out is one of the oldest stories I'd ever heard but not seen represented anywhere, so it happening before my eyes made me weep even though the movie itself hadn't earned those tears. -MCMikeNamara

Gosh, yes, you explained it when I couldn't before I tried to do so. The execution of Order 66 signaled something of a shift in the movie, which for the most part continued to be plagued with some of the same problems from AOTC. At this point, where I did definitely tear up in the theater, I became far more engrossed with the film and actually legitimately enjoyed the final 45 minutes or so. The killing of the Jedi still resonates in other areas where it's touched upon or referenced, be it The Clone Wars tv show where a storyline in the final season reveals how Order 66 actually worked and why the Clones turned so quickly on the Jedi - and teased with the opportunity that the Jedi might somehow learn of it before hand - which of course we know would ultimately not happen.

The romance between Anakin and Padme continues to kind of suffer.

The romance friendship between Anakin and Obi-wan should have resulted in a much more powerful final duel. The duel was obviously intended to mirror their friendship and the emotions occurring between the duo, but it lasted too long, had a couple awkward moments, and ended with a completely humiliating fizzle as ridiculously angry Anakin burns to pieces on the edge of a lava flow. It got Anakin to the point of needing the machinery and suit that made Darth Vader iconic, but once again, the execution was simply not there. Moving to the operating room, that scene isn't bad, but brought with it one of the worse "NOOOoooooOOOOoooo!"s in cinematic history. It was a moment that needed absolutely ZERO vocalization from Vader and also represented Lucas ruining a classic moment in Return of the Jedi when he could have easily have learned from it.

How is that? Vader's reaction to Padme's death should have mirrored Vader's reaction when he was about to see his son die, silent action. In RTOJ, Vader is never made to speak to express his emotions, but instead, we see him gazing from the Emperor to Luke and back again, before just acting. He steps forward, grabs Palpatine and hurls him over the railing. In RTOS, having Vader crush the room with the Force with just some subtle movement would have been sufficient. After all, Lucas loves to talk about how the trilogies mirror each other. YET, rather than have RTOS mirror RTOJ, a movie that came out a couple decades before RTOS, Lucas takes the opportunity of the Blu-Ray release of RTOJ and ADDS a "NOOOOooooooOOOOooo!" to the scene when Vader attacks the Emperor. It's redundant and ridiculous. This is criticism of RTOJ's modification sure, but it happens entirely because of Lucas' decision in RTOS. DRIVES ME BATTY.

Another criticism involves another Sith, Dooku. We actually have two bad guys, Dooku and General Grievous, the latter just kind of emerges out of the ether if one was not familiar with the original Clone Wars cartoon which introduced the character. Lucas gives Grievous a little time with Obi-wan to introduce himself to the audience and display what makes him a dangerous opponent before offing him, but Dooku represented merely a loose string in RTOS. The character developed in AOTC should have been given a much better send off than a quick duel against Anakin and then a dumbstruck look to the Emperor before having his head lopped off. Christopher Lee helped legitimize AOTC with his performance, he and his character should have been given a much better send off.

The Yoda and Palpatine fight was something of a failure and underwhelming. Hardly much farther back in the movie, Mace Windu, who presumably is not as powerful as Yoda, puts Palpatine at his mercy (Unless the emperor was playing pathetic for Anakin - that's up for debate), and now the greatest Jedi Master of all essentially gets sent running with his tail between his legs (we have not yet confirmed that Yoda has a tail). Just like the Dooku battle, Yoda simply was not used well and shouldn't be put into a fight unless he wins it. Likewise, the Emperor using a lightsaber also looked awkward, especially as he apparently stopped needing it by the time of RTOJ.

The battle of Kashykkk. Hey! It's that rumored battle that we should have had at the end of Jedi! Wookies in action! ....and it comes across as a gain, a bit underwhelming. The battle feels very pinned in, as if the wookies have been reduced to a fighting force of a few thousand. This is a whole planet of wookies! This battle should have been epic with the Separatists throwing everything they had to subdue them in a massive show down. This isn't Endor where a small concentration of Imperials are hanging out around a shield generator, it should have been a larger scale or at least made to feel that way.

And yes, it's canon that Chewbacca knew Yoda. Everyone knows everyone in the Prequel Universe, and it doesn't make anything better for it.

We also have the wild problem of Anakin apparently having missed the Jedi instruction course on the Sith (must have been given to four year olds), because sirens never go off in his head the moment Palpatine starts mentioning the Sith to him at the opera. He should have recognized that he couldn't trust a word out of this dude's lips nor expected him to be of any help whatsoever in saving Padme's life. He should have immediately told the Jedi Council, "Hey, guys, so our chancellor, he's kind of got this hobby concerning past Sith Lords...and he doesn't really have a negative view of them." That's always troubled me, especially given his experience with Dooku. He knew the Sith were his enemies.

RTOS also enjoyed hating on RTOJ in another way. In RTOJ, Luke learns that Leia is his sister and they have a very fine chat about this fact, and Luke asks Leia about their mother. Leia, while acknowledging she's dead by this point in their lives, recalls her always being sad. Now, according to RTOS, Leia was apparently remembering Bail Organa's wife, who must have been very sad that she got so little screen time for a role that completely overwrote a touching moment in Jedi.

This all comes back around to the nostalgia of the Jedi being killed. Apparently, for some of us, we have this nostalgia for the past films which allow this film to actually be enjoyable on certain levels. Yet, at the same time, the very same film in Lucas' hands actively destroys elements of the very old films which make this one tolerable.

I do like the film in general, but it's got its flaws and problems, in part which exist because Lucas made the decision that he could rewrite the facts of his past films, not just the special effects. After I rewatch it for whatever time this will be, I may pop back in with more thoughts.
posted by Atreides at 11:43 AM on October 23, 2015 [7 favorites]


Another criticism involves another Sith, Dooku. We actually have two bad guys, Dooku and General Grievous, the latter just kind of emerges out of the ether if one was not familiar with the original Clone Wars cartoon which introduced the character.

As someone didn't even know there was a Clone Wars cartoon that character was deeply confusing. Honestly, I found all the prequel movies surprisingly hard to follow considering what they are. It felt like I was supposed to know what was happening already more than I was being told, which works for the execution of the Jedi, as has been said, but not for everything else. The original trilogy has plenty of stuff you needed to be plugged into the fan culture to really get (who all the bounty hunters were or whatever), but it never got in the way of the actual plot.

If I'm honest, I've got some similar fears about the new movies, because I've not been paying attention to promos or spoilers or whatever and there are people already people dressing up as characters from a movie no one has seen as if we all know who they are.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:05 PM on October 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Do not want.
posted by Grangousier at 12:10 PM on October 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


I remember kind of enjoying the classic horror imagery in this movie. Palpatine is Dracula and Vader is Frankenstein's Monster. It isn't enough to hang the movie in, but it's kind of fun.
posted by chrchr at 12:22 PM on October 23, 2015


General Grievous is a stupid character. He makes absolutely no sense to me. I mean, I know he's supposed to be an pre-echo of the evil cyborg Anakin will become, "more machine than man" and all. But, um, what do we need that for? Also, as I understand it he's not force sensitive, basically has no connection to the force whatsoever. But he likes to kill Jedis and collect their lightsabers as trophies. And he uses his mechanical arms to wield the lightsabers at blinding speed, blah, blah, blah. But he should be ridiculously easy to defeat by any Jedi with half a brain. No force sensitivity means the only thing keeping the lightsaber in Grievous' hand is his grip. All a Jedi needs to do is use the force to grab all his lightsabers then either stab him with them in his little organ sack or use the force to crush his heart or brain, whichever is more convenient. But instead, we're supposed to be scared of this ugly, bug-limbed, hacking beast? As Obi-Wan says, "I don't think so."
posted by wabbittwax at 12:29 PM on October 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


So, what were the previous 65 Orders?
posted by Chrysostom at 12:32 PM on October 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


The only thing that made the prequels worth it for me is Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru holding Baby Luke and looking out towards the two sunsets on Tatooine. Oh, hey - Joel Edgerton!
posted by ChuraChura at 12:32 PM on October 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


While rewatching last night, I realized that although this is the prequel that I have the least emotional attachment to, paradoxically enough it's also the one that I actually enjoy the most. I'm hoping that this will carry through to Ep. VII in a couple of months.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:42 PM on October 23, 2015


I've been blathering on about Star Wars all over the site in the past few days, so I'm kind of exhausted by it at this point. But a few points:

-I think a lot of people went into this with really low expectations. That helps the film, because all it had to do was execute a few things competently and our impression of it gets better. That being said, I'm not sure what I can point to that this film did competently, except be a film and have special effects. I think I watched it once, and I don't have kind memories.
-I watched some of it again last night, jumping around a bit because some of it is seriously slow, because I felt I should try to reconnect with this film at some level before we discussed it. Anyways, the opening crawl: "There are heroes on both sides." I mean, I think he was going for "Both sides have heroes they follow", but it just doesn't ring right. Then a lens flare. Then a visually cluttered and exhausting space battle, followed by a bizarre sequence on the battle cruiser that jumps from trying to be grim and serious to lighthearted and funny and back.
-Given that Anakin and Obi-Wan were able to pick out the ship with the chancellor on it because of some kind of signal (I'm assuming the Chancellor has some kind of implanted thingamajig) you would imagine it would be nice to have the other ships in the fleet know that too, so they don't come in and deliver a broadside into it while the rescue is being attempted. Like, seriously, everyone relevant to the plot could have died in that, Palpatine's plot be damned.
-"Sith Lords are our specialty" - WTF? Since when? Last time you saw this guy he made mincemeat out of you.
-"How did we let this happen? We're smarter than this!" That line really resonated with me as the audience.
-Where are the stakes? The Republic is crumbling, yet after this massive battle above Corsucant that involved huge ships, fighters, debris falling like crazy, and yet traffic is normal and everyone's walking around. There's no urgency anywhere, even when Anakin goes to Windu and reveals the truth about Palpatine "we must move quickly if we are to prevent the fall of the Jedi" he says, and then strolls on. We are told how dire everything is, but I really felt no evidence of the war really impacting the Republic.
-The Obi-Wan/Anakin duel goes on too long. Way way too long. There's a bit where they are literally standing in front of each other and all they do is spin their sabres in circles, really fast. Gah. And again, the entire duel is crammed with visual effects to the point that they are exhausting.
-"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" had my wife laughing until she cried.
posted by nubs at 12:42 PM on October 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


As with I and II, there's a lot to criticize here. I vividly remember the moment when, watching this in the theater on opening night, I realized it wasn't going to be significantly better than then the last movies. It's about five minutes in, during the open space battle, when a bunch of droids latch onto Obi-Wan's fighter. And then start disassembling it. One of them ends up on Anakin's ship; R2D2 ends up fighting it with a torch. It's played partly for comedy, which bleeds away almost all of the urgency built up so far -- it's hard to take the chancellor's kidnapping seriously with that framing.

Beyond that, it's a scene that doesn't make much sense: it would be immeasurably more efficient to simply built droids that could explode. There are some parallels here to the assassination attempt on Padme in Episode II, with the weird centipedes, where Lucas seems to write a scene mainly to create an image rather than to create a narrative -- 'this will look neat, ergo, it goes in the movie.'
posted by cjelli at 12:55 PM on October 23, 2015


To be fair, that works for David Lynch. And we all love his space fantasy, don't we?
posted by Grangousier at 1:00 PM on October 23, 2015


So, what were the previous 65 Orders?

Merchandising!
posted by drezdn at 1:00 PM on October 23, 2015 [7 favorites]


To be fair, that works for David Lynch. And we all love his space fantasy, don't we?

But Lynch's Dune was shot, lit, blocked, and edited by someone who was awake. It makes a difference!
posted by selfnoise at 1:10 PM on October 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


And, you know, it had an actual story to work from.
posted by nubs at 1:15 PM on October 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


That is fair, and as with the characterization and plotting, a lot of my dislike of the prequels boils down to things being done badly, rather than the things themselves being inherently objectionable. Not having a strong central character could have worked, if the narrative focus was more on the setting, or there was more of an ensemble feel to the movie; but it didn't work. Not giving the characters a real sense of urgency would have been fine, if this was more of a character piece; but it's not.
posted by cjelli at 1:22 PM on October 23, 2015


Apparently order 65 was about killing the Chancellor if they were unfit.
posted by drezdn at 1:35 PM on October 23, 2015


I think in hindsight we can see that Lucas was improvising the two trilogies much more than it seemed, "Journal of the Wills" notwithstanding. I remember seeing this in the theaters (I think I have watched it three times in total) and thinking that it was a bit more tight than the first two movies, but still flawed. On rewatch, I still rank it as the best of the original trilogy, which isn't saying much.

I remember in the theaters being struck by how much Lucas was influenced by September 11 as well as the Bush administration. I am pretty sure Anakin point blank says "You are either with me or against me" to Obi-Wan before they battle which would have been a minor paraphrase of a really well-known Bush quote during the time this movie debuted in the theaters.

Part of the tremendous problem with the movie for me is that it reveals that basically everyone is a monster, except maybe Mace Windu. Granted in "A New Hope" Darth Vader is party to the destruction of an entire planet including its inhabitants, so his redemption moment in RotJ is always pretty shaky. But in "Revenge of the Sith" we see that he is a child murderer, too, which is frankly a pretty ridiculous turn. Throughout both trilogies, the Jedi are able to sense a person's character with the Force, going back to the implication that old Ben Kenobi selects Han Solo because he can sense that Solo would do the right thing when called upon. So now all of the combined Jedi of the Old Republic can't tell that Anakin is capable of the most depraved actions (at least by the audience's presumed standards).

Then, in what I consider a more ludicrous turn, Obi-Wan flat out maims Anakin and leaves him to die in the most excruciating manner possible. Obi-Wan tells Anakin (and the audience): "I have the high ground. [You cannot possibly hope to come off that platform and defeat me]." When Anakin tries to jump over Obi-Wan, Kenobi expertly slices off three major disconnected body parts! So, he has the ability to do significant surgery on Anakin, but not the ability to disarm him?

The thing is, it is easy to speculate on a million ways that the scene could play out such that Obi-Wan is not judge, jury and executioner. Anakin could rush him and fall on him such that some major injury occurs to keep Anakin from being able to fight on. Then the Emperor and his soldiers could intervene such that Obi-Wan has to flee the field. Anakin could be hurt in a sudden combination of Obi-Wan's skill plus the million falling and exploding objects all around them. Again the Emperor could make Obi-Wan flee in some way so that Obi-Wan doesn't leave Anakin to gruesomely die.

In general the scene makes Obi-Wan, who is frankly the moral center of the six movies, into a vengeful monster who basically reverses the lesson of Return of the Jedi. Obi-Wan does give in to hate and anger.
posted by Slothrop at 3:00 PM on October 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


RTOS also enjoyed hating on RTOJ in another way. In RTOJ, Luke learns that Leia is his sister and they have a very fine chat about this fact, and Luke asks Leia about their mother. Leia, while acknowledging she's dead by this point in their lives, recalls her always being sad. Now, according to RTOS, Leia was apparently remembering Bail Organa's wife...

I didn't think I could hate the prequels more than I already do, but that realization just brought my estimation of the movies to a new low.

Bad plotting, bad acting aside, you'd think the one thing that Lucas would do is be sure that the prequels line up as perfectly as possible with what we see in the original trilogy, but they don't seem to have put any effort into that.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 3:22 PM on October 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


One thing that always struck me about this one was how mid-70s Anakin's hairstyle felt. I know that in general, the production staff were really wanting to make Ep: 3 feel like it was leading seamlessly into ANH in their designs, but for some reason, the hair department managed to hit it all the way out of the park.

It made me wish that they hadn't been in such a rush to throw him straight into the helmet. I guess it was a longing there to see the prequels I had imagined in my youth, a chance to see more of Vader as a face of evil, and not just a mask of evil, slowly becoming "more machine than man" as the hunt for the Jedi took a slow toll on his body.
posted by radwolf76 at 3:38 PM on October 23, 2015


Slothrop, I had forgotten that - I shut the movie off somewhere in the lightsaber duel last night. But, yes, Obi-Wan standing over the still alive, dismembered, burning Anakin and then walking away is one of the worse moments of the movie. It is anti-Jedi and anti-everything we know about the character.
posted by nubs at 3:43 PM on October 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't even really understand why they were fighting.

I had been waiting to see what turned Annakin into Darth Vader for 20-some years, and after AOTC I figured it'd be disappointing and not really involving any sort of human reactions or emotions. Still, becoming a genocidal maniac because you're afraid your girlfriend might die was a pretty underwhelming turn of events.
posted by skewed at 4:16 PM on October 23, 2015


So, what were the previous 65 Orders?

I'm glad you asked!
posted by Servo5678 at 4:17 PM on October 23, 2015 [9 favorites]


Where are the stakes? The Republic is crumbling, yet after this massive battle above Corsucant that involved huge ships, fighters, debris falling like crazy, and yet traffic is normal and everyone's walking around. There's no urgency anywhere, even when Anakin goes to Windu and reveals the truth about Palpatine "we must move quickly if we are to prevent the fall of the Jedi" he says, and then strolls on. We are told how dire everything is, but I really felt no evidence of the war really impacting the Republic.

Yes. Everyone just sort of rambles around spouting incomprehensible plot points and you just sort of glaze over and wait for maybe an explosion or a scene with Padme, who at least seemed to be portraying actual human emotions that somewhat related to the situation.

becoming a genocidal maniac because you're afraid your girlfriend might die was a pretty underwhelming turn of events.

If you're a misogynist, it has the added bonus of making Anakin's fall due to the fact that a woman just couldn't understand him enough. Lovely.

I don't think Lucas ever had any clear idea besides "fear" of what would make Anakin turn into Vader. It is a big challenge, to take a sympathetic/innocent character and turn him into a monster. Lucas was definitely not up to it. But if he was going to tell that story, he should have found a writer that was.

The whole Anakin arc was incredibly muddled. This was his story, but we spent almost no time with him. Forget galactic politics, give us a kid being let into the program but being snubbed by other Jedi for having come in too late/having been a slave, getting in trouble for using unconventional tactics or Force maneuvers, finding a way to secretly send his mom messages, fighting with teachers, getting unfairly punished by Jedi instructors who insist they are impartial but clearly aren't. That would show the rot and cracks in the system, and also show how he might develop cynicism and doubt (and also the ability to shield his emotions in self-defense). Then show Sidious bailing him out of a scrape, or keeping a secret that would get him in trouble, and manipulating him also. The Padme stuff could come later, be a whirlwind romance that neither could resist (because the Force had brought them together!).

What could turn him into a kid-killer? After he gives himself to Sidious and finds out about Order 66, maybe make him like those assholes who murder their families; "I'm doing this because you are all doomed and this is more merciful. I am sending your souls to the Force quickly and mercifully."

Let Padme realize that she can only protect the kids if Anakin thinks she and they are dead and that he can sense her if she runs away, and poison herself in such a way that the kids can be delivered but she will not survive. None of this weak "dying of sadness" shit. Show a woman literally deciding to die for her kids because she is a badass.
posted by emjaybee at 4:36 PM on October 23, 2015 [18 favorites]


Padme's death made no sense to me. My daughter was three when this movie was released. I would, and will, give my life for her. If my husband was a douche, I would have fought death to protect her. Anakin was not worth dying for. Luke and Leia were worth living for. Die so they could live, sure, but what happened was so unnecessary. Her death invalidated her as the kickass woman she should have been.
posted by Ruki at 5:25 PM on October 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


Very very few moments of subtlety and filmmaking nuance in this picture. Two that I can recall off the top of my head (and possibly the only two):

1. When Anakin awakes from his bad dream and walks outside, the hall light for a moment illuminates on his body, emphasizing that even with a prosthetic arm, he is still an exquisite physical specimen, more man than machine, twisted but not yet broken.

2. When Obi-wan has given Luke to Beru, Ewan McGregor does Alec Guinness's pensive moustache-chin touch.
posted by infinitewindow at 5:34 PM on October 23, 2015


At the time Lucas insisted this wasn't a comment on the Bush administration, but I've always doubted his sincerity on that one. This movie arrived during some of the darkest days of the Bush era, and lefties like me definitely perked up to hear lines like, "you're either with me, or your my enemy" and "So this is how liberty dies... with thunderous applause."

Whatever power this movie has is mostly up to the actors. Ian Mcdiarmid is really good, selling the hell out of Palpatine's transformation from elegant, oily politician to snarling dark wizard-monster. When Obi-Wan almost sobs that Anakin was supposed to be the chosen one, the line lands because of Ewan McGregor's delivery. Natalie Portman is ill-served in the other films, but she brings some tragedy to the scene where she tells Anakin he's breaking her heart. It's an embarrassingly amateurish line, a classic example of a screenwriter telling instead of showing, but Portman invests it with such trembling misery that we can believe her words. Even Hayden Christensen is pretty OK here. His sullen teenager act shades into something truly dark. If it's still hard to buy that this is the guy who became Darth Vader, we can at least accept that he has become a terrible man.

I didn't see Obi-Wan leaving Anakin to burn as a vengeance thing really. I think Obi-Wan just kind of walked away in disgust. He probably felt that Anakin was beyond saving, that hauling him from the lava would only bring more misery to the galaxy. (And as it turned out, he was right.) So, he decided to leave Anakin to his fate. There was presumably some element of punishment involved, and perhaps a bit of cowardice from Obi-Wan not being willing to just cut off his old friend's head or something and end his suffering. But I can see why Obi-Wan would look at Anakin getting fried like that and just say, "You know what? I'm done with this. Go ahead and die."
posted by Ursula Hitler at 7:43 PM on October 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


OK, if you're an asthmatic cyborg do not leave your only internal organs exposed to the wind. That's just common sense.

The prequels suffer from an excess of villains. The original series had Tarkin I guess, and various Empire commanders, Vader, Jabba, and the Emperor. The prequels had Maul, Ronald WealthyGing and the Trade Federation, Dooku, Jango, the assassin, Grievous, Palpatine, Anakin... it was an endless parade. Rather than increase the tension and stakes, it lowers it. None of them are around for long, and that just makes them low hurdles.

The "he's more machine now than man" line in Jedi suggested a more steady, or at least prolonged, transition for Anakin to Vader. I was expecting more combat damage in Clones, or at least before Sith starts. Add that to the list of disappointments.

It just felt like the end was shoe-horning in all the bits required to connect to IV. This movie existed more to cement the connections between the prequels and the originals (which were ridiculously overwrought already) than to serve the narrative of Anakin's downfall.

So many issues. There's good bits, but that's it.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 8:46 PM on October 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


I didn't see Obi-Wan leaving Anakin to burn as a vengeance thing really. I think Obi-Wan just kind of walked away in disgust.

It's the utter lack of compassion in Obi-Wan at that moment that makes me view the moment as horrid; he had Anakin - his friend, his brother - utterly at his mercy. Despite both of them knowing it was a duel to the death, he warns Anakin not to try the jump because he (Obi-Wan) has the advantage. When Ani tries anyways, Kenobi cuts off an arm and both legs. And then stands there and watches him burn.

If he could dismember him so thoroughly in the jump, then I have to think he could have killed him outright. And even if he couldn't, leaving this man who he thinks of as a brother to lie there in agony and burn to death is incredibly cruel. It doesn't seem in keeping with Obi-Wan as a character.

It's a symptom of the problem of the prequels - there's a lack of moral centre, of knowing who the good guys are, that the original trilogy didn't have. To act from fear or hate, for revenge or for personal glory or satisfaction - those are of the Dark Side. In a different movie series, the moment would work fine - we have our hero allowing themselves a moment of cruel indulgence in victory. Been done many times, and it works just fine in a story where shades of grey and some moral ambiguity are allowed. But in Star Wars, it's always been depicted as a binary choice.
posted by nubs at 8:48 PM on October 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure if I'm defending Obi-Wan or Ewan McGregor here, but... Anakin, in the original trilogy, kills the Emperor. I know I'm giving George credit he doesn't deserve, but couldn't Obi-Wan see that Anakin was uniquely positioned to fall out of grace and redeem himself?
posted by Ruki at 10:05 PM on October 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


The "I have the high ground" thing makes no sense anyway, but an especially impressive amount of no sense considering how the Darth Maul fight ended in the first film.

I don't think Lucas ever had any clear idea besides "fear" of what would make Anakin turn into Vader. It is a big challenge, to take a sympathetic/innocent character and turn him into a monster. Lucas was definitely not up to it. But if he was going to tell that story, he should have found a writer that was.

Anakin's story across the three films is (or should have been) basically the same as Michael Corleone's in the first godfather film (a good man turned evil step by step without realising it by doing what appears to be the right thing at every stage until its too late and he's more abominable than whatever it was he hated initially).

Of course the godfather managed to do it beautifully in less than 3 hours, whereas the star wars films spent 6 hours having Anakin being a good man that liked to occasionally have a bit of a sulk, and then leapt immediately to him murdering hundreds of children with a big sword.
posted by dng at 4:07 AM on October 24, 2015 [9 favorites]


I'm not sure if I'm defending Obi-Wan or Ewan McGregor here, but... Anakin, in the original trilogy, kills the Emperor. I know I'm giving George credit he doesn't deserve, but couldn't Obi-Wan see that Anakin was uniquely positioned to fall out of grace and redeem himself?

Maybe the most depressing that about the prequel trilogy is how many times I've seen fanwanking* that could have measurably improved the movies -- fan theories and rescripting and recasting just entirely new plot points that would make the movies awesome. Because obviously the fans love that world and the stories and know intimately how and why it all works and the guy who created it all doesn't.

*I mean this in the best way.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:31 AM on October 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Part of me hopes that sometime in the next 20 years Disney just says "Fuck it" and reboots the prequels, declaring the Lucas prequels doubleplusthoughtcrime.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:50 AM on October 24, 2015 [12 favorites]


It staggers me that people think this movie is any better than the rest of the prequels. This movie has the worst case of "we'll fix it in post" I've ever seen. The entire opening sequence was rejiggered—vast swathes of (terrible) scenes were cut. Worst of all, so was Anakin's turn. Anakin's turn. His turnthe whole reason for this stupid, stupid trilogy, and Lucas didn't even know how he wanted it to play out when he was shooting it.

Basically, the whole stupid script should have been burned and its ashes stored in a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying beware of the leopard, but here's my specific problems with elements in the film:

The Bad
  • Anakin's turn is written poorly. He is duped into the darkside. A tragedy about a noble man corrupted ends up on the screen as a whiny, creepy, selfish teenager gets played. His betrayal and fall is the hook on which this entire trilogy hangs and it doesn't work. None of the nice little touches (see below) can redeem the movie if his fall doesn't work.
  • In one scene Palpatine tells Anakin that he can teach him the skills to save Padme and in another scene he reveals he doesn't actually know those skills and Anakin doesn't even react?
  • Anakin slaughtering children? Sorry, no coming back from that. Especially if your sole act of contrition is saving your adult son from your boss twenty years later. There was no need for this—all Ben tells us in the OT is that Vader "helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights." This could be as easy as "the keycode to the back door of the Jedi temple is 12345." Betrayal is the key, not the slaughter, especially of innocents.
  • The sophomoric and pat ending montage showing us Luke, Leia, Ben, and Yoda ending up in their exact starting places for Episode IV & V.
  • The duel in Palpatine's office. The Jedi just stand there and let Palpatine kill them. I guess the stunt double was sick/injured, but it's one of the key scenes in the key movie in the prequel trilogy—do something better than just letting McDiarmid fake his way through it.
  • The attempts at humor are awful.
  • Basically, all the dialogue is awful.
  • Why does Palpatine look healthier in RotS than he does in AotC?
  • Palpatine's make-up after the force lightning is terrible.
  • McDiarmid, rock solid in the rest of the OT, is pretty uneven this time. Bad in the opening rescue sequence, great in the opera house scene, good in various office scenes up until Anakin shows up when Mace has him cornered, and pretty uneven from there to the end. Weird voice processing effects after he throws Mace out the window, too.
  • The final duel with Obi-Wan and Anakin just goes on and on and on, the dialogue is awful, and the "high ground" bit is awful.
  • That stupid moment where two two of them just spin their lightsabers at each other.
  • Why does Vader need mechanical breathing when Obi-Wan was right there breathing volcanic fumes with him and did not? He seems to breathe and scream fine on the operation table without assistance
  • Obi-Wan's stupid Superman pose on the ramp of Padme's ship makes me laugh every time.
  • She dies of a broken heart?
  • In order to make the dialogue in RotJ between Luke and Leia remembering their mother make even a lick of sense in light of the PT, Leia should have been firstborn.

    The Worst
  • Prequel apologists who say things like the novelizations / Clone Wars cartoon(s) / shitty EU novel "make the prequels so much better." Extratextual material doesn't redeem a shitty movie.

    The Good / Guilty Pleasures
  • The opening sequence with the cruiser gliding silently over Coruscant as the drums of war beat, the camera following the two fighters, revealing the complete mayhem of a capital ship battle beneath. The capital ships exchanging broadsides like old sailing ships.
  • The Odessa steps homage at the beginning of the Order 66 montage.
  • The 9/11 imagery of the Jedi Temple burning said so much about what was to come for the Republic.
  • I'm not a fan of Yoda with a lightsaber, but the part where he threw his saber into a clone's chest and jumped up to grab it was pretty bad ass.
  • Palpatine throwing Senate pods and cackling like he's having the best day EVER.
  • Anakin relentlessly trying to claw his way up the bank of the volcanic river is a nice nod towards showing how singleminded and relentless Vader is in ANH & RotJ.
  • The Vader assembly sequence, right up to that first mechanical breath. So. Good.
  • The music was pretty good, over all.
  • Most of the production design.

  • posted by entropicamericana at 9:06 AM on October 24, 2015 [7 favorites]


    Anakin's turn. His turn—the whole reason for this stupid, stupid trilogy, and Lucas didn't even know how he wanted it to play out when he was shooting it.

    Favorited times a million.

    I saw all the prequels in the theater, pretty much forgetting everything as soon as I got up from my seat), the first two only once. I saw ROTS twice--the first at a midnight screening, the second at the Ziegfeld with my now ex and my sister. The second viewing was painful, but I kept hoping that even some small portion of the story would ring true. By the time of "NOOOOOOOOOO!" I had emotionally checked out of the whole damn thing.

    Then that final shot of Tatooine was a kick in the gut. I realized that the ONLY WAY Lucas could reach the audience was by "borrowing" from the first movie in the series. That made me so sad, for the wasted potential.

    So yeah, I hope Disney reboots the prequels and starts from the ground floor. It certainly couldn't be any worse.
    posted by computech_apolloniajames at 12:10 PM on October 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


    Anakin slaughtering children? Sorry, no coming back from that. Especially if your sole act of contrition is saving your adult son from your boss twenty years later.

    I've always had the feeling that when you turn to the dark side of the Force, it pushes you to do worse and worse things. Like, Luke Skywalker is obviously a swell guy, but if he gave in to the dark side eventually he'd probably be as evil as his dad and he'd be killing innocents too. Sort of like the corrupting power of the ring in the LOTR, maybe.

    Also, I think Vader's redemption is about him fully committing to goodness before he dies. It's not just that he feels guilty, it's that he fully rejects the dark side and (perhaps) finally becomes the good Jedi he always had the potential to be. It's almost like we could say the dark side was a parasite or a symbiotic entity that had been driving him to terrible acts for decades, and now he's purged it and is clean again. He is no longer Darth Vader, the man who could kill children. So when he dies moments later, he could go on to Jedi ghost-hood. Maybe it all sounds a little bogus, but it works for me.

    (I would be genuinely curious what sort of conversations the Jedi ghosts have among themselves. Yoda was a scrappy little toad-man who would really sass people who fell short in his eyes. I can picture Anakin's ghost saying something about Luke having great potential and Yoda's ghost saying something like, "Ah, great potential you once had, too! And betrayed us all, you did! Perhaps young Skywalker, as weak and foolish as his father will be, hm?" And then Obi-Wan's ghost will be like, "You know guys, eternity lasts a long time...")
    posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:26 AM on October 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


    On the good side, this film made me realize that it's not betraying your youth to recognize that things you loved as a young person don't need to be in your life forever. What a dreadful, dreary, exhausting film...but now I'm free of Star Wars and can focus instead on The Fifth Element.
    posted by sonascope at 7:16 AM on October 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


    It's the utter lack of compassion in Obi-Wan at that moment that makes me view the moment as horrid

    Among the worst things that the prequels do is, they make almost every single Jedi (Obi-Wan included) some combination of incompetent and horrible. If this was something Lucas did on purpose, it would be really impressive, but it's clear from how things play out that he just does not know how to write characters with motivations and feelings. I still think that Ewan MacGregor tried his hardest, but watching this movie I can only conclude that anything good about Obi-Wan in the original trilogy was due to Alec Guinness's skill, and all happened despite George, not because of him.

    And as for this movie ... I mean, I don't even know what to say, mostly. I still maintain that it is better than AotC, but that's because AotC is as low as it gets. RotS, though, has so many major problems.

    The turning of Anakin takes on the tenor of a high school senior tricking a gullible freshman into embarassing himself. The fight scene that 6 hours of prequel trilogy have been leading up to ends up being utterly boring, with a nonsensical ending that betrays even the tiny amount of character building done up until then. Every goddamn thing the Jedi do continues to be the stupidest thing possible at any moment in time. Padme dies because she loses the will to live (it's not like she has, I dunno, two kids who are her every reason to want to live). Every little thing that George wants to tie up and put a bow on, he instead takes a giant dump on. And of course, it ends with the most cringe-inducing moment in the whole Star Wars canon.

    "NOOOOOOOOOOOO!", indeed.
    posted by tocts at 8:27 AM on October 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


    If this was something Lucas did on purpose, it would be really impressive, but it's clear from how things play out that he just does not know how to write characters with motivations and feelings.

    I choose to believe that this was on purpose and that part of why Vader and Luke are important is that when Luke restarts the Jedi it will be as not-colossal-assholes because he wasn't fucked up nine ways from Sunday by being effectively abducted as an infant and raised by the Psi Corps.
    posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:00 AM on October 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


    With a tragedy you're supposed to be upset by the hero's fall from grace, but the way Anakin Skywalker was cast, written, and performed in the prequels, you felt like, "Go. Just go to the Dark Side."
    posted by kirkaracha at 5:09 PM on October 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


    In fact, you kinda lose respect for Dark Side because they took him.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:44 PM on October 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


    Also, was the plan to send Lando, then droids, then Leia and Chewie? Or just each group with a back up plan if they failed? 'Cause that's a bit crazy.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:14 PM on October 25, 2015


    I saw this movie on opening night (because at that point I was morbidly committed) and I laughed a lot. A lot. Like almost got in a fight with the guy behind me in the parking lot afterwords "A LOT"

    This movie came out squarely in the middle of high school for me. So i went and saw it with a bunch of friends, and we were those stupid teenagers you probably hate in the theater.

    I managed to hold it together, mostly, until the NOOOOOOOO.

    That got all the meme-ing it deserved. That was basically George Lucas' Howard Dean scream. As soon as i heard i knew that not only was this movie a turkey, but that all the Ep.1 haters were climaxing from vindication upon hearing it.

    If you play it with no video on, it literally sounds like something a pitch shifted horror movie monster(or regular character in a jerky slow motion sequence) would say in an F-list direct to VHS 80s horror movie.

    Ewan McGregor rides a giant feather-covered iguana to fight an asthmatic cyborg. There's a water ballet. An entire battalion of Wookiees fighting in a pond, or whatever. One's memory can really only scratch the surface of how much insane (and entirely unnecessary) imagery was crammed into this thing. It's EXHAUSTING.

    Yea, and it's also impossible to remember. Not just the details, but even like, what the plot is. Ep.4-6 are so perfectly memorable. Especially ep.4. It's such a classic story that sticks with you. This movie in particularly is so ridiculously content packed and muddled that it's like "Uh, there's the thing where they kill the jedi and he turns into vader". Oh yea, and the lava fight sequence that looks more like a video game than most games do now(seriously, it looks like an environment that would be in like, Crysis 5 and win a bunch of awards for the art).

    I wonder if we'll ever get a concise reboot of these 3 movies now? Or will they just move forward(or possibly even more old republic further backwards) and kind of just let it rot?

    AoTC and RoTS always blur together in my head because the series is so bottom heavy. It's like the relative lack of a lead character or all that much plot progress in the first movie resulted in the second waking up with a hangover and not getting much done, and then they try and cram WAY too much exposition into the third.

    I wonder if there's like, a 5 hour cut of this movie in some vault somewhere.
    posted by emptythought at 8:48 PM on October 25, 2015


    Oh, and yea, i'm posting twice in a row but i completely forgot how angry i still am at this:

    The sophomoric and pat ending montage showing us Luke, Leia, Ben, and Yoda ending up in their exact starting places for Episode IV & V.

    This is such garbage. I know this is supposed to be a series "for kids" but this is something that even like, Spy Kids type movies have the respect to not do to their audience. They're treating the audience like they just came to the theater watching like Dora the Explorer on the seat-back DVD system.

    It's also something that, for the most part, stuff like the whole marvel universe franchise-thing has managed to handle respectfully. It's ok to hint, but the amount of hand holding and "HAHA SEE GET IT, IT SEGWAYS STRAIGHT IN GET IT!" is masturbatory. It's George jerking himself off over the fact that he made this whole huge franchise and it all ties together combined with an appeal to everyone who grew up with the originals of it all tying up.

    But mostly, yea, lack of respect for the audience. Most good movies leave things up to question or the imagination. These prequels, far more than the old movies and definitely more than a lot of actually good movies are explicit about WAY too many things.

    It was covered how stupid it is to have Anakin build C3PO in the phantom menace thread, but that's a perfect example. Every thing they do like this, as stated there, makes the universe feel really small. Every needless move that was made to tie it all together and make it look like a big neat loop shrinks the universe and smacks of lack of respect for the viewer.
    posted by emptythought at 8:57 PM on October 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


    "I saw a security hologram of him killing younglings," Ewan MacGregor states with utmost seriousness, just before covering his mouth to keep the vomit from spraying out too much

    Also what is with the way Palpatine has an audible hard-on every time he talks about the dark side in the prequels

    Like, it is uncomfortable, but not in any way it is presumably intended to be
    posted by DoctorFedora at 5:50 AM on October 26, 2015


    I think McDiarmid knew exactly what he was doing there. Palpatine takes a truly perverse pleasure in evil, he gets off on being bad in a way that is clearly somewhat sexual and that just makes him even more awful. I think his seduction of Anakin is meant to have a sexual element too, or at least that's how McDiarmid plays it. Not that Anakin is at all attracted to Palpatine or even necessarily that Palpatine is physically attracted to Anakin either, but Palpatine gets off on power and corrupting the innocent, and in Anakin he sees a tasty prospect indeed.

    I suspect that's what Lucas was going for too. For all his missteps with the prequels the man is not a total idiot, and it's easy for me to picture him brainstorming with Spielberg on the Raiders set and saying, "So, the Emperor's lust for power is gonna be creepy in this almost sexual way, he's this hideous, ancient old man and he gets a certain twinkle in his eye when he starts talking about the dark side..."
    posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:21 AM on October 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


    McDiarmid felt like he was one of the few people having fun on these shoots. CHEW that scenery!
    posted by Chrysostom at 6:41 AM on October 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


    I think McDiarmid knew exactly what he was doing there. Palpatine takes a truly perverse pleasure in evil, he gets off on being bad in a way that is clearly somewhat sexual and that just makes him even more awful. I think his seduction of Anakin is meant to have a sexual element too, or at least that's how McDiarmid plays it.

    This is exactly how it was played in the throne room scene in the RotJ, too.
    posted by entropicamericana at 8:02 AM on October 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


    Speaking of The Emperor:

    I totally agree that McDiarmid is one of the only small bits of fun or interest in the prequels (though he's still got some scenes that are deathly boring or stupid). That said, I really think it's a shame that Lucas didn't have any interest in actually sticking with the mythology of the original trilogy, with respects to Palpatine in RotS. Avid readers will note that this is the twin of my complaint about Yoda in AotC.

    Put simply: in Ep VI, Emperor Palpatine, as far as we ever see, does not have a lightsaber. In fact, when he talks about Luke's lightsaber, he refers to it as a "Jedi weapon". Yet here we are in Ep III, after Lucas' ill-conceived retcon making "Darth" a title (as opposed to it clearly being a first name in the original trilogy), and after Lucas' following up on that by declaring that obviously Sith are just Evil Jedi with Evil Lightsabers (as opposed to Darth Vader being an exceptional case, a Sith and a fallen Jedi at once). And so of course Palpatine has his own Evil Lightsaber, and of course the Windu vs. Palpatine confrontation is a lightsaber battle.

    I think that scene, but with Palpatine not having a lightsaber, would be infinitely more interesting and impactful. Windu arrives, confident that he is going to best Palpatine with his lightsaber. He approaches, saber at the ready ... and Palpatine shows him the fullness of his power. With barely any effort, he disarms Windu with a flick of his wrist, pins him up against the wall, and out comes the lightning...

    But, nope: time for an unnecessary lightsaber duel. Also, that goddamn makeup post-lightning ... this is the apotheosis of Lucas' uncontrollable desire to explain everything from the original trilogy by showing us exactly where it came from. I'm surprised we didn't have a side scene where young Han Solo was in the background, buying himself a nice vest -- after all, we wouldn't want to leave any possible power or possession from Eps IV-VI with an unexplained provenance in the prequels.
    posted by tocts at 8:21 AM on October 26, 2015 [9 favorites]


    Also what is with the way Palpatine has an audible hard-on every time he talks about the dark side in the prequels
    "The Dark Side is a path to many abilities some consider to be...unnatural," Palpatine purred, glancing at young Anakin. Was he being too obvious? He couldn't help himself. The young man's hair and that sullen, brooding look. Palpatine thought for a moment about black leather and a gimp mask, and then focused himself on the music of the performance again. It would not do for the Force to flow too soon.

    "What happened?" Anakin asked. He knew the game that was afoot; many a Master and an Apprentice played at hide the lightsaber. But he had to admit he was curious about the Dark Side and what it might be like. Padme was adept at rummaging his robes, but it was different with someone who was Force Sensitive. And someone who had spent time on the Dark Side...well, he had heard tales of Darth Maul and his double sided lightsaber. He imagined that would be even better than dual wielding his and Obi-Wan's...
    It writes itself!

    More seriously, I've always found it interesting in a movie series as limited in sexuality as Star Wars (they strapped Carrie Fisher's breasts down to prevent jiggling!), the moments where it shows up are fascinating:

    -Han and Leia flirt and exchange kisses, but it is far more about the romance than anything sexual.
    -Leia's turn as a slave girl in Jabba's palace was an interesting moment for many members of the audience of the original trilogy
    -Several of Padme's outfits in AotC are...unusual? Noticeable?
    -Palpatine also gives off a definite vibe, as noted.


    And I'm not surprised that Palpatine comes across as one of the more interesting characters of the prequels. In addition to it being Ian McDiarmid, he's the only character who actually wants something and is taking steps to get it. Everyone else is in a place of defending the status quo, making them reactive or even worse, passive. It's a problem that can happen in this type of story, where the villains are more interesting because they are dynamic characters making change happen.
    posted by nubs at 8:33 AM on October 26, 2015 [7 favorites]


    But he should be ridiculously easy to defeat by any Jedi with half a brain.

    Well there's yer problem right there!

    These are the clowns whose idea of infiltration is "let's all sneak into the enemy facility, then all run out into the center of the fire zone so we can be shot! Derr!" Obviously the last thing Jedi see looking for is intelligence.

    Seriously, one of the things I truly hate about the prequels is they made the Jedi stupid. They went from elite warrior-monks to acrobatic morons.
    posted by happyroach at 1:11 PM on October 26, 2015


    It's in the liner notes, actually, if you own the right copy. Apparently the Jedi Order after a thousand generations acting as guardians of peace in the galaxy had evolved into a complex, yet mystical, form of kabuki theater. They were no longer true warriors, just actors who portrayed warriors. They were taught techniques and skills that instructed them in the Force and lightsabers, but they had no true combat or tactical training. The Jedi Mind Trick devolved into a parlor trick for use upon the weak minded.

    Realistically, George, ugh.
    posted by Atreides at 2:12 PM on October 26, 2015


    Given that we're edging into some discussion of sexuality in Star Wars:
    The fraught history of Princess Leia's infamous bikini
    posted by nubs at 2:55 PM on October 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


    It's funny how sexuality in Star Wars is so rarely discussed... but if you think about it, there is all sorts of kinky stuff in the original trilogy. There's the whole Luke and Leia sibling romance (with two kisses that we see, one of them quite passionate even if it was really more about Leia trying to prove to Han that she prefers Luke), but then there's Leia's gold bikini and her enslavement by Jabba, and Han and Leia's really intense flirtation and eventual romance in Empire. (I've heard some women say that they find Han's seduction of Leia really uncomfortable now, that he's aggressive and insulting in a way that really puts them off. Personally I love their dynamic, but I think it's worth noting that for some people that romance plays very differently in 2015.)

    And that's all stuff that is right there on the surface. Then you get into the more subtle or debatable stuff, like the Emperor's kinky relish when he's trying to turn Luke to the dark side, or the Freudian symbolism of the raid on the Death Star trench or the phallic symbolism of light sabers (something Mel Brooks really ran with in Spaceballs.)

    And again, I wouldn't be surprised if Lucas knew exactly what he was doing with all of that stuff. Maybe spending all those years locked away in a fortress made of solid gold bricks led to him being weirdly blind to all the ugly racial imagery in the prequels, but he was no Polyanna about sex stuff. You read the transcript (PDF here) of his Raiders spitballing with Spielberg and Lawrence Kasdan, and it's kind of amazing how blunt (and creepy) Lucas gets when he talks about Indiana Jones having had a relationship with Marion when he was 35 and she was 12, which Lucas describes as her being "slightly young at the time". ("15 is right on the edge... once she's 16 or 17 it's not interesting anymore.") Putting aside a few utterly strange moments like that, it's kind of amazing to see how skilled Lucas was with character and story back then. The great stuff in movies like Star Wars and Raiders wasn't a fluke and it wasn't all just Lucas' more talented collaborators cleaning up his sloppy ideas. Lucas really knew what he was doing, back in the day.

    "The Dark Side is a path to many abilities some consider to be...unnatural."

    I'd forgotten that line... and my lord, does that ever sound like a kinky old queen putting the moves on a young buck.
    posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:55 PM on October 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


    UNLIMITED POWAAAAAAAH!
    posted by infinitewindow at 10:54 PM on October 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


    I'd forgotten that line... and my lord, does that ever sound like a kinky old queen putting the moves on a young buck.

    Maybe the whole Jedi/Sith thing is just a weird sex cult in the Crowley/Hubbard sense -- a goofy mystical pretense that allows creepy old dudes to surround themselves with pliant, worshipful youngsters who haven't fully developed a sense of their own personal boundaries yet.
    posted by Strange Interlude at 8:10 AM on October 27, 2015


    I'd forgotten that line... and my lord, does that ever sound like a kinky old queen putting the moves on a young buck.

    When I saw that scene during my kind of rewatch, my reaction was: "I know Obi-Wan said Vader was seduced by the Dark Side of the Force, but I didn't think we were talking literally!" I remember being rather bemused by it in the theatre as well; it is over the top.

    At any rate, it does strike me as somewhat problematic that the only area where we detect any homo-erotic/homosexual tones to the Star Wars universe is with the Sith, who are (by canon) the bad guys.
    posted by nubs at 8:29 AM on October 27, 2015


    fan theories and rescripting and recasting just entirely new plot points that would make the movies awesome.

    Yes! Even a silly/comedic character and story re-write of the whole thing like what Auralnauts did with Star Wars actually brings something to the table:

    In the Revenge of the Sith Anakin vs. Obi-Wan duel is when I first noticed that Obi-Wan did act kind of callous. He basically ditches Anakin, lets him get set on fire, and steals his lightsaber.

    Then, when they did their version of the New Hope Obi-Wan vs. Vader duel, they had Vader basically call out Obi-wan for leaving him there. And it makes sense that Anakin would actually reference a pretty big thing that happened between him and Obi back in the day.

    Part of me hopes that sometime in the next 20 years Disney just says "Fuck it" and reboots the prequels

    Actually, I'm betting in 20 to 25 years it's going to be a complete reboot/remake of all six episodes. it's too tempting for Disney not to try (and well by that time most people involved with Star Wars '77 will be gone).
    posted by FJT at 8:37 AM on October 27, 2015


    "In the Revenge of the Sith Anakin vs. Obi-Wan duel is when I first noticed that Obi-Wan did act kind of callous. He basically ditches Anakin, lets him get set on fire, and steals his lightsaber."

    That wasn't callous, it was stupid. He should have either killed Anakin outright or shoved his ass into the lava and then stolen his lightsaber.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:52 AM on October 27, 2015


    Even just a bit of a Force push of Anakin into the lava. And then stolen the lightsaber.
    posted by nubs at 9:14 AM on October 27, 2015


    A kick would do. And since the lightsaber no longer has an owner...finders keepers!
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:19 AM on October 27, 2015


    One can only assume that Obi-Wan's refusal to kill Anakin boils down to his own attachment to him. After all, he essentially raised Anakin from the boy they found on Tatooine and in the process, the two definitely had to have become close, as much as the Jedi Order's rules would allow such attachments to become. From this perspective, it's not that outrageous that Kenobi cannot bring himself to kill Anakin, taking the coward's way out by letting him most definitely succumb to the environment and his wounds. On top of that, he takes his lightsaber as his one keepsake and memory of the friendship/student/mentorship.

    And......in an instance of Lucas actually adhering to the canon of the Original Trilogy, he HAS to take it or he wouldn't have it to give to Luke in ANH.
    posted by Atreides at 9:21 AM on October 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


    It's like LOTR. If pity hadn't stayed Bilbo/Frodo/Obi-Wan's hand, then Gollum/Anakin will never play his role in overthrowing Sauron/Palpatine.

    ....Ha ha ha, no, I'm sorry. I tried to keep a straight face in portraying Lucas as having a plan, and I just couldn't do it.
    posted by Chrysostom at 10:07 AM on October 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


    aking the coward's way out by letting him most definitely succumb to the environment and his wounds. On top of that, he takes his lightsaber as his one keepsake and memory of the friendship/student/mentorship.

    And......in an instance of Lucas actually adhering to the canon of the Original Trilogy, he HAS to take it or he wouldn't have it to give to Luke in ANH.


    It is a coward's way out, but it still doesn't sit right with me for a few reasons:
    -I wouldn't leave a friend like that; as hard as it would be I would like to think I would finish the job rather than leave my friend to burn alive. I've put down dogs I've loved when they were in pain and distress.
    -Obi-Wan's mission was to kill Anakin. Not to dismember him and then walk away. He didn't finish the job and he had no clear reason not to; the audience is left to read into that decision either Obi-Wan's affection or his disgust in terms of leaving a man to burn to death. He could have killed him during the jump, or immediately afterwards, or just pushed him into the lava. It would have been very easy to set that scene up in such a way that Obi-Wan gravely hurts Anakin and then is forced away - by other lava flows, by droid attack, by anything else - and believes that Anakin must be dead, but he didn't have a chance to deliver the coup de grace.
    -the whole thing - lightsaber duel through to the final conversation - doesn't feel earned. Despite them describing themselves as great friends, we never see that. All we see of the relationship is Anakin chafing at Obi-Wan's leadership and the two of them bad mouthing each other in both public and private. I never buy the friendship, and so there's no emotional stakes here. Suddenly Obi-Wan loved him like a brother? And we reference the prophecy again? No. Give me a second movie where they were friends and obviously respected and relied on each other, and a third film where Anakin starts pulling away and acting weird and it culminates in the two having to go against each other - not because Obi-Wan was ordered to do so, but because Obi-Wan and Anakin are on a mission together when Anakin turns or reveals himself would actually give this fight some emotional stakes and meaning, as opposed to Ewan MacGregor trying to wring everything he can from the lines he was given.

    The problem the prequels have is that we know the outcome of the story. We know Anakin becomes Vader; we know Obi-Wan and Yoda survive and are driven into hiding; that the Republic falls and the Jedi almost destroyed; and that hope survives in the form of Vader's twin children. To make the prequels interesting, we need to see the story beyond and behind those details and we have to care. In the end, though, I wind up not caring because the prequels reveal the Republic to be an ineffective, corrupt bureaucracy; the Jedi to be anything but wise keepers of peace and order; and Anakin to be a sullen and whiny ass who is basically tricked into joining the Dark Side. So now the original trilogy is damaged as well, because the things we thought about the people in it are undermined by the history as depicted in the prequels. Why should we care about a fight to restore the Republic and re-establish the Jedi when we know it was no golden age and the people involved had feet of clay? And is Vader less threatening now that we know he was, at heart, really an ass? Obi-Wan was a man who deliberately turned his back on his friend and brother to leave him to burn to death? Yoda is a punk who ran from the fight with the Emperor when it was not at all clear he had lost?

    So yeah, Lucas makes sure that all of the details of canon are adhered to - Obi-Wan has the lightsaber to pass along; Luke is delivered to Owen; Leia stays with the senator from Alderaan; we see a shot of the corridor of the spaceship that will be part of the opening sequence of ANH, and hey - C3P0 and R2D2 are there! So there's detail continuity, but not continuity on the big stuff - the larger themes and emotional pieces that would make it all resound.

    Star Wars as a series of films was never great art or very deep. I think the audience always responded to the emotional aspects of the story (which are pretty simple and indeed deliberately put there, in terms of the Hero's Journey - we know that shit works!) and the possibilities of the universe that was put on the screen in front of us. (At least when I keep engaging with Star Wars, it's about those possibilities - about wondering what might be around the corner of this amazingly diverse and strange universe. What other stories are waiting to be told?) It treated in the language of myth and legend while giving us a set of heroes that we could relate to and engage with. The prequels ripped away the myth and legend, and gave us no heroes.
    posted by nubs at 10:20 AM on October 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


    One can only assume that Obi-Wan's refusal to kill Anakin boils down to his own attachment to him.

    No, pretty sure it didn't happen because in later episodes Darth was alive. Otherwise it doesn't make a lick of sense for Obi Wan not to kill the the spoiled brat that murdered so many and destroyed so much.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:25 AM on October 27, 2015


    Well said, nubs.
    posted by entropicamericana at 10:47 AM on October 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


    The prequels ripped away the myth and legend, and gave us no heroes.

    On my personal blog, I wrote a short piece on why I was avoiding a lot of the Darth Vader oriented material. I had just read Tarkin, which unexpectedly featured quite a bit of the Sith Lord and it was definitely uncomfortable from my previous appreciation of Darth Vader because it made him too intimately accessible. It referenced his thoughts, when the entire time, one of the things I felt that was great about Vader was that he's this impenetrable mask and almost unstoppable force. Vader is only truly defeated once in the Original Trilogy, and I loved that his menace was wrapped up in his mystery. I think you (nubs) perfectly summed up that feeling.

    The sad aspect of it all is the Pied Piperish bent of the Star Wars franchise. For the fans, it's something undeniably alluring, but for Lucas, the piper so to speak, it's simply something he created, and while he has strong ownership feelings over it - like a demi-god, his interaction with the material is as one of creator, not observer. He doesn't and can't understand that his decisions in the Prequel Trilogy have reverberations of ill affect because he has assigned those things which are affected as inferior value to the importance of his decisions. Lining up the logic of his characters in RTOS is secondary to him making his film which corresponds to only his own valued topics. It doesn't necessarily matter that Leia's memories are now inconsistent with the events of RTOS because he wanted Padme to die of a broken heart, and so on, and so on. Of course, we hear the music and we're drawn along to our doom, unable to help ourselves.
    posted by Atreides at 11:45 AM on October 27, 2015


    nubs: "So now the original trilogy is damaged as well, because the things we thought about the people in it are undermined by the history as depicted in the prequels."

    I can guarantee you that for whatever work of fiction you hold most dear, there is a badly written fanfiction that shits all over it. But that's no reason to like it any less. You just go "Wow, that was spectacularly bad fanfiction", and that's the end of it. In the same way, there's no reason to let the stuff in the prequels damage the original trilogy.
    posted by Bugbread at 8:33 PM on October 27, 2015


    The prequels aren't fan fiction, though. They were created by the dude who made the original trilogy, and are supposed to be canon. Everything in them is as "real" as anything in the original trilogy. I try not to think about baby Darth and CGI Yoda and midichlorians when I see the original trilogy, but that stuff just won't go away.

    At least with nu-Trek I know that everybody involved (well, other than Leonard Nimoy) with the original series and movies had nothing to do with that reboot nonsense, with Beastie Boys tunes and Spohura (Uhock?) and blowing up Vulcan and every other minor and major way that JJ Abrams took a dump on five decades of Trek. Gene Rodenberry, Rick Berman et al did not sign off on that malarkey, which makes it easier to dismiss as non-canon. I suspect Abrams will do better with Star Wars, partly because he doesn't hate that franchise the way he hated Trek and partly because it'd be hard to do worse with Star Wars than Lucas has done since 1999.
    posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:24 PM on October 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


    Ursula Hitler: "The prequels aren't fan fiction, though. They were created by the dude who made the original trilogy, and are supposed to be canon. Everything in them is as "real" as anything in the original trilogy. I try not to think about baby Darth and CGI Yoda and midichlorians when I see the original trilogy, but that stuff just won't go away."

    Maybe making it go away just takes practice? I'm fairly good at disbelieving fiction when I choose. It's not like real life, where you cannot just choose to just pretend something which actually happened didn't really happen. With Star Wars (or any fiction), someone is making up a story and you're choosing to believe it. Like, when I watch Star Wars, I choose to see Luke Skywalker walk across Tattooine. I don't choose to see Mark Hamill walk across Tunisia. I know that's what's actually happening, but I voluntarily see it as what it presents itself to be, as opposed to actors saying lines.

    So with the prequels being as bad as they are, I've just chosen not to buy into that part of the fiction. In the original trilogy, Luke Skywalker joins Obi-Wan to fight Vader and the Emperor. In the new trilogy, Hayden Christensen and Ewan MacGregor say lines on a green set with Ian McDiarmid.

    True, I have to give up this approach when discussing the prequels with other people, because otherwise I would make no sense. But when I actually sit down with my kids and watch one of the original trilogy movies, there's me, who wants to completely ignore the prequels, and there's Lucas, who wants me to consider the prequels canon and let them influence what I see in the original trilogy. And Lucas is, at present, an incompetent idiot, so fuck letting him decide how I take the movies. I'll see them as I choose.

    I think if Lucas was competent, if his new prequels were good and just had some single horrible flaw, it would be hard to just completely ignore them. But they're so bad that, for me, they slide off the original trilogy like oil off water.
    posted by Bugbread at 12:05 AM on October 28, 2015


    I read reddit so you don't have to: Original comment: I think everyone here has good points but they are fundamentally misguided or are giving only part of the story. The reason the prequels didn't work are much more complicated than anyone is talking about.
    For example, let's say he wanted to "kill off" Shimi Skywalker in Ep. 1 creating a huge loss for Anakin at the age of 10 on his way to become a jedi (which would probably hit harder than having her die in Ep 2 when he's 20) that would mean he wouldn't be able to introduce Owen Lars in Ep. 2 and Owen NEEDS to be introduced in either Ep1 or Ep2 to set him up for Ep 3. There's no room to introduce him in Ep 1 given the story Lucas outlined in 94' (avail online) so that means he must be in Ep. 2. If Owen is in Ep 2 then Tattooine has to be in Ep 2, so Anakin needs a reason to visit Tattooine. My main point is, the plot points in each film affects the plot points in the other two films so his hands are tied in some respects in what he can do. So now instead of just focusing on writing one good movie at a time, three times in a row, he has to write a good movie that works within the confines of what was established in the OT, reflects the imagery of the OT to be poetic, all while not sabotaging one another in terms of plot points. Instead of just making a good movie he's playing a game a sudoku where everything has to fit just right, make sense, and be entertaining. So this is an insane amount of odds already stacked against Lucas. Look at Hollywood and movies in general. Most are garbage without having requirements on plots and events; it's so difficult to make a good movie with no limitations. Now try to make a good movie WITH these limitations. AND do that two more times.
    posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:21 PM on October 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


    Owen NEEDS to be introduced in either Ep1 or Ep2 to set him up for Ep 3. There's no room to introduce him in Ep 1 given the story Lucas outlined in 94' (avail online) so that means he must be in Ep. 2. If Owen is in Ep 2 then Tattooine has to be in Ep 2, so Anakin needs a reason to visit Tattooine. My main point is, the plot points in each film affects the plot points in the other two films so his hands are tied in some respects in what he can do.

    Given that Lucas is the one who wrote the '94 outline, the only person tying his hands is himself. He could have introduced Owen in Ep1 and jettisoned some other part of the movie -- maybe ten fewer minutes of pod-racing? Or, have the Jedi initially land next to the capital, in a swamp, rather than on the other side of the planet, and lose the travel montage? Episode 1 isn't exactly tightly-plotted; consider how the machete order drops the entire movie without problems -- and then Tatooine doesn't have to be in Ep2.

    This is just more proof that the real problem was that the only person holding Lucas back was Lucas himself.
    posted by cjelli at 1:56 PM on October 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


    He could have made Anakin not-a-slave. Boom! He can now have relatives out the wazoo! Maybe his parents die in a bantha stampede or a sandstorm or a freak molasses spill, so now he is free to join Obi Wan on a damn fool idealistic crusade. Or maybe he is not only "not-a-slave" but also "not-a-child" when we meet him, so he can join the Jedi as a grown-ass-man. Or, maybe, just maybe, he's "already-a-jedi-and-a-good-friend-of-Obi-Wan". That would work, too.
    posted by Bugbread at 3:14 PM on October 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


    he has to write a good movie that works within the confines of what was established in the OT, reflects the imagery of the OT to be poetic, all while not sabotaging one another in terms of plot points

    OK, based on the OT what lore about the Old Republic was established that Lucas has to Sudoku around?

    -Anakin Skywalker was a Jedi who turned to the Dark Side
    -Obi-Wan was Anakin's friend and mentor
    -There was a galactic Senate
    -There is an Emperor who abolishes the Senate around the same time as ANH starts
    -The Jedi were the keepers of peace and order
    -Anakin is the father of Luke and Leia
    -Luke and Leia are twins, their mother is dead, and they've been hidden from their father
    -Obi-Wan and Anakin fought together in the Clone Wars

    I'm likely forgetting something, but that's pretty much it, isn't it? About eight-ten points that you need to deal with. But here's the big thing from my perspective - outside of the relationship stuff (Vader, Luke, Leia, and Obi-Wan) the rest of these are (I think) big hooks for doing a story, not puzzle pieces that you have to fit around.

    For example:

    -The Clone Wars: Referenced perhaps once or twice in the OT. No detail given. What where they? What happened? As a kid, the concept of "Clone Wars" was a fascinating one - were people fighting clones of each other? Of themselves? Was it against an endless army of Clones (which, yeah, it turns out to be so that both sides have disposable armies we don't have to care about). Go anywhere you want with this one, all you need to do is have a war that involves Clones that Obi-Wan and Anakin fought in.
    -What was the political structure of the Old Republic? Other government examples exist in which there can be a Senate and an Emperor who co-exist and there is a tension about power and control. What we get is a bit of a take on the structure the Roman Empire had at times, where the Senate votes someone extra ordinary powers to deal with a crisis. And that's fine. But what also happened in Rome was military commanders launching coups, regional powers arising, and so on. So you could have shown the Emperor as a commander of the forces of the Republic, or a regional governor, disillusioned with things, who launches a revolt to gain power. You could have modeled it on an American system, where the Senate and the Emperor are equal powers with differing responsibilities, or an Emperor who was more a figurehead in a constitutional monarchy system (like England or Canada). And then show how the Emperor, legacy of an even older governance system, finds a way to resume power; or is turned to in a crisis to reassert some power and decides to keep it. Whatever. It doesn't matter, really, because we don't know the details of how/what the Republic was.

    Blah, blah, blah. Lucas was not all that locked in, is all I'm trying to say. He could have started with Anakin as Obi-Wan's apprentice, like Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan in TPM. He could have had the Clone War be anything and take any direction he wanted. He could have depicted Anakin falling to the Dark Side for a thousand different reasons.

    Where these films fail is in not connecting with the sense of mythic grandeur and heroism of the OT. I think the audience would be more forgiving if they had fucked up some plot consistency details but kept that sense.
    posted by nubs at 3:50 PM on October 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


    yeah, this idea that Lucas was restrained by the need consistency is laughable. Leia says she remembers her mother in a touching scene between her and Luke, helping to establish the fraternal link between the two? No worries, she just misremembered. Obi-wan says that Yoda was the Jedi Master who trained him? Uhh, he meant like.. trained from afar.
    posted by skewed at 6:49 PM on October 30, 2015


    Darths & Droids says it best
    Why does Grievous still have a bunch of internal organs?

    Why does Grievous still have a bunch of internal organs?

    WHY? DOES? GRIEVOUS? STILL? HAVE? A? BUNCH? OF? INTERNAL? ORGANS???
    posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:18 PM on November 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


    From the AV Club's Star Wars Week: The prequels don't deserve your hatred

    I could quibble point by point, but really the attempt to make the fact that the prequels expose the "ills of the Republic" and the "fallibility of the Jedi" into points in favor of the prequels leaves me the most baffled. I love that kind of political stuff and exposures of the failures of social and power systems in something like Game of Thrones and The Goblin Emperor; the problem is that it doesn't fit in Star Wars from my perspective. Star Wars is pretty binary and doesn't deal in shades of grey or subtlety - there is Evil and there is Good. Exposing these problems in the prequels means that the fight in the OT is about replacing the evil Empire with the restoration of the inept, morally suspect Republic. In which case the storylines need to get a lot more nuanced about why people are seeking power and what an effective structure for a galactic governance system might look like. And again, I would be fine with that - in a different universe, where these ideas are being openly played with from the beginning.
    posted by nubs at 8:25 AM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


    And nope.

    I think to a certain degree, Hassenger's points only really survive on a few strong foundations of her own construction: take in the imagination and idea of what the Prequel Trilogy represent (discounting the execution) and don't take a personal interest in any of the Star Wars films. By the latter, she criticizes the emotional attachment fans, presumably older fans, have with the Original Trilogy as affecting their ability to enjoy the Prequels. Better put, the Original Trilogy is full of flaws, but you love it, so you overlook them, and the Prequel Trilogy is no different.

    Arguably, at the same time, she does admit that the Original Trilogy is superior. I suppose the ultimate thesis is, "The Prequel Trilogy isn't that bad."
    They’re far better, far more fun space operas than their damaged reputations suggest, and in many ways fulfill the potential, hanging in the air for 16 years after Return Of The Jedi, for old-fashioned Star Wars adventures made with ever-advancing technology.
    Are they as enjoyable as Jupiter Rising? Sure, but that movie doesn't compare in anyway to the Original Trilogy, either, which is what the fans wanted from the Prequel Trilogy. For all the problems that MeFites have listed in the Prequel Trilogy film threads, it's why those three films pointedly did not match expectations or fill them. The backlash involved can become so virulent almost exactly because those movies failed to fulfill.

    There definitely has been a lot of walking back, that I've noticed, in the entertainment media, on the quality and enjoyment of the Prequel Trilogy. It's kind of fascinating because these perspectives are generally based on the premise that there's no reason to look back on the Original Trilogy, and even though The Force Awakens will have almost zero to do with the Prequel Trilogy, they're becoming the focus. It's because of the growing anticipation that Abrams movie will succeed where they failed. Will he? We don't know until December 17, but we do know Lucas did fail to meet expectations and that failure has soured the memory of the Prequel Trilogy, staining those movies, perhaps more so than deserved, but at least understandably so.
    posted by Atreides at 8:46 AM on November 17, 2015


    Yeah, about the only point I could really agree with is this:

    That’s what I love about the prequels: Their imagination is vast, yet interactive; beautiful, yet recognizably human.

    But I would say that is not just the prequels - that is the whole franchise: vast, beautiful, stunning in its potential, and still human.
    posted by nubs at 8:51 AM on November 17, 2015


    I think that's true, but to a limit. Was it imaginative to recreate a diner in the American sense of the traditional diner on Coruscant? Was it imaginative to short cut the vastness of the galaxy by drawing connecting lines to all the characters? Arguably, I would challenge how human the Prequels feel, as a fair bit at times feels like humans inserted into a CGI land versus the Original trilogy. I guess I think to reach Hassenger's position, you really have to overlook the flawed execution and focus on those things Lucas didn't mess up. She specifically mentions Order 66 and that for me, was a very moving montage and series of scenes, but it also lead to the overly long lightsaber duel and the ridiculous finale to it.

    I dunno, I may be just getting reactionary to what I perceive as revisionism concerning the Prequel Trilogies!
    posted by Atreides at 10:08 AM on November 17, 2015


    I feel like the only real refutation you need for an article like that is this:

    Imagine it's 1999, in an alternate universe where Star Wars was never made. George Lucas still exists, he still made some films early in his career, still collaborated with Spielberg and others on properties such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, still founded ILM and did FX for a number of important movies, etc, but: Star Wars was just a thing he thought of doing, but never did.

    Now imagine Episode I got made (in precisely the same way, same cast, same script, etc), as his way of finally scratching that itch.

    What would the audience and critical reception have looked like? As a corollary, is there any film studio in the world that would have greenlit Episode II?

    Obviously my opinion is pretty clear, but to be even more blunt: the prequels aren't just bad Star Wars movies, they are simply bad movies overall. Other than their attachment to the original movies gave them any kind of credibility. They are seriously like, "first movie in a poorly planned series that never gets followed up on after a total box office bomb" bad, other than being related to the biggest series of all time.
    posted by tocts at 10:28 AM on November 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


    Lots of sophisticated political dramas are abject failures. That the prequel trilogy has some elements of a grown-up political drama doesn't make it a good movie.
    posted by chrchr at 10:55 AM on November 17, 2015


    As you say, tocts, the question is "What would we think of the prequels if they did not have the Star Wars name attached?" and the answer is "We wouldn't think about them at all."
    posted by Bugbread at 1:50 PM on November 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


    That's precisely it, yes.

    I mean, here's the thing: it is totally valid to feel that the negative response to the prequels is amplified by the fact that people love Star Wars, and thus are more invested in it, and thus feel worse about the movies than maybe objectively is deserved. A bad part of a thing you love is always going to feel worse than a bad part of something you have no history with.

    However: that doesn't mean the prequels are actually good movies -- and in fact, I think any attempt to overhaul their image is basically falling prey to the same instinct, but slightly inverted. Such attempts invariably give the prequels much more credit and much more consideration than they ever would of a random series they weren't invested in, because it's Star Wars, so clearly there must be something in there worth saving, right?

    Movies that are as bad as the prequels get made all the time, but they typically don't garner much (if any) effort aimed at proving that actually they're really good but you're just watching them wrong.
    posted by tocts at 7:58 AM on November 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


    I wouldn't even credit prequel-apology to anything more than the desire to create contrarian click-bait.
    posted by skewed at 4:09 PM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


    “Sure, Revenge Of The Sith Is The Best Star Wars Prequel, But Is It Actually Any Good?” Germain Lussier, io9, 25 November 2015
    posted by ob1quixote at 3:32 PM on November 25, 2015


    No.
    posted by chrchr at 7:51 PM on November 25, 2015


    NOOOOOOOOOOOOO
    posted by entropicamericana at 9:00 AM on November 29, 2015


    DO NOT WANT

    And thus a meme was born.
    posted by infinitewindow at 9:07 AM on November 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


    Here we go again... at least this was the last one. I hope to god that the original trilogy is as (mostly) good as I remember or it's going to be really really depressing.

    Saw it on DVD back in the day... just to finish it off. The same mistakes carry on - terrible plot, dialogue, too much stuff on screen. There are good bits - McDiarmid seems to be having a good time and does a reasonable job. The shot of the Vadar mask going on for the first time is proper chilling (of course it's immediately ruined with comedy lurching an 'noooooo')

    So the original trilogy - a crime of capitalism against cinema, against art, against life. The Dark Side won.
    posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:21 AM on December 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


    From the WTF file: Why Revenge of the Sith is the best Star Wars movie

    Some quotes:

    On the story: There is an embarrassment of riches on offer: the tragic fall of Anakin Skywalker, the deaths of countless key characters and more iconic duels than you can shake a lightsaber at

    I mean, I guess it is a tragedy, but I'm not sure that I'm using the word to mean the same thing. What key characters die? Padme? Dooku? Mace? A bunch of other Jedi? Nothing about these characters is key, except for Padme, who dies because she "lost the will to live." And the only "iconic" duel I can think of is Anakin/Obi-Wan - that is the duel that is key to the story; everything else is just part of the action with no real emotional heft or significance to the story. The fights with Dooku or Grievous really have no meaning, and the Yoda/Emperor duel is a pointless exercise in flinging things. And the conclusion of the Anakin/Obi-Wan duel is Obi-Wan leaving a man to burn to death.

    On Anakin's turn: Anakin and Padmé’s relationship nonetheless delivers believable motivation for the Jedi’s descent into darkness. Anakin’s about-face is genuinely tragic; his fatal flaw is that he fears losing the ones he loves, blinding him to the evil Palpatine

    The kid got suckered in by a promise that Palpatine couldn't deliver on. And what about-face? He was openly questioning the Jedi since the second film.

    On Vader:By revealing the man behind the mask, he added depth and nuance to an otherwise one-dimensional villain, and in doing so, enriched the original trilogy as well.

    Buh? Vader was never one-dimensional in the OT; in fact the entire plot of ROTJ hinges on that fact...


    To each their own, I guess.
    posted by nubs at 11:07 AM on December 17, 2015


    It sounds like classic coping mechanism. When you view any of the Prequels through the prism of idea and theory, rather than execution, they come out looking decent, if not good. Imagine pitching them to someone based on summaries and the inclination would be, "Hey, that sounds like some great film there!" The devil, as always, is in the details.
    posted by Atreides at 11:33 AM on December 18, 2015


    I just read the other day that Lucas originally intended for a reveal in ROTS that Palpatine was (sort of) Anakin's father, that he had manipulated the Dark Side to impregnate Anakin's mom via immaculate conception with a baby that was full up with midichlorians. Apparently there was even a scene where Palpatine told Anakin that and Anakin's response was a Luke-style, "No... that's impossible." (Which is sort of odd, because Anakin seems pretty on board with Palpatine and you'd think he'd be glad to find out he had a dad after all.)

    I see why they cut it in terms of the weirdness it would bring to the original trilogy (so, Palpatine is Luke's grandfather??) but in terms of the prequels it's a shame they cut it. It would have made sense of that weird space Jesus stuff in TPM and might have even made Anakin's turn to darkness just a little more relatable. He'd be making exactly the same choice that Luke eventually rejects.
    posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:03 PM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


    I just read the other day that Lucas originally intended for a reveal in ROTS that Palpatine was (sort of) Anakin's father, that he had manipulated the Dark Side to impregnate Anakin's mom...I see why they cut it in terms of the weirdness it would bring to the original trilogy (so, Palpatine is Luke's grandfather??)

    Actually, I would have been ok with that - it's better than the whole "immaculate conception" thing that is left in place to explain Anakin's birth. TPM does two bizarre things with the Force - first, the blood test which reduces the concept of the Force to a biological marker; then the unexplained and unquestioned immaculate conception of Anakin, which brings with it a ton of mythic/religious/symbolic significance for the audience.

    The idea of it being Palpatine actually would have added some weight to other moments. Palpatine's promise to help Anakin cheat death would have more credibility if we knew Palpatine was capable of making life via the Force; and it would have added to the moments in the throne room (I think, anyways).

    But it opens a can of worms, just like the midichlorians do. If the midichlorians make people Force sensitive, why aren't they cloning every Jedi? Can we inject midichlorians into people and make them Jedi? If Palpatine could manipulate the Force to create kids with high midichlorian counts, why doesn't he have a harem for that purpose going at all the time (Palpatine as Immortan Joe!)?

    Ok, my overthinking for the morning is done.
    posted by nubs at 8:47 AM on December 23, 2015


    So hey, I've heard Clone Wars gets really good, but I tried watching the first episode and it felt really stupid, with the sort of dialog that the prequels were known for (which led my wife and me to just sort of talk, while it was on in the background, about what made the prequels so ineffective vs. the originals)

    so uh can anyone tell me where we should start at to skip the cringing
    posted by DoctorFedora at 3:27 PM on December 23, 2015


    Hmm, from my experience, you have to sit with the cringey a little bit before you get the stuff that's not cringeworthy... and also you have to put yourself in the headspace of a toddler-to-tween that hasn't been exposed to as many narratives as media-consuming adults have.

    Plus the show is mostly three-episode arcs in my experience, so it's a bit of a time investment. There are six seasons of it, which kinda blew my mind.
    posted by infinitewindow at 3:56 PM on December 23, 2015




    "Oh, yes, the prequels were a little cringey, but they're much better if you watch this five season cartoon show that fills in the gaps and explains— what? Oh, yes, the Clone Wars is a little cringey, but if you read the CW novels, they really fill in the gaps and...."

    It's EU, all the way down.
    posted by entropicamericana at 6:05 AM on January 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


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