Let me just say up front that if you dearly love any of these movies this is not the post for you.
I’ll begin by saying that I grew up watching episodes 4,5 and 6. I had lines memorized from the hundreds of times that I watched “The Return of the Jedi” with my dad and older brother. So there was a very high standard set from the beginning. I know for the CGI generation it is hard for you to watch slightly fuzzy, all model and puppet driven movies like these, but we are talking about the age of E.T and the Christopher Reeves superman, so there is a big disconnect if you forget the context. That said I loved these movies, the characters where funny archetypes and I wanted to believe in the “David and Goliath” epic-ness of the story. And then these three movies happened.
Episode 1: It had so much promise, tons of people like me had great nostalgia for the original movies and waited with anticipation for the first of the “new” Jedi movies to arrive but what we got, was not what we expected.
If not for Liam Neeson and Natalie Portman this film would have been so much worse. Liam’s ability to ground the rebellious Jedi roll added real-ness to an otherwise ridiculous plot. Who are the Gungans and why do they matter? Oh yeah we have to sell a toy. There is a droid army, a planet is attached and taken over, there are some pretty shady people involved (Sith), we go to the senate and ask for help, big guy gets elected, planet saved and we found a kid. That is it.
Along with terrible dialog (where the heck was the editor on that one?) and way too much cheese. Don’t get me wrong I love Han Solo and the cheese but it has to be balanced with believable characters and it’s just not. In the end Qui-Gon-Ginn dies killing a Sith, leaving his own young apprentice to teach a sketchy kid the counsel doesn’t even trust. That can’t be good.
Episode 2:Fast forward. Anikin is now a teenager in training. His master, Obi-Wan-Kenobi is moving up in the ranks. The Queen is now just a Senator but still influential. There is a massive clone army that no body knows about, or how it got paid for. Anikin is sent to protect Amidala after an attempt is made on her life, and they fall in love. This is the most ridicules situation, she is at least ten years older than him, (19-20 in the first movie, he’s seven) so now the age gap is more like 30 and 19 eww! He also kills a lot of sand people because his mom is torchered to death, not a very Jedi thing to do.
To begin with the love story is poorly developed in the mist of Obi-Wan running around investigating. The dialog gets even worst in this movie, thank god for the action sequences at the end because by that point I was about to give up. The clones weren’t so bad and the Jango Fett side line was interesting.
Yoda saves the movie. We have another Sith apprentice and a big fight scene, Anikin looses a hand because he won’t listen and then Yoda battles it out but has to let him get away so that they don’t get squished. At he end of the movie the clone army is a good thing, unfortunately the movie is not. (This is my least favorite of the three)
Episode 3: The creation of Darth Vadar. I think by far this movie had the best potential, even after two disappointments. Everyone wanted to know this back story, how did one of the best bad guys become bad? After secretly being married, Anikin and Padme are going to have a child. Anikin is still whiny, power-hungry and now possessed with the idea that Padme is going to die. So he decides to listen to the one person that EVERYONE is telling him is a bad guy. Padme is a total waste in this movie, all she does is stand around and cry- where did the kick ass, do it yourself girl go?
Obi-Wan is now on the counsel and trying to rein in Anikin but he is not a strong enough mentor. There is a silly side line about this mechanical general, it is really an excuse to put Anikin in morally questionable situations with no supervision. Anikin is SO desperate to stop Padme’s potential death that he will apparently do anything, including betray everything that he believes in and everyone that he loves. This could have been believable if they had gotten someone who could act. Instead it is clear that they went for the face instead. Standing in the dark “crying” after you slaughter the people who saved you, is a gross understatement. I think if they had a little crazy going on there, instead of despair it would have worked better.
The last battle is not bad but it was hard to believe that Obi-Wan wouldn’t have put him out if his misery instead of letting him burn, he is the good one after all. Padme’s death is barely there, sad when this is such a big deal for Luke and Leia later on. The death of the Jedi, I thought was one of the most effective parts of the movie. But I cannot forgive the sad use of James Earl Jones voice at the end, it was the final straw. His voice is iconic, to give him such shitty lines made me mad.
I can’t wait to watch the next three. I hope they live up to my memory. If I remember correctly my favorite one is the middle one, but it’s always been about Han Solo for me.