It’s no secret everyone pretty much hates the Star Wars prequels. I personally like them, but I admit they’re flawed, in both minor and major stuff. I actually like everything that’s been done beyond the movies themselves, i.e. Expanded Universe, like the Clone Wars animated series for example. With the recent Disney acquisition of Lucas Inc., I’ve been mulling over the reason why I have certain issues with the backstory trilogy.
On the outset the Anakin-Trilogy wasn’t a bad idea. Darth Vader is THE iconic Star Wars character, and knowing where he came from was a fantastic project. Sadly, it was a very badly executed good idea. Let’s see why and how it could be fixed (If Lucas can make Greedo shoot first, they can alter the entire trilogy):
- Terrible actors portraying Anakin: From the soulless kid who plays him in Phantom Menace, incapable of showing one convincing emotion, to Hayden Christensen in Clone Wars and Revenge of the Sith, who has the emotional range of a teaspoon. Solution: Better casting!
- Midichlorian Retcon & The Immaculate Conception: Lucas wanted to explain the source of the Force (hey, that rhymed!) and introduced the Midichlorians, something no one else bothers to mention beyond The Phantom Menace and was entirely unnecessary. Some things are better left unexplained, and The Force is one of them. Midichlorians are introduced for one particular reason: To explain Anakin’s Birth. He’s Christ, born from a Virgin mother. Shmi Skywalker states there wasn’t a father and Qui-Gon says he’s the child of the Midichlorians. If I call bullshit on the Christians for that theory, I most certainly will call it on Star Wars.
Solution: There’s any number of stories. From a powerful Force User, or Sith, being his parent who may have forced himself on Shmi (or not) with her being a slave and all, so she could just tell Qui-Gonn “I don’t talk about that man” and be done with it. I know it’s kind of dark, but it makes for great storytelling.
Maybe Shmi doesn’t remember the guy. Hell you could even have it be Syfo-Dias, the man responsible for the clone army, getting Shmi pregnant because it was the will of The Force. If there’s one thing Star Wars fans can take, is Force-Induced-Bullshit. The Force can explain every logic leap away.
It doesn’t have to be that complicated either. Anakin can be the son of two slaves, Shmi and Dad Skywalker, and he just happened to be born with a crapton of Force potential. It’s happened before in the Star Wars universe.
If you want a more mysterious route, Shmi isn’t Anakin’s real mother. She just took him in when his real mother died in childbirth, both women being Gardula the Hutt’s slaves (who owned Shmi before Watto).
Maybe Watto bought baby Anakin and gave him to Shmi to take care. Dark shit like slave trading and baby selling is rampant in Hutt space. Oh, and of course, no mention of midichlorians, that’s a given.
- Crappy & Hammy Writing: Oh the ham-fests, with the clear winner being the oh-so terrible “You’re breaking my heart!” A line not even Nathalie Portman could convincingly deliver. The Anakin Trilogy has some serious writing issues and there was serious need of constant rewrite. Let’s not get into plot details not being thought out, or I’ll be left without more bullets on the list. Solution: Self-explanatory.
- She’s lost the will to live: Frankly the moment I hated the mot in RotS, Padme’s death after childbirth for no other reason than losing the will to live, stated by a fucking droid. Jokes have been made in my close group of friends about it. We didn’t know there was a Will-to-live-o-meter below the EKG in Star Wars.
Solution: Without changing much, just replace the medical droid with a living person. It makes much more sense and has more impact coming from someone who understands the will to live on a personal level.
If you wanted a better fix, make Anakin’s outburst and Force Choke so strong it causes internal hemorrhage which in turn leads to her death and have the medical droid explain her condition, and Obi Wan saying “It must’ve been when Anakin ragdolled her!”. It makes Vader’s “NOOOOO” scene much more powerful because Palpatine wouldn’t be lying and Anakin did in fact kill her. Yes, it’s darker, but it matches the overall tone of Revenge of the Sith perfectly.
I would also change the “NOOOOOOOOO” to something else, maybe just a single voiceover in Anakin’s voice while he thought to himself “what have I done?” It’s certainly nowhere near the ridiculousness of “NOOOOOOOO”.
- Jango’s Death: Jango Fett and his son Bobba share a common trait. They both died very stupid deaths. Sure, Bobba survived his pathetic fall to the Sarlacc in the expanded universe, but Jango wasn’t so lucky. One of the most dangerous Bounty Hunters out there, someone reputed to have killed a bunch of Jedi and badass enough to have a an army of clones made from his DNA with the simple hope that some of that awesomeness passes on in his genes. For some reason, that same guy, lost control of his senses and forgot: A) I have a jetpack and I can fly and B) I have guns, they have range! Instead, Bobba charges Mace Windu almost going Melee with him and ends up being rammed and trampled by a Rhino and beheaded by Nick Fury.
Solution: Make Windu work harder for the kill. Make Jango fly around the battlefield, spraying it all with his flamethrower. Make him escape Windu and start picking off Clones and Jedi alike. Make it so hard even that Windu orders clones to focus him down and a well-placed shot hits the jetpack, injuring and grounding him and making him lose his guns, forcing him to go Melee on Windu, where he’s clearly on the losing end, but could actually defend himself.
If there’s one thing the expanded universe did pretty well even before RotS was establish Beskar, Mandalorian Iron, a material resistant to lightsabers and what all Mando armors are made of. With a Beskar blade and his armor, Jango could’ve at least tried to fight off Windu. He would’ve lost and been killed, but it wouldn’t have been such a pathetic end for a guy they made out be such a badass.
Or have Windu use his Force Powers, which he somehow forgets he has…
- Palpatine hiding his presence form the Jedi…in the same room: Jedi are made out to be awesome, and Yoda in particular, but for some reason, no one can sense the Darkest Lord of the Sith while having tea with him. Yoda can sense Anakin going apeshit on the sand people from across the galaxy, but can’t sense Palpy wants to eat them all for breakfast? I call shenanigans and mountains of bullshit here. No explanation is ever given for this, except for the catch all bullshit excuse of “the dark side clouds many things”. It just goes to show being in the Light Side makes you a chump.
Solution: Explain it for a second in any of the three movies. Both Tyrannus or Maul could express their doubts about it and have Palpy just assure them with a simple. “Dude, I’ve been at this for a while, I know how to hide” or hell, make it that Palpatine has an old artifact on his person or hidden I the Jedi Temple which makes it impossible for them to detect him.
We’ve already established The Force as being the one thing people won’t argue against. You can throw as much crap at The Force and everyone will just say “ok, it’s The Force”. From Dark Holocrons to ancient Jedi Testicles, anything could’ve been used to make it seem Palpatine had an edge and not that Jedi are fucking useless.
Even a quick “It’s the will of The Force that they don’t find me” from Palpatine would’ve been badass.
And while this technically falls under Force Induced Bullshit (FIB), it’s Force vs Force, so a bit of an explanation is needed. Tell us why Palpatine’s FIB trumps the Jedi’s.
- Jar Jar: I don’t hate Jar Jar, not entirely. He had his part in the first movie. He was C3-PO’s stand-in, a bumbling fool, though maybe a bit too much. The problem was everything else done with the character. Who in their right minds puts Jar Jar in the senate? It’s not politically sound and if there’s one thing Padme’s (supposedly) good at, it’s politics.
Solution: Keep Jar Jar for Phatom Menace, but let him fade away in the rest. Give him a place as the Naboo – Gungan relationship advisor…BACK IN NABOO and well away from Coruscant. Jar Jar’s the type of character who gets old really quickly and what once was funny turns annoying. Even by the end of the Phantom Menace he was already on everyone’s nerves and his appointment as General of the Gungan Armies makes as little sense as his political career.
Even if a character appears for 90% of the movie, it doesn’t mean they have to be important at every turn. His greatest moment of triumph could’ve been getting Padme and Big Boss Nass to talk and then just fade into the background.
- Luke & Leia: Before dying a really silly death, Padme gives birth to Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher and names them. But at no point in the story did the origin of those names ever come up. Even when Anakin and she were discussing their future, none of them said “If it’s a boy, how about Luke, after that one guy I dated in high-school?” Solution: Tell us where the Mark and Carrie’s names come from!
- Vader’s dismemberment: The last fight between Obi and Anakin drags on for ages. In fact, a lot of it could’ve been cut to add more substance to the appalling script, but it ends with Anakin jumping at Obi and the latter going Texas Lightsaber Massacre on him in a single stroke. It’s the same Jango dilemma. A character made out to be an amazing warrior suddenly losing full use of his senses and his entire strategic knowledge.
Solution: Aside from shortening the fight or extending the movie. Have Anakin just step off the platform without the stupid suicidal jump, or have him jump off somewhere down-magma-river. Just because you’re Dark Side doesn’t mean you’re stupid.
This way sadly the fight drags on a bit more, and we run the risk of Obi with his “I stand for Democracy” needing just “and the American Dream” from going full-on Captain America. But, and this is an important but, doing so makes more sense, and gives Obi a chance to try and talk Vader out of his insanity bit more. Sometimes, character interaction and development is way more important than action scenes, even more so with such important characters. You could eventually end up in the same place, with Anakin on the ground cooking, but instead of an idiotic move, it’d be because Obi outsmarted him or Ani left himself open for a second and Obi went to town on his ass.
- The Pod Race: At some point someone must’ve wondered why everyone’s risking the fate of an entire world by betting on a pod driven by an 11 year old. For such a wise Jedi like Qui Gon, this was a stupid move! They could’ve sold the big silver shining spaceship for a crapton of money, buy themselves a cheaper and more subtle craft and get the hell out of there. The Naboo royal ship was anything but subtle. Yeah sure, we all know it’s an excuse to introduce Vader and give him a “Use the Force Luke” moment while he drove, but it just didn’t make sense to risk so much.
Solution: A better explanation. Spend a few more minutes having Qui Gon & Co. going from shop to shop and coming up empty on the spare parts and then fail to sell the ship. It could be because the Hutts know someone’s after them and don’t want the flaming-target-like ship bringing trouble to their doorsteps. If they made Watto their last and only choice, then the risk would’ve made more sense, because it was either that or nothing. It’s becoming quite clear Logic didn’t play much of a part in the writing of the Anakin Trilogy.
- Qui Gon’s death: Why is it that Jedi conveniently forget they can do awesome things? Take Maul vs Gon & Kenobi aka Duel of the Fates. It’s a straight up sword fight between super powered individuals but the use of Force powers is negligible. Even Obi-Wan jumping and running back to the fight after being sent over the edge of the walkway should’ve taken him seconds and not minutes. We did see him run super-fast during the first few minutes of the movie.
Solution: If you got it, use it! Make them fight with everything they have and for fucks sake make Obi Wan remember Force Speed and Jump exist so he can go back to help Qui Gon before he dies another extremely stupid death.
- Anakin’s fall to the Darkside: One of the best things about RotS is that Anakin falls to the Dark Side for doing the right thing! He stops Windu from killing Palpatine because executing prisoners isn’t the Jedi way. That being said, however, his shift from Anakin to Vader is too sudden, too quick. Sure, “the lore” states the Dark Side twists who you are and makes you into your opposite, but it doesn’t happen overnight and even less in the span of 30 seconds.
Solution: Again, take some time to develop the character. Make Anakin collapse in shock and have Palpatine do what he does best, manipulate him, using kind and key words to bring him back and convince him that giving himself over to the dark side is now his only option. Give a moment for Palpatine to take center stage and do his stuff, be the devil on Anakin’s shoulder, using his venomous tongue to say sweet words and make Anakin cross the bridge on his own and seal his fate.
Then have a shot of Anakin during his trip to Mustafar with a bunch of voice-overs as he obsesses through the events that led him there and make his eyes slowly turn that evil yellow and red to let the audience know he’s being consumed by the Dark Side. That way when he arrives on Mustafar, you know he’s gone off the deep end.
- Grievous: Grievous is sadly a badass character that unless you’ve seen every form of Star Wars media you’ll never get to know him. First introduced during the Clone Wars animated shorts, Grievous quickly made himself known, except to those who only saw the movies. For them, Grievous is some weird guy who shows up coughing and wheezing at the start of Episode III and proves to be something of a bitch.
Solution: Take a few minutes to re-introduce the character and let everyone know Mace Windu almost crushed his organs while he escaped Coruscant after kidnapping Palpy. That way people get to know a bit of him and know he’s handicapped and on the losing end. In fact, this organ-damaging attack thing gives a lot more credence to my “Anakin caused Padme’s death” point before.
That’s as far as I can come up with for now. If you have any other problems with the movies and suggestion on how to fix them, please let me know in the comments. And let’s hope for a better Episode VII.