I will now continue my series where I rewatch the Star Wars prequels and suggest ways in which they could have been better movies. Not just as movies themselves, but in how it fits in the overall Star Wars universe. Its really just a cathartic exercise for a fan like myself who is increasingly disappointed by episodes 1-3. If you are in the same position as me in Star Wars fandom, then I hope you will enjoy this post.
I’ve brought this up it before with The Phantom Menace, but I need to mention it again; this script needs a complete overhaul. As a movie, this is the worst of the whole series. The writing is atrocious, and it leaks into a number of the other problems which I’m about to mention.
There are tons of examples of bad dialogue, such as: “One day I will become the greatest jedi ever!”, “We used to come here for school retreat”, “If Obiwan caught me ding that he’d be very grumpy”, and of course the infamous (among SW people anyway) sand line.
Weak Detective Plot
Half of the movie involves Obi-Wan Kenobi in a detective story hunting down clues. In theory, this is a pretty interesting idea for a Star Wars film, and if it was done better would have been really cool. However, the actual mystery involved is really lame. First off, there is a plot to kill Padme. Why? Never a good reason really. She’s only one out of many senators trying to make this peace treaty, or something, go through. So the fact that there i a mystery at all isn’t even given a satisfying reason.
Then there’s the fact that the entire mystery hinges on identifying a dart that Jango Fett basically hands to them. And not only that, but this dart can only be identified by some 4-armed diner chef!! What?? Its a good thing that Obi-Wan knows just the right people to go to, including one little kid who figured out that the missing planet was deleted from archives. Really? That kid is the only one? Obi, your first thought should have been “hmm, i guess it was deleted.”
The point being that this plot needed to be fleshed out more to actually make it interesting and legitimate, instead of giving the absolute bare bones surface level of a detective story.
I’ve already mentioned the bad writing, but it always seemed to dip to new lows during the love story of Anakin and Padme. This who relationship needed to be scrapped and reimagined, because what we get on screen simply doesn’t work. A big problem is that Anakin starts off a such a creepy stalker. I mean, listen to some of those lines. “I’d rather dream of Padme. Just being around her again is intoxicating.” or “Being around you is soothing.”. Hayden Christensen’s ogling glare he gives her all the time doesn’t help either.
And here’s the thing, Padme is legitimately creeped out by him. You can tell throughout the first half of the movie. Until suddenly they are awkwardly sitting near a fireplace and she admits to loving him out of no where. Nothing before that gives us the sense that she is falling for him. Then they talk about why they can’t be together, blah blah blah. Then we get the scene just before they are rolled out to the arena where she is “madly, deeply in love with” him. Completely unearned moment.
Considering how important their relationship is to the overall story arc, it needed to have a much better foundation.
Coruscant Too “Real”
This seems minor, but I don’t really like all the little earth-like details they put into Coruscant, especially at the end of the chase sequence. When they go into the bar, we see things like robot football, death sticks, etc. I know that they are trying to get across that this city planet is as diverse as any city would be, but some things just seem like a stretch.
Not to mention the line “Jedi Business. Go back to your drinks” is pretty awful. Again this one is minor, but something about the fabric of the city bugs me.
Anakin on Tatooine
Another small one, but here we go. The filmmakers need to get Anakin to Tatooine to see his mother die. So they have him go there…. because he has bad dreams. Really? That’s how they got him there? What a forced plot contrivance.
I do like the idea of his mother dying and him not being able to stop it, causing him to drift further into anger. So ultimately its a good character piece, it just needed to be set-up less clumsily.
Also, the scene where he tells Padme about it is just…. just terrible. He confesses that he murdered a whole village, including the women and children. At this point, Padme should realize that he’s a homicidal maniac and be getting as far from him as she can. But she…. understands and comforts him? And these are the heroes of our story?
The Nature of the Jedi
Okay, now we get to the biggest problem of the prequels from the view of a Star Wars fan like myself. This problem is how the Jedi Order is built and dealt with. First, lets go back to the wonderful pre-prequel days where the only things we knew about Jedi Knights were Obi-Wan and Yoda and their teachings. The picture of the Jedi that we get from this are ancient, mystic warriors roaming the universe and defending justice. We think of the legend of the Samurai or an idyllic medieval knight.
So what happens when we get to the prequels and get to see the Jedi in their prime? They are simply relegated to another bureaucratic body in the capital, like another branch of the government. Really? In Phantom Menace we are introduced to the Jedi Council, which is more like a company board room. Lame. Remember how awesome Yoda was in Empire? Well here he’s just a chairperson.
And the Jedi Temple turns out to be really lame as well. They have a very static library archive system. They have incredibly lame “classrooms” where kids swing lightsabers like windshield wipers. It just all feels like Lucas decided to strip away the mysticism of the Jedi Order, and that’s just really sad.
The entire structure of the Jedi Order is too systematic, too organizational. I honestly dont think they should have a centralized location in Coruscant at all. If there is a temple, it should be more like Force Awakens, hidden in some solitary location. The organizational structure should be much looser and not so strict. It really feels like the whole concept of the Jedi is reduced to some lame cooperate body.
And what about the Jedi knights themselves? I am reminded of a quote from one of my friends after we saw Attack of Clones in theaters, which has remained a part of our groups lexicon to this day: “Man, Jedi sure die easy.”
That final battle in theory is cool, but when the Jedi arrive in the arena, it really destroys the power that Jedi held for SW fans. The Jedi, frankly, suck. They just get picked off left and right by a bunch of roots. They were pathetic fighters. Pathetic! They certainly weren’t legendary warriors like they should have been.
The reputation of the Jedi was just trashed in Attack of the Clones. If we are looking at how to improve the prequel trilogy, we would need to completely overhaul how the Jedi Order is portrayed. Decentralize the order, have them be more solitary, with less of a governing code. have them be better fighters, and reduce the number.
But we don’t have that movie, so we just have to remember the illusion of the Jedi from the first movies and try to keep that in our heads.