The three Star Wars prequels Lucas released between 1999 and 2005, 22 years after their predecessors in the original trilogy, were among the most eagerly awaited movies of all time – and arguably, among the most disappointing movies of all time.
Where A New Hope, Empire, and Jedi had offered nonstop forward momentum, Episodes I through III offered tiresome discussions of arcane politics and trade agreements. Where Episodes IV through VI had offered compelling heroes and heroines, the newer films offered a prematurely stodgy Obi-Wan, a drippy Queen Padme Amidala, and a petulant Anakin Skywalker. Where the earlier movies had taken place in a very old galaxy that looked, rusty, ramshackle, and lived-in, the new films had the unreal sheen of shiny, gleaming CGI in nearly every frame.
The initial films had had creaky dialogue, but the new ones had howlers like “Hold me like you did by the lake on Naboo.” And while the old trilogy had a universe of otherworldly aliens and monsters, the new one had the needless minstrelsy of Jar Jar Binks, Watto and other characters that seemed to veer awfully close to earthly ethnic stereotypes.
Okay, viewers did get to find out how the evil Empire replaced the old Republic, and how Anakin Skywalker was seduced by the dark side of the Force and became Darth Vader. But was it worth all that to sully the memories of the original trilogy with a deluge of inferior sequels and spinoffs, not to mention re-edits of beloved films that didn’t need them? All because Team Lucas couldn’t just let those Ewoks enjoy their victory dance, let the Force be with Luke and his redeemed father – and then just walk away.