A whole lot of razzle dazzle that views coherent storytelling, logical character development, and good dialog as obstacles rather than peers. 

Aesthetically pleasing (even if all the shadows are coloured toned purple, which I found garish). 

The first hour is honestly not bad — just some Jedi doing Jedi stuff! Cool! JJ Abrams would start ripping all this off in his new Star Trek movies pretty soon. 

Everything after takes a dramatic nosedive. George Lucas needs to force (pun intended) his characters into places they don’t belong. Anakin’s fall to the dark side will never make sense. Padme’s death defies basically everything we know about the human condition. Yoda just sort of gives up when it seems like he has the upper hand. Only a Sith deals in absolutes,” says a Jedi after 5 other films filled with Jedi dealing in absolutes. The fear of loss leads to the dark side.” Well, that new detail seems obviously convenient. Etc. 

The dialog still isn’t good (see above), the action is interesting but rarely logical (why do they keep swinging their laser swords behind them?), and yet, it’s the only prequel Star Wars that includes a real, actual Star War. So bonus point I guess. 

Here’s the thing: The Phantom Menace is the best prequel movie. It makes the most thematic sense — the whole point is that the Jedi and the politicians are not that different. Both the Republic and the Jedi Order are broken, and both are broken because they’ve been corrupted by power. It’s spelled out for us for us in TPM; it is not subtle. 

And that would have been an interesting angle to pursue for this film: maybe, as Luke would later conclude, it’s time for the Jedi to end. And if Anakin came to that same conclusion after 3 films and went dark, I’d buy it (presuming the dialog was better and maybe he was re-cast). 

Principally, this series always been about faith fighting against organized power — whether that power takes the form of religion or government, it makes no difference. And watching somebody disillusioned of their faith try to take down the whole system would probably be… relatable… for many people. 

Instead, we get this power-hungry-and-also-he-did-it-for-love thing that makes no sense. Are we supposed to be convinced that Anakin has good in him because of his romantic side? Feels like a cheap ploy to sell more toys to me. 

This whole trilogy is a huge missed opportunity. 

(As an aside, Luke coming to conclusion that the Jedi need to end and then hiding in exile fits super well with the theological direction of the Jedi in the prequel trilogy. Yoda’s response to failure was to exile himself. And the Jedi Order was a poorly functioning organized religion Yes, I’ve overthought this. But Rian Johnson was robbed when they gave IX to JJ. What a mistake. He’s the only post-acquisition filmmaker who truly gets what’s at the heart of Star Wars — although I wouldn’t mind seeing Edwards make another one of these either.)

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