Star Wars: Prequel Trilogy (1999-2005) epic review

Yep it’s here.  Let’s do this.

unmask jar jar

So revisiting this trilogy after a few years, I have to admit, it’s a bit better than I remember.  Probably because I was too young to give a shit about the political elements.  And make no mistake, this trilogy is heavy handed with the political messaging.  Yet it succeeds in this regard, unlike The Last Cocksucking Jedi which made the serious mistake if injecting radical politics into the film without making them an integral part of not just the film’s plot, but of the entire trilogy’s plot.

Now, that being said, the prequel trilogy isn’t without its faults, and a few of them are serious, especially when compared to what was setup in the original trilogy.  The faults range from insulting to laughable to meh.

Rated: 3.5 / 5

So the opening text crawl states that the Jedi are guardians of peace and justice.  Guess it won’t be long before they fuck that up.

But anyway, the text crawl also starts more complicated than the originals.  There are mentions of politics, trade embargoes, taxes, etc.  It’s an early indication that this Star Wars trilogy will be more focused on such governmental aspects compared to the original trilogy.  While the original trilogy had indications of governmental/political struggles, that was more of a background element, while the foreground kept things focused on the journey of a young ambitious man who would fulfill his destiny of becoming a Jedi, and also redeem someone considered nonredeemable.  The prequel trilogy would bring the politics more to the forefront.  And to be honest, it seems appropriate to do so, considering that it’s also about the rise of the Galactic Empire, how the Clone Wars came to be, and the fall of the Republic (showing the time before the dark times, and how the dark times came to be).

“There is no civility, only politics.”

That being said, it’s not exactly the best opening text crawl out there to get audiences eager to see what would happen next.  “Turmoil has engulfed the Galactic Republic due to a trade dispute.”  Oh God, the horror!  The humanity!  Not a trade dispute!  Holy shit, they better get their shit together before higher tariffs are implemented causing everyone in the Republic to have a hard time making ships and annoying dumbass robots!  It will be the end of us!

At least some nice words of wisdom have returned to the franchise.

“Master Yoda said I should be mindful of the future.”

“But not at the expense of the moment.”

Good stuff.  Is there more?  You bet there is.

Anyway, while this film does get a bad rap nowadays, particularly because of Jar Jar Binks (who I can tolerate better than the average movie-goer apparently, though there are two brief scenes that were completely unnecessary and added nothing to the film other than having immature slapstick humor), it still has plenty of awesome stuff in it that, in my opinion, allows it to surpass anything that the more recent (albeit incomplete) Star Wars trilogy has to offer (though just between you and me, I’m not considering this new trilogy to be canon, considering it’s being made by idiotic unoriginal politically-driven buffoons).

For starters, we get to see what the Republic was like, how things generally functioned “before the dark times,” and what the Jedi were capable of.  Great lightsaber play (even if it is too acrobatic for its own good, going more for the circus performance style than the grounded samurai style; though in all fairness anime pull this shit all the time, so…), good use of force powers that only builds on what we’ve already scene, not adding anything too new or too out there (which is a good thing).

And then there’s the pod race scene.  I love this entire sequence.  The lack of music for at least half of the race allows for great tension, letting the sound effects do the work much as they did for lightsaber battles in the OT (original trilogy), and as they did for the bike chase in Return of the Jedi.  One of the more intense and gripping bits in this whole film.  Plus it’s clear this sequence is paying homage to Ben Hur (the Charleton Heston one from the 50s, not the cocksucking 2016 remake).

And if nothing else, Lucas sure does know how to put on a finale.  The Duel of the Fates has gone down as one of the greatest fight sequences of all time, with the choreography between Kenobi and Maul and Rob Roy matched (if not surpassed) by the accompanying music by John Williams.  It’s nothing short of a masterpiece, and worth the price of admission alone.  And Darth Maul became one of the most famous villains in the franchise, just by his look and presence (along with that famously introduced dual-lightsaber), with very little dialogue spoken in the entire film.  Not to mention the other battles going on during this time.

Effort!  Honest to God effort!

Now, with that being said, when they encounter Darth Maul during the finale… it’s pretty stupid when you think about it.  What they do when he shows up is split up, having all non-Jedi take the “long way” to the throne room, while Kenobi and Qui-Gon fight Maul and have one of the most awesomely epic lightsaber duels in Star Wars history.  Now that sounds awesome and all, but why wouldn’t everybody just start unloading on this guy?  They’re all standing right in front of him.  Shoot him!  You have 2 Jedi to assist you!

Now for the problems I did have with this film.  The first thing that came up I had a problem with wasn’t Jar Jar, but R2-D2.  Not that he was on the ship they used to fly through the blockade (though that is a big coincidence he would just so happen to be there), but the commendation they gave this robot after saving the ship.  It’s bullshit, and R2’s presence only exists just to pander to fans of the OT.  And not only that, but from that point on R2 follows the protagonists practically wherever they go.  Even for a prequel trilogy, this is pushing it.  The only thing worse than that is seeing that Anakin Skywalker is the one responsible for building C3-PO.  Bloody hell mahn!  It’s ridiculous!  How did C3-PO become capable of speaking/understanding all those tens of thousands of alien languages?  Because Anakin taught him?  Bullshit, and loads of it!  The presence of those 2 robots insults me.  There is no good reason at all to include them.  Zip, nada.  They could’ve used any other random robots to fill in these roles.  Hell, C3-PO didn’t even need to be in this trilogy, considering he doesn’t do jack shit (at least he had a use in the OT).

As for the other problem, and you knew this was coming, the midi-chlorians.

“Midi-chlorians are a microscopic life-form that resides within all living cells.  […]  And we are symbionts with them.  […]  Life-forms living together for mutual advantage.  Without the midi-chlorians, life could not exist, and we would have no knowledge of the Force.  They continually speak to us, telling us the will of the Force.  When you learn to quiet your mind, you’ll hear them speaking to you.”

Now, to be honest, I don’t think this is as bad of a concept as some people make it out to be.  When you analyze it, this isn’t saying the midi-chlorians are the Force, they are something else.  I guess you could say they are some concept of the soul, or at least something that allows any living organism to be tuned to the force, making them more likely to be force-sensitive, and thus able to utilize it.  With that said, this doesn’t belong in a Star Wars film.  If I wanted scientific explanations for how magic works (as opposed to a philosophical explanation), I’d watch fucking Star Trek.  Plus the main reason this was brought into the franchise (and no one really takes it seriously, nor should they) was for this whole Christ-birth metaphor for Anakin.  It’s fucking bullshit, and when all is said and done, the trilogy could have been done without bringing this up in the first place.  It’s as pointless as the, “There was no father,” line (ala the Christ metaphor).  Fuck you, you’re just saying that because you don’t want to admit the father is Jabba the Hutt or something.

“Mom, you say the biggest problem in this universe is that no one helps each other.”

Personally, I’d rather go with the definition of midi-chlorians given in this video.  It’s shorter, simpler, and makes more sense:

And that’s all, those are the only 2 major problems I had with this movie.  The only other issues I had were more minor annoyances than anything else.  Plus the great moments (the pod race, Duel of the Fates) more than make up for the bad moments.

“Greed can be a powerful ally.”

“Whenever you gamble my friend, eventually you’ll lose.”

And now for the last bit before moving on to the next film, the politics.  As I said earlier, politics has a greater presence in this trilogy compared to the OT, and it’s worth discussing, considering how relevant its message is.  So Palpatine (who is really Darth Sidious, the Sith Master; spoilers by the way) is behind the whole trade embargo, and utilized it as a way to gain power.  Because he is one of the ambassadors for Naboo, and instigated the conflict as a way to gain power in the Senate.  Whether Tatooine is left in turmoil, or if Padme lives or dies, is of no consequence.  He instigates fear and chaos, and exploits the weaknesses of the Senate to gain power.  And this is done when Padme realizes that the leaders of the Senate are unable to get things done efficiently in an adequate amount of time due to the corruption that is there.  Palpatine shows to her, truthfully, where the corruption lies.  That the Trade Federation has bought off some politicians, and thus has gained unfair political influence amidst the individuals running the Senate.  Because humans are imperfect and are corruptible.  Thus Padme makes her displeasure known publicly within the Senate, and calls for a new replacement to get things done, which the Senate overall agrees to, thus placing Palpatine in a higher position of power, though unknown to everyone he is more corrupted than anyone there.

“It is clear to me that the Republic no longer functions.  I pray you will bring sanity and compassion back to the Senate.”

But the political intrigue doesn’t end there.  The whole reason this move happens is because of fear of what would happen to her people, causing her to make a rash decision.  Plus, seeing all the other races and world ambassadors within the Senate, it becomes clear that the plight of Naboo is just on small piece in the whole galaxy.  Thousands of worlds, each with their own political structure, their own problems, their own issues.  One can perceive from this that the universe doesn’t revolve around what the protagonists are doing.  There are other events going on, providing rich material for spin-offs and fan-made novels/games/films.  More on that later.

“Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to the dark side.”

This element of fear leading others to do rash things is extended to the Jedi Council, who sense fear in Anakin, which can cause him to do rash things as well (which will be seen in the sequel).  In addition, the Council itself has fears of the Sith and what they mean.  They are keepers of the peace, they do not wish to get involved in conflict unless absolutely necessary (thus they largely abstain from Naboo’s plight, because there is more going on outside of Naboo).  The Council does not wish to have Anakin trained, because he’s too old (pish posh), yet Qui-Gon decides to do it himself, going against the will of the council, similar to how Padme makes the move of promoting Palpatine, which goes against normal procedure. And it also shows signs of imperfection within the Jedi council.  Even in Obi-Wan, with how he reacts to Qui-Gon bringing Anakin with him off of Tatooine, shows imperfections within his character.

“Why do I have the feeling we’ve picked up some other pathetic life form?”

There are similarities and connections to a few plot threads in this film, elements that are enhanced upon a rewatch, especially after seeing the entire trilogy.  George Lucas had his game plan thought out from the get-go, before Episode I started filming, and it shows.  Plenty of foreshadowing that has natural progressions and payoffs in the later films.  Stuff like this makes me recognize the brilliance within the prequel trilogy, in spite of its faults.  This saying pretty much sums up the political aspect of not just this movie, but of the entire prequel trilogy (PT): “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”  While there is a celebration of peace and prosperity at the end of the film, knowing what lies ahead, it’s a bittersweet victory.  Enjoy the peace while you can.

“He [Anakin] gives without any thought of reward.”

“He knows nothing of greed.”

 

 

Rated: 2.5 / 5

This used to be what I considered to be the worst Star Wars film ever (not including spin-offs, or anything outside of the episodes that have Roman numerals in them).  That was until The Last Jedi came about.  And to this day, I have to admit, this movie is pretty bad.  I struggle at times on giving it a lower rating, but the last act prevents me from doing so.

I mean seriously, this is awesome shit!

First, the good stuff.  The imperfections of the Republic have carried over into the opening text crawl of this film.  Due to disagreements and civil division, many worlds have broken off from the Republic to join the Separatists.  This sounds a bit eerily close to reality doesn’t it?  If it doesn’t seem freakishly similar to events of today yet, wait until you get to the next episode.

But anyway, many are becoming worried about the state of affairs.  How the Separatists are being formed, and the threat they pose to the Republic.  But there is justification on the Separatists’ part.  As we’ve seen in the last episode, the Republic and the Senate isn’t efficient at dealing with issues, making many frustrated and fed up with the slow pace, with the stalling, etc.  Thus, despite reservations and warnings as to how this could backfire, the Jedi Council and other factions back the appointment of Palpatine as the leader of the Senate, who will act with semi-dictatorial rule to make more decisive decisions.  It allows for greater efficiency in addressing problems and sidesteps the usual issues that would bog down the amount of time it would normally take.  This is done out of fear of what the Separatists and their droid army will do.  And the whole conflict (and the formation of the Separatists) was planned by the very guy they appointed as leader of the Senate, and thus of the Republic.  And he used fear and exploited the weaknesses of mankind (and alienkind too, don’t want to alienate anyone) and government institutions to gain power and control.  Even the Jedi Council admit that they are taking a very dangerous path here, electing Palpatine to such a position, even if it’s for good intentions (the road to Hell).

Good stuff.  Too bad it’s marred by one of the worst fucking executions of a romance story I’ve ever seen in my life.  Fuck me, the acting by Hayden Christensen is fucking horrendous, to the point of hilarity at times.  It’s not helped by the dialogue, spoken by Padme and Anakin.  This isn’t an issue one can ignore considering how much time is spent with them.  But I have to admit, just this aspect alone makes this film perfect for Rifftrax.  And after re-watching this, I consider it a sin to watch the film without the Rifftrax treatment.

Oh, but the pain and misery don’t end there.  Aside from R2-D2 and C3-PO being more involved (gag me with a spoon), there’s also the action scenes during the first 3 quarters of the film.  Most of them go for far too long (like when they’re chasing the assassin), and they get dull by the time they’re halfway over.  I don’t care if there’s symbolism and foreshadowing in those scenes (Anakin getting his hand temporarily trapped on the conveyor belt foreshadowing his robotic arm), they needed serious trimming.

Then there’s Jengo Fette, who has a son named Boba Fette.  Why the fuck do we need a Boba Fette connection in the PT?  Stop making these forced and unnecessary connections to the OT!  They don’t enhance either trilogy in any way and just make things more stupider (so stupider I’m saying the word that way instead of it’s appropriate spelling/usage).

What a lot of fans were like when walking out of this movie.

And lastly, there’s Anakin.  First, it seems as if too much of everything revolves around him.  First there’s this prophecy bullshit (which, again, is something this trilogy could’ve done without).  Then there’s the moment when he kills all these Sand People in a rage after his mother dies, and this rage and pain is felt by Yoda (oh please).  And then there’s the meeting with those people who would go on to raise Luke Skywalker.

What the fuck!?!!!!!?

It serves no purpose!  There’s no rhyme or reason for it!  It’s bullshit!  And on top of that, Obi-Wan doesn’t know about it, so it doesn’t make anymore sense for Obi-Wan to somehow conveniently albeit unwisely hand Luke over to them at the end of Episode III.  It’s more bullshit “memba dis?” moments as a callback to the OT that shouldn’t exist in the first place.  Illogical, fucks with the OT a bit, questions the rationality on everyone’s part, and at the very least seems like a dumb fucking hiding place.  In fact, why the fuck even hide the babies in the first place if Anakin isn’t going to know what they look like?  I mean, shit, one of them is hiding in– whoah, hang on, I’m getting ahead of myself here.  Need to hold back and save this rant for Episode III when the event actually happens.  I’ll get back to you later you dumb fucking thing you.

Now, I don’t want to end the review of this film on a sour note, because at least the film had the decency of ending on a high note (at least in terms of entertainment value).  The film kicks up a notch when our protagonists are in the arena fighting for their lives.  Finally, an investing action sequence.  And then the Jedi army shows up, and they start fighting against an army of robots.  And despite how powerful the Jedi are, they’re not invincible, and they take heavy losses and are on the verge of getting wiped out.  But then the clone army shows up to save the day, and then we get to see a massive battle between the droid army and the clone army.  And it concludes with a fight between Anakin and Kenobi vs. Dooku, until Yoda steps in and showcases one of the most hilarious and awesome (at the same time) moment in Star Wars history.  All of a sudden, it felt like it was worth getting through all that bullshit condensed into the first 2/3rds of the movie just to get to that last 3rd.

I can’t not be entertained by this.

Oh, right, about the clone army.  It’s a great concept, though it’s marred by the whole Fette connection thing (would’ve been a lot better if this asshole had any other name, and didn’t have a kid named Boba; the only fucking bobas I want as far as the PT is concerned are the bobas that go into smoothies).

Damn right, it’s better than yours!

Anyway, I found it a bit intriguing as to how it got started.  Qui-Gon Jin (under the alias Sypho Dias) went to this planet to order their creation nearly a decade ago, under the orders of someone.  I presume it was under either Palpatine’s orders, or by someone who was connected to Palpatine.  I imagine there’s some extended universe (EU) book that goes more in-depth with this and offers more of an explanation.  Either way, I found it intriguing.  But it also shows how intelligent Palpatine is and how far-ahead he planned the whole conflict.

In addition, it showcases the strengths and weaknesses of the military in general when it comes to warfare.  In this and episode I, we see that the droids, while effective to an extent, don’t have great reasoning powers, and are easily defeated if the station containing the computers that control them is destroyed.  The clone army, on the other hand, they are more adaptable in combat, less robotic, and don’t all fall apart if one command center is destroyed.  However, they are not independent, and always follow orders from the person in charge no matter what they are.  A fault that will be showcased in the next film.  In any case, I can’t help but think this is a statement about the military and warfare in general.  How this trilogy acts as a warning against the future of warfare, and what the consequences will be if clones and/or machines are used in place of the regular human (or alien) fighter.  What is lost when humanity is taken out of the conflict, a conflict where the casualties are not just the soldiers?

Lucas wasn’t done with the homages yet.

Anyway, once again the film ends on a scene representing peace and prosperity, albeit on a smaller scale.  The union between Anakin and Padme.  And again, it’s bittersweet, more-so than in the last film.  Partly because Padme deep down knows that this relationship will end up destroying them.  Partly because of the conflict everyone knows lies ahead (and there’s another near-end shot with Palpatine overlooking the Republic’s progress towards a state he desires).  But mostly because this romance doesn’t live up to its potential because their acting and dialogue absolutely sucked!

The Jedi way.

 

 

 

Rated: 4 / 5

So Episode I had some flaws but was overall very entertaining.  Episode II was full of bullshit but at least ended on a good last act.  Episode III turned out to be the best of the PT, by a mile.

The opening text crawl begins almost declaratively, “War!  It’s everywhere!”  It also states that “There are heroes on both sides.”  Already with that opening statement it brings even more potential for spin-offs and fan-made-content to build on that.  Heroes on both sides?  Does that include Jedi?  Who are these heroes on the enemy side?  What was their motivation for joining?  From what I understand, much of this potential was utilized in the Clone Wars animated series (which I haven’t seen, though I’ve heard good things about it).  It’s subtle things like that which helped elevate this entertaining yet flawed trilogy into a cultural revolution when it came to Star Wars products which were absolutely devoured by fans about as much as those young little 80s cunt kids devoured those Ewok toys.

Let me get the negatives out of the way right here right now, because there are a lot of positives to be had with this entry into the saga.  First, fucking R2-D2 and C3-PO are still around jacking off (or if you’re female, fingering) the fans (and Lucas) who ate the Memba Berries.  Second, why the fuck is Chewbacca in this?  Third, the scene with Anakin and Kenobi on the ship after getting captured by Grevious’ forces (a grievous error; I can’t help it; if Lucas is going to create character with puns for names, I’m going to be making fucking puns; at least it wasn’t something stupid like Rose [Titanic was stupid too]), the way they got out of that predicament was stupid.  I mean, seriously, Grevious is experienced with taking out Jedi, and he didn’t anticipate this bullshit?

Fourth, when Anakin turns to the dark side, I find it to be a stretch, to the breaking point, to believe that Anakin is capable of slaughtering younglings.  It would’ve made more sense if he saw the clones doing the slaughtering, which would’ve provided better motivation near the end regarding the line, “Join me Padme, I can overthrow the Emperor, we can rule together!”  Granted that’s a callback to the same line he said as Vader to Luke in Empire Strikes Back, but it could’ve been handled better.  Because he is clearly someone who joined forces with the Emperor for reasons he personally considered out of necessity than out of want.  On top of that, it makes him out to be more of an irredeemable dick.

Fifth, Padme dies because she, and I quote, “Lost the will to live.”  Go fuck yourself, and your logic.  You’re telling me this broad didn’t want to try raising her own children?  That having love for her kids wasn’t reason enough to keep her going?  Kinda makes her a selfish cunt if you ask me.  Plus, with the way I interpreted the backstory in the OT, I thought that Luke and Leia’s mother would’ve still been alive for a respectable amount of time after she gave birth to the kids, but wanted to keep them away from Vader because she feared him, and he ended up killing her in a rage after finding out she had her kids hidden from him.  Hell, this movie even provides another reason on top of that; because she had different beliefs and viewpoints regarding politics and the Republic and the Emperor compared to what Anakin believed.

[EDIT 6-30-2018: Ok, so maybe the film is more intelligent about the whole Padme death thing than I thought.  There is an article which makes the argument that there is more going on in this sequence than what we see at face value.  The fact that robots are disconnected from the force (because they’re not living things), and are unable to detect the force, and are thus unable to detect that an element of the force is draining the life away from Padme.  Because Anakin still has a connection to her, a connection that Sidious is aware of.  And the connection is used to sustain Anakin’s life until his transformation into Vader is complete.  Plus, when paying very close attention to the sequence, not just the transitions between Anakin and Padme in pain, but also the sounds.  Anakin’s heartbeat, how it continues, then goes silent for a few moments as the Vader mask is put onto him, then you hear Vader breathe, but no heartbeat.  Anakin is dead, Vader is born, providing another element of truth to when Kenobi told Luke Vader murdered Anakin.  I have to admit, when taking that into account, it makes me have further appreciation for this film.  So issue #5 isn’t that big of an issue.  By the way, I highly recommend checking the article out for more details on this sequence.  It’s got some fascinating thought-provoking stuff in it.]

Sixth, you dumb fucking thing you!  Why the fuck would they hide Luke on Tatooine?  The very planet that Anakin grew up on!?!?!?

Seventh, and last.  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!  Bhahahahahah!  That moment ruined the whole grim and depressing nature of the last act in a moment of “so-bad-it’s-good.”  Look, I’m all for so-bad-it’s-good moments, but not in a film that was on the verge of being a (non-comedy) masterpiece.  Though I do have to admit this moment entertained the hell out of me, for the wrong reason.  And for better or worse, it’s one of the most iconic moments of the movie.  Oh, and one other thing.  Anyone want to explain to me how it is Vader’s suit got ready so fast?  Or did more time pass than the film is letting on?

“I think this war is destroying the principles of the Republic.”

Well anyway, onto the positives.  This film contains some of the best action sequences in the entire Star Wars franchise.  The scenes when the clones and droids are fighting, the lightsaber duels, the space fight, the fight on the ship in the beginning.  If nothing else, it’s an action-junkie’s wet dream.  Plus Hayden’s acting abilities have improved since the last film.  And that’s just the surface level entertainment.

“What if the democracy we thought we were serving no longer exists, and the Republic has become the very evil we’ve been fighting to destroy?”

Back to the politics.  So Palpatine is in power, and he claims he’ll relinquish it and put the Senate back the way it was prior to the Clone Wars.  However, the Jedi Council fear that he intends to keep this power once the war is over.  Yet they also know that if they make a move against Palpatine and put themselves in the position of power to try and restore the Senate to where it was, this would be a very dark path for them to take.  A path that goes against the teachings and philosophies of the Jedi.  Not to mention the Jedi are heavily involved in the war, not exactly acting as keepers of the peace.  But it’s a moral grey area.  On the one hand, if they don’t get involved, then the Separatists and the droid army would win, and that would spell doom for the Republic and put the galaxy in a state of total chaos.  Plus they are right about Palpatine.  If they don’t act, he will likely find a way to remain in power and change the Republic from a Democracy to a Dictatorship.  A complicated issue the Jedi Council aren’t entirely sure how to deal with, creating a sense of fear and dread, and thus act against the Jedi way.  Similar to how the Senate decides to act against the way of Democracy and out of a sense of fear support the rise of a dictator who claims will protect them.  The Jedi Council begins to break down just like the Senate.  Even one of their own, Count Dooku, leaves the Jedi Order (Episode II) to join the Separatists, and becomes seduced by Sidious for reasons we don’t know.  And it’s better left up in the air, because each Jedi has their own personal beliefs, their own personal motivations, their own selfish interests that the dark side can exploit to seduce them to their side and their cause.  The main one we see seduced in Anakin, for reasons that involve fear of losing a loved one, and being blinded by love.

And eventually turning his back on love.

The whole film (and to a greater extent, the trilogy) acts as a deconstruction of politics and religion, showcasing the dangers to how each can fall.  And they both fall for similar reasons, because religion and politics, despite how much some countries promote the policy of separation between church and state, are bound to be interlinked.  After all, if a government is for the people, and politicians are people, and if there are people who follow a religion, then the relationship is inescapable.  Both fall to a dark religion that promotes rule by strength, control over all others, a lust for power and greed, and ultimately sows the seeds of division.  Because if there can only be one ruler, only one god, then there cannot be a Democracy where the way of life is to work together, to talk things out, and vote for the best interest of as many as possible.  Thus Democracies and peaceful religions must fall, seeds of fear and distrust must be sowed so that such division can be reaped later on.  It is how evil can rise.

“All who gain power are afraid to lose it.  Even the Jedi.”

“The Jedi use their power for good.”

“Good is a point of view, Anakin.”

But what is good and what is evil?  As Palpatine points out, good is a point of view.  This is later expressed with Anakin saying to Kenobi, “From my point of view the Jedi are evil.”  Even in Return of the Jedi, Kenobi expresses this same message, that many of the truths we cling to depend on our point of view.  In Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker asks Yoda how he can tell the good from the bad, to which Yoda replies, “You will know… when you are calm, at peace, passive.”  The problem is that virtually no one in this film is calm, at peace, or passive.  Virtually everyone is acting the opposite.  Including the Jedi Council, who failed to foresee many of the tragedies that would occur.  Yoda admits that they have become blind in Episode II, something that causes them to worry, hence not being at peace.  They abandon passivity for war.  And Anakin abandons calmness for passion.  In fact, we see more of this hypocritical nature of the Jedi with Kanobi’s line, “Only a Sith deals in absolutes,” making an absolute statement, which isn’t something I would consider passive.

On the other hand, is there not a time where someone must no longer be passive?  Is there not a time where doing nothing is the wrong thing?  These philosophies are best served as generalities, there are exceptions.  They state the Sith rely on their passions, are selfish, and only look inwards towards themselves, caring naught for others other than using them as a means to an end.  But the Jedi rely not on passions, are selfless, and act to help others, caring for others (at least in theory and according to teachings).  Being calm and at peace with oneself makes it easier to know when to act and when not to.  Passions should be utilized, but not relied upon, since your feelings can betray you.  One should be passive until a time comes to act.  Knowing when and how to act comes with knowledge and wisdom, which I’m sure is also something the Jedi teach, as Yoda and Kenobi taught Luke in the OT.  And as they said, following the path of the light is difficult, while following the path of the dark is easy.  So of course there would be complications if trying to live life following the light side.

But because the dark side is so seductive, so tempting, many do fall to it.  Many do give in to selfish acts.  And politics and religion are a heavy factor for it.  The war broke out because of a breakdown in politics and religion.  Separatists were made causing worlds who were once allied with one another to fight against one another, turning friend against friend, loved one against loved one.  Because they are convinced their way is right, their way is just, not considering the other perspective.  Becoming unwilling to talk things out.  Because it is much easier to do otherwise.

The destruction of democracy.  And when democracy can be used as a weapon against its own.

 

“So this is how liberty dies.  With thunderous applause.”

Thus it is easy for governments and religious groups to slowly erode until they fall.  The temptations, the easy way, the passions and selfish acts.  Too tempting for many to resist.  And over the course of this trilogy, we see how they all erode away in one form or another.  Eventually, sense of goodness and fairness and selflessness is eroded to the point where many applaud the act of doing away with the very thing they once held dear, sometimes for the illusion of “a safe and secure society.”  While the PQ is about the fall of the Republic and the Jedi due to this corruption, the OT is about overthrowing the corrupted and bringing hope for a new era, a time for a new government and a new religion (or a resurrected one).  How even when the light seems extinguished, there is always a way to re-ignite it and bring back order.  It doesn’t happen easily, it takes time, it takes effort, it takes sacrifice, but it can be done.  How unfortunate it is then that the more recent trilogy doesn’t continue this cycle by showing the other aspect, which one wouldn’t be wrong in assuming should be the rise of a new Republic, a new democracy, and how to maintain it and prevent it from slipping down the same path as the Republic and Jedi Council did in the PT.  And finding a way to balance telling such a story on a personal level (a protagonist caught in the middle of a conflict brought on by political forces) and on an impersonal level (while the politicians and religious leaders make their own moves and developments that affect the protagonists, and even antagonists).  From what I understand, Lucas had a similar vision for episodes VII-IX if he ever got around to making them.  But he didn’t, because he felt it was time to move on, to let others tell their own story, to bring what they could for this franchise, this saga.

When both sides cause destruction.

And what did they bring?  What did they expand?  Something I’ll address in a later review when I revisit those films.

Brother against brother.

Until then, my conclusions on this film and the PT.  It’s a flawed trilogy, but not without its moments of greatness.  Potential lost and unfulfilled, matched by potential achieved.  Imperfect yet wildly entertaining.  Ambitious with the new material unleashed, yet flounders when providing fan-service by forcing in the familiar.  I enjoy the trilogy in spite of its flaws (and make due with the severe flaws of Episode II by giving it the Rifftrax treatment), and revel in the glamorous moments that succeed.  The battles of the last act between Yoda and Sidious, between Anakin and Kenobi, the music that accompanies these sequences.  Even if most of the content is disregarded as garbage, this moments stand the test of time as masterpiece sequences.  Plus one can’t ignore the emotional impact some of these scenes have, particularly the fall of the Jedi when order 66 is executed.

 

If nothing else, one can’t ignore the soundtrack provided by John Williams, who some say single-handedly saved this trilogy from being a total disaster.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say it would’ve been a disaster without his music, but I will say that it rivals that of the OT, which is an incredible accomplishment in of itself.  Too much greatness to label the films as complete garbage, too many flaws to label them as masterpieces.  A flawed gem is what I would call them.

Welcome to Hell.

So I would say this is a trilogy worth revisiting.  If it’s been many years since you’ve seen it, you may find some things in it that make it better than you remember.  In some ways it’s more intelligent than it seems, yet remains as dumb as you’ve heard/remembered in others.  Either way, there’s some fun to be had, and some thought-provoking moments.

Symbolism of living cells and midi-chlorians, indicating a struggle within the soul between the forces of light and dark?

 

PS: Well that seemed to end on a bit of a serious note.  Let’s close this by lightening things up a bit.

2 thoughts on “Star Wars: Prequel Trilogy (1999-2005) epic review

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