DISCLAIMER: This articles was originally posted on Odyssey.
I enjoy the “Star Wars” series as an authentic part of American art and entertainment. My beef with it has more to do with the inconsistencies, the lack of scientific logic, the re-editions and the stylistic choices than some of the more obvious reasons, like Jar-Jar Binks. Of course, I have excluded “Episode VII” and “Rogue” (as well as “Episode VIII” and the Han Solo film when they come out) and focused on the prequels and the re-editions.
The first five reasons are not as important to me and are worthy of eyes-rolling, whereas the last five reasons leave me crawling through the Mustafar lava grounds screaming “I haychoo!” I am not familiar with the “Expanded Universe” where a lot of the explanations can be found and I am merely looking upon the film series on its own grounds.
At this point, I am pretty much beating a dead Dewback by engaging in prequel-bashing now in the era of “Disney Presents a Lucasfilms Production,” but I never got a chance to express what I felt about the series proper. These are my well-thought-out personal opinions, so please do not take them seriously. There will of course be spoilers for anyone who has not watched “Episodes I through IV” (though that would be impossible at this point).
10. Jedi Rocks (Episode VI)
In comparison, the original “Lapti Nek” exhibited an exotic yet intimidating rhythm. In this new edition, while the scenery most certainly looks that way, including an extra scene showing the fearful slave facing the dreaded Rancor, the music is pretty schlocky and really ruins the anxiety that one is supposed to feel when being inside Jabba’s palace. I don’t have a problem with CGI retconning if it’s subtle, like maybe not have these monstrosities’ mouths practically engulfing the screen?
9. Qui-Gon Jinn as Obi Wan’s Master (Episode I)
Really, his only purpose was to introduce Anakin to the life of a Jedi, going so far as to bet his entire ship on a kid he barely knows; then he just so happens to be conveniently killed off in the end. That seemed to be the only use he had; even as a Force-ghost in “Episode II” he couldn’t prevent Anakin from killing a Tusken tribe. His strength and sagacity were truly undervalued in the prequels. There was also no mention of him in “Episode IV” by Obi Wan. For me, this only separates the prequels from the original series, though it gets worse down the list.
8. Crucial “Original Trilogy” Origins (Episode III)
I want to be clear about something: “Episode III” is my favorite prequel. It effectively captures the human nature within Anakin Skywalker as opposed to the two earlier films. My criticism lies with the fact that it felt rushed, almost as though trying to maintain pace with connecting the prequels to the original series. There are just so many events happening all at the last minute (or last two hours). General Grievous and Count Dooku die? Boom, done! Palpatine forms the Galactic Empire? Boom, done! The Jedi are being purged? Boom, done! Yoda is exiled to Dagobah? Boom, done! Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader? Boom, done! The Death Star is being built? Boom, done! A lot of this material could have been more built up in “Episode II,” if there weren’t meaningless moments in that installment (which are later in the list). In some ways “Episode III” tied itself to the original series to an extent that compensated for the inadequacy of “Episode II.”
7. Droids and Clone Stormtroopers (Episodes I and II)
George Lucas, in the Director’s Commentary looking back in retrospect at them, said that he intentionally meant for the droids to be goofy and not able to fight against a Jedi Knight, which definitely destroys the purpose of having an efficient automated force and is a waste of resources. There were also plenty of scenes showcasing armies of droids and clones that look plastic. This extensive use of CGI is what starkly divides the prequels from the original series. If that was not bad enough, but the attempt it does at connection makes it worse. The way C3PO was used as a CGI character in Geonosis really ruins it, primarily with the unneeded switching of heads with a droid.
As for the clones, it creates a logical conundrum. Why bother having clones who have the ability to think for themselves when you could have droids that execute your every command without question? Of course, Obi Wan did tell Luke that he and Anakin fought in the Clone Wars and it is the major focus of “Episode II.” My main issue with the clone army is the way they are also presented. I found myself re-watching “Episode II” and thinking “Nope, they could’ve added extras.” Coleman, one of the CGI designers in the Director’s Commentary in “Episode II,” said that the dirt and grunginess on the Stormtroopers’ suits were intended to make the clones look battle-worn and realistic. Sorry, they still look animated.
6. Sarlacc Re-Edition (Episode VI)
I can remember as a kid hearing the skin-peeling shriek. It was not out of amazement or fear, but an uncomfortable irritation.
If the sarlacc is now supposed to be this worm-like creature, then why bother having the rows of teeth within the pit? This new sarlacc looks more like a worm-octopus chimera than an intimidating creature fully adapted to the Tatooine desert. What made the Original Trilogy so impactful was the level of unpredictability that genuinely put the characters in danger, whether it would be a giant asteroid worm, the yeti-like Wampa, or the tribal Ewoks. Just like #10, this re-edition turned it into what Jar-Jar would step on and call “icky-goo.”
5. Lack of Immersion in Different Planets or Space (Episodes I-III)
This characteristic was where the prequels have failed and the Original Trilogy succeeded; which involved the characters being placed–or displaced–in whatever world they were in or even in space. In the Original Trilogy, the characters wear their environments, such as heavy coats on Hoth or camouflage in the Endor moon. In the prequels, the characters wear the same Jedi garbs, even in clearly inhospitable places like Mustafar, an underwater passage to a Gungan city, and Count Dooku’s space station (even when General Grievous broke the windshield, which I’m pretty sure would have reduced Anakin and Obi Wan into cold, shriveled masses). Special suits would have been needed in all of those places, and not some thingamajigs that you bite into.
This is where my main criticism of Jar-Jar Binks comes in, which has to do with his entire purpose on Tatooine. At least he had a purpose on Naboo, helping the Jedi Knights navigate his home-world they were unfamiliar with. Since Jar-Jar is from an aquatic, amphibious species, then he would have shriveled to death under the sweltering Tatooine suns. The only importance Lucas seemed to have for Jar-Jar was to bring more slap-stick and toilet humor to another planet.
4. Anakin/Padme Romance (Episodes II-III)
I have no other words to sum it up than to say that it is like sand; coarse, rough, irritating and it gets everywhere.
I did not feel that connection between them. For “Episodes II and III,” I was more interested in what Obi Wan was doing than in their shallow dialogue and stiff movement. There was no sensation that this was a relationship that needed to be kept secret or that they were actually confined to their roles in galactic society, with Padme as a senator-queen and Anakin as her Jedi bodyguard.
“I’m haunted by the kiss that you should never have given me.” I do not think I have any more to describe this sentence other than annoyance and cringiness. I am no Don Juan, but I am pretty sure using pseudo-poetic language on a girl would turn her off and no amount of Jedi mind tricks can convince her otherwise.
Upon looking at the love chemistry between Han Solo and Princess Leia, it was real because it involved two egos butting heads with an affectionate intensity. It also did not help to know that the senator-queen, who used her intelligence and headstrongness to navigate galactic politics, was turned into a simpering, helpless wife begging Anakin to turn from the Dark Side, even though there were plenty of red flags to suggest that he just might become tyrannical in the galaxy. Another factor that bothered me was Anakin’s tendency towards the Dark Side was hammered into the dialogue with Padme in “Episode II,” almost trying too hard to remind the audience that he will become Darth Vader.
3. Anakin As The Chosen One (Episode I-III)
A lot of fans had a problem with midichlorians, however I do not have much of a problem with that theme, especially since George Lucas, in the “Episode I” commentary, always planned to have an explanation for the Force but was reduced to using “fortune-cookie explanations” in the Original Trilogy. My main criticism in that area has to do with the fact that Darth Vader is no longer a uniquely menacing villain more machine than man and has become a virgin-born figure of prophecy (Basically, Star Wars Jesus). That’s ignoring the whininess of Anakin in “Episodes II and III” (Sorry dude, but a lot of people would kill to be head of the Jedi Council. At least you were considered in the first place). I also think Anakin should not have been a major focus in “Episode I,” especially since the burdening expectation of playing the chosen one took its toll on Jake Lloyd in an all-too-familiar Hollywood tragedy of post-child-actor living.
How did Anakin’s nativity even work? Do midichlorians have DNA? Are they sentient, microscopic creatures? Not only that, but Anakin was considered to contain so much Force, yet in the prequels he barely uses it outside of fighting. Again, the “Expanded Universe” and entire generations of devoted fans have more answers than I do. There was only one part in “Episode III” when he, as Darth Vader, used the Force in his greatest capacity to destroy everything around him before infamously declaring “No!” I can understand if he would have used it with subtlety, such as engaging in dangerous pod-racing as a young boy or taunting Luke Skywalker in a fight in “Episode V”; but can he lift an X-Wing out of a Dagobah swamp like Yoda can?
If Anakin was sent to destroy the Sith not join them, then it looks like hokey religions are no match against a good blaster…or the destruction of galactic democracy.
2. Jabba In “A New Hope” (Episode IV)
CGI Jabba looks absolutely nothing like the one from “Episode IV.” It was also tragic that CGI Jabba from “Episode I” looked better than this one. If anything, this and reasons six through seven should be shown to a Film Production 101 class on the example of what makes good props and bad CGI in terms of natural movement. Not only that but it was adapted from a scene when Jabba the Hutt was originally supposed to be a human with an Irish accent. I’m not kidding. The re-edited scene looks awkward in its tail-stomping self-satisfaction. And just like the original scene, Han sarcastically calls him a “wonderful human being.” This shows just how out-of-place this scene is and one of the reasons why it is one of the worst moments on this list.
It also removes away any malignant mystique that would surround the very name “Jabba the Hutt.” It would be like having a scene in “Episode IV” when Darth Vader is shown without his helmet and mask and flat-out states he is Luke’s father. There is no way, at that point, to lure the viewer in with his/her own imagination about how evil and sinister Jabba the Hutt would be.
What frustrates me even more is the fact that this scene was picked out of all of the deleted scenes in Episode IV that had potential for revision; especially the ones involving Luke’s life in Tatooine. Had they been included in the final cut, it would have made Luke a more sympathetic character who had a life prior to being forced on this quest. Then again, there is no point crying over spilled blue milk.
1. Accents (Episodes I-VI): It would appear universal that every human in the galaxy far, far away has a default British accent; Han Solo speaks an American West accent; Jar-Jar Binks, Watto, and Gunray speak stereotypical accents; Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker (well) cannot pull off any accent considering his scratchy acting. It is an overlooked detail that has no consistency as to why the way the characters speak even matters. Then again, it is not a detail worth obsessing over.
2. Greedo Shoots First (Episode IV): I did include this on the list at one point. I know this is a problem for entire generations of fans, but I don’t really have a big problem with the scene because it happened for a brief moment and it didn’t really define Han’s character. Even if Greedo shot first and Han defended himself, he was still a smuggler with a bounty on his head. I do think that it was an unnecessary change and just an example that CGI can be the kiss of death for a film, in this case leaving the viewer to kiss the blaster.
3. Jar-Jar in Tatooine (Episode I): I originally put this as its own reason in order to fill in the “Jar-Jar Binks Is Why The Prequels Suck” requirement. I know that a lot of people have a problem with Jar-Jar Binks and I remember being a little kid when “Episode I” first came out. Jar-Jar really didn’t appeal to me nor his “How Rude!” catchphrase. Since my main criticism involved this part, I decided to amalgamate it with the related problems in the prequels.
1. Hayden Christensen As Redeemed Anakin (Episode VI)
If the third reason was bad enough, what this scene does is set a cynical precedent for it. It is basically saying that if you are the chosen one, you can kill younglings, destroy entire planets, Force-choke your pregnant wife, betray your council, and break your brotherly connection to your best friend, and you would become a Force-ghost in your youthful form so long as you have a secret son who convinces you to turn from the Dark Side. Also think about why Darth Vader was redeemed; because he killed Emperor Palpatine. This ignores the fact that he has said in the past that he wanted to do just that, but not to redeem himself but to take his place. How does killing the same emperor Anakin helped bring into power outweigh the Rebel Alliance’s destroying all of the inner workings of the Galactic Empire (including blowing up two planet-sized death machines)?
There is a YouTuber who talked about how the scene was terrible since it undermined the intelligence of the viewer who may not have known who redeemed Anakin Skywalker was. As much as I enjoy his videos (which actually inspired me to make my own Top 10 list), where I politely disagree is when he put this scene in #3, but I put mine in #1. By making this choice in the re-editions, George Lucas not only besmirched the viewers, but also Sebastian Shaw’s contribution to the Star Wars franchise. I know I said that Qui-Gon Jinn as Obi Wan’s Master was Reason #9, but I would rather Liam Neeson be included as a Force-ghost among Obi Wan Kenobi, Yoda, and (yes) Sebastian Shaw as Anakin Skywalker.
While there are fans that disagree with this scene, there are those who approve of it and argue that it shows us Anakin before his fall from grace. The problem is that it would mean that Anakin could never have been redeemed in his current form and only in his younger form, as James T. from the website “Den of the Geek!” would argue (who also placed this scene as the #1 Crime against the Original Star Wars Trilogy). There already was a view of redeemed Anakin after his fall from grace in the original edition. Sebastian Shaw portrayed Darth Vader without his mask as well as Anakin Skywalker without the metal suit, the mechanical body parts, or the burnt deformities.
But enough of my First-World kvetching. Obviously, there will be people who will disagree with me and that’s perfectly alright. I will say that the “Star Wars” series is successful in that it blurs the distinction between magic and science and brings the hero’s journey and old myths to a galaxy far, far, away, but these were moments that can definitely ruin the experience. In these cases, the lack of creativity, inspiration, and logic I find disturbing.