Mistakes on the Star Wars Prequels
A friend of mine and I have been playing Lego Star Wars and because he's never seen Attack of The clones or Revenge of the Sith, I had to fill in the blanks and it got me to thinking.
What were the most serious, glaring errors in the prequels, writing wise? Lucas was supposed to have written out an overview for nine movies (The last three became Zhan's Heir to the Empire Trilogy of books as far as I know) at least, if not all the scripts. So what the hell happened? Where did he go wrong? Here's what I came up with.
First, let's establish a few things, just for a base:
-From Phantom Menance to Return of the Jedi, the overall story is the rise, fall, and redemption of Anakin Skywalker. Good people can become bad, but no matter how evil they become, how far they fall, if they want it, they deserve a chance at redemption, if they are willing to pay the price.
-The romances are largely irrelavant to the overall story
-Lucas plotted the six movies to be one to six, not four to six and then one to three. That we see them out of order was a decision on his part.
-As an addendum, plotting a story is very different to writing a story. Plotting is planning out the journey. Writing is taking it and there's all those unplanned stops and side trips along the way. We're focusing more on the writing instead of the plotting here.
So let's start with A New Hope and old Ben Kenobi. A lot of fans complained about things like the Midiclorians or Qui-Gon, because Kenobi never mentioned them in any of the original movies. What they overlooked is that Yoda and Ben were the last two Jedi that they knew of, and that Ben was a master of the half-truth. Ben and Yoda were training Luke not to resurect the Jedi Order, but rather to be a guided missle pointed at Vader and the Emperor. Ben told Luke only what he needed to know. No more, no less. Midiclorins were irrelavant, so was Qui-Gon and the procephy. All Luke needed to know was; This is what the Force is and this is how to use a lightsaber. Vader killed your father and took out the Jedi. You're the last hope for peace. Go for it.
That's exactly what Ben did. Yoda only filled in the blanks after Luke pressed him for the truth.
The Phantom Menace
Queen Amidala is mistake number one. Lucas probably wanted to make her important enough that Qui-Gon and Obi-Won had to get her off Naboo and back to Coruscant, but her being a princess and the only survivor of the royal family works just as well. The costuming could just be a cultural thing or a disguise. However, in a sense, it was also a brilliant insight into the character, since Amidala is a distant and remote person, while Padme is much more likable and willing to get her hands dirty, showed by her willingness to clean up R2-D2. If she was really an arrogant bitch, the bodygaurd pretending to be her never would have ordered her to do it. That makes the relavation that Padme is the queen much more powerful. However, where Lucas slipped up was the election business. That was stupid. Why would you elect a queen who then serves the same function as a Prime Minister or President? That makes no sense.
Mistake number two was the procephy was that there would be someone to bring balance to the Force. The Jedi assumed it would be the elimination of the Sith and paid for it with their lives. Qui-Gon could have simply taken Anakin on due to his high midiclorin count. Midiclorin didn't even have to be a life-form. Just a technical term. If Lucas really wanted to throw in a Chosen One bit, he could have done it a hell of a lot different. Perhaps his personal feeling was that the Force needed Balancing, or that he felt that taking Anakin on was the right thing to do. None of it takes away from Evil Anakin leading the attack on the Jedi Temple and killing everybody. The important part was that Anakin falls. You don't need a procephy for that.
So, they land on Tatooine and we meet Anakin Skywalker. He's a good kid, pure of heart, generous and giving, a veritable saint. He's also a pilot. Oh, and he built C-3PO. That was mistake number three. There was no point in Anakin building a droid. That he built the Podracer was proof enough of his skills. Building a droid is going overboard. C3-PO could have just as easily been part of Padme's contingent on the silvery space-ship, or picked up on Coruscant. There was no reason at all to have Anakin build him. The sole justification I can think of was to get started on the R2-D2/C3-PO snark as early as possible. Which is bad form.
Moving on, Jar-Jar was mistake number four. Again, this is bad writing. Not that he was a klutz, but that Lucas wrote him deliberately as a comedic character and even that wouldn't be such a sin, but it was played up so damn much that Jar-Jar's desire to be helpful despite his klutziness, and his fierce loyalty to his friends was completely overlooked by the viewing audience. That it was those same qaulities that led Jar-Jar to back Palpatine's proposal and give him the opening wedge to turning the Republic into the Empire is a metaphor for the Road to Hell being paved with Good Intentions was instead greeted with "LOL, Jar-Jar screwed up!", if noticed at all.
Mistake number five would have to be Anakin blowing up the Droid Ship. Granted, the droid army had to be stopped before the Gungans got wiped out, but again, there's other ways. Break the planetside relay, perhaps. All Lucas was doing was hammering the "great pilot" at us again. Blah.
Darth Maul getting stomped might be considered mistake number six, but on the other hand, Darth Maul was the bad guy and had to be dealt with. The rules of conflict in fiction state that the hero or heros must be given a challenge that they are capable of beating. Sure the Trade Federation could fill this role, but Sidious would need them later to secure control of the Senate and other things, so Maul makes more sense. I would argue that Maul was less important to the overall plot than the Trade Federation, so he had to go.
Attack of the Clones.
This is probably the most mistake-free movie of the prequels. Really, there are only three
Mistake one was Dexter, the diner dude. He was irrelavant, or at least was poorly thought out. His purpose was to provide exposition for Kamino and that's fine, since Dooku wiped Kamino from the Jedi Archives to begin with, which demonstrates Sidious's reach and power. However, there was no need to have him run a diner. A club or bar or something. I can buy Obi-Wan knowing Dexter, but the presentation left so much to be desired.
Mistake number two was Jango Fett. Having him be Boba Fett, and really, having Boba Fett be the clone doner makes Empire and Jedi more interesting since you don't know if he's the real one or a clone.
Mistake Three is an iffy, as in its more of a personal taste issue then a glaring mistake. I have serious issues with Mace Windu saying the line "This party's over" on Genosia. Sure, it sounds cool, but it clashes with the tone of the SW universe and Mace's character. It just does not fit.
One might also quibble about Yoda speaking several sentances normally in the film, but honestly, he did that once or twice in Empire and Jedi as well. Some things you just cannot parse into Yoda speak without it being so clumsy and awkward that its just not worth it.
Revenge of the Sith
Most of the mistakes here are in the last half of the film. Pacing wise, this is where the audience is supposed to start realizing that something is up with good old Palpatine, if they haven't already. "Say, he's being a little creepy there. And there. What? Wait. HOLY SHIT! HE'S DARTH SIDIOUS!"
However, Revenge is also where Lucas majorly screwed up for the very simple reason that later generations are much more likley to watch the movies 1-2-3-4-5-6, rather then 4-5-6-1-2-3. We already knew the what, we're interested in the why. Fair enough, but, when you take the relavations that Vader is Anakin or that Leia is Luke's sister in Empire and Jedi, having this be known in Revenge lessens the effects of things like Vader torturing Leia on the Death Star, or telling Luke that he is his father, or that Leia and Luke are siblings, their impact on the audience is lessened, because hey, we knew that already in episode 3. Big whoop. Oh hey, look, Lucas has family issues. Yippie.
What Lucas could have done was leave Padme alive and Leia unamed at the end of three. Having her die in childbirth ruins Leia's remembering her mother on Endor while Luke has no memory of her. Lucas could also have led us believe Anakin died in the lava and simply show Vader joining the Emperor at the window to gaze upon the Death Star.
So in closing, the prequel's achilles heel is that Lucas wrote only for his audience now, and not the audience to come. In the end, that's going to be the end of the franchise. In forty years or so, when Lucas' estate or whatever company buys the rights decides to remake the movies, whether or not the new filmmakers learn from Lucas' mistakes should prove interesting.
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