For love or hate of 'The Phantom Menace'
A fan dressed as Queen Amidala attends the 1999 premier of "The Phantom Menace."
February 9th, 2012
01:09 PM ET

For love or hate of 'The Phantom Menace'

The first major signs of trouble in the relationship between George Lucas and legions of ardent adult “Star Wars” geeks can be traced directly to May 19, 1999.

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” opened at midnight, and theaters practically sank under the weight of audience expectations. The movie certainly made a huge impact in the "Star Wars" community, but not in the way the filmmaker or fans could have predicted.

“The Phantom Menace,” which returns to the big screen in 3-D on Friday, occupies a unique and controversial place in the "Star Wars" universe for a generation of adults who grew up on the trilogy of the ’70s and ’80s. For one, it ushered in the era of the harshly criticized "Star Wars" prequels, which some of the geek faithful saw, fairly or not, as a betrayal.

It was also the beginning of a standoff between Lucas and vocal fans who were displeased not only by the new movies, but also the filmmaker’s decisions to tinker with key scenes in the original "Star Wars" films. There’s a reason for all those “Han Shot First” T-shirts on the Internet.

The emotional reaction to “The Phantom Menace” and what it represents speaks volumes about the fierce sense of ownership that hardcore nerds have about the things they love.

Author Henry Jenkins, provost’s professor of communication, journalism and cinematic arts at the University of Southern California, said that particular film stands to this day as a sort of love/hate dividing line and “an open wound” for the original "Star Wars" faithful.

“'The Phantom Menace’ is something the adult 'Star Wars' fans continually reference. It’s something they care about deeply,” he said. “It’s a trauma in the community that they’re finding it very difficult to work around.”

That may sound like hyperbole to some, but for geeks, hobbies are passions. And they take those passions personally.

“I think what makes a nerd a nerd in this context is a social life that revolves around collecting and ranking and discussing cultural artifacts, whether it’s Civil War nerds or "Star Wars" nerds. There is a whole social community constructed around the collective experience of a certain book or movie,” said “American Nerd” author Benjamin Nugent.

“For nerds, books and movies aren’t just pleasurable consumer experiences. They are parts of their identity and social glue.”

Fans at the wheel
In the 16 years that passed between “Return of the Jedi” and “The Phantom Menace,” countless devotees had put their own stamp on "Star Wars" in the form of fan stories and novels, music and adaptations of role-playing games. Jenkins pointed out the 200 amateur "Star Wars" films on the Internet before the curtain opened on “The Phantom Menace.”

Lucas may have technically owned the franchise, but the people had taken the wheel in their own way.

“During that time, fans didn’t stay idle," Jenkins said. "They actually dug in … and extended the universe in really rich directions. So when Lucas comes back, he’s not just competing with himself, he’s competing with this really rich fan culture. It was just an explosion of creativity that Lucas didn’t really control.”

Canon and continuity loom large in geekdom, and elements of the prequels — plus the subsequent alterations of the classic films — upended some fans’ longstanding vision of the "Star Wars" universe. In fan communities that place a premium on mastery, those kinds of perceived deviations can set off shock waves. Look no further than the initial outcry over the DC Comics relaunch last year.

“That sort of fanboy model is one where knowledge equals power and knowledge equals status," Jenkins said. "When you start to destroy knowledge, you disrupt the entire hierarchical process."

Nugent thinks it was inevitable that fans wouldn’t like the new films. By then, “Star Wars,” “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” had become so iconic that returning to that well “came to feel like trying to make a series of sequels to ‘Crime and Punishment.’ ”

And while the computer-generated special effects were dazzling, Nugent said that “The Phantom Menace” was a sort of tipping point where audiences began to realize the limits of digitalization. Lucas’ use of models in the original movies gave them a charm that CGI couldn’t match, he said. Think of the scene where Han Solo whacks the console of the Millennium Falcon, which “looks like the dashboard of a Chevy,” as Nugent put it.

“It gave everything a kind of solidity in those early "Star Wars" movies that you haven’t seen in anything since ‘Terminator 2.’ It’s wonderful,” said Nugent. “It’s the physicality of those special effects that make "Star Wars," in part, what it is. The digitalization is a big part of why the sequels offend so much.”

That reflects the feelings of "Star Wars" fan and TheOneRing.net staff member Kirsten Cairns, who said the prequels were indulgent and more about special effects than a good story. Cairns had been so excited about “The Phantom Menace” that she even wore a pin saying “Episode I” for about a year before the movie came out.

“The fans wanted, I think, to see the origin of the quest we'd all loved. Instead, those origins were twisted, corrupted and indulged in some kind of attempt to make this world have as elaborate a history as Tolkien’s Middle Earth, which only succeeded in messing with what we loved,” Cairns said. “I kind of gave up on the 'Star Wars' universe after the prequels. I was so disappointed.”

In Defense of Episodes I-III
Not everyone views “The Phantom Menace” and its successors with disdain. In 2007, Mary Jo Fox created The Star Wars Prequels Appreciation Society in response to the constant negativity that surrounds those movies. Fox said the anti-prequel sentiment has become a meme that dominates nearly every discussion of Episodes I-III, and that it hampers many adult "Star Wars" lovers’ ability to take a fresh look at the films.

Fox suspects that no movie would have been a match for the titanic nostalgia “The Phantom Menace” was up against. However, she noted that there are old-school fans who love all of the "Star Wars" films. They're just less vocal.

“Some (fans) haven’t liked anything since ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and believe Lucas is some rich, out-of-touch guy who lost his way. So they looked for things in ‘The Phantom Menace' that proved them ‘right,’ ” said Fox, who co-published a "Star Wars" fanzine in the ’90s.

“Others were so protective of their 'Star Wars' they worried that the new 'Star Wars' was supplanting the old. When I was running my fanzine, I really did get some letters from readers saying stuff along the lines of, ‘I don’t care how good Episode I is, I won’t love it as much.' ”

There’s also a generational dynamic at play. Whatever issues adult fans may have with the prequels, there’s no denying that the newer movies appeal to children. Some of the marketing for the 3-D release of “The Phantom Menace” has been aimed at kids who weren't even born in 1999, but became fans of the prequels on DVD and the Cartoon Network's “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” animated series.

"Star Wars" fan Rebecca Perry, who camped out to see the first midnight showing of “The Phantom Menace” when it opened, prefers the old-school, pre-CGI "Star Wars." However, she understands why the prequels speak to a new generation of fans.

“I think young kids like the appeal of a hero closer to their age,” said Perry, referring to the child version of Anakin Skywalker played by Jake Lloyd. “And maybe that these are their films, and not their parents’. ”

Ultimately, the legacy of Episode I may be how it changed the way "Star Wars" faithful relate to the mythology they cherish and the man who created it.

Jenkins referred to it as the fan/anti-fan dynamic. Anti-fans, he said, are passionately antagonistic toward particular works — and that antipathy is prolonged. “They have a very complicated, emotional relationship to works that hit them hard in ways they probably can’t fully describe.”

In the case of "Star Wars," a person can be on both teams.

“They began as deeply immersed fans and, at some point, they became anti-fans,” Jenkins said. “That’s a combination you don’t see very often. There are very few occasions where someone can simultaneously be a hardcore fan of something and an anti-fan. This one’s been especially intense, I think.”

soundoff (345 Responses)
  1. Satdrarvefdf

    At th

    July 13, 2012 at 7:48 am |
  2. audi q8

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    July 8, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  3. Marine

    One of the most well attended evnets at Celebration V was the Why We Love the Prequels panel. Looking around the convention, there at least as many prequel costumes and souvenirs as OT ones probably more. Oh the kids I know, including mine, they always name a prequel film as their favorite until some adult rolls their eyes and corrects them! Yeah, people were not as disappointed in the prequels as we asked to believe. And people weren't as universally in love with the OT as is retroactively believed.

    April 14, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  4. The Big M

    This is the way it is. Those that dislike the Phantom Menace need to move on, let go, build a bridge and get over it. They need to accept that the movie is what it is and realise there is nothing they can do, they are powerless, it is not their choice and just grow some balls and accept the prequels. If they don't they need to consult a shrink and go on extensive thearpy. The Phantom Menace is excellent – deal with it, accept it, there is nothing you can do and the sooner this is realised the better off humanity will be instead of listening to your whining. Just think people in Syria don't have a choice they are too busy trying to live then complaning about Jar Jar Binks. Time to grow up ladies.

    April 2, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  5. GregSP

    I would like to ask all the prequel haters a question...How old were you when you saw the original trilogy?...7-13?...5-11 like me?...That's the real point, when you were enthralled by the OT you were a kid and reacted as such...Now, how old were you when you saw the prequels?...29-36?...26-32?...you watched these movies like the adult you were and dissected them as such....aww they sucked, horrible story, Jar Jar Binks?....instead of going out in the yard and flying around in your Millennium Falcon, you were bashing George Lucas for ruining your childhood...your childhood is over, if you want to watch an "adult" movie go see The Artist or The Help and leave George and SW alone....

    March 6, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  6. chris

    The prequels weren't THAT bad. I think all of the hatred is more of a bandwagon thing than anything else. My proof, I remember immediately upon the release of all three prequels, the initial reviews were quite positive but very quickly became negative. After Episode I came out I remember people saying that was the best Star Wars yet, only to find them hating on it a few weeks later. Yes, its definitely a bandwagon thing.

    Are the prequels perfect? Absolutely not. Are there things that could have done better? Definitely! Are the movies pure garbage original trilogy fans make them out to be? I just don't see it.

    February 17, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Romulan

      It's definitely not a bandwagon phenomenon. There is a general concensus that prequels were filled with very bad actors. The central figure Anakin Skywalker, the most important character in the franchise, was assigned the worst actors of the movie. Granted, I understand it's too much to ask Jake Lloyd to put up Oscar performance at his age. But you can definitely do better than Hayden Christensen. And Jar Jar Binks and his race is quite a nuisance. After watching the movie for the second time I still couldn't make out what they were saying. When you have very poor acting and nuisance throughout the movie, it becomes unwatchable.

      The story has too many holes. Lucas tried to tie up everything from episodes 4-6 but the stories he made up don't add up and don't make any sense.

      Anyway, I paid for other movies and watched TPM 3D so I ended up paying Lucas nothing.

      February 28, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  7. Major

    If you just look at the whole thing as one 13-hour movie, it's pretty darn entertaining. It's amazing how many nuances come alive in the original trilogy when they are watched right after eps. 1-3.

    February 14, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • alan

      the prequel trilogy completely ruins the original trilogy for me personaly so thats an inane statement, it completely spoils the terrific writing for empire strikes back (what every hollywood movie should hope to be half as good as esb) by letting everyone know who's vader parents were. the prequel trilogy is redundant and unecessary, darth vader doesnt need a backstory, part of the fun of the original trilogy is not knowing who darth vader is and having someone completely evil yet showing everyone that everyone has a human side by the end of return. the prequel trilogy lacks any of the secular humanism story of the original trilogy and is nothing more than a mechanical excersize in special effects, like most modern films are, especialy the sanitized sub voilent remakes comming about in hollywood wich miss the point of the great movies of the 70s and 80s had humor and secular humanistic values without involving religion that made them great. lucas lost sight of his vision and alienated fans by not recognizing it was star wars's story, not its visual effects that made it wonderous and magical. the prequel trilogy is nothing more than popcorn entertainment to be watched once, then next, nothing culture forming about it.

      February 14, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • alan

      lucas simply could have and should have had a three way romance like the original trilogy and left everyone wondering if obi wan or annakin was luke/leia's father.

      February 14, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • alan

      part of the fun of the original trilogy is not knowing who or what vader is wich the original trilogy is like a mystery series, ruined by vaders backstory. star wars is multi genre'd wich most terrific movies of the 70s and 80s were. end of rant lol

      February 14, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  8. truefax

    Star Wars is a reflection of our culture. The originals where made in turbulant times when freedom wasn't ever free and there a constant threat and hope. I call the prequels the facebook generation's star wars, they're made for the ADD driven shalowness that consumes our culture today.

    February 13, 2012 at 7:28 am |
    • Snazster

      A lot of cool and pretty stuff here in Phantom but it only shows that with enough money you can make a script pounded out by chimpanzees look good (and have pretty music).

      Start with the fact this is not some experimental new wave art movie and then consider that THERE IS NOT EVEN A PROTAGONIST! Even most first time amateur writers know instinctively to create one.

      Now try to describe any character' s personality (other than possibly Palpatine) in such a way that others can recognize the one you are describing (personality only, no mentions allowed as to role, occupation, or physical appearance.

      Then start counting major plot holes. You can quit at 17 - not because that will be all of them but because you will begin to understand that Lucas must have whipped up a very rough draft of the script and then either never allowed any changes to it or was persuaded by complete sycophants that he was a god-like genius and had nailed it in his first attempt.

      We expected better. That the script was not inspired is not the issue here for most unhappy customers. The issue is the script was not competent.

      February 13, 2012 at 9:53 am |
  9. chris

    At least the author used the proper name for the first film ("Star Wars") and not the rediculous "A New Hope" don't even get me started on that one...

    February 13, 2012 at 6:49 am |
  10. Beedo

    The Star Wars prequels are criminally underrated. I would call them flawed masterpieces (like all masterpieces). I think I actually like them more than the original trilogy (although I love that one as well). What Lucas has done here is simply so much richer and subtler than people give him credit for. Nostalgia goggles + misplaced sense of ownership have turned many geeks into bullies when it comes to the prequels. You have to realise that the prequels are very different films with very different intentions than the original trilogy. I hear people say they miss Han Solo and Chewbacca in TPM and I don't get it. See the original movies if you want those characters and those stories. The classic trilogy is a more innocent coming-of-age-tale against the backdrop of an epic clash between good and evil. The prequels are about the loss of innocence, the fall of a great society and the delicate balance between good and evil. There are some grim implications there but always with a ray of hope and all of it takes place in hidden layers underneath some of the most wonderfully designed worlds ever put on screen. There is SO much going on there. But people don't see it . They'd rather jump on the "huh huh Jar Jar is stupid" bandwagon instead of appreciating the nuanced storyline, the graceful choreography, the wonderful music and the completely unique style of the Star Wars prequels: movies that I will ALWAYS defend!

    February 13, 2012 at 6:20 am |
    • Meesah Peepee Poopoo

      Exsquuueeze me??

      March 6, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
  11. zorua dude

    stats for movie box office releases-adjusted for inflation and ticket prices:

    star wars- a new hope: $1,394,676,400

    star wars- the phantom menace: $687,186,100

    http://boxofficemojo.com/alltime/adjusted.htm

    all of the original films did better overall than phantom menace, and the other prequels fared pretty badly, getting no where near to how much phantom menace sold. Even when unadjusted, the gross totals for most money made, A new hope still did better than phantom menace. yeah, a nearly half a decade old movie is better in every monetary way, yeah, that says a lot.

    February 13, 2012 at 12:09 am |
  12. canterbrerry

    I actually think Revenge of the Sith is better than Return of the Jedi. RotJ is really inconsistent thematically with the Ewok issue and I like how dark Revenge gets, all for the love of a woman. Good stuff. What the prequels lacked was the raw humanity of fixing clunkers and sketchy bars and someone with the guts to say "I know" when a woman tells her he loves him.

    February 12, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
  13. Pete

    Safest bet in the world: that a geek snob will find something wrong with something big in the subject of his/her (mostly his) fixation and grouse about it for the rest of his/her life.

    February 12, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  14. GenericMan

    The man who brought us Howard the Duck.

    February 12, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  15. bitterjack

    I wish he would stop wasting his time remaking the 2 trilogies he has already done (at least twice now) and put out his last set. Isn't he suppose to have Ep 7-9 stashed away in his attack somewhere? Why not make these movies?

    February 12, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  16. saxophone31

    The prequels, however entertaining, are garbage. No one's plans include any common sense, the dialog is cheesy, they're always sitting on couches or walking incredibly slow, midi-chlorians ruined the whole mystical nature of the Force, the war has no emotions (clones vs. robots, both of which are expendable), everyone makes dumb decisions, Anakin is a whiny brat, and everything feels fake (which is what happens when almost everything is shot on a green screen set).

    February 12, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  17. bklynrob

    Who, other than a five year old, could appreciate at any level the character of Jar Jar Binks. He's a completely ridiculious, one dimensional character that cannot be taken seriously and yet we are to beleive he can set the stage for the brokering of an alliance? As much as I tried, I had a hard time taking the Phantom Menace seriously.

    February 12, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Me

      He's as annoying as Short Round in Temple of Doom.

      February 12, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
      • Khalil

        Chaniyth / @signupsigmaThe TurboGrafx-16 / PC-Engine CPU while only 8-bit, the speed of the hardware was cmarapoble to the other 16-bit systems of the era. Bit's don't always equal graphics abilities, example: the Atari 2600 was an 8-bit console. It has 2 GPUs; 16-bit custom video color encoder chip and 16-bit video display controller, out of 512 colors the TurboGrafx could do 482 at once!Off-topic fun fact, the Sega Genesis was actually a 16/32-bit hybrid machine. The main CPU was 16/32-bit! o/

        November 16, 2012 at 2:33 am |
  18. What I really want

    Is for the Star Was Holiday Special to be released in 3D.

    February 12, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  19. Give it a break

    I took my 7 year old yesterday and we had a blast. And guess what, the place was full of families and kids from age 5-12 or so, all having a ton of fun. Yes, he's rereleasing in order to drive merch sales, no he doesn't need the money. But then I'm spending the money because my son enjoys it, not to make Lucas rich.

    And the amazing job my daughter did on her brothers Darth Maul makeup for his Halloween costume more than makes the movies worth it. Point being, kids enjoy these movies, and I enjoy watching them with him, and in the end that is the point.

    February 12, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  20. Joseph

    Lucas would make street walkers out of his own kids if it brought in another dollar to him.

    February 12, 2012 at 7:22 am |
  21. JG

    I notice that a lot of the people who hate the prequels are able to name every last instant of each of those movies, because they kept going to see them again and again, and bought the DVDs. I bet they're buying the blu-rays too, and watching them over and over again, looking over their shoulders lest anyone notice how much they secretly love these movies.

    February 12, 2012 at 3:54 am |
    • bitterjack

      Bingo! You sir/madam, have won the internet!

      February 12, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Me

      WRONG

      February 12, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
  22. JenInMD

    I WILL NOT be seeing 1-6 in 3D. What is the point? They weren't shot with 3D in mind. Another attempt to suck more money from movie goers. My 5 yr old son really wants to go see them. I'll be digging through my closet to find my VHS copies of 4-6 (pre-messed around with) for him to watch. Eps 1-3 are what they are. I was disappointed, but whatever. I, like so many others, took issue with Lucas changing Eps 4-6. These movies were beloved as they were, why monkey with them?

    February 12, 2012 at 1:27 am |
    • bklynrob

      My son and I saw the 3D version yesterday. I was skeptical going in because I remember 3D movies back in the early 80's (Remember Creature from the Black lagoon and Jaws 3 in 3d?) and the 3D effects were really dissapointing. I have to admit howver, 3D technology has come along way since those days as was evidenced last night. It was alot of fun. As for the Phantom Menace movie itself, my son loved it, I on the other hand not so much. For me, having grown up with Luke, Hon and Leia, the prequels will never relate me me the way those original movies do. It's a generational thing. And sadly, I anticipate as much as you will attempt to get your son to relate to the original movies that you have saved on VHS, he's probably gonna look at you in that way that kids often look at thie parents, old and out of touch. Take him to the new releases in 3D, I suspect you'll take as much fun in it, from the perspective of doing a really cool thing with your boy.

      February 12, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  23. sailorDoom

    I'm the perfect audience. Born after Ep4 and Ep5 but before Ep 6 so I was able to see them all with very fresh young eyes I say when I was about 6 or 7. I liked them all no problem. I liked ROTJ because as a kid you pick on the feeling that this is the end of something (Darth Vader big spoiler there). So fast forward 9 maybe ten years and I get to see the prequel, Ep1, The Phantom Menace as a teenager. You know that statistical age were your suppose to crave for nothing less than intense action and blaring lights? Um no. Sorry, as teenager cared about a decent story arc as much as I did when I was a kid watching the first episodes.

    Sad because I actually did like Ep3 (over Ep1 and Ep2) but I swear that last scene is soooooooooooo bad that many people I swear erased it from memory. In fact its so bad other comedians don't even want to perpetually make fun it to serve as a reminder over how bad it really was. I mean come on, that's bad.

    These movies screamed bad directing, bad acting bad story telling and clear marketing exploitation of nostalgia. And Lucas pretty much said he always wanted to computers to get faster so he could do more with cinema. And we know that means cram as much junk per frame as possible. The older films actually had you locked into a particular sequence of action. And to this day the DeathStar trench looks better than anything to date mostly because you were locked into the action which was filmed with precision and intention each scene working together seemless (most of the times). The dialogue may have been bad then too but the emotion behind their delivery made you kinda feel that hey in this galaxy far far away this is how these guys talk and do things.

    February 11, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
  24. Brad

    I think if you were 5-9 years when the 1st came out in '76, it is special to you in a way that is hard to understand for the subsequent generations. We lived it. It is what we talked about, drew in art class, played action figures at home, listened to the soundtrack record, what we were at Halloween, what we wanted at Christmas.
    Also true, we did not want those memories uprooted by prequels. That said, that the prequels were made for children is silly, as there were no greater fans than children of the very first. It appealed to all, children and adults, but the prequels seemed to be for children only. R2 and 3P0 were reduced to shuffling 1 dimensional automatons with all the depth of a vacuum cleaner. They no longer conversed as thinking, feeling people as they did in the original. Compare 3P0 responding to R2's beeps saying "Don't get technical with ME!" to the silly monosyllabic "Oh no! Oh no!" 3P0 simply repeats over and over falling hither and yon from one treadmill to the next in Phantom etc. It goes on and on in its sillyness.

    AH! Enough.

    February 11, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • Diane

      I did quite like Threepio's line of "My PARTS are showing?!!?" in Phantom Menace. Both the OT and the PT have elements of the absurd but I like both trilogies equally for different reasons. Granted, Phantom Menace tops all of them for most disliked – as is generally felt – but I still like it due to the characters of Qui Gon (going against the rest of the Jedi Council – yay for hippy Jedi) and of course, Darth Maul. Shame they had to kill him off so quickly but it was understandable why they did.

      The original Star Wars came out on my 7th birthday. I guess since I like both the old ones and the new ones, that just means I never grew up. ;)

      February 12, 2012 at 8:04 am |
  25. Dan

    And of corse, who really cares what Darth Vader was like as a toddler?! I mean, does anyone care what Hitler, Bush, Sauron, The Joker, or any other long list of bad guys were like as little kids? I mean, c'mon Lucas, get real. What's next? A movie about the Little Rascals as adults? I think Lucas got too caught up in marketing to kids & forgot that he used to market to both kids AND adults.

    February 11, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  26. CraigRB

    Well, I agree with poster Tim. There were just a lot of really bad ideas. It's quite clear Anakin was intended to be an older actor and then Lucas changed his mind. Metachlorians were mocked from the beginning. I remember a person who saw the film asking, "do you need a shot for those?"

    I believe the primary criticism of the later work of Lucas boils down to this: he stopped thinking like an overgrown child and began thinking like a father. That's absolutely fatal to the creative process, especially one drawing upon his childhood the way Star Wars did. In other words, he started making the moves that he wanted his children to see instead of making the pictures he wanted to see as a young man.

    February 11, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  27. Tim

    Jiminy Crickets! This article is ridiculous. We dislike the prequels because it threatens our geek cultural hierarchy and they have too much CGI? Really? Please remove head from dark spot. We hate the prequels because they are a travesty. Let me count the ways. Metachlorians? An idea so stupid even Lucas abandoned it after the first movie. Jar Jar Binks? 'Nuff said. Pedophilia? I mean really, what's the best case for the age difference between Anakin and Padme in Ep 1? He's at best 10 and she's elected queen of an entire planet with command authority over military forces. It has the charm of being offensive and contrived all at the same time. Lucas can't even keep his continuity straight within the prequels. "Always there are, a master and apprentice." Okay then, explain Doku? Wooden acting and overuse of CGI are readily forgivable sins and might even become endearing over time. We dislike the prequels because they take a steaming dump on the original movies. It's like the second set of movies was made by someone completely different. They're the prequels from Bizarro universe.

    February 11, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Juls1314

      I was nearly 7 years old when I saw Star Wars in the movie theater -and I have been a Star Wars fan ever since. I have read about 100 extended universe books – the clone war era being my favorite, followed by the years between A New Hope and Empire.
      I don't mind the pre-quels. I appreciate the CGI. Jar Jar sucks, Jake Lloyd is a terrible actor and Natalie Portman was a bit cheesy is II and III. BUT – I still like the movies.
      Revenge of the Sith is my favorite – some days I even like it better than Empire.

      Come on – Return of the Jedi! You guys seriously hold that ridiculous film in higher standards than any of the prequels. That's just bias and holding your ground for no good reason. ROTJ was awful.

      February 11, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
      • Alexandra

        I can appreciate what you write as I also was 7 in '77 for ep4, and it wasn't as much a movie as it was a phenomena for all ages. And what did it? Bottom line, the story. The characters. There have been many sci-fi space based movies before but it was the story in the incredible sets and effects that made people see it over and over.
        Oh, and I just gotta add. Your statement that on some days you like ROTS more than Empire....wow, just wow...now that is a powerful statement. I'm not taking issue with your tastes but a little shocked at the boldness.
        Peace.

        February 12, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • db_cooper

      hear, hear...

      February 11, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  28. CliffClavin

    The prequels fail on a fundamental storytelling level. Ask yourself what is interesting about Qui Gon? And what is interesting about Han Solo? Solo is rouge, scoundrel, ruffian, loner, tough guy the list goes on. The point is he has depth as a character. Redletter media has a very good break down of the prequels and why the fail.

    February 11, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • db_cooper

      send an email to this webzone, if you want a pizza roll... who's been screwing with my meds?!

      my bin... my plastic bin...

      February 11, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  29. lgwelsh1

    I would like to see the " Thrawn Trilogy" made into a film series. Get some new actors ( good ones ) and write the script just the books.

    February 11, 2012 at 2:21 am |
    • PlayLoud

      Personally, I would love to see the Thrawn Trilogy released in an animated format (Clone Wars), with the original actors providing voice over.

      February 11, 2012 at 11:50 am |
      • Diane

        Ooo – this! Primarily because it would have the original actors which would be fabulous as well as I really enjoy the Clone Wars series (and I used to dislike most cartoons – even as a kid)

        February 12, 2012 at 8:08 am |
    • Leebo

      The Thrawn trilogy would and is the best continuation of star wars.it kept closest to the originals,Timothy Zahn also did prequel book to last Terminator movie,short but good!

      February 11, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • Matias

      If you need several esysas worth of material to explain why characters are behaving the way they do, why they make the choices they do, because there's little-to-nothing to go on in the films and there's no way you'd be able to imbue meaning into their characters short of academic analyses, then the film itself is probably an incoherent mess rather than being deep and profound, especially since the prequels were marketed at children. But that's just my opinion.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  30. AGuest9

    I was 7 when my mother took me to see Episode 4/A New Hope/Star Wars/whatever. I loved it. I definitely think, however, that if you REALLY feel as passionate about these movies as indicated in the above article, you REALLY NEED to get a life!

    February 11, 2012 at 1:03 am |
  31. illuminated genius

    Speaking as a loyal star wars fan for many many years i defend all the star wars movies episodes 1-6. We all know the first 3 films were classics and some of the best films ever made in the history of science fiction, but i think it is unfair to judge George Lucas genius by condemning the Star Wars prequels. If i were George Lucas i would release all 6 star wars films, not counting that animated clone wars nobody cares about and have the options to show the original and special edition features on the blue ray. I always thought Star Wars was a phenomenal film. I really admired Luke Skywalker and how he grew from a boy to a Jedi knight who was ready to take down his own father and the emperor in Return of the Jedi. I think if there is one thing i would love to see would be one last serious Star Wars movie a Episode 7 like a final battle post the end of the empire to fight off the remaining Sith. For once i would love to see what happens in the future of Star Wars. How did Leia do as a a Jedi knight? How is Luke Skywalker doing as a Jedi master in the future? How is Han Solo dealing being married to Princess Leia and being a general in the rebel alliance which took down the empire? A Oscar caliber level Star Wars film which would end with a super production would be awesome. I think George Lucas is a genius and because of what he did to make all those films along with the merchandise he is a multi-billionaire. The only thing though is that it would be nice for Lucas to try to preserve the integrity and legendary legacy of the Star Wars brand. I just want to remember the films as they were Episodes 1-6 and with no further manipulations. I personally liked the episodes 1-3 films, they were fun to see maybe they were not as awesome as the original films but they were great films. For me the Star Wars films were some of the best films in movie history and in the history of science fiction. In my opinion the Star Wars films 1-6 are awesome, it would be amazing to see one last Academy Award type level Star Wars which would be a 7th film adding all the original cast members and a super production showing what happens in the post war after Return of a Jedi. I am more interested in the future of Star Wars as a hard core fan, i don't really care about the past which seems to be Lucas favorite thing to do which is take Star Wars to a retrograde time machine into the past and further with prequels. When is the last sequel going to come out for Star Wars? I want to see a Sequel that matters and is worthy of being up to par with the classic star wars films. Can you do that for me Lucas? Please seriously, you will thank me one day, just remember that for many Star Wars fans the films are holy so if you are going to make one more Star Wars make it a real good film so it blasts away all the other films in movie history. Make it the type of film that wins 13 Oscars and the love hate relationship will be forgiven forever.

    February 10, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • tommy

      the clone wars animated series is very well written, much better than the prequels, much more adult than child for the most part. check it out especially searsons 3 and 4

      February 11, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • Dave

      Clone Wars Cartoon is way better than Eps 1-3 also, for the answer to your questions, read some Timothy Zahn...that is way better than Eps 1-3 as well

      February 12, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • Idris

      yeah, right, my bad. but even tho he owns the company it's my unedrstanding he has very little input (by his own choice) in the day-to-day running of the business, or marketing, things like that.but yeah, that's basically what i meant they're doing, trying to please both camps. i don't see lucas himself trying to please the people who profess hate for him, but who knows.point is, it's run like most other large corporations, + like disney animation/disney the massive conglomerate, i think it's important to separate lucas + lucasfilm, because they aren't interchangeable.

      April 14, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  32. humtake

    I am a fan of every Star Wars movie. I let go of any expectations for the prequels because I just wanted a story to finally be told. The prequels had just as many flaws as the originals. The ones hating are just people who had their own idea of what the prequels should have been and want to whine and cry because Lucas had a different vision.

    February 10, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Dizz

      The flaws in the prequels are disastrous and doesn't come close to the originals. C-3P0 being made by Anakin all this time, how silly and unbelievable as that. Vader didn't even acknowledge that in Empire. The prequels are horrible (Revenge of the Sith is of a mess than the other two) .

      February 10, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
      • db_cooper

        agreed 100%... for in-depth analysis and some eye-opening insight, watch the 10-part review of phantom menace at redletter media daht kom

        February 11, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • heliocracy

      Agree...having C-3PO and R2D2 in the prequels just seemed forced and came across as a lame attempt to bring the 70's fans to the table. A lot of what's wrong with Episodes 1-3 is that you could tell there was a lot of cold calculation of audience expectations going on, instead of just telling an organic story that fit nicely with what had gone before. And it would help if Lucas could cast a proper actor in a lead role. I always thought Hamill was a terrible actor, but Jake Lloyd makes him look like Alec Guiness.

      February 10, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
  33. darkstar

    Prequels? What prequels? In my world, they simply don't even exist. And my world is SO much better because of it.

    February 10, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • denim

      I'm with you.

      February 10, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • db_cooper

      me too

      February 11, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • r

      I don't even know from the original three movies. What others?!!!!!

      February 11, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
  34. mousebane

    obi wan was the best part of the prequels. knowing what he went through makes the scene with luke at his pad in ep IV so much more relevant. i still get chills when obi wan reacts to the message from leia by telling luke he must learn the ways of the force before giving him a lightsaber.
    i didnt like chewbacca's appearance in ep III, but knowing what he went through with yoda and the Betrayal makes me wonder what he mustve been thinkin 20 when he ran into a jedi in a bar on mos eisley 20 yrs later.

    February 10, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • JT

      It wasn't just Chewbacca's appearance that bothered me. Did Anakin really have to be 3P0's creator? Does everyone we meet really have to be the former apprentice of someone else we meet? Honestly, making Duku Yoda's former apprentice doesn't add anything to the story. It's not like that relationship or history is ever explored outside of the same bit of passing dialogue that introduces the idea. Bleh, whatever.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  35. davetharave

    We always knew the prequels would eventually be coming. When the very first Star Wars came out everyone knew it was actually the fourth movie. Star Wars is a big, very complex story and there are bound to be some contradictions but ultimately the prequels did end up answering a lot of questions. The only truly unforgivable aspect seems to have been, and always will be, Jar Jar Binks.

    February 10, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • db_cooper

      i really do believe that lucas thought he could do no wrong, and greatly overestimated his own creative talent... he actually thought that binks would be "endearing" and "funny". it's almost as if the 2 sets of movies had been made by completely different people... and in a way, they were.

      The best expression of this I have ever seen is in one of red letter media's 10 10-minute review videos analyzing the contrast. We see a comparison of opening sequences.... star wars vs phantom; the conclusion was that the opening sequence of the first movie was so genius, the narrator "doubts that lucas had anything to do with it, and probably fought against it the whole way."

      February 11, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  36. MCP

    I never got my hopes up with Ep. 1 – 3 so I wasn't all that disappointed by them. What is still an outrage in my opinion is the addition of the CGI scenes to Ep. 4 – 6. Talk about blasphemy. That's when I realized Lucas had turned to the dark side. I still have my originals on VHS because I refuse to buy the DVDs with the crap-tastic additions.

    February 10, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • denim

      Hear here! I converted my VHS copies to files, too.

      February 10, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
      • Jimmy

        I suppose I've tuhhgot in the past about how IV, V, and VI are now being attached to the old Star Wars movies more than they used to, but a part of me is indeed nostalgic for the distinct poster logos for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and another three of them (with Star Wars worked in one way or another, of course) would have been interesting to see.For some reason, in noticing your comment on emphasising prequel, not a sequel I started amusing myself with tuhhgots of how much of The Phantom Menace could be watched thinking it set some indeterminate length of time after Return of the Jedi, and what interpretations might come up with, before it was completely obvious how the chronology worked.

        April 14, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  37. Chris

    My problem with the prequels isn't really about the story or the overuse of digital effects. The main issue for me was how poor the acting was. They were all very stiff and not nearly as believable as in the originals. Since I've seen the actors perform wonderfully in other roles, the only explanation is that George Lucas just isn't a very good director. Episode's IV and V weren't directed by Lucas and they had the best acting of all of them, that says a lot right there.

    That said, I still enjoyed watching the prequels and I don't think they are nearly as bad as so many claim.

    February 10, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Wade

      This is my exact problem with these movies also. There is no chemistry between any of the actors. Lots of forshadowing and setup, but nothing else. They are fun to watch, but the acting is painful.

      I think the scene where Qai Gon Jin (sp?) sticks his lightsaber into the blast door on the federation ship is one of the best scenes in all of the movies. What a great demonstration of the power a jedi wields.

      On the whole there is a great cast of actors all doing their very worst ... disappointing.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  38. urmomlol

    Meesa can't wait to see Jar Jar in 3D!

    Yippeeeeee!

    February 10, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • r

      I'm against violence except when necessary and I think he should be throttled.

      February 11, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
  39. Mike

    The very first Star Wars movie was hokey, but in a playful campy way with Muppets and oompa-loompa-like guys.

    Everything else in that franchise afterward was just hokey.
    Lucas tried to make it serious and only managed to reveal how fundamentally vapid his 'universe' was.

    More American Graffiti told us everything we needed to know about Lucas and sequel/prequel instincts.
    There's no excuse for us acting surprised when Ep 1-3 came out looking like hideous caricatures.

    February 10, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  40. MomofTeens

    Something I've not seen commented on here is the preknowledge of the original trilogy fans going into the prequels. It's hard to get emotionally involved with a cute little kid when you know he's going to end badly. I think that is why I couldn't get into the originals, no matter how cute or loveable Anakin was, I knew he was going to end badly and couldn't really feel any empathy because I knew he was going to make the choice to go bad, regardless of the reasons.

    February 10, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Wade

      I know! It kind of makes his relationship with Padme seem contrived at best. And that is the core relationship/idea in the WHOLE story. If that doesn't work then you start to question everything else.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • Eris

      But that's a sticking point with me – at no point was Anakin really likeable. In "A New Hope", we are led to believe that Anakin was a hero and a great friend to Obi Wan. My question is – when?? He was a smart kid in Episode I, and a petulant, arrogant brat at best in Episodes II and III.

      I'll take the three original movies, please.

      February 11, 2012 at 12:04 am |
      • Dragos

        Actually to correct myslef. Blur gets hired by the game's publisher not the developer. EA has been a long time fan of Blur's work. Aside from using some designs made by Bioware, there was probably little interaction between Blur and Bioware.

        May 24, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  41. Bruce

    At one time, I felt that Lucas was the worst betrayer of a loyal fan base that had ever existed. He sacrificed his youthful creativity for more money, and damaged the shine on the entire enterprise.

    Then came "Lost," with its pathetic last season. Lucas's three prequels and three reworked movies are now number two on my list.

    February 10, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  42. MiketheElectrician

    Sorry Sam, I wasn't invoking science here, just a humorous note.

    February 10, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  43. captainkickstand

    Well, some of us who were 9 years old in 1977 went into the prequels 100% ready to feel 9 years old again, and found that in the 16 years since Return of the Jedi, Lucs had forgotten how to script, cast, and direct a motion picture.

    The prequels are pretty bad, really, by any standard of filmmaking. That's not to say people can't enjoy them.

    February 10, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • thedude

      More like: You were 9 years old in 1977, and went into theaters in 1999 finding that you were now 31 years old.

      February 11, 2012 at 3:12 am |
  44. John

    American Graffiti, THX-1138, Radioland Murders and Star Wars trilogy are all great films. The Star Wars prequels were lush visually but short on the things that made the originals great – witty barbs and interesting characters. The originals are chock-full of memorable dialogue and there is almost no memorable dialogue at all in the prequels. Young Darth Vader could have been a fascinating psychological study – was he a troubled youth, were there signs of what he would become, but instead we see a typical young boy in love with podracing and his mother. Not fascinating stuff for such a fascinating evil villain. Likewise, Luke and Leia's mother could have been an interesting character but was instead just a wooden showpiece for makeup and costume changes. Young Boba Fett was likewise kind of dull. And too much CGI throughout – it just is overdone and doesn't look right. Overall too much spectacle and not enough substance.

    February 10, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • MiketheElectrician

      I always thought that Anakin should not have been burned in the lava, but rather been scarred from the Emperors lightning. This would have tied into RTOJ, where he watches it happen to Luke.

      February 10, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
      • MiketheElectrician

        I meant ROTJ......haha

        February 10, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Miguel

      i have to confess that the riaginol Dr. Who passed me by. I saw a few seconds here and there. i wonder if one can jump into the new series without having seen all of that history.

      April 8, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  45. Tracie

    All of the movies have their own merit in one way or another. I think that if they want to appeal to the true fans then they need to make new movies and quit screwing with the current ones. I hate anything in 3D. It distracts from the story line and tends to come off cheesy. I would really like to see a movie set either before episode 1.

    February 10, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • Mace

      I agree. Let's have a prequel prequel, that explains how the Jedi came to be, organized, etc., and also how they became decimated. Remember, in episode 1 it was revealed that the Jedi's numbers and organization had already been greatly reduced, and was a major reason young Anakin hadn't been discovered earlier.

      February 10, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • denim

      You want him to make films 7 through 9 now?

      February 10, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
  46. Han Shot---period!

    Lucas is losing it. Search for George's recent interview in which he now claims "Han NEVER shot first!" Seriously, dude? we've all seen it.

    February 10, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • Tracie

      agreed!

      February 10, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Tracie

      Han definitely shot first. Lucas you are nuts!

      February 10, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  47. Vic

    Any Star Wars fan that defends EP. 1-3 are still in denial after 10 years. They stories were full of holes and made no sense.

    February 10, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  48. Logic

    It's just a movie, you would think some of these people's cultural heritage was under attack. If you don't like it, don't watch it.

    February 10, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Mike in NJ

      Um, Cultural Heritage. Exactly. To Kill a Mockingbird: "It's just a book." "Imagine": "It's just a song." These are important to our culture. Try to respect that.

      February 10, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  49. Dan

    1-3 are terrible in 3-D or normal verions. The added in scenes in 4-5-6 are terrible!

    How about this: release the ORIGINALS in theatre's, this would be worth seeing.

    February 10, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • denim

      Even better, release 4 through 6 as originally seen in theaters, on DVD and BluRay.

      February 10, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
  50. JarJar

    Meesa thinks I done ruinated it !

    February 10, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • MrsFizzy

      You only see any "point" to JarJar in I think the 3rd one where (I can't even remember what happened ...) he becomes a talking head in the Senate unwittingly promoting the future Empire's interests (or something). Other than that it's just painful. And no I won't be watching them again to remind myself of the storyline.

      February 10, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  51. jedi_Mind_Trick

    Episodes I-III have their faults for sure, but if you look back at IV-VI without the rose colored glasses, so do they. My kids love the new stuff while I love the nostalgia of the old. The new films have acting that is as wooden as the puppet appearance in CW; but the acting in the classics wasn't anything worthy of an Oscar either. Cheese comes to mind with the acting in the classics. My only hope is the once the clone wars animated story is done, Lucas will expand the storyline in the IV-VI era or even after VI. Point is, all of our lives are richer from the SW saga regardless of your opinion of the new movies.

    February 10, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • MomofTeens

      I remember all the criticism about Yoda and how he sounded like Fozzie on the Muppets. I too am an original fan and never really got into the prequels, I tried reading the books but even they didn't have really good stories like the originals. My kids like the new and don't really care about the old. I did finally get my one teen daughter to watch Star Wars Episode 4 with me and she was shocked to find out the origin of the 'these aren't the droids you are looking for' statement. She was very familiar with the statement from cultural usage but did not know where it came from. Saddest of all my kids don't really understand the difference between Star Wars and Star Trek.

      February 10, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
      • MrsFizzy

        You do know there was a very good reason why Yoda sounded kind of like Fozzie the Bear...?

        February 10, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
      • Jay from L.A.

        Actually, I always thought Yoda sounded more like Grover from Sesame Street...and yes, I know why....

        February 11, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
  52. Hypatia

    Love Maul and Qui-Gon. Loathe Jar Jar. tough call!

    February 10, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  53. vel

    There's a good reason not to like 1-3. They make a good villian into a whiny brat and the Jedi into idiots. Hell, if I was a Clone Trooper, I'd not need Order 66 to shoot ever single one of them.

    February 10, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • MiketheElectrician

      Why would people who hated Episodes 1-3 in 1D want to be bored to death again seeing it in 3D?.. George, we get it, you are rich, you can do what you want in hollywood. But how about letting budding film makers access to your skywalker ranch at no cost, instead of this garbage.

      February 10, 2012 at 11:24 am |
      • sam

        If you were watching the prequels in 1D, then you should have chosen a seat where you could see the screen from the front and not the side.

        February 10, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
      • denim

        @Sam, lol, agreed.

        February 10, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
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