Movie Review: Star Wars – The Prequel Trilogy (1999-2005)

When I started watching Star Wars, which was not long ago, I had, for some reason, a feeling that the Original Trilogy is just the beginning. And that the prequel trilogy was the set of movies that would awe me the most. Unfortunately, that was not to happen. The Original Trilogy, for me, remains the best of the lot.

Agreed, I began watching it mainly to catch up with the times, and because Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi was releasing. But I’ve been sucked into the vortex. Now, I am much more possessive and protective of the original than any first timer could be. And I am proud to admit so.

Unlike what I did for Star Wars – The Original Trilogy (1977-1983), where I wrote the summaries for all three movies, I will write a collective review for the prequel trilogy. I will tell you why.

The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith have much to go by if storyline is to be considered. These movies are the story of Anakin Skywalker from the moment he was found to the time his dark side takes over him to make him Darth Vader. This, in reality would make for a compelling story, revealing who Darth Vader was before becoming Darth Vader.

With the emotion-heavy story of the most powerful Sith lord in history, the movies could have been so much more in so many departments. The soundtrack, as usual, is great. There is humor in places that you wouldn’t expect but doesn’t seem out of place. Ewan McGregor does his job well in all three (though it seems forced in places), while Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn is the best of the lot. It is not without reason that Neeson is called a good actor. While these two do their job well, there are others who let the franchise down heavily.

Acting:

While The Phantom Menace has Jake Lloyd as Anakin Skywalker, a cute yet focused and ambitious kid, the second and third in this trilogy are done a great disservice to by Hayden Christensen, who plays the grown-up Anakin Skywalker.

Hayden Christensen looks like he is a cross between Andrew Garfield and Liam Hemsworth, only with neither of their acting chops. There is so much to emote, such a huge story to tell, and Christensen destroys the essence with his unimpressive acting. There is neither emotion on his face, nor weight in his voice. I don’t have any reason to believe him when he acts, something that is crucial to the art of acting. They could have gotten a better Darth Vader. It’s a shame such an important character was dealt such an unfair hand.

Even Sheev Palpatine, once transformed, becomes gory to watch act. In those few minutes, I wished I could stop myself from comparing the two actors, but Ian McDiarmid and Hayden Christensen looked like they were battling for the spot of worst actor in the franchise. McDiarmid recovered quickly. But Christensen, in both the movies that he played Anakin, is beyond saving and beyond redemption for character murder.

According to the Original Trilogy, Master Yoda is supposed to have a glint of mischievous humor in his conversations. But the prequel trilogy overrules it all by having Yoda be all serious and getting to do a number of action scenes in especially the final instalment, Revenge of the Sith.

And Jar Jar Binks! Oh good Lord! Mesa yousa wesa! Maybe it is his reputation that precedes him or maybe it’s just the character himself, but I started hating Jar Jar pretty soon. As the movies progressed, I could see why he became the most hated character in the Star Wars franchise. Justifiably so.

Dialogue:

Though there are a few hard-hitting dialogues even in such a let-down as the prequel trilogy, there are many points in the movies where it is fragmented to the point of no return. An uneasy ping pong of words is annoying, and that is what happens here, with no flow and continuity at all in some places.

Effects:

One of the biggest reasons why I became a Star Wars fan is the effects. The Original Trilogy had such amazingly believable effects that it is difficult to believe that those movies came out between 1977 and 1983.

The prequel trilogy however, trashes all those effects and turns the movies into an amateur CGI field, where you can see your hopes and expectations from it being dashed to the ground. Revenge of the Sith, the third instalment in the prequel trilogy, has much better effects than The Phantom Menace or Attack of the Clones. But even it doesn’t compare to the original trilogy by a long shot. It is so disappointing to see, almost a cringe-fest. Then again, there are worse movies than this. So let’s take heart from this fact.

All in all, the Star Wars: The Prequel Trilogy that includes Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Episode II: Attack of the Clones, and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is hugely disappointing for one who goes in with a lot of expectations. Because of Hayden Christensen, I take away 2 stars and give the prequel trilogy a 3.

Unfortunate, but cannot help it.

Rating: 3/5 stars

 

P.S. My chronology of reviews of the movies (as explained in my review of the original trilogy) will look something like this, based on timeline:

  1. Star Wars – The Original Trilogy (1977-1983) – Because it all started here.
  2. Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens – Because it is the chronological sequel to the original trilogy.
  3. Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi – Because it is the sequel to episode 7.
  4. Star Wars – The Prequel Trilogy (1999-2005) – (This post) It is here that the series jumps back to before the events of A New Hope.
  5. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – Because it is the chronological sequel to the prequel trilogy.

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