(...continues from Star Wars: The Original Trilogy Reviews.)
Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)
Episode 1 is where the decline of the Star Wars series started. I mean a decline when considering The Phantom Menace as a part of the series. It's not such a bad movie on its own although it has elements of unintended parody. In my personal opinion the movie is the least spoiled in the prequel trilogy since it doesn't offer so much debunking of old characters and ideas as the next 2 episodes. But compared to the original trilogy it is a big departure from its virtues. There are no strong characters like Darth Vader or Han Solo. The music is similar to the old score but weaker without any new memorable themes (it did not receive an Academy Award or even an Oscar nomination as it had always happened in the case of the original 3 movies). The film offers parody characters like Jar Jar Binks and suggests the Immaculate Conception notion for Anakin Skywalker. And finally, The Phantom Menace is the closest to a childish story of all 6 Star Wars movies which is not mandatorily bad. It has proved to be the most successful of the prequels in terms of box office, probably due to the older Star Wars fans' enormous anticipation of something big.
Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002)
Attack of the Clones is darker than its predecessor and not so childish but it's where the debunking of the myths starts. We are offered a forbidden love story combined with some early signs of Anakin's temptation to embrace the dark side of the Force. But while this adds a bit to the overall storyline of the Star Wars saga it's not presented in the most believable way. On the other hand, while Anakin shows symptoms of disobedience and non-compliance with the Jedi Order's rules, it's hard to associate him with the future Darth Vader. To make the lack of correspondence worse arrives the flying Yoda who looks no better than a teddy bear floating in the air. And if the flying ridicule of Yoda is also not enough, a few unnecessary characters like Count Dooku are added. In brief: an even weaker sequel to a weak opening installment.
Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005)
The final (let's hope) film of the Star Wars saga... Some people consider Revenge of the Sith to be the best of the prequel trilogy most likely because it's the darkest and also chronologically the closest to the original trilogy. It shows familiar characters like the newborn Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader in his usual "clothing" and the well-known Emperor. Yet, the Emperor is not the same. If the debunking of Yoda has been unpleasant in Episode 2, here's the time to feel the same way about Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. If he has been an embodiment and the root of all evil in the original trilogy, in Revenge of the Sith he is much closer to an ordinary although clever and skilful villain. Of course, Yoda continues his flight too. And in addition to Count Dooku, there is another unneeded character in the face of General Grievous. The transformation of Anakin in Darth Vader is hugely forced and unconvincing: in no time he changes himself from a supposedly good person to a merciless mass murderer of children. The "mighty" Jedi Order is destroyed with an incredible ease and almost everything intended to provide a link to the original Star Wars trilogy seems in fact strained.
This ends the 6 short reviews of the films forming Star Wars: The Complete Saga package expected to be released on Blu-ray discs in September. Expect to read our comments on the constant "improvements" George Lucas is applying to his original movies in the upcoming weeks.