A return to a galaxy far, far away

Alex Lasher

With excitement mounting and the release date drawing closer, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is quickly becoming the most anticipated film of 2015. To prepare for its release, I will be taking a look at the Star Wars saga over the next few weeks. This week I focus on the trilogy that draws the ire of almost all Star Wars fans: the prequel trilogy.Star Wars poster

The Phantom Menace: Set 32 years before the events of “A New Hope,” “The Phantom Menace” begins to tell the tale of Anakin Skywalker’s fall to the dark side of the force and how he became one of cinema’s most iconic villains, Darth Vader. While this seems like an interesting story, “The Phantom Menace” fails to capture any of the magic or charm of the original trilogy. The film’s over-reliance on CGI is painfully obvious from the opening shot on. It feels like George Lucas was simply trying to see how many different cool -looking special effects he could generate on the screen as opposed to telling an interesting story. The miscasting and misuse of his characters is another glaring flaw. Jake Lloyd’s portrayal of young Anakin Skywalker never expresses an understanding of the scope of the events around him. When your main protagonist doesn’t know or understand the consequences of a film’s events, there is no drama or tension created. Liam Neeson, Samuel L. Jackson and Ewan McGregor are all talented actors but the writing and direction gave them flat characters to work with. Lastly, this film includes the most despised character in the Star Wars saga, Jar Jar Binks. Meant to be comic relief, Binks just succeeds in insulting the viewer’s intelligence every time he is on the screen. Rating: 1 out of 5 stars.

Attack of the Clones: The second installment of the prequel trilogy has a few things working for it making it better than its predecessor (not that it takes much to do so). Jar Jar Binks is barely in this one, the origin of Boba Fett and the Stormtroopers are explored a little bit, and Anakin Skywalker is no longer a child. However, this film attempts to explore the “friendship” of Anakin and Obi Wan Kenobi. The only problem is they don’t really seem to be friends. Obi Wan expresses annoyance with Anakin throughout the whole film and never seems to speak to him in anything but a condescending tone. The feeling is mutual from Anakin, who at one point in the film states he hates Obi Wan. Watching these two interact, you have to wonder what Obi Wan is talking about when he fondly refers to Anakin as “a good friend” in “A New Hope.” “Attack of The Clones” also features a poorly-written and unneccessary love story that is filled with many groan-worthy lines of dialogue. Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars.

Revenge of the Sith: The final installment does not differ much from the first two films. This film especially takes the CGI to the next level, with almost every scene filmed in front of a green screen. Even seeing Anakin finally don the Darth Vader suit cannot redeem this movie or this trilogy. Rating: 2 out of 5 stars.

When watching the prequels, one can’t help but think of what George Lucas once said about special effects in movies: “Special effects are just a tool, a means of telling a story. People have a tendency to confuse them as an end to themselves. A special effect without a story is a pretty boring thing.”

In attempting to tell what could have been a very interesting origin story, Lucas forgot his own ideology when creating these films.

As a result, the prequel trilogy are three very clean, visually impressive movies that lack any depth, heart or great storytelling to drive them.