Tech Life Stormtroopers, right?

There Was No Trilogy

Back when I first got wind that George Lucas was going to do the prequel trilogy, I had a holy shit moment. I realized what the last scene of the third movie was going to be. Here’s that shot:

FADE TO BLACK.

SFX: A strange mechanical breathing begins and repeats three times.

FADE TO HEAD SHOT OF A BLACK GLISTENING DARTH VADER. THIS IS THE FIRST SHOT THE AUDIENCE SEES OF WHAT HAS BECOME OF ANAKIN SKYWALKER.

ROLL CREDITS.

THE END.

I have just described the scene that I (and just about everyone else) has been waiting for since the mid-90s and I’m finally going to see it. While I’ve been waiting, there’s been a whole lot of bitching about the first two episodes and, yeah, they did suck. They were visually appetizing, but… they… they weren’t Star Wars.

I listened to it all. Poor acting, Jar-Jar Binks, poor directing… blah blah blah… I generally agree with much of the bitching, but as the very positive reviews of Revenge of the Sith start to show up, I finally put my finger on the most significant problem with the first two episodes.

Nothing actually happens.

Everything that I’ve been wondering about since the end of Return of the Jedi actually occurs in Revenge of the Sith. Darth Vader. The arrival of Luke and Leia. The death of their Mom. (Padmé, still a dumb name) The elimination of the Jedi… the fall of the Republic. The banishment of Obi-Wan and Yoda… wow, there’s probably more and I have no idea how they’re going to fit it all into one movie.

Now, quickly, tell me what happened in the first two episodes. Hmmmm… Well, Darth Maul was pretty cool aaaaaaand the sound effects on those ships in the pod races were stunning aaaand then there was the second movie. Stormtroppers, right? And that three second shot of the future Death Star… I was all a’flutter.

Nothing happened folks. George Lucas put together one the greatest story specifications together when he was writing Star Wars and he clearly put a lot of thought into the back story which occurred before A New Hope… in fact, he liked his back story so much he teased us right out of the gate titling the opening credits “Episode IV: A New Hope”. We immediately ask, “What happened before this whole mess?”

A lot did. The prequel trilogy is the story of the fall of Anakin Skywalker and that back story needed to exist to tell the of his eventual redemption, but that fall just isn’t that interesting… anyone can fall in a hole, it’s how they climb out that’s a compelling story.

Star Wars is Darth Vader. He is the story arc which ties the first trilogy to the second trilogy. It’s his story and it’s a helluva tale, but as I sit here with my fingers crossed that Kevin Smith isn’t lying to me and that Spielberg’s tears are real, I realize why I feel my enthusiasm has been wasted on the first two episodes. When Lucas picked the number four for the first episode he’d film, he may have made a mistake. He locked himself into three prior episodes and he simply didn’t have the content to fill three movies.

13 Responses

  1. Sums it up perfectly…

    So, I had to navigate to your archives page to add this to my linkblog. You might want to place the permalinks on the homepage. (either that, or I’m blind)

  2. Nevermind, I’m blind.

  3. Heh, oddly enough pretty much exactly the same thing I said about the first movie an age ago.

    But… Kevin Smith may like it, but Kevin Smith made and voluntarily released “Chasing Amy”. Which does not really speak so well of his judgment on matters of film quality.

    I might download Sith if I’m bored. I sure as fuck won’t pay money for it.

  4. You’ve totally put your finger on it. I don’t think there’s more than maybe a long movie, movie and a half at most.

    Though, I do have to say, there were some pretty moments in I and II.

  5. I know that this is a total nit, but when “A New Hope” originally hit the theaters, it did not have the “Episode IV” moniker. If my memory serves me, Lucas added it somewhere between the first and second runs of “A New Hope”.

    -Fitz

  6. You are correct — the Episode IV title didn’t show up until the 1981 re-release.

  7. Chris 11 years ago

    So between the addition of the “mid-quel” numbers and the release of the first prequel there was 18 years. It doesn’t feel like nearly 2 decades of thought was put into Phantom Menace.

  8. 2 cases of beer worth of thought maybe. I think he was too busy remastering and rereleasing the original trilogy six times to worry about new material. At the first sound of the possiblility of 3D movies becoming mainstream, I’m surprised he didn’t stop production to go convert the original trilogy.

  9. Andre 11 years ago

    You’re entirely right, but episodes I & II did have some good parts and I never really understood why critics gave it such a bad wrap… I I admit was barley watchable but I thought II was magnificent (come on, the stormtroopers were cool shit)

    oh yeah and that guy like 4 or 5 comments above me that thinks chasing amy sucks can go fuck himself

  10. Paul E. 11 years ago

    Chasing Amy DID suck. It was actually worse than Mallrats, and that took some doing.

  11. Klaatu 11 years ago

    We can only hope that Peter Jackson someday remakes Star Wars I : The Phantom Menace.

  12. Mark S. 11 years ago

    Kevin Smith was obviously stoned when he saw the movie, and he admitted he was “genetically predisposed” to love it. Therefore, no cookie for him.

    Spielberg wept because he was sitting there thinking of how awful it was and how he was going to be invited to Lucas’ house for dinner, and he’d have to sit there with a frozen grin on his face and lie through his teeth. “Sure it was great, George, don’t pay any attention to the critics!”

  13. Funny, I had the feeling that nothing happens in Episode III compared to I and II…

    The dispute between the trade federation and the Naboo, the maturing of Kenobi, the rise to power of Palpatine, the dicovery of Anakin, the Separatists movement, Count Dooku, the double play of Palpatine, the loosing power of the Jedis…

    And Episode III? War, all Jedis killed, two babies, Padme dead, Darth Vader here, Yoda and Kenobi leave the stage? It was all too fast, the rythm of the development didn’t feel right…

    And I thought that Boba Fett would kill Mace Windu…