Attempting to defend George Lucas

Ms Kruger at Forgotten Flix is incredibly critical of George Lucas in this post, specifically the Star Wars prequel trilogy. I kind of, almost, jumped to his defence in the comments, and I thought I'd repeat/expand on my musings here, as they touch on various thoughts I've been meaning to post about for a while:

The Phantom Menace is pretty poor, and once you reach the end of that trilogy, is quite obviously redundant. But amongst all the inane politics, Oskar Schindler talking into a ladyshave and yelps of "l'il Annie!", there are some good bits. You have to admit the podracing scene is pretty amazing (and will look great n 3D). Plus watching it now is entertaining simply for spotting the surreal casting of minor roles (Celia Imrie! Dominic West! The voices of Greg Proops, Lindsay Duncan and Peter Serafinowicz! Sofia and Roman Coppola! Keira Knightley! A completely undermined Terence Stamp!).

Attack of the Clones is fascinating as a an example of film-making in the web age, a transparent fan-pleasing response to the critical mauling that Phantom Menace received. All the important plot progression is being saved for Episode III, so Lucas actually has a stab at making a fun, pulpy sci-fi adventure. The problem is, he tries to hard too please – it's an exercise in eliciting as many fangasms from the audience as possible, to mask the fact that not a lot actually happens or makes sense. It's as if he just went out onto the street and asked for ideas:

"What do you want to see? Less Jar Jar? Fair enough. Boba Fett? Okay. Yoda fighting? Black Hawk Down with Stormtroopers? R2D2 flying? Yup, we can do all that. What's that? You want Jimmy Smits in it?"

But 90% of the basic story they were trying to tell with the trilogy is basically in Revenge of the Sith, which is far and away the best of the bunch. There are some amazing sequences. There's definitely enough material to edit the three together into a big epic tragedy that'd stand up against any of the Lord of the Rings films … except for one thing: Hayden Christensen. The biggest crime the prequels commit is revealing that Darth Vader is essentially Dawson Leary.

Sorry George – that's the best I could do.