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Why Does Anakin Get to Return as a Ghost? And Other Star Wars Thoughts

I’ve spent the last two weeks slowly slogging my way through the Star Wars Blu-rays.

For the first time, I watched all the movies during the same period of time.

From this experience, a few things occurred to me.

Anakin Skywalker helps facilitate the murder of billions of people.

So why does he get to achieve immortality as a Jedi ghost? Yes, he killed the Emperor, but talk about too little too late. Despite this one good deed, doesn’t he still deserve Jedi hell for everything else he’s done?

But the bigger thing I took away from watching all of the films back-to-back was what was wrong with the prequels. It’s not the terrible acting, it’s not the crappy dialogue and it’s not the stupid characters, but it’s the fact that nothing happens in the movies, and more specifically, nothing that deepens our understanding and appreciate of the original trilogy.

The fun of doing the prequels should have been to play with our expectations.

We all know how the prequel trilogy is going to end. We went into the films with predictions of what would happen to get us to that end point, and by and large, they were fulfilled. Nothing unexpected happened. Let me put it another way and look at the one exception.

For me, the high point of the prequel trilogy was the Yoda-Count Dooku light saber fight. It was a genuine surprise to see that Yoda was such a badass, and when he shows back up in Empire, I now look at him in a totally new light.

Besides this one scene, Lucas didn’t do a whole lot to defy our expectations.

The biggest missed opportunity was with Obi-Wan.

Hindsight is 20-20, but if I were giving George Lucas advice in 1997, it would have been to make Obi-Wan a terrible teacher so that an argument could be made for him being the cause of Anakin turning the dark side. It would have made the scenes in Star Wars and Empire when he reflects on having been Anakin’s teacher a lot more powerful, and maybe also explained why he never bothered to train Luke.

Instead, he’s a major character in three films and has zero arc.

The other obvious missed opportunity was providing the Emperor with more of back story. Instead, he’s kept mostly out-of-sight. And that leads to my next issue with the prequels: they had no villain.

Without a villain, there’s no conflict.

In each of the prequel films a bad guy is introduced with little fanfare (compared to Vader’s dramatic entrance in Star Wars), nothing is really explained about them, and by the end of the film they die or disappear. So in Phantom, there’s Darth Maul who doesn’t do anything until the final fight scene where he dies. In Attack it is Count Dooku who is mentioned in the beginning; we don’t know much about him, and he too only shows up at the end and then dies in the beginning of Revenge.

Finally, in Revenge, it’s the same deal with General Grievous as it was with Dooku. He’s introduced with little explanation (such as, is he robot or cyborg) and is then killed off. The person who should have been a villain throughout, Palpatine, is merely a “phantom menace.” Lucas totally missed out on the coolness factor of being able to bring the same actor back from Jedi and having him play the younger version of himself.

And that gets me to my last point: what the heck was his master plot?

Watching the prequel trilogy all at once (the first time I had done this), I thought I’d get a better grasp on what exactly this ongoing plot was with the trade federation, and what exactly the trade federation is, but I’m still pretty much clueless. It’s a lot of nothingness that adds up to how Palpatine puts himself in the position to take over the galaxy.

It’s this huge nonsensical story that eats up tons of screen time. And the storyline is never bridged from one film to the next. You could have skipped the first two prequel films, come in on Revenge, and really not have missed anything – there’s little background knowledge you need from them.

And that’s what I meant when I said nothing happens in the films. Rewatching them, it feels like Lucas is just killing time until the last hours of Revenge when everything goes down.

Final comment: if you’re wondering, with the exception of Phantom, all the films look and sound fantastic in Blu-ray.

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