Whenever anyone mentions the Star Wars franchise, the prequel trilogy is always scorned or its existence isn’t even acknowledged. Everybody says the movies are bad, and in comparison to the original trilogy, they are bad. But they aren’t atrocious, just fuddled. The general plot and themes behind everything that was going on wasn’t terrible in concept, simply execution. I won’t be giving each movie its own review, because frankly I don’t think each merits an entire five hundred or more words, especially since they all have the same problems. For this review, I will be spoiling stuff, because the movies aren’t recent. So in case you haven’t seen them (and have somehow managed to not know how it ends) you have been warned.
In my opinion, the single biggest problem with the movies is that there is basically no protagonist. Luke is obviously the main character in the original trilogy, but there’s nobody that fits that role here. I would hardly even call Anakin a major character in Episode I, and in Episode II he does get a lot of screen time, but his screen time is all romance stuff and isn’t really important to the major plot. (It could be argued that the development of his character is important to the major plot, but while that is true, it could have been handled better. You don’t have to devote an hour or more of screen time to show the love between him and Padme. Heck a lot of that could be done or even implied during other scenes.)
These movies had a lot of little things that either didn’t make sense or were flat-out stupid, too. Jar Jar Binks is a prevalent example, and his existence infuriates me to no end, but at least he isn’t much of a character in Episodes II and III. Midichlorians are also super dumb, because it implies there is a science behind this magic/religion, and that sort of thing must be handled very carefully, not thrown halfheartedly at the audience. The movies also didn’t do a good job developing obviously important characters, like Count Dooku, General Grevious, Mace Windu, etc. (As a side note, I understand that most of these people get a lot more love in the animated series, but if you’re going to introduce Grevious for the first time in the third episode and kill him without really explaining why he’s so important, maybe you should have just left him out of the movie entirely.)
A lot of people also bash on the politics in the trilogy as well, but I actually didn’t mind it so much. Politics are never black and white, so it’s a great way to make Anakin conflicted and for the Emperor to use that to turn him to the Dark Side.
There are two things that these movies did really well, though. First is the fact that the Emperor’s plan was executed with an efficient and flawless ruthlessness that I would expect for such a character. Forging a secret army, playing people to push him into more power, and making allies turn against each other is exactly what I wanted to see. (As for the scene where he actually turns Anakin to the Dark Side, that was kind of pathetic, but you can’t have everything I suppose.)
The second thing: Order 66. That entire scene where we see the clone troopers turn against the Jedi was awesome with how sad it managed to be. The audience watches, helpless, as the Jedi Order is betrayed and systematically killed. Especially the snippets where Yoda obviously feels something had just gone terribly wrong, those heartstrings were pulled man. This scene was by far the most powerful moment in any of the movies.
To sum this all up, the prequel trilogy isn’t awful, just bad. It doesn’t compare to the original trilogy, but at least the lightsaber battles are pretty cool. Also, there are some pretty cool YouTube videos of a guy fixing the plot of the prequel trilogy, and the script he proposes is actually really compelling! I recommend you go watch them (he does curse a bit though).