In a Galaxy Far, Far Away, the Star Wars Prequels are Actually Good: Why are there so many plot holes? - Part 2
Episode 1: The Phantom Menace clearly had its flaws but perhaps it’s too early to judge. There was an overwhelming amount of negative criticisms, with Episode I being ranked as one of “The 25 Worst Sequels Ever Made” by Entertainment Weekly” and the worst sequel of all time by Comcast, which is why it’s no surprise that The Phantom Menace is the lowest rated Star Wars film of the prequels and the original trilogy.
Okay, Lucas dropped the ball on this one. But now that he knows what he did wrong, surely he’ll make up for Episode 1 with Episode 2: Attack of the Clones. He’ll tie up the loose ends he left in the first one and hopefully progress the story in the traditional way of the original Star Wars.
I was still a young child when Attack of the Clones came out and, still not realizing my disappointment with the first prequel, I was excited for another Star Wars movie. My standards were still relatively low; being that there must be at least one lightsaber battle, preferably in midst of lasers, explosions and space.
That was what I thought of when I heard Star Wars, and undoubtedly that’s still one of the main marks of Star Wars.
This time, though, I was left feeling slightly confused. I didn’t know whether I liked the movie or not. It wasn’t like Episode 1 where I ignored the entire movie just to watch the lightsaber battles, like a kid who skips a meal and goes straight for the desert. It was lacking in pretty much every aspect much like Episode 1 but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was wrong with it.
And like Episode 1, years later I realized my disappointment in this film, like getting a stomachache after eating too much desert.
The Beginning – A Threatening (?) Separatist Movement and Border Disputes
The movie begins with the information that thousands of systems want to leave the Republic, known as the Separatist movement and led by the Jedi Count Dooku. The rest of the Jedi Order claim that this will make it too difficult for the Jedi to keep peace and order in the galaxy, and that they might need an army to back them up. Queen Amidala, who is now a Senator, is going to Coruscant to vote on this issue.
I might be being picky here, but I don’t see how thousands of systems leaving the Republic will make it more difficult for the Jedi to keep peace and order. It’s the same number of planets and systems that you had before.
In fact, if your Jedi protection is limited to the systems that are actually part of the Republic (which was implied in Episode I), this will make it easier for you to protect it because there are less systems that are part of the republic. Why do you want an army all of a sudden?
Oh, but maybe if these systems leave they’ll have to come up with new tax regulations, the number one priority of these Jedi. Now it makes sense – the Jedi simply don’t want to be overwhelmed with these tax regulations.
And what makes you think that this separation will require an army’s assistance to make it go smoothly, or that there’s any risk of war? The Separatists weren’t threatening anybody; they simply want to leave the Republic. If I didn’t know that the Jedi must be the good guys in this film, I might even suspect them of being evil because trying to raise an army under the guise of “protection” when there really is no threat is just a tad bit suspicious.
We see a ship slowly descend to the planet Coruscant, and as it lands it blows up. Luckily, Amidala wasn’t in the ship, again using her body double to protect her. Just like in Episode 1, I did not care for this switcheroo.
What I did care was noticing that her new Captain here is not Captain Panaka, but instead Captain Typho. And that’s simply unacceptable! Panaka is a much better name than Typho. Typho sounds like some kind of disease. Already I’m disappointed.
It now cuts to a scene where Chancellor Palpatine is discussing the issue of the Separatists with the Jedi. He claims more and more systems are joining the movement, and Mace Windu informs him that if the negotiations fail there won’t be enough Jedi to protect the Republic (err, from what?). The Chancellor then turns to Yoda and asks “Do you think it will really come to war?”, and I’m completely dumbfounded.
War? Why? Again, they’re not threatening anyone, they’re just leaving the Republic! It almost sounds like it’s “stay in the Republic or die”, which just makes you wonder why the hell the Jedi are even going along with this.
Amidala comes in and suggests the assassination attempt was by Count Dooku. The Jedi disagree, claiming that he is not capable of that, being a Jedi at one point in time, and that it’s more likely that disgruntled miners on the moons of Naboo did such a thing.
It’s such a minor point but I have to address it here.
First of all, having been a Jedi at one point in your life does not guarantee that you won’t commit murder. You Jedi should know better than anyone that being good but later turning to the dark side is a risk, and a likely one at that!
And secondly, if there are disgruntled miners on the moons of Naboo orchestrating terrorist attacks, don’t you think that you should, I don’t know, address their issue? I’m assuming mining is still not an easy task even with the advanced technology, so if they’re not under proper work conditions and if everyone is ignoring them I think a terrorist attack would be one of the ways to get attention.
But seriously, what kind of Jedi are you? Worried more about people trying to leave the Republic and tax regulations than slavery and improper work conditions?
I would have ignored all of that if it weren’t for the fact that we later learn it WAS Count Dooku who tried to assassinate her. Man you Jedi are just…ugh. God.
Anyway, the Chancellor suggests that Senator Amidala should receive additional protection from the Jedi, perhaps from an old friend like Obi-Wan Kenobi. Windu says that this is possible because Obi-Wan has just returned from a border dispute.
Border dispute? Add that to the list of meaningless tasks the Jedi care about. Maybe that’s why they need an army for the Separatist movement, because there’ll be a ton of border disputes.
Character Assassinations (Figuratively and Literally)
Amidala reluctantly accepts, and we go to a cut scene with Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker preparing for their mission. The legendary hero is now a young man and we finally get to see how he’s aged and matured. In the original trilogy Obi-Wan described him as a kind and wonderful Jedi, and his fall to the dark side was a surprise to everybody.
Now we get to see what he was like before that. We get a chance to appreciate just how much of a shock it was that he fell to the dark side and what it means when your greatest hero becomes your worst enemy.
As they take the elevator to Amidala’s complex, Obi-Wan comments on how nervous Anakin seems, almost as nervous as that one time they fell into that nest of Gundarks. Anakin remarks that he hasn’t seen Padme in 10 years.
Almost as soon as they enter, Anakin starts openly defying Obi-Wan and completely undermining his authority. Obi-Wan states that they are not there to start an investigation, and immediately Anakin replies “We will find out who is trying to kill you, Padme”.
He completely disregards whatever his master said, thinking that an investigation is implied in their mandate to protect Padme.
Obi-Wan chides him and insists he follow his lead, and Anakin questions “why”. You’ll notice he does this throughout this movie and eventually just altogether skips the “why” and just makes his own lead.
In all honesty though, I can’t blame him for questioning their mission. Things like tax regulations, border disputes and security are hardly the tasks of Jedi. He’s got a point in trying to determine exactly who is trying to kill Amidala, even if disgruntled miners were the ones that tried to do it. It’s common sense that they should try to find who tried to do this and why in order to try and resolve the matter.
In fact, the Jedi council later assign Obi-Wan to track down the bounty hunter and leave Anakin to guard Padme, so Anakin’s suggestion was good enough that the council themselvesmake it a mission (although that’s hardly a measure of whether that’s a worthy mission or not, but you get my point).
Even so, Anakin is a bit of an ass. It might just be Hayden Christensen’s acting which is not nearly representative of a hero but instead makes Anakin more like an arrogant, spoiled teenage brat acting out. Christensen should have portrayed him as a calmer, more composed and respectful individual, qualities of a great Jedi. If I didn’t know any better I would have suspected him of turning to the dark side right now! Also, it doesn’t help that he tries to defy Obi-Wan just for the sake of it.
If you want a good example to this “hero becoming villain” archetype, you should learn the story of Revan from the game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
He was a revolutionary hero at the time, being the crucial figure during the Mandalorian Wars and he was one of the main reasons the Republic was victorious. He was a kind and powerful Jedi, and wasn’t afraid of doing what he felt was right, even going against the will of the council.
Ultimately this rebellious nature led him to the dark side even though he was one of the best Jedi the order had ever seen.
And worse, I find that I still can’t blame him, at least not entirely. Obi-Wan has been scolding him and treating him like a child this entire time, which isn’t exactly helping his rebellious nature.
In the first film, you can see Obi-Wan giving suggestions to Qui-Gon but Qui-Gon doesn’t scold him or tell him to “learn his place”; he praises him for it! Qui-Gon welcomed criticism and new perspectives, and was not afraid to speak his mind even against the council. But unlike Anakin, Qui-Gon defied the council out of respect; he respected them so much that he was not afraid to say “hey guys, I think you got this wrong”.
And this defiant yet respectful nature should likewise be present in Obi-Wan as well, and it was! He openly tells Yoda that he will train Anakin whether the council likes it or not in Episode I. Somehow he has become subordinate and almost a pushover to whatever the council says, even if what they say is, well, stupid.
In short, both the characters of Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi are not being representative of their true characters. They’re being almost the complete opposite. And this is only in the first few minutes of their appearance!
They stand watch in Padme’s quarters, and Obi-Wan notices that Anakin looks tired. He claims that he hasn’t been sleeping well, and that he keeps having dreams of his mother. And I think –
…wait she’s still in Tatooine??
It’s been 10 years, why did nobody think of saving this woman?? Or the slaves in Tatooine for that matter??
And keep in mind that she is the mother of the Chosen One, the one who will bring balance to the Force. I mean that sounds pretty important, don’t you think you could have at the very least bought her out?
Why did the Jedi never go back for her? You took her child and your repayment is to just leave her in a god-forsaken desert as a slave?! What kind of Jedi are these??
It is telling when characters can easily do something that they would logically do but end up not doing it. It’s an obvious forced plot point to conveniently carry the story Lucas wants/needs.
Even so, what comes in the next film because of this story line becomes even more forced. It ends up being a pattern of forced plot points to progress a story to necessitate more forced plot points to progress the story. This’ll be more evident later on.
During their watch, they foil another assassination attempt on Padme and follow the bounty hunter that tried to kill her. Again during this entire time Obi-Wan is scolding Anakin about taking too long, losing track of the bounty hunter (which he didn’t, he was simply slightly ahead) and later dropping his lightsaber in a conflict (which Obi-Wan did in the last film and does later in this one).
Keep in mind that Anakin has supposedly saved Obi-Wan from many dangerous encounters, like the Gundark nest. Would it kill Obi-Wan to have some faith in his apprentice, the same faith his master had in him, and to show him a bit of respect as opposed to condescension?
The two Jedi catch up and apprehend the bounty hunter but she was killed with a poison dart by another bounty hunter before she told them anything. Now the council gives Obi-Wan the mission of tracking down this second bounty hunter (which is clearly not a disgruntled miner) and leaves Anakin to protect Padme in Naboo.
Obi-Wan fears that Anakin isn’t ready for this mission, and Windu reminds Obi-Wan that if the prophecy is true, then Anakin will bring balance to the Force…which has nothing to do with Anakin not being ready for the mission. It’s just one of the many examples of poor dialogue in these prequels.
Speaking of poor dialogue…
When Anakin and Padme are alone the amount of crappy dialogue is increased tenfold.
One moment Anakin is praising Obi-Wan and the next he’s criticizing him and claims that Obi-Wan’s holding him back.
One second he offers Padme the wisdom that sometimes you have to swallow your pride and do what is requested; a few moments later Anakin completely ignores his own advice, arrogantly claiming that he’s ahead of Obi-Wan and that he’s ready for the Jedi trials.
And somehow this isn’t even the worst of the dialogue between these two.
Unauthorized Cloning and Boring Romance
Obi-Wan discovers that the poison dart was manufactured on the planet Kamino, which is home to a species that is proficient in cloning. However, the planet doesn’t show up in the archives and Obi-Wan thinks it doesn’t exist.
A child knows better, though, and suggests the information was erased from the archives. Yoda claims only a Jedi could have erased the data.
I don’t know why Obi-Wan couldn’t have just gone to the planet’s coordinates which he had this whole time, and went so far as doing research on the gravitational pull of the sector and reasoning that there must be a system there with a star and planets. Common dude, really? Don’t you think it would have been easier to just go to the coordinates of the planet?
I have to point out that during these prequel films Yoda is boring, overly serious and not even that wise to be honest. Most of the time he happens to point out something that is completely obvious to everyone else, or at least to us watching the move.
In the older films he used to be comically entertaining as well as wise, providing a stark and refreshing contrast against the norm that most wise people are dull, old and boring. It created a sense that he was so wise he knew the value of humour and wasn’t afraid to use it. Or maybe he was just kind of eccentric. Either way, yet another character that seems to be doing the complete opposite of what he is known for.
Meanwhile, Anakin begins bonding with Padme and yada yada yada. Boring. During one of these conversations though, Anakin expresses his opinion that people should be made to agree, kind of like a dictatorship. Actually, exactly like a dictatorship. Even as a Padawan he shows signs of being a megalomaniac.
Obi-Wan finds the planet is where it’s supposed to be (shocking) and meets with the cloners. They tell him that his Jedi master Sifo-Dyas, who has been dead for almost 10 years, gave the order to build this clone army for the Republic, but Obi-Wan knows that the council never authorized the creation of this clone army. In fact, the council had no idea that a clone army was even proposed for the Republic.
The template for these clones is a bounty hunter named Jango Fett, and Obi-Wan suspects that Jango was behind the assassination attempts. The council asks Obi-Wan to bring Jango there for interrogation.
Obi-Wan catches Jango starting his ship and trying to leave the planet. In a stupid fight scene where Obi-Wan loses his lightsaber after explicitly scolding Anakin for losing his, Jango gets away but is tagged with a tracking device.
Tatooine: Boring Desert Where Slavery STILL Exists
Anakin begins having nightmares about his mother again, and he thinks she’s suffering. No really? You think being a slave for another ten years is just fun and games, don’t you?
He tells Padme that he’s sorry for breaking his mandate and that he needs to help his mom, that he doesn’t have a choice. Of course you had a choice! You had ten years to save her and you didn’t even think about her! You couldn’t stop thinking about Padme but your mom was rotting out in Tatooine this entire time!
Padme agrees to go with him to Tatooine, against his orders. I can’t help but think that Anakin also believed that his mandate of “protecting Padme” also implies that he should go to Tatooine and free his oppressed mother.
Ten years have passed and Tatooine looks exactly the same. It’s still a godforsaken desert and they’re still using slaves when they don’t need to. Anakin finds Watto and learns that his mother was sold to a moisture farmer, who freed her and married her.
Wow, finally a half-decent person!
The guy who married his mom, Cliegg Lars, tells him that a month ago that Shmi was captured by Tusken Raiders (Sand People). If only there were a group of peacekeepers of the universe, guardians of truth and justice that could help him and the people of Tatooine.
So Anakin tracks down the Tusken Raiders and finds Shmi captured and near death. She tells him that she is now complete and dies. Furious, Anakin proceeds to kill every one of the Sand People, including women and children. This is important to note later on.
Speaking of important notes, let’s back up a bit and revisit another plot hole. In my first review, I specifically pointed out that in Episode I, the young Anakin said that he had a dream that he was a Jedi, and he came back to Tatooine and freed all the slaves.What did he do instead? He ignored the fact that for the past 10 years of his training there have still been slaves in Tatooine, one of them being his own mother.
When it was too late to save her he commits mass genocide of the Sand People and completely forgets about the rest of the slaves on that planet, some of which might have been his friends when he was younger.
Lucas, how the hell do you come up with this garbage? You give the protagonist a significant and noble cause of abolishing slavery and then he forgets about it completely? Considering Anakin was a slave for half his life, and that some significant people in his life were slaves (namely, his mother), it’d be almost impossible for him to forget his cause.
And worse, he goes into this fit and wonders why he couldn’t save her, that he should be all-powerful and that this is all Obi-Wan’s fault.
Of course you could have saved her! You had ten frickin years to do something about it! And this is not all Obi-Wan’s fault, although to be fair Obi-Wan and the Jedi council didn’t do anything to save his mom. In fact, Obi-Wan tries to contact Anakin on Naboo and finds him on Tatooine and remarks “what the blazes is he doing there?”, as if there is no conceivable reason whatsoever for Anakin to be on Tatooine.
How do you guys have the balls to call yourselves Jedi? The closest thing to a Jedi in this entire movie was the guy who bought Shmi and married her, and he's stuck in a wheelchair!
At this point, Yoda is meditating and finds that Anakin is in great pain. Hmm, I wonder why, oh wise master. I mean, all of the tax regulations and border disputes have been dealt with. What could he possibly be suffering from?
Around this time, Obi-Wan tracks down the bounty hunter to an industrious planet that’s mass producing battle droids. Count Dooku is seen and Obi-Wan overhears that it was he who was behind the assassination attempts (and not disgruntled miners).
Dooku gets many of the systems to sign his treaty, and their combined technology should overwhelm the Jedi and that the Republic will give in to all of their demands. Okay, I thought you guys just wanted to leave so I don’t understand why you hate the Jedi.
Wait, that’s not true. I totally understand why you hate these Jedi. But what are your demands aside from leaving the Republic? What the hell do you want? I can understand them making an army in response to their demands not being met, but they’re skipping the “making demands” part and just going straight for the army!
Oh, I didn’t mention that Anakin confessed to murdering all of the Sand People to Padme, and she just passes it off, claiming that “to be angry is to be human”. I wonder how your tune will change when Episode 3 comes around and Anakin starts killing – wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. Keep in mind though, that Anakin committed mass genocide and Padme does not care. Again, this is important to note as we’ll see later on.
Stupid Deaths, Stupid Warfare and Stupid Lightsaber Battles
Anakin manages to relay a message from Obi-Wan to the council. He states that there’s a large droid army being produced on the planet Geonosis and that Count Dooku is responsible, but the video transmission shows Obi-Wan getting attacked.
Windu tells Anakin to stay where he is and to protect Padme, and since Anakin ignored orders earlier he is now willing to follow them just so Obi-Wan gets what’s coming to him. However, Padme says she’s going to help Obi-Wan and Anakin will just have to tag along.
Some of the senators begin thinking that they now need a clone army to combat the Separatist army (who is making an army and planning to use it for no apparent reason). One of them says that the senate will never agree to the use of a clone army before the Separatists attack, so Palpatine suggests that one of the senators give the Chancellor emergency powers so that he may approve the use of clones.
That’s where Jar-Jar saves the day by convincing the Senate that the Separatists are dangerous and that the Chancellor needs emergency powers. And they all agree.
Which makes no sense.
I mean if you’re going to vote emergency powers for the Chancellor so he can approve the use of clones, why didn’t you just vote for the use of clones in the first place? Basically, the Senate would vote against the clones, but they’re also willing to vote for the Chancellor so that he would approve the clones. Are they really that stupid that they didn’t realize this was circumventing themselves?
So then Obi-Wan gets captured and meets with Count Dooku, who was apparently Qui-Gon Jinn’s master. Dooku claims that this whole situation is a mistake and that he’ll be released immediately. He then begins explaining why he is supporting this Separatist movement in the first place.
Apparently, the Republic is under the control of a dark lord of the Sith, and it’s him who has been clouding the Jedi’s ability to see the future (I would also say judgment but that seems to be the Jedi’s own stupidity). The Sith lord named Darth Sidious has control hundreds of senators in the Republic, and Dooku begs Obi-Wan to join him.
Obi-Wan says he’d never join Dooku, which means that the Separatists are worse than a dark lord of the Sith manipulating the senate (and this Sith lord could very well be the reason the Separatists are leaving in the first place!).
Anakin and Padme land on Geonosis and begin looking for Obi-Wan. They get trapped in this droid factory and eventually get captured. They’re taken to this gladiator arena along with Obi-Wan, who again gives condescending remarks to Anakin for their failed attempt to rescue him.
They fend off three creatures, a spider-like thing, a rhino-like thing and a tiger-like thing, but eventually droids apprehend them and are about to execute them when Mace Windu and a bunch of Jedi show up.
A massive battle erupts between the Jedi and the droid army. During the battle Jango Fett dies in what I can only describe as one of the dumbest deaths I have ever seen. Jango dives for Windu’s lightsaber, the rhino-like thing runs over his jetpack, and he gets decapitated by Windu.
Something I noticed during these battles is that, for some inexplicable reason, both the droids and the clone troopers run forward as if wanting to collide with one another, when technically the blaster has a good enough range from a considerable distance.
It’s annoying to think that in the Star Wars galaxy these civilizations have such advanced technology and yet resort to such obsolete military tactics. In Episode 1 they at least introduced a mobile shield concept with the Gungan species, but here it’s just a mess of blasters and explosions.
This is on par with Darth Maul’s crappy death in Episode I because both Darth Maul and Jango Fett are incredibly good at what they do, but for some inexplicable reason they begin acting stupid and die.
They don’t lose because of their own character trait (like Anakin with his overconfidence) or because they were simply outmatched (like when Luke Skywalker beats Darth Vader); they die because they got a sudden case of “mental retardation”.
Eventually, the Jedi are overwhelmed but then Yoda shows up with the clones and another massive battle ensues. The Jedi are rescued and Yoda says that if Dooku escapes he will rally more systems to his (unknown) cause, so naturally Yoda leaves Dooku in the arena complex, giving him a chance to escape.
Anakin and Obi-Wan try to catch up to Count Dooku while the rest of the Jedi command the clone troops. At this time Anakin suggests the ships to aim above the fuel cells of some energy buildings, which works effectively and prompts Obi-Wan to give Anakin his first compliment in the entire movie, “Good call, my young Padawan”.
The two Jedi catch up to Count Dooku, and Obi-Wan says to Anakin that they’ll take him on together. Anakin ignores this and tries to attack Dooku alone, and gets zapped by lightning. Remember when I said that he eventually skips the “why” and just tries to make his own lead? This is one of those times.
Dooku and Obi-Wan duke it out for a while, but then Dooku gives Obi-Wan two little cuts which prompts him to topple to the floor, cringing like a soccer player diving. Luckily Anakin saves him just in time, but shortly after he gets his arm chopped off and gets knocked unconscious. Then Yoda shows up, they duel for a bit and Dooku topples a column on top of Obi-Wan and Anakin, to distract Yoda and escape.
I think this was honestly the worst lightsaber battle out of all of the Star Wars films, and if you remember my standard for judging good Star Wars films, I explicitly said I needed at least one good lightsaber duel. This was boring. There was barely any athleticism, there was zero emotion (and zero music to accompany it) and it was only like two minutes long!
Episode 1 showed a great lightsaber battle (even though it had its flaws), but even the old Star Wars films had better lightsaber battles than this! Obi-Wan barely put up a fight, Anakin hardly did any better and Yoda just jumped around a lot and didn’t accomplish anything.
After the battle, Obi-Wan asks Windu and Yoda if Count Dooku was telling the truth about a dark lord of the Sith being part of the senate and manipulating it. Yoda tells him that Dooku has gone to the dark side, and that his ways are of treachery and deceit, implying that this is probably a lie created by Dooku.
Okay, so basically you have evidence that these clones were created unauthorized, in secret by a Jedi who also happened to delete the evidence of the clone planet. Your ability to foresee the future with the Force has also extremely diminished.
And you still don’t think there’s anything fishy going on?
Somehow I’m not surprised given your incredible ability in dealing with assassinations, blockades, border disputes, tax regulations, mission assignments, slavery, the Chosen One’s family members…
Back on Naboo, Anakin and Padme get married. Anakin now has a mechanical arm, and the clone wars have begun. The end.
So the clone army is created, there’s more evidence that the dark Sith have returned and all of this may be a ploy to destroy the Jedi. But I’m sure the Jedi will deal with that in the next and final prequel film.
Oh and Tatooine is still in slavery, but I have a feeling the Jedi don’t care.
Stay tuned for Part III