Star Wars is on everybody’s mind lately, so I figured I’d revisit this little topic: how to fix the Star Wars prequels. And boy, howdy, do they need fixing.
Now, in order for this post to make sense, you’re going to need to read my opinion on what to do about Episode I since, obviously, this builds off of that one. Also, this post stands to be a bit longer than the previous one, since Episode II is an absolute train-wreck of a movie that is watchable only because Sam Jackson, as Mace Windu, pulls out a purple lightsaber and says:
Oh, and Jango Fett, who is also cool, even if completely underutilized and involved in bizarre plot elements.
Anyway, here’s what I’d do in the (supremely unlikely) scenario that I was in charge of somehow overhauling the prequels:
Step 1: OH MY GOD, THAT CREEPY LOVE STORY!
The absolute most unbearable part of Episode II – so unbearable as to be completely unwatchable – is the love story between Anakin and Padme. I think I’d rather get shot in the leg with a BB gun seven or eight times than watch those scenes again. Ugh! Anakin with that creepy stalker vibe, Padme with her awkward dialogue…bleh.
The problem here (beyond the terrible, awful, no-good script) is that we, the audience, can never accept Padme and Anakin’s relationship as plausible. Anakin comes off as a lunatic and Padme’s attraction to him is wholly inexplicable.
The Solution: The film should begin with Anakin and Padme already courting. No “falling in love on Naboo” crap – Padme, who is already infatuated with Jedi (established in the last movie) and firmly put off by Obi Wan at the conclusion of Episode I (see my previous post on this) is making eyes at the attractive young Anakin. Since the first movie didn’t have their ages as far apart, the relationship isn’t as crazy – they are both teenagers, and teenagers are apt to do crazy things. So, along those lines:
- When Obi Wan and Anakin are assigned to guard Padme from assassins, we get a private moment between Padme and Anakin where they kiss and discuss their secret love and whether Obi Wan knows. Anakin says Obi Wan doesn’t, but Obi Wan totally does. Ani and Obi Wan fight about it. During the argument, Amidala is almost killed (since they weren’t paying attention). Cue chase scene.
- Anakin is so pissed at Obi Wan for the attack almost succeeding, he insists on guarding Padme personally over Obi Wan’s objections.
- They do NOT go to Naboo (if you’re trying to assassinate the Senator from Naboo, hiding her ON NABOO makes no damned sense). They go to Tatooine. Cue glorious homecoming for hero Ani, he reunites with his mom (now married), they have the best of good times. Padme sees what a great guy this Anakin is and Ani tells her how he doesn’t do what the Jedi Council just tells him to – he’s his own man!
- They are married by a Hutt, just for funsies.
Step 2: Clones and Fetts and Bug Aliens and…what the hell is going on?
Obi Wan is trying to unravel a mystery – clone army, Count Dooku, Separatist factions, etc., etc.. The thing about a mystery, though, is that we should feel some kind of suspense while it remains unsolved and we should understand the consequences of any given reveal. Instead, we watch Obi Wan walk around Kamino with a befuddled look on his face while we, also, are befuddled. And then Jango Fett tries to kill him for some goddamned reason. As cool as that fight is, we are left sitting there going, “What the hell, bro?”
The Solution: This needs to change. Obi Wan needs to know the stakes. Obi Wan needs to understand the urgency. When he arrives at Kamino, he should figure out the plot. He knows the Separatists are going to attack. He knows somebody ordered this army so the Republic could fight it. He knows they are about to get in a big goddamned war unless he can come up with a way to diffuse the situation. How do we do this?
- Jango Fett is the assassin on Coruscant. He gets away, but not before Obi Wan gets a good look at him.
- Investigating Jango Fett leads Obi Wan to Kamino, where he discovers the Clone Army of Fetts and learns the clones are going to invade Geonosis to start a war. Jango Fett tries to kill him. In the battle, Obi Wan’s long range communicators are damaged on his ship. There isn’t enough time to warn Coruscant of the battle plans, but there is enough time to go to Tatooine and get help.
- Obi Wan confronts Anakin, who has decided he wishes to leave the Jedi. Anakin refuses to go with him. Obi Wan tasks Ani with warning the Jedi Council, at least, and heads off on his own.
- Obi Wan is captured, as before. Count Dooku is revealed. Cue evil laughter.
- Anakin senses his friend’s impending doom. He tells Padme and his mother he must go to help him. Padme decides to go with.
- They are captured, they fight monsters, there’s a big battle, Dooku escapes, etc.. I guess Yoda also fights. Ani keeps his hand, though.
Step 3: Anakin Turns
Okay, but the movie ain’t over yet, right? We haven’t murdered any sand people yet. In the original, this murder seems to be proof positive that Ani and Padme wouldn’t get married, but they do anyway, causing everybody in the world to say “what is WRONG with you, Padme?” It doesn’t work and it doesn’t make much progress towards Anakin’s turn to the Dark Side, either, since he seems to forget that ever happened by the start of Episode III.
The Solution: So, we change it up and, with that, change the ending.
- After saving Obi Wan’s life from Dooku and so on, the two of them shake hands and Obi Wan tells him he can go – the Jedi won’t keep him if he won’t stay.
- Ani returns home to find his mother stolen and dead, etc.. He loses his shit – this is Obi Wan’s fault, for dragging him away from where he should be. He kills all the sand people.
- There, sitting in the desert, his lightsaber in his lap, he contemplates the horror of what he’s done – no one can forgive him for this. He is doomed.
- Enter Palpatine: he strides out of the desert gloom, clapping. “Well done, young Skywalker. I knew you had potential.”
- Anakin turns (or starts to) at the conclusion of the film. He goes back with Padme, he stays with the Jedi, but as Palpatine’s agent.
There. This plan I feel manages to thin down the intrigue (which was perplexing and boring for the most part), amp up the action, and make the character development more sensible. And you still get the Clone Wars, except now, Ani has a shadowy mentor nobody else knows about, who has dirt on him and can expose him if he walks, and is gradually pulling him towards the dark side. In other words, Episode III.