In preparation for this movie that will open with a PG-13 rating, I watched this movie and this movie over the weekend. Understand this, I am a huge fan of A New Hope and it may very well be my overall favorite of the entire series. Maybe because of the fact that Episode IV feels like the most "complete" film of the six movies and the character arcs of Luke, Han Solo and Leia are so strong, but I can't pinpoint one reason. Anyway, when I saw Episodes I and II in the theater, I really enjoyed them, but I wasn't as emotionally charged by them like the original trilogy. Not helping my attempt to make a concrete opinion were the annoyingly loud moans, groans, gripes and harsh critiques I read and heard. I know there is different vibe to the prequels, but after viewing them again, I feel that they are incredibly underrated and misunderstood.
I've trusted Lucas but now I really get what he's been saying all along. Themes of oppression, control, destiny, everyone's sense of purpose (whether good, bad or goofy), father figures and love run throughout all of the movies, but I realized how incredibly prevalent they are in the prequels. I feel there is so much philosophy, wisdom and an incredibly intricate weaving of themes in the prequels that enable Episodes IV, V and VI make even more sense.
The magic of a movie is how the audience can be engaged with its story. No matter how much or how little the production value is, if a film can engage the audience, that is the secret to its success. Now I can understand why somebody would call the characters in Episodes I and II "wooden" or "wallpaper," but this is misleading; there is more character development in the prequels than meets the eye. Would we really buy Darth Vader if Anakin was this wild, crazy, rude and melodramatic person with no restraint? Vader is slow and menacing while also having amazing physical strength and a lot of restraint. Yet there is a lot of good in him. Seriously, were people expecting some sort of Damien ala the Omen?
This leads me to question this, what were people expecting with the prequels? Star Wars is not Lord of the Rings or The Matrix and I seriously doubt that a film like Star Wars would be made today. A six-part throwback to Saturday morning serials filled with mythology and philosophy with no bankable stars? No way.
I just do not understand why people whine and moan about the little things in the Star Wars saga, especially Lucas' never-ending changes to them. It's frustrating that Lucas may never really make up his mind on things, but the deal is, it's his movie in a public domain. I recognize the changes from the originals to the special editions and I don't mind them (save for the rather over-the-top dance scene in Return of the Jedi). As long as Anakin Skywalker goes from a good kid to a baddie and his children redeem him, I will always connect with Star Wars.