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By far the most baffling thing to happen in the film community in recent years is the rise of this notion that the prequels "actually aren't that bad". And I'm not here to tell you what you can and can't enjoy. If you like these movies, if you grew up with them, no one can take that away from you. But, I mean... come on... this is bad. This is so fucking bad.
However, just to prove I'm not entirely biased against it, I do want to say that this was actually the first Star Wars movie I ever saw (for some reason) so there is a certain level of nostalgia attached. There's some solid production design here (even if the coolest things are lifted directly from Blade Runner) and the role this and the other prequels played in pushing forward just what VFX are capable of cannot be understated. Also the score by John Williams is one of the best of franchise, with "Across the Stars" being a genuine standout.
That said, EVERYTHING ELSE is terrible. I feel bad shitting on the guy, because I truly don't believe he deserves the level of flack that he gets, but George Lucas cannot direct. The more grandiose sequences that are entirely CG can actually be quite visually striking (probably cause they were handled by the VFX supervisors), but every time we cut back to live action everything looks like shit. It's just bland performances blocked and shot so fucking poorly up against this green-screen background that it's actually painful to watch. These characters aren't interesting. They don't DO anything, they just talk about things that they either have done or will do.
I truly cannot believe a franchise of this scale sunk to such lows as this... and that's coming from someone who doesn't even put the original trilogy on a pedestal but instead just enjoys those movies for what they are. I don't know ANYBODY that's going to be enjoying such segments as the droid factory in this. Oh well, at least these movies attempt to provide you with some political commentary - really giving you a glimpse into the mind of Lucas and acting as a critique of both the Vietnam War and the Bush administration. And that's a lot more than can be said for Disney's sequels.