The Star Wars prequels are very divisive. Some people grew up with them as their Star Wars movies, while the people who grew up with the original trilogy were disappointed by the prequels and some of the decisions that George Lucas made with the films. I tend to lean more toward the latter, because you have to face the facts: the Star Wars prequels are not quality movies. The dialogue is horrific, the acting is emotionless, and the visual effects are dated and overused. Some of the stories that Lucas decided to go with don't work and don't feel like they belong in the Star Wars galaxy. So I am starting a new series: How to make something Sweet. I am going to offer my opinion on how I would change the Star Wars prequels for the better. We are starting on The Phantom Menace. Let's go.
The first thing to do when fixing something is looking at the problems. And this film is full of them.
First of all, the politics and senate hearings and treaty talk is all garbage. It is way too confusing for the average audience member, which is more than likely someone between the age of 6 and 18. Obviously there are adults that watch this movie, but there are probably more kids that watch it. The Trade Federation's invasion is the driving plot beat, but it doesn't work because it is overtaken by the long political discussions.
Secondly, the Gungans and Jar Jar Binks are just a bad idea. They have this broken dialogue that can be interpreted as a racial stereotype, which this movie has too much of, and they are viciously annoying. Jar Jar is played for laughs but he isn't funny. I think Lucas was looking for a group of aliens that he could have fighting the final battle, but the Gungans aren't the answer.
I don't want this to just be a recap of the negative section of my review, so if you want the full take on it, exit out of this post and check out the review for Phantom Menace.
Those are the two biggest problems. Now, let's figure out how to fix them. Just a preview of the section below: It will be written in a story format and I am still using most of the ideas from the film. Also, I do not think that I am a better storyteller than George Lucas. He invented Star Wars, for god's sake. I couldn't have done that in a million years. I am just taking the problems that he created in the prequels and offering suggestions on how to fix them.
The Phantom Menace: New and Improved
I think that the movie should essentially open the same way with a few minor changes. I think that Viceroy Nute Gunray should be replaced with General Grievous or somebody that is a part of the Separatists in the later films. Gunray seems like he's making fun of Asian people with he way that he talks and looks, and it is really touchy. With Grievous, that problem vanishes. I also think that Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon should be visiting the Trade Federation to negotiate a deal to get them out of Naboo. At the beginning of the film, I think that the Federation should've already invaded Naboo and taken the Queen hostage.
The next part will play out the same. The Jedi will escape and board the droid ships. However, we will not cut back to Naboo and see the droid army invade, because that will be addressed in the title crawl. We see where the droid ships head, and it is not the planet that they find Jar Jar on. Instead, it is the Wookiee planet Kashyyyk. To keep the excitement up, we'll have the Jedi fight off some more droids and save the lives of a Wookiee instead of Jar Jar's life. That way, we get to have the Wookiee army fight the droids at the end of the film. This Wookiee will not be Chewbacca, but maybe he can have a cameo in the finale.
We learn that the Trade Federation has been receiving direct orders from Darth Sidious and Darth Maul, who plan to start a war and take control of the galaxy amidst the war. Grievous tells them about the Jedi and Darth Maul goes to Kashyyyk. Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and the Wookiee are able to sneak aboard a droid ship when Qui-Gon senses Darth Maul. He alerts Obi-Wan of the disturbance in the Force, but they cannot seem to pinpoint what it is.
They go back to Naboo and aid the Queen in an escape. When they escape from Naboo, they are chased by the Trade Federation and their ship is damaged. They land on Tatooine. A big change that I made is that Obi-Wan goes out instead of Qui-Gon. Obi-Wan and Padme look for parts when they meet Anakin, who is significantly older. He will be a good age for Padme and him to fall in love instead of being a kid. We see them flirt immediately, and then he tells Obi-Wan that he can get them the parts. The creature that owns Anakin as a slave won't be Watto, because he is a Jewish stereotype, so it can be some kind of weird, mean alien.
My version of Anakin will have much more dark side in him than even Hayden Christiansen's Anakin in Attack of the Clones. Anakin will be tested for his freedom in a much more exciting fashion in my opinion. I think that they should do more of a gladiator arena type contest instead of the pod race.
Anakin slaughters pretty much everyone with the lightsaber that Obi-Wan granted him, and Obi-Wan realizes that he has a strong connection to the Force. After Anakin wins the gladiator battle, his owner grants him freedom but refuses to give Obi-Wan and Padme the parts. After they leave to go find something else, Anakin threatens his owner who is now powerless over Anakin. His owner, scared, agrees.
They get the parts and Obi-Wan takes Anakin back to the ship. Obi-Wan will get in the ship as Qui-Gon waits for them outside, but Darth Maul will come in essentially the same way that he does in the film. They have their quick duel and Qui-Gon hops on to the ship, confirming to Obi-Wan that that is a Sith Lord.
We can have another space battle as they make their way to Coruscant, just to keep the pace on track. When they get to Coruscant, we immediately see Palpatine take Anakin under his wing. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan can negotiate with the Jedi Council for a little bit, but not too long. I don't think that the whole thing about Qui-Gon being a rogue Jedi in the actual movie makes any sense, so I just say that the Council grants Qui-Gon permission to train him.
Amidst all of this, we learn of the secret clone army that is being made for the Jedi in case of war behind the senate's back. When we are at the Jedi Council, Captain Panaka comes in and tells Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and Anakin that Padme has been kidnapped. They race off to Naboo. Anakin gets in a ship and the rest of the crew heads for the main hangar. Darth Maul is there, and we get the lightsaber duel between Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon and Darth Maul. It plays out exactly the same, because I think that that part is the only one that is perfect in the film.
While the lightsaber duel is going on, Anakin uses the Force to locate Padme and finds her in the Trade Federation's clutches. He is being chased by General Grievous, but is able to ward him off. Anakin finds Padme and brutally attacks her captors. They kiss and get back in Anakin's ship, where he purposefully blows up the main reactor, destroying the Trade Federation once and for all.
Qui-Gon will have died and we will see his funeral happen the same way, with Obi-Wan promising to train Anakin and Yoda telling Mace Windu about the Sith. We close on a parallel to A New Hope, where we see Anakin, Obi-Wan, and the Wookiee awarded special medals by Padme.
This is my ideal cast for The Phantom Menace. I think that a big problem with all of the prequels is the fact that the acting is horrendous. However, Phantom Menace may have the best acting out of all of them. There are just a couple of people that I'd change.
Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi
Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Anakin Skywalker
Natalie Portman as Padme Amidala
Ray Park as Darth Maul
Emily Blunt as Sabé (Fake Queen Amidala)
So, that's that. It isn't perfect, but this is how I think The Phantom Menace could be fixed. I know that making a movie is much more complex than the hour of writing that I put into this, but I thought that this would be a fun and interesting new series that shines on things that haven't been said countless times by other people.
Parts 2 and 3 should be out soon. Tell me if you have any requests for more of these. I have a couple more planned out that should be fun. Contact me through the website or DM me on Instagram to give me requests for How to Make Something Sweet.