I've never met anyone who enjoyed an installment of the second Star Wars trilogy — Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith. Commonly cited aspects of its unpopularity (in no particular order): terrible dialogue, insufferable "love" scenes, new characters that would be merely uninteresting if they weren't offensive, and over-dependence on effects. [Read all of this and more in Anthony Lane's New Yorker review].I submit for inclusion: No Han Solo! No roguish charmer! No swashbucking mercenary! Han is everything that the second trilogy's characters aren't: unpredictable, funny, charming; in short, INTERESTING. In the original trilogy, his unabashed egotism balances Luke's piety and Leia's bitchy coldness, making all three movies much less gag-inducing than they would have been otherwise.Note to screenwriters: If you're going to write a story about the clash of good and evil, you need a character like Han to balance the saccharine aspects of the two. Luke and Leia are pure and uncomplicated; this renders them uninteresting unless they're contrasted with a character who actually displays human qualities. Han's irreverence and greed is offset by a devotion to his friends, and this meaty, real stuff — plus sarcasm, fear, etc — helps viewers embrace the unreal stuff.The second trilogy needed more Lord of the Rings-style stories involving friendship and adventure — something, anything to balance the melodrama and politics. I mean, c'mon. Lucas!? Why subject us to this? A character like Han could have interjected in moments like this, at the beginning of Phantom Menace:
BIBBLE : Your Highness, I will stay here and do what I can … They will have to retain the Council of Governors in order to maintain control.HAN: Yeah, good luck with that.BIBBLE: In any case, you must leave.AMIDALA: Either choice presents a great risk … to all of us.PADME : We are brave, Your Highness.HAN: "We" are getting the heck out of here before the battle driods get any closer.
Disclaimers: (1) I'm not a Star Wars nerd. I thought that Episode 1 unequivocally sucked and left the theater (or blocked out everything) after the pod races. I laughed through most of Episode 2, except for the scenes that made me retch. Ditto Episode 3. And (2) While it's fashionable to point out problems in these movies, I don't have much experience with official Star Wars criticism beyond my own snide remarks and the snide remarks of others — so perhaps someone has already written about this.Unrelated: Check out McSweeney's amendments of some classic Obiwan lines: "The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy. Oh, it's all horseshit. God."Next problem with the new trilogy: No Lando.