There was tremendous potential in the idea of a 3 movie series to tell the story leading up to the beginning of Star Wars. You're right, the rise of the Empire and fall of the Senate/Republic and fall of the order of the Jedi was alluded to, heavily, but it was left wide open for basically any story to tell how they got there. There was nothing more than a well definited end-point to be reached. That just adds to the sense that Lucas blew it. I'm not sure if he blew it because he was too busy making calculated decisions about marketing, or because he had run out of creative juices, or because he simply can't direct actors very well (paging Mr. Kershner). But he definitely blew it.
Originally Posted by Lord Ash
Sadly, a few simple changes could have made the movies MUCH better.
1) Write Jar Jar and his people as real characters who could believably fight for independence against a technologically superior foe, rather than some kiddy comic relief.
2) Make Anakin about the same age as Padme. Would have made the story more adult, made their future romance more believable, and made his unrecoverable inner anger and demons that ultimately were the seed for his turn to the dark side more believable.
3) Remove the midchlorian bs. Did anyone REALLY need or want a pseudo-scientific made-for-Sci-Fi-channel-movie level explanation for the Force? It's a freakin' mystic energy. Good enough. I don't care how Gandalf can make the end of his staff glow either.
The other change that would have helped was a director who can work with actors. I've never seen Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, Sam Jackson, etc as bad as they were in these movies. Bad dialogue, wooden delivery, etc. Get a better director, make a couple simple changes to the basics of the story, and you've probably got 3 movies that, even if they don't recapture the magic of Star Wars and Empire (lets' face it, the magic running on fumes by Jedi), they're at least very good movies.
Brian Zoubek on what was going through his mind walking to the free throw line with 3.6 seconds remaining in the 2010 National Championship game and Duke up by 1: "Fifty percent [of me is] thinking, This is what I've been dreaming of doing my entire life. Fifty percent I'm crapping my pants."