From Phil Nugent, in peoplesforum:
Well, I've never been much of a "Star Wars" guy. I was in grade school when the first one came out so I should be squarely in that demographic, but as a kid I preferred monster movies to space operas, and I remember that for me the big movie news in the summer of 1977 was that they re-released "Jaws". I can say that the last couple of "SW" movies have finally convinced me that Lucas belongs behind a camera. He can't direct human beings to save his life, but he clearly enjoys arranging pixels and digital effects, and the times have caught up with him. I enjoyed the parts of the movie that were just state-of-the-art trippy visual candy, like the sequence showing the wiping out of the Jedi knights and the appaearances by the supporting baddie, General Grievous--my all-time favorite name of a character in a Lucas movie except for the representative of unspeakable evil in "Willow", one General Kael--a cyborg leader of droids who has what sounds like a smoker's persistant hacking cough, even though he doesn't have any lungs. If Lucas wants to turn feature animator, I'm all for it.
But as long as he's doing "Star Wars", he's still stuck having to try to direct actors and fit them into the mix, and he's still so uncomfortable at it that the seams really show. For me, though, the real problem with what are now the first three "Star Wars" movies is that they're supposedly there to "explain" how Darth Vader got that way, and I was never especially eager to have Darth Vader's bad personality explained, anymore than I wanted Ming the Merciless explained, or to see a trilogy prequel to "Jaws" establishing that Bruce was a Depression-baby shark who knew hunger in his youth and so grew up unwilling to think about who he was hurting by using the coastline of Martha's Vineyard as his own personal snack counter. I mean, for twenty-five years I've had to hear from Joseph Campbell and whoever writes the cover stories for Time about how Lucas has given us a mythology in the same direct line as Homer and the Arthurian legends, and instead of some wild, violent tall tale that you might think would be appropriate for how some towering Satanic space warrior came to being, we get this good-liberal load of hot air about how poor little Annie, as he's known to his friends, was really a good fellow at heart but was misled by mean people he trusted and so gave into the human "weaknesses" Master Yoda was always warning him about, such as his capacity for "anger and hatred", which are yoked together so many times that I have to assume that Lucas, or at least his Jedi, are under the mistaken belief that they're the same thing, and his capacity for caring about other people, which is bad because it makes him vulnerable to fears that he'll lose them. (And though I'm sure that I'd understand this better if I just hung out on the right message boards, I don't really understand why the Jedi spend half their time bad-mouthing emotions as if they'd studied under Mr. Spock and spend the other half counselling confused individuals to "listen to your feelings".) And I thought it was a real let-down to see that all the physical damage that turned Annie into a walking burn ward hooked to James Earl Jones's voice box happened in one especially bad ten-minute stretch, instead of being the cumulative result of years of a life devoted to war. Not to flatter myself unduly, but I think I probably fantasized a more vibrant backstory for Darth Vader on my own, and I'm not one of those people who've devoted their lunch hours to the task every day for a couple of decades.