Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)
Chronological Story Order: 1
Release Order: 4
Series Rank: 7
Notable: The first of a three-part prequel
in the series, the first film chronologically, and the fourth film
in the entire series. The film was released almost 16 years following
the last film of the original trilogy. The pod-race scene paid
homage to (or ripped-off?) the chariot race sequence in the Circus
Maximus in the Best Picture-winning Ben-Hur
(1959), one of the most thrilling and famous in film history.
Tagline: "Every generation has a legend. Every journey has a first
step. Every saga has a beginning."
Director: George Lucas
Plot: As the film opened in the last days of the Galactic Republic, the scheming
Trade Federation had blockaded the small planet of Naboo (with capital city Theed),
to coerce it into signing a treaty. Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his Jedi apprentice
(padawan) Obi-Wan Kenobi were sent to find a peaceful solution as ambassadors.
On board the Trade Federation's command vessel, they were attacked by a battle
fleet of droid soldiers commanded by Viceroy Nute Gunray, who was following orders
of mastermind Lord Darth Sidious, a disciple of the evil cult called the Sith.
They escaped and landed on Naboo where they rescued young Queen Amidala,
the pacifist, newly-elected ruler of Naboo, who had refused to sign the treaty
and found her palace besieged by the droid army. During their flight with the
Queen and astromech droid R2-D2, the Queen's damaged ship was forced to make
an emergency landing, stranding them on the remote desert planet of Tatooine.
There, the two Jedi knights discovered young 9 year-old Anakin Skywalker, a young
slave who had the power of the Force (and might be "the Chosen One"),
and was remarkably proficient with machines (he manufactured his own protocol
droid - the unfinished C-3PO). The boy participated in an exciting Podrace with
a jet-powered speeder, won the race and prize money - and his freedom, and was
now able to leave Tatooine to be trained as a Jedi. As they were preparing to
leave, the group was attacked by Sidious's apprentice, Sith Darth Maul with a
double-ended light-saber, who had been dispatched to kill Queen Amidala, but
they were able to defend themselves and escape. The Queen was escorted to the
planet Coruscant, the capital of the Republic, where emboldened Senator Palpatine
(potentially the next Chancellor) informed her that the Senate was deadlocked
and Naboo was about to be attacked. Returning to Naboo, Anakin and the Queen
faced massive invasion forces from the Federation due to the reappearance of
the evil Sith, with an emerging plot of revenge against the Jedi. The Jedi Council,
led by Masters Yoda and Mace Windu, were informed that the untrained boy Anakin
During the struggle to protect the palace and the Queen from attack, the
two Jedi knights had to contend with deadly Sith
Darth Maul in a furious lightsaber duel, leaving Qui-Gon Jinn
mortally wounded, although Obi-Wan vanquished Darth Maul and triumphed as a newly-appointed
Jedi knight. (Anakin was now Obi-Wan's new Padawan.) Naboo scored the victory
and became free, after the invading droid army was defeated and the Trade Federation
surrendered. This struggle was proof that more Dark Side force invasions would
occur, to threaten the Republic's safety.
Set-pieces: The Boonta Eve Podrace through the rough Tatooine
desert terrain, the battle between the forces of the Federation
and the Gungans on the plains of Naboo, and the climactic epic
lightsaber (laser sword) duel in the Naboo palace between the two
Jedi Knights (Master Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and Obi-Wan Kenobi
(Ewan McGregor)) and Sith Darth Maul (Ray Park).
Academy Awards: Nominated for three Academy Awards
(with no wins): Best Visual Effects, Best Sound, and Best Sound
Effects Editing. It lost all three nominations to Oscar-winning The
Razzie Awards: Seven Razzie nominations, including:
Worst Director (George Lucas), Worst Picture, Worst Screen Couple
(Jake Lloyd and Natalie Portman), Worst Screenplay (George Lucas),
Worst Supporting Actor (Jake Lloyd as Anakin), and Worst Supporting
Actress (Sofia Coppola as Sache), and it won one Razzie Award:
Worst Supporting Actor (Jar Jar Binks).
Production Budget: $115 million
Box-Office: $431 million (domestic), $474 million (lifetime
domestic gross) and $1,027 million (worldwide). It was the highest-grossing
(domestic) film of 1999, besting second-place The Sixth Sense
(1999) at $293.5 million.
Run-Time: 133 minutes
Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002)
Chronological Story Order: 2
Release Order: 5
Series Rank: 6
Notable: The fifth film in
the entire saga - and the second prequel in the series in terms of chronology.
The first motion picture to be shot completely on a high-definition (HD) digital
Tagline: "A Jedi Shall Not Know Anger. Nor Hatred. Nor
Director: George Lucas
Plot: Ten years after the invasion of the small planet of
Naboo from the previous film, the galaxy was on the brink of
civil war, and peace was again threatened. Under the leadership
of mysterious renegade ex-Jedi Count Dooku, thousands of solar
systems threatened to secede and break away from the Galactic Republic.
When Senator Padmé Amidala (the ex-Naboo Queen) arrived
in Coruscant to attend the Galactic Senate and express her pacifist
views, an assassination attempt was made on her life as her ship
landed. Supreme Chancellor Palpatine suggested that 19 year-old
arrogant, impatient and headstrong Padawan apprentice Anakin Skywalker
be assigned to protect the Senator. A second assassination attempt
(with poisonous centipede-like creatures) also failed, when Obi-Wan
and Anakin protectively came to her rescue. They chased assassin
Zam Wesell to a Galactic City nightclub, but the bounty hunter
(Jango Fett) who hired her killed her with a poison dart and then
escaped. Anakin was assigned to personally protect Senator Amidala
- and escort her back to her home planet of Naboo. They arrived
in Naboo at the port city of Theed, where they were transported
to the palace. Senator
Padmé Amidala told Queen Jamillia in the Naboo palace throne
room that she would go to the isolated and remote Lake Country
for safety. In the course of his mission to protect her, Anakin
discovered his love for Padmé as well as his own darker
the bounty hunter's poison dart was traced to a distant planet
named Kamino, hidden outside the Republic. Obi-Wan traveled to
Kamino (on Yoda's request), during a time of unrest when many star
systems were joining Count Dooku and the Separatists (headquartered
on the planet Geonosis) and the coming of civil war threatened.
On Kamino in his quest to find Jango Fett, Obi-Wan discovered that
a secret "clone
allegedly being produced and created there for the Republic (and
the Jedi). The model for the clones was, suspiciously in fact,
bounty hunter Jango Fett! Obi-Wan continued to track Jango Fett
to Geonosis, where he found more 'battle droids' for a giant army
being manufactured, now by the militaristic Separatists. In a side
plot, Padme/the Senator and Anakin journeyed to Tatooine so that
Anakin could investigate a vision of his mother Shmi's suffering
(after being kidnapped by Sandpeople). When Shmi died in Anakin's
arms, he brutally slaughtered the Sandpeople, to Padme's dismay.
would be forced to choose between his Jedi duty and forbidden love
to Padmé Amidala. On Geonosis, Count
Dooku failed in his efforts to convince Obi-Wan to join him, and
the Jedi was imprisoned. At the same time, the Supreme Chancellor
Palpatine had gained 'emergency powers' and was adamant about destroying
the Separatists. The attempt to rescue Obi-Wan on Geonosis by Padme
and Anakin failed, and the three were sentenced to be executed in
an arena. Mace Windu and other Jedi fighters freed the captives,
and Jango Fett was killed, but Count Dooku's wave of 'Droid' soldiers
overwhelmed them. Suddenly, Yoda appeared, leading the "Clone Army"
in an assault on Dooku's Separatists to defeat them, although Dooku
saved himself. One by one, Dooku
first took on Obi-Wan
and then Anakin, severing Anakin’s arm in the process. Yoda
vanquished Dooku in a head-to-head lightsaber duel, culminating with
Dooku's successful flight to Coruscant and the revelation of his
alliance (as Darth Tyranus) with Sith Dark Lord Darth Sidious. It
was feared that they could soon assume control of the Galactic
Senate, with a sinister plot. Although the Republic had prevailed
this time, the Clone Wars would continue. Padme and Anakin, who was
fitted with a cybernetic arm, were secretly wed.
Criticism: The title Attack of the Clones was a
misnomer - the Clone Army came to the counter-attack defense
of the Jedi (and the Republic), while an offensive Battle droid
army was on the side of Count Dooku and the militaristic Separatists.
Set-pieces: Anakin Skywalker's (Hayden Christensen)
and Obi-Wan Kenobi's (Ewan McGregor) speeder
chase after assassin Zam Wesell (Leeanna Walsman) in Galactic
City, the scene of hand-to-hand combat between Obi-Wan and
Jango Fett (Temeura Morrison) on Kamino's landing platform,
the breathtaking aerial chase through the asteroid field
of Geonosis, Anakin's and Senator Padmé Amidala's (Natalie
Portman) dangerous traversing of Geonosis' mechanical-robotic
assembly line (manufacturing a Droid army), the battle of the
captives (Anakin, Padmé, and Obi-Wan) against three
monsters in the Execution Arena and between Mace Windu's
(Samuel L. Jackson) Jedi fighters and Count Dooku's (Christopher
Lee) droids, and the concluding light-saber duel between
the Yoda and Count Dooku.
Academy Awards: Nominated for one Academy Award (with no wins):
Best Visual Effects.
Razzie Awards: Seven Razzie nominations, including: Worst
Director (George Lucas), Worst Picture, Worst Remake or Sequel, Worst Screen
Couple (Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman), and Worst Supporting Actress
(Natalie Portman), and won two Razzie Awards for Worst Screenplay (George Lucas
and Jonathan Hales) and Worst Supporting Actor (Hayden Christensen).
Negatives: Character development, acting and dialogue, especially between
Anakin and Padme during their love scenes, were criticized.
Production Budget: $115 million.
Box-Office: $302.2 million (domestic), $310.7 million (lifetime domestic
gross), and $649.4 million (worldwide). It was not the # 1 film of 2002, facing
stiff competition against the # 1 highest-grossing (domestic) film Spider-Man
(2002) at $403.7 million, and the # 2 film, The
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) at $340 million.
Run-Time: 142 minutes
Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Chronological Story Order: 3
Release Order: 6
Series Rank: 5
Notable: The sixth and final film in the
entire saga - and the third prequel in the series in terms of chronology.
The first of the films to receive a PG-13 rating. It was
generally considered the strongest of the three prequel films.
It was released on the 28th anniversary of the release of Star
Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope (1977).
Tagline: "The Saga is Complete."
Director: George Lucas
Plot: The time period was three years following the events of the previous
film, at the onset of the galaxy-wide Clone Wars after the Clone Army of the
Republic (led by noble Jedi Knights) had successfully counter-attacked the Separatist
Droid Army of Sith Lord Count Dooku. Two Jedi Knights, Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan
Kenobi, led a desperate mission to rescue the kidnapped Supreme Chancellor Palpatine,
leader of the Galactic Senate. Anakin, becoming more brooding and connected to
his "dark side," successfully killed Dooku in a duel, and rescued the
Chancellor. After being granted "emergency powers," the dictatorial
Palpatine could now control the Jedi High Council - which he distrusted. He
asked Jedi hero Anakin to be his personal representative (or spy) on the Jedi
Council. Skywalker was also given a conflicting assignment - to secretly spy
on reigning Chancellor Palpatine and report back to the Council. It was later
revealed that Palpatine was the treacherous Dark Lord Darth Sidious with a 1,000
year-old plot to rule the galaxy (as the Empire). Sidious appointed Anakin as
his new apprentice -- who was then renamed Darth Vader. (Faced with haunting
premonitions that his secret wife, Padmé Amidala, was going to die, Anakin
Skywalker was completely seduced by the Dark Side.) Darth Sidious was fomenting
a major Galactic Civil War within the Empire. There was a major uprising against
the Jedi Knights and many were decimated. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Jedi Master Yoda
were forced into hiding. Darth Vader fulfilled his mission to slaughter members
of the Separatist Council and their Battle droids. There was a climactic light-saber
duel between Obi-Wan and his former apprentice Anakin/Darth Vader - the latter
was left disarmed, seemingly-lethally wounded, and crippled, but was resuscitated
and brought back to life (and forced to wear a black armored life-support suit
and helmet (or face mask)). Amidala died giving birth to Anakin's/Darth Vader's
own offspring - twins (a boy named Luke and a girl named Leia). Was there hope
for the galaxy?
Set-pieces: The opening space battle between General Grievous
and the Federation against the Republic's Jedi during the rescue
of Coruscant's kidnapped Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid),
Obi-Wan Kenobi's (Ewan McGregor) one-on-one combat against General
Grievous (Matthew Wood) on Utapau, the duel to the death between
Chancellor Palpatine (Darth Sidious) and Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson),
and the simultaneous, climactic lightsaber duels: on Mustafar between
Obi-Wan and his former apprentice Anakin/Darth Vader, and in the
Senate chambers between Yoda and Darth Sidious (Ian McDiarmid).
Academy Awards: With only one Academy Award nomination (with
no wins): Best Makeup.
Razzie Awards: The film won its sole Razzie nomination - Worst
Supporting Actor (Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker).
Production Budget: $113 million.
Box-Office: $380.3 million (domestic) and almost $849 million (worldwide).
It was the # 1 highest-grossing (domestic) film of 2005, besting second-place The
Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005) at
$291.7 million. It was the # 2 highest-grossing (worldwide) film of 2005, just
behind Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
(2005) at almost $897 million.
Run-Time: 140 minutes