I am well aware of the Star Wars “expanded universe” and that this expanded universe fills in a lot of holes left in the story written by George Lucas. Obviously every story, no matter how well written, has a hole or two. Generally speaking, that’s okay. That’s what the whole “willing suspension of disbelief” is for. But there are plot holes, and there are gigantic gaping wounds ripped through the very fabric of the film like a lightsaber through a blast shield (Do you like how I used a Star Wars simile?). I concern myself here with the latter, although the former will definitely crop up from time to time. When Star Wars fans are forced to look to the expanded universe to solve some of the rather staggering problems introduced by the prequel trilogy instead of the supposedly self-contained set of movies, a writer/director/producer knows that he has failed on the grandest scale possible.
I’ve broken down my gripes into several distinct types of complaints. The first set of complaints deal with the chronology of the movie, specifically the problems with Revenge of the Sith taking place only 20 years previous to A New Hope. The second set deals with holes in the plot too big to overlook and too irreconcilable to solve in some expanded universe narrative. The third set deals with general complaints about the choices Lucas made as God of the Star Wars universe with some quarrels specific to his choices as director of the prequel trilogy. I will not address Jar-Jar Binks.
So let’s jump right in. The first complaint actually has to do with the amount of time that lapses between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones (AotC sounds like a B-grade sci-fi movie from the 70s about invaders from Mars). Anakin Skywalker is supposed to be 9 or 10 years old in the first film, and he indeed looks the part. Padme is supposed to be a little older, perhaps in her late teens, and she looks that part as well. But what about the next movie? Well, Anakin is supposed to be 10 years older than the previous film and Hayden Christensen does indeed look to be about 19 or 20 years old. So far, so good. But what about Padme? Well, she looks about 3 years older than in the last film, because it’s the same person 3 years later.
The ages of the people Lucas casts really delivers a blow at the end of Revenge of the Sith. The oldest Obi-Wan could possibly be is 35ish. So he basically ages around 30 years in the 19 years between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. Owen Lars looks relatively young at the end of Revenge of the Sith and Beru even younger. Their ages couldn’t have been more than 27ish and 23ish respectively. That must be why they both look like they are in their late 50s in A New Hope, which (again) occurs 19 years later. 57-27=19. No? Now, I’m willing to give a guy a break, especially if he’s dealing with making a series of films over a 20-year period. But for Christ’s sake, to be 10 years off on your characters’ ages is inexcusable. All Lucas had to do was hire two actors in their mid 30s. Instead, he picked a dude fresh out of college and a lady that could still be in high school. Brilliant.
Yoda probably took the worst downturn over the next two decades. The Empire Strikes Back takes place 22 years after Revenge of the Sith. For an 800-year-old dude, you’d think 22 years really wouldn’t matter so much, especially since he was able to leap around like a cricket in two of the prequel movies. It’s not like I didn’t enjoy the fight with Count Dooku or the battle royale with the Emperor. But at some point, shouldn’t it have occurred to Lucas to have the little bugger get seriously injured or hit with the Emperor’s Force Lightning? Just a couple of lines of dialog would have cleared that up just perfectly. I understand that he didn’t have the technology to make Yoda do all of that crazy shit in the early 80s, but if he was limited by his medium, so be it.
Read part III here.