While no way near as impressive or as innovative as the original trilogy, the Star Wars prequels are no way near as bad as people often make out. Firstly these three films form the lead-up to the original three films and they continue Lucas themes of family, love, politics, power, destruction and revenge.
PHANTOM MENACE (1999) 3 Stars
The first of the prequels is quite frankly the worst of this trilogy and the saga as a whole. Overlong in places (the boring pod race scenes spring to mind) and lacking in others, the film is far too political for Star Wars with large chunks of the middle of the film being people (computer generated or otherwise) sat around in a room discussing trade agreements. As well as this we get a wimpy Jake Lloyd as a young Anakin Skywalker, which is hard to believe that this kind of kid can grow up to become Darth Vader. The film does have some saving graces though, Frank Oz returns to voice Yoda, the beautiful Natalie Portman is the most interesting thing on the boring planet Naboo and a young Obi Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) has some great chemistry alongside his on-screen master Qui Gon Jinn played by the brilliant Liam Neeson.
ATTACK OF THE CLONES (2002) 3.5 Stars
Attack of the Clones expands the CGI that was present within the first of this new trilogy and most of the effects are very impressive indeed and the story is a lot stronger than Phantom Menace, with aspects of the saga now falling into place. This time around Hayden Christenson (Jumper) is Anakin Skywalker (soon to be Darth Vader) giving off a slightly better performance than Jake Lloyd but still nothing great. His scenes with Ewan McGregor (Obi Wan) also fail to show the same sort of chemistry that Ewan and Neeson had in the first film. There is some better humour which on most occasions doesnt have to obvious to make the viewer chuckle and of course both Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz) and Mace Windu (the brilliant Samuel L. Jackson) get bigger and better roles than them just sat in chairs!
REVENGE OF THE SITH (2005) 4.5 Stars
The Empire Strikes Back of the prequels, Revenge Of The Sith is easily as dark as Empire and the best of the prequel trilogy. With all the plot points coming to a head, we get some outstanding special effects and performances from both Ewan McGregor (Obi Wan) and Hayden Christianson (Anakin/Darth). Samuel L. Jacksons character gets the send-off he deserves and Ian McDiarmid pulls out all the stops as he takes over the galaxy. Despite everything coming together in amazing style there are still a couple of things that let the film down, firstly there is no denying that there is some rubbish dialogue at times and secondly the scene with the birth of Darth Vader feels like a bit of a letdown having had to wait 20-odd years to get here. That said the final half hour to forty five minutes of the movie are brilliant and very sad indeed. With the added brilliance of John Williams, this is where Lucas finally got things right again. The saga is complete.