No, but I watched them back-to-back in a three day period before VII came out.
Few good ideas? I suppose that's a matter of perspective for most. Showing one tyrant slowly take over an entire government through his manipulations is an enthralling idea. Showing how corrupt the "good guys" are is very intriguing. The Jedi are supposed to be a force for good and to safeguard the Republic, but the second they figure out he's their ancient enemy they go straight in to assassinate him. That's not democracy! Sure, he was evil, and he manipulated his way into power, but to an average citizen on the streets, the Jedi would have basically killed the Chancellor because they didn't like him. The Jedi Purge would have probably happened anyway, because the Senate would have turned on them after that.
The Clone Wars as a whole is probably one of the dumbest wars ever, since everyone was actually on the same side, yet didn't know it. Palpatine was the puppet master for both sides, meaning his underlings were fighting each other, and to an average person, their respective side had a noble cause. To a citizen of the Galactic Republic, they were fighting The Clone Wars much in the way the Union fought the South in the American Civil War: to uphold democracy and keep everyone united. To a citizen of the Confederacy of Independent Systems, they wanted democracy as well, but realized how corrupt the Galactic Senate was, and wanted out. If Palpatine hadn't been controlling both sides and had the Seperatists leadership full of people like Dooku, Grievous, and Nute Gunray, that's the side I would have rooted for. While a lot of the concepts are explored in the TV show, they were introduced in the Prequels.
Also, let's look at some of the cultures and species introduced. The idea of the Naboo (probably originated from settlers) and the Gungans not liking each other is interesting enough. Sure, it's basically a racism trope, but it works well enough. I'll get into Jar Jar later.
The Clone Army in general is a really interesting concept. Again, we know Palpatine controls both sides, and The Clone Wars were also kind of a test to see which army would fare better for his Empire, regular soldiers or droid soldiers. Ultimately, neither worked as he wanted so he went with bits of both for the Stormtroopers. But to an average citizen in the Republic, how did they actually feel about having a slave army? The Republic Commando books go into this a lot, and it may have been unintentional, but the Prequels still came up with the idea. I could go on more, but I'd rather see what you have say on the matter.
Ok, so this is a big misconception. While Lucas got a lot of things to go the way he wanted, it was because he was the director. That's how it works often. Sure, I really doubt 20th Century Fox was breathing down his neck saying "we think this is the way it should be", but he took input from the crew. He took input from people at ILM. It was the people at ILM that originally wanted to go with CG Yoda in Episode I, and won George over to have CG Yoda in II and III and replace the horrific puppet from I with CG.
I think one of the biggest problems with the prequels aren't the films themselves, but the fans who watched them. For a lot of people, they watched Return of the Jedi in theaters in 1983 and then there was nothing except for the two cartoons in '86-'87, Star Tours, and the start of the EU in the early 90s. From 1983 to 1999 is a big gap, and is plenty of time to let expectations run wild (a similar thing happened with The Force Awakens).
"This isn't Star Wars! They're spending a lot of time talking about politics!"
Well, duh, you don't have an Republic become an Empire by just snapping your fingers. You think the Romans didn't have a lot of political discussions before they became an Empire? Or after? Politics has really always been a big thing in Star Wars, it was just simplified more in the OT to "here's the bad guys, here's the good guys". Rogue One expands on this a little more with Saw Gerrera and his band of what are essentially terrorists.
"This isn't Star Wars! Everything is too clean and sleek! One of the great things about Star Wars was the aesthetic, where the good guys had junky ships, and the bad guys all had state-of-the-art gear!"
Again, duh, because the "good guys" right now are the bad guys later on! Of course everything would be shiny. And things get grimy, like on Tatooine, or Geonosis, or Mustafar.
Again, I could go on, but I'll see what you have to say.
That one I'll absolutely give you. Glad The Clone Wars does a better job at that.
"I don't like sand..." shudders
Still, the plot of Obi-Wan looking for Kamino and the start of the Clone War makes it up for me. And while I won't defend the sand thing, I will defend Anakin after his massacre of the Tusken Raiders. He's upset and mad, two feelings the Jedi had taught him to suppress. Of course he would be a little angsty in the moment. I think the acting in that scene is fine, as are his actions since we know that's not how Anakin is all of the time. Hayden Christensen had the unfortunate task of having to preform some of Anakin's defining moments. The death of his mother, his romance with Padme, finally giving in to the Dark Side. These are emotionally stressing moments that are important, but don't show how Anakin acts the rest of the time. The opening minutes of Revenge of the Sith feels like the last episode of The Clone Wars, with the banter between Obi-Wan and Anakin. Anakin smiles and quips during the space battle, and leading up to the duel with Dooku. Only when do things get more serious does he get more serious. It's the perfect blend of Matt Lanter's happier Anakin and Hayden's more angsty one.
Mmm... no. Just... no. Even without The Clone Wars show helping to fill in some gaps, we still see a well done arch with Anakin, which ties into the the theme of the failings of the Jedi Order. As soon as the Battle of Coruscant is concluded, we see Anakin start questioning the Order's decision making process. Even without the Order's betrayl of Ahsoka in CW, it still makes sense. Palpatine requests he becomes a member of the counsel, and they do so, but don't grant him the rank of master. "It's insulting" he later says. Strike one. In that same conversation, Obi-Wan tells Anakin that the counsel wants him to spy on Palpatine, just because they don't trust him as a politician. As Anakin states, that's treason against the Republic, which the Jedi Order is sworn to protect. That's treason against the Republic AND breaking the Jedi Code. This is either strike two, or strikes two and three. And sure, Anakin is seen breaking the code before (on missions, being married), but it's obvious there are some rules he takes more seriously than others. Loyalty to the Republic being one of them.
So then we get two great scenes in between some Battle of Utapau stuff. The opera scene, and the "Padme's Ruminations" scene, as it's called in John William's score. Anakin learns that Palpatine is Sidious and can save Padme (so he says). Anakin follows his instincts and tells Windu, who then changes his mind about going to try to persuade Palpatine to leave office, to just force him out entirely. Anakin senses what's happening and arrives in time to be an accomplice to murder (unless Windu is alive still...), and seeing what Mace was about to do forces his hand. The Jedi are no different than the evil Sith he was taught to hate, and Anakin has to become what he was sworn to destroy to save his wife, which then does the opposite. The tragedy of Anakin Skywalker is complete.
Everything leading up to "Henceforth you shall be known as Darth... Vader" is perfectly logical by film standards and isn't a spur-of-the-moment change like so many like to complain it is.
Sigh Again, I have to give you that. It's not represented well. It's in the film less than it is in Attack of the Clones, but it is still problematic. The idea alone sells me on the film rather than the presentation, and Clone Wars helps in that regard.
No, not a weird note. Let's pretend for a second someone watching these for the first time hasn't seen the OT first (which is blasphemy). If one had seen Attack of the Clones we would know this is Anakin's step-brother and even if they didn't, Yoda did say "To Tatooine, to his family send him". It doesn't take a genius to know this is Luke's family, and that he may someday bring balance to the Force.
I can see why, even if I don't agree. The Prequels at least tried something different. They gave us a backstory that has more going on than people like to think, where The Force Awakens started off strong, but kind of devolved into all of the typical Star Wars tropes by the end of the film.
I like The Force Awakens. Rey is awesome. Po and Finn I hope get some more screen time together in The Last Jedi, because they seemed like they had a great friendship blossoming. Seeing Harrison Ford turn in a great performance as Han Solo was amazing, and the humor was excellent, but I hate the last act. It gives us a great scene between Kylo and Han (even if his real name being Ben makes zero sense) that serves as a great send-off to Ford, but it's just another Death Star. Like with what the Nostalgia Critic said, I feel it was just proof that they can do a good Star Wars film, and going forward it'll be more original (I do however have reservations about The Last Jedi). To some people, the repetitive feeling final act is too much for them, and so they'd rather defend the Prequels as the good movies, and say The Force Awakens is the lesser.
Finally, the biggest complaint about the Prequels is everyone's favorite or least favorite Gungan, Jar Jar Binks.
I like Jar Jar. I do. I was in Kindergarten when my dad showed me Episode IV for the first time, and I was immediately taken with it. Over the next few weeks he then showed me Empire, Jedi, Phantom Menace, and Attack of the Clones. This being 2004, I still had a year to go before Sith came out, but I couldn't get enough. All of it was exciting, there were cool ships, explosions, bad guys, and there was a funny alien that should have died 30 times over but through his tom-foolery somehow survived and managed to take Battle Droids out at the same time. I loved it. Jar Jar kept me going through Phantom Menace when otherwise, kids would have spaced out during the politics sequences, and here is my major defense of the Prequels wrapped up in a Jar Jar defense.
George Lucas got hate for the same thing the Clone Wars got praise for: it grew up with it's audience. The Clone Wars started out as a typical Friday night/Saturday morning cartoon, but by Season 3 it started to grow up with it's audience. I was in 4th grade in 2008 when the film came out and the show started. I loved it. Star Wars on TV, what's not to like? By season four, I was in 8th grade, and loving the complex themes of loyalty and unity that the Umbara arc brought forward, especially since it somehow managed to bleed into my school life. The Clone Wars is lauded for growing up with it's audience, and that's what Lucas did with the Prequels. He figured, "I'll throw in some more complex themes and ideas for this audience that has grown up, while still keeping it fairly fun for the new crowd". The response to this?
THIS IS GARBAGE! It isn't Star Wars!
What's all this Trade Route nonsense? Where's the fun blaster battles?
All the things people loved about the originals were in The Phantom Menace in 1999. You had the Droid invasion of Naboo that made stuff blow up. N-1 Naboo Starfighters fought in space to stop the droids on the ground while two Jedi fought an evil Sith apprentice, creating a three pronged battle, which is in Return of the Jedi and Rogue One. The only things added were the worldbuilding elements. Trade Route disputes, a slow Galactic Senate, slavery on worlds when it's outlawed by the Republic, all things that add to the universe like the EU was doing, but it wasn't exactly like the fun-loving Star Wars of A New Hope and Return of the Jedi. Jar's Jar's brand of comedy isn't for the adults, it was for the kids who also had to sit through the politics that the adults should have found interesting. It wasn't Lucas' fault that a lot people didn't want anything to grow or change from what had come from before. And this leads us back to why people hate on Episode VII but love the Prequels.
Are there problems with the prequels? Yes. Are they perfect? No. Is the Original Trilogy perfect? It's nearly, but not. If Lucas hadn't fixed some of the effects with the Special Editions (and let me state I do hate some of the additions like the dumb mount that walks in front of the camera), the OT would be very dated now. So, after spending nearly an hour and a half writing this essay, I present my argument to you.
Man, writing is more fun when you have it set to the Episode III soundtrack