The Star Wars prequels are not great movies. They are poorly acted, heinously written, slow when they needn't be, and rushed when they shouldn't be. George Lucas was more concerned with selling toys than telling stories, not to mention showing off the new hit-or-miss things his visual effects company could do. The point is, there are several very broad flaws to be found right on the surface of this trilogy without nitpicking and conjecturing every minor detail (unless you happen to be making a seventy minute long review).
The bottom line: lovers are gonna love until they take the complaints seriously. So we must keep the complaints serious and retire these top five Star Wars prequel nitpicks to the Netherworld of the Force.
In Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, or just Star Wars as it was known for a whole four years, Old Ben Kenobi hands Luke his father's old lightsaber explaining that he "wanted you to have this when you were old enough". This slightly contradicts Revenge of the Sith's version of events in which Obi-Wan takes it upon himself to grab the weapon while Anakin says little beyond "AAAAAAAHHHHG!". But if flames were not slowly consuming his remaining torso, he might have made the first statement.
There were a lot of things needlessly contradicted in the prequels with far reaching explanations, like Yoda going from "the Jedi master who instructed Obi-Wan" to "the Jedi kindergarten teacher who instructs everyone when they're five and a half" just so The Phantom Menace could mirror A New Hope with a wise old sage getting slain. This change, however, actually makes logical sense.
Obi-Wan, who is essentially the propaganda minster of the Jedi party by this point, wants Luke to learn the ways of the force and bring down the Empire. This is the same reason he lied about Vader's identity in the first place. And telling Luke that his father wanted him to have his lightsaber to become a Jedi in his image is slightly more inspiring for Luke than "I peeled this lightsaber from the cold, dead fingers of your father's severed hand after I chickened him into trying to Darth Maul me. Actually, his fingers weren't very cold, but I attune that to the fact that we had just been surfing on a 900 degree planet of liquid hot magma." The wording of things sometimes affects the interpretation.
An astute person might notice that the above statement by Obi-Wan is an oxymoron. An astute person might also notice that the prequel trilogy had gone out of its way to portray the Jedi as a hypocritical, dogmatic cult way passed its prime. Of course, with all the other story problems in the prequel trilogy, you would be forgiven for thinking this is just another piece of hilarious incompetency on Lucas' part.
Revenge of the Sith circles, underlines, and stamps how out of touch the Jedi are when the evil Palpatine goads Anakin into murdering an "unarmed" Dooku, cut to an hour later into the film when the thoroughly unlikable but supposedly heroic Mace Windu uses the exact same defense when attempting to give Palpatine himself a similar treatment.
Even the original sequels deconstructed the flawless knight image of the Jedi a bit by showing them as manipulative liars (for a good cause, but still) and having Luke eventually beat the Emperor by ignoring everything the Jedi told him about Vader's incapability of redemption.
You see, it's like poetry. They rhyme.
Pictured: an attack. Of clones.
For a lot of prequel fans, defending them entails taking a complaint and saying "the original did that too", as if two wrongs make a right. For instance, "It's okay that Anakin was a whiny tool shed, because power converters". However, in this case, "the originals did it too" holds some water.
The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith are cheesy sounding titles. But so are A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. They just sound better because you first heard them when you were six. The thing is, though, they are all supposed to be cheesy sounding. If you've ever sat through a six hour long interview of George Lucas drolling on in his flannel shirts, you probably know that the series is based on old Saturday morning matinee serials with similar b-movie names. One of such was even called The Phantom Empire. Just be thankful we never get The Dathomirian Zabraks Conquer The Universe, or The Sarlacc Raids Again.
There is also some confusion over what the titles actually mean. The word "phantom" means elusive and abstract, which could refer to the unrealized threats of Palpatine, Anakin, and a half-dozen other Episode I elements = The Phantom Menace. There's an organized attack on the confederacy at the end using the clones, and yes, it's still an attack when the phantom good guys are attacking the phantom bad guys = Attack of the Clones. It is said that the Sith have been extinct for a millennium, and given that the Sith and the Jedi don't quite get along, you can deduce on your own that it wasn't due to natural selection = Revenge of the Sith.
Hayden Christensen has turned in decent performances in a few indie movies, but the unspeakable dialogue and "is that green screen upright?" direction of Lucas was just too much for him to compete with. He is also the poshest, most elitist sounding former slave-turned-sand-hating-warrior you will ever meet. So this is not to defend Christensen himself, but to defend the variety of blonde, twenty-something pretty boy actors that could have done a fine job in the role.
For all of the lies and half-truths and certain points of views he told Luke, the one part of Obi-Wan's story that always remained the same was that Vader was his young pupil when he turned to the dark side. Yoda backs this up in The Empire Strikes Back when he refers to Vader as Obi-Wan's "apprentice", as does Vader himself in A New Hope when he says he was a learner when he left. The actor in the Vader outfit was in his forties throughout the trilogy, and moved around like such. The character was revealed to have fathered twenty-something year old twins. All of this leading up to the moment when Luke takes the mask off and we see a dude pushing eighty.
Perhaps Lucas and co thought we wouldn't notice actor Sebastian Shaw's advanced age behind the burn make-up and force ghost haze. Maybe Vader was dramatically younger up until five minutes before casting him. There's also the prevailing theory that the dark side ages the user, sort of like meth. But everything but Shaw himself points to Christensen's age being about right. As for his size, that can be attributed to some extra long robotic limbs and twenty years of protein shakes.
Luke and Anakin were always supposed to mirror each other. You can see this when Luke enters the cave of the dark side cleverly named Dark Side Cave on Dagobah, slays the manifestation of Vader, and sees his own face in the mask. Or when he cuts Vader's hand off and compares the mechanic quality of the limb to his own. Vader was once Luke. He needed to be played by a Mark Hamill, not a Brock Lesnar.
There are similar issues with young Obi-Wan's age. Let's say he was twenty-six during The Phantom Menace, about the same age Ewan McGregor was during filming. Add the ten year gap between Attack of the Clones, the three year gap between Revenge of the Sith, and the nineteen year gap between A New Hope and you have...fifty-eight. That is a not-so-whopping four years younger than the sixty-two year old Alec Guinness in the original.
Just kidding on this entry. Jar Jar Binks is indeed the anti-Christ.
This is one everyone gets down on. Even the late Roger Ebert in his At the Movies review of Attack of the Clones called it "out of character" for Yoda to wield a lightsaber, adding "If you can encompass the force, you don't need no laser saber" and "You're Yoda, nobody can stop you."
Well, for one thing, the characters all refer to lightsabers as a Jedi weapon (at least in the original trilogy, before everyone and their coughing cyborg sidekick started using one), and what does that make Yoda? But here's the real question: when did Yoda go from "Jedi master" to "two foot tall muppet Jesus"? There is nothing in the original trilogy indicating that he is any more powerful than any other Jedi master.
Sure, he can lift X-wings out of swamps with just his mind, but that is supposed to be basic Jedi stuff. He expected Luke to be able to do it after only a few training lessons, and when Luke failed he let out a disappointed sigh, shook his head in indifference, and looked up at the Heavens in despair and anguish at being given such a waste of flesh for a student.
And this view of Yoda as an indestructible demigod creates a dozen plot holes as to why he is wasting his abilities on a swamp planet beating frogs to death with a stick for food when he could just blow the Death Star up with his brain and chuck a penny through the Emperor's head from behind a grassy knoll six miles away. He isn't on that planet for the scenery. He is extremely powerful of course, but all of the Jedi masters were supposed to be. And Jedi used lightsabers.
Although, the image of him bouncing around like a haunted basketball with one is still pretty stupid.