I haven't watched these movies since they came out on the theater years ago (1999 for Phantom Menace, 2002 for Attack of the Clones, and 2005 for Revenge of the Sith). I remembered my rank disappointment in these films, especially Phantom Menace. Watching them again about 20 years later I've changed my opinions a little.
Phantom Menace is as bad as I remembered. As a lot of people have said, Darth Maul was the only interesting character, and they killed him off. From the opening scroll about taxes and trade relations, the whole thing ends up being boring. The pod racing sequence goes on forever and isn't as exciting as I think Lucas thought it was. And then there's Anikan's virgin birth. Is Lucas trying to make him a Jesus figure? It was all a mess. The best part was the light saber fight with Darth Maul.
And don't get me started on Jar Jar Binks.
Attack of the Clones was in some ways, better then I remembered. Anikan was still whiny and hard to like. How did Padmé ever fall in love with him? The action sequences were better than I remember (with Natalie Portman's top strategically ripped). But I still think the love story is completely unbelievable.
Revenge of the Sith is definitely the better of the three movies even if it is a little over-long. Lucas did a good job setting up Star Wars IV: A New Hope. The two climactic light saber duels (Yoda versus the new emperor and Obi Wan vs Darth Vader) are well done and fun to watch. It's interesting to see how Anikan is seduced by the dark side of the Force and becomes Darth Vader. I actually enjoyed this movie more than I expected to.
George Lucas is a visionary. His movies used to be exceptionally good... when he was constrained by budget and the studios. But when he has a free hand and lots of money, he tends to try to do too much and it doesn't always work as well.
How do you like these movies? Did you like them more than I? Let me know in the comments below.