Y’know, something I just can’t understand is the tendency, in rants about how the Star Wars prequels have not measured up to and/or sullied precious memories of the originals, to make sure there’s a dig about them being soulless computer-generated films, often citing the superiority of earlier effects with actual models and the presence of real actors.

Haven’t Pixar and DreamWorks demonstrated that it’s entirely possible to make a well-constructed, entertaining film entirely with CGI? Hasn’t Hollywood’s studio machine demonstrated that it’s entirely possible to make a shallow, soulless film entirely with real actors? Remember the original reviews of Jurassic Park that accused the milestone CGI dinosaurs of being more lifelike than the actors?

It ain’t the CGI, folks.

The effects are top-notch. The visual design, even when referencing other films, is impressive. Acting. Directing. Writing. This is where Episodes I and II have broken down. And if you’ve seen the right movies, you know the leads can act—when they’re given a chance.

No, it’s the dialog and the directing—both primarily Lucas’ work, and both tasks he let others take on or at least polish in earlier films. From what I hear Tom Stoppard has polished the dialog in Episode III. One can only hope that Lucas’ “practice” directing the last two has given him the experience needed to make the final film stand out.