Actually, Return of the Jedi also sucked.
It lacked any sense of catharsis comparable to, say, in the Lord of the Rings, when the destruction of the Ring costs Frodo his well-being and means that elves and their magic must leave Middle Earth.
If, for example, the Jedi had sacrificed their control over The Force and Luke had died to overthrow the Empire, it would have had a sense of catharsis.
To extend the Tolkien analogy further, the first three episodes (I, II, and III ) generally suck, as compared to the last three for the same reason The Similarion sucks compared to The Lord of the Rings. There is something magic about a tale built upon a half-told prior story. When that prior story is spelt out, it sucks.
(Predition, if JK Rowling should write a prequel to Harry Potter, describing his parents' lives, that too would suck )
The remarkable thing about Star Wars is that The Empire Strikes Back, unlike most sequels, was excellent.
The rest of the thread has some good thoughts too.
Update: Here's another good one from Mnemosyne:
Short Version of How I Would Have Fixed Episodes I & II:
- Made Anakin older in Episode I, 12 at a minimum. Among other reasons, because having 16-year-old Amidala making goo-goo eyes at an 8-year-old was incredibly creepy and made her look like a child molester. But also because Anakin's abilities were literally physically impossible in a child that age.
- Made Obi-Wan and Anakin rivals for Amidala's love, or at least given Obi-Wan an unrequited passion for Amidala. Sure, the love triangle is the oldest story in the book, but that's because it works. Plus it puts Obi-Wan's actions in the later movies in a whole new light, making Luke the son of the woman Obi-Wan loved and lost.
Seeing Hayden Christensen in Shattered Glass was a revelation. George Lucas picked some great actors for the films ... and then let them wither on the vine.
I agree. Lucas should've started the story closer to the end. Having Anakin be older would've been a great start (not to mention way more plausable), and a love triangle sounds like a good idea to me. Oh, and get rid of the droids. It's just too pat that Darth Vader made R2D2 and C3PO.