Ok, here's my theory on why George Lucas seems to have gone insane since 1983. I have now heard many, many interviews with Mr. Lucas, and he seems genuinely puzzled by the poor reception of episodes I and II. If you go back to things he said back when he was making episode IV you will find that he said he wanted to make films that harkened back to the serials of the 40's and 50's. He then created three(some might say 2) films that effectively captured the excitement, and adventurous nature of a Buck Rogers, or Captain Video serial, but without the major dose of cheese that encompassed those Saturday morning diversions. The first trilogy far surpassed the seeds that spawned it, and created for us a mythology that insinuated itself into the very fibers of our cultural being.
Fast forward a decade or so. Lucas decides to finally do the prequels he once promised. Unfortunately he chose to direct them himself. Interviews with the original actors tell how Lucas isn't much of a director. He knows what he wants, but he rarely says anything to his actors except 'faster and more intensity'. Is it any wonder that as soon as technology allowed him to create characters that could be manipulated using a mouse and keyboard he would pounce on it. He also stayed with his initial goal of recreating the feeling of the Saturday morning serial, but this time he did not stay away from the cheese shop. Episodes I and II were certainly superior to the lightning bolt helmets, and cardboard robots of Flash Gordon, but the plots weren't. The villains were less menacing, and the bad guys were mostly robots, so he could have the heroes kill them without tarnishing their white hats(and don't get me started on making Greedo shoot first). Admittedly the Darth Maul/Qui Gong arc was darker, but only barely. Then, in episode II, we found out just how awful Lucas is at writing a love story. When you combine hackneyed dialogue, and two young actors(Portman and Christensen) who obviously need more than 'faster and more intensity' from the director, you get a love story that's about as compelling as abowl of tepid oatmeal. Even in episode III, which I loved, the scenes between Padme and Annakin were at best boring, at worst nauseating. "Hold me like you did by the lake on Naboo." Barf!
Now lest it be said that Marius is a whiner, I offer a solution. There is soon to be a tv series that will bridge the gaps between episodes III and IV, and I pray that George Lucas oversees the thing, but leaves the writing and direction to others. The first time he did that, with the Empire Strikes Back, it gave birth to arguably the best film of the franchise. Let's hope that he learns from that. I finally love Star Wars again, and I'd like to keep that feeling.
May the Force be with you.