Long story short: it couldn’t. Anakin was whiny in “Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones” and “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith,” the final two films in the prequel trilogy. While the trilogy had a couple of good points – Ewan McGregor, playing the younger version of Alec Guinness’ Obi-Wan Kenobi, was uncannily good at imitating the older actor’s speech patterns and did as much as he could to save the movies – the three movies were, overall, a snooze.
Part of the problem with them, at least in my mind, was too many callbacks to the older films. Yes, we all love C-3PO and R2D2, protagonist Luke Skywalker’s robot sidekicks in the first three films. Did they need to be shoehorned into every important event in the prequel trilogy, though? No. Some are okay – seeing a younger version of the villain Jabba the Hutt before the “Phantom Menace” podrace isn’t terribly distracting. But throwing in old characters and references to the future films all over the place gets old and doesn’t let the new story you’re trying to build grow on its own.
(Also, George Lucas needs to reread his own scripts, because in “Return of the Jedi,” Leia says she remembers her mother, something that one would assume to be impossible if her mother died minutes after giving birth to her. But I digress.)