I haven't seen the new Star Wars movie yet, but I thought this explanation was rather clever. I didn't notice the 'soap-opera lighting' in the prequels. Did you ever notice how soap operas on TV look different than movies? I always thought it was because soap operas were recorded directly to video, but movies are shot on film first and then transferred to video. Film can record a much greater range of light levels, or at least that used to be the case.