Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Nerd Alert factor five!

Okay, I've now seen Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith twice, and I have settled a lot of my impressions of the film, and the prequel trilogy as a whole. As such, I'm now going to ramble a bunch about my thoughts on everything, including but particularly focusing on things that I've heard people complain about, and things that particularly bothered or pleased me. This is spoiler heavy, so if you haven't seen ROTS, and particularly want to be surprised by details, DON'T READ.

First off, my overall impressions of each film:

The Phantom Menace was -beloved- on day one by everybody I know. I went to see it two times on opening night, and three more times before it left the theater. There were things I didn't like, but one basic fact reigned over the whole affair: It felt like Star Wars. For all the people that bitched about Jar-Jar, or the people that complained about Midichlorians or what have you, There was not a single moment in that entire film that I doubted for an instant that I was watching a tale long long ago in a galaxy far, far away. Qui Gon was the commensurate Jedi Master, Obi-Wan acted like a young Obi-Wan, and everything was cool.

Things I didn't like:

Darth Maul's lack of development. He was cool looking, but he had no lines, and we didn't find anything out about him. Even Vader had more interaction with other characters in the first film, and even he wasn't that interesting until Empire. All in all, DM could've been awesome, but instead he was just a cool lightsaber duel.

Anakin breezing through the end of the movie. I know, I know, he's the chosen one, he's the end-all be-all of force sensetives, his midichlorians are off the scales. It's -still- boring to watch a 10 year old ride through the last 15 minutes of his screen time as if he's on a roller coaster. From the moment his starfighter leaves the hanger, he does NOTHING out of intent. He accidentally flies up to the space battle, he accidentally flies into the Trade Federation hanger, he accidentally raises his shields just in time, he accidentally fires the blast that takes out the ship. He doesn't do anything -on- -purpose- until he's on his way out of the hanger. It's deus ex machina in full force, and it bugged me. Luke at least was -trying- to blow up the Death Star when he force-lucked into it.

Things other people hated that didn't bother me:

Jar Jar. Sure, he was annoying at a couple of points, but by and large I didn't mind him, and there were a couple of points where I thought he was mildly amusing. Also, he's force sensitive. I know, they don't say it, but nobody's as lucky as he is without some serious Jedi mojo going through the subconscious.

Midichlorians. For all the people that bitched about how midichlorians "demystified" the force, the fact of the matter is we've got a technologically advanced society. Cloning people is possible. The Jedi seek out and recruit young people with great potential. They have to have -some- way of gauging potential. Besides which, it never suggests that midichlorians are the source of the force. All it implies is that they're present in people that are force sensitive. So the Jedi can find candidates by blood sample. Whoop de. Nobody bitched about the detector paddles in the EU books, and that's the same damn thing. ;p

Things I loved:

Qui Gon. He was awesome. Liam Nieson is one of my favorite actors, and he looks damn cool with a lightsaber at hand. I wish he could've been in the whole trilogy.

The fact that they took out R2's booster rockets in the final cut of the film. (sigh)

Things I would've done differently:

I would've expanded Darth Maul's role in the film so he actually had some personality, and I would've had Anakin -decide- to do some of the stuff he did at the end of the film instead of random button pressing.

Attack of the Clones was, for me, the most disappointing of the three. In A New Hope, Lucas did an amazing thing with the cantina scene in Mos Eisley. A rogues gallery of misfits and bizarre aliens gave us not only some of the coolest toys of my generation, but it gave a very strong impression that this really -was- long ago in a galaxy far far away. Sure, we knew it was a bar, and there were familiar elements, but everything was, at the same time, -un-familiar. It was an alien culture, full of beings right out of the imagination. Apart from the lackluster acting and the horribly corny love story, in the first segment of the film, ObiWan and Anakin go to a SPORTS BAR, where droids on a big screen are playing FOOTBALL, and someone tries to sell them CRACK. Then Obi Wan goes to a 50'S DINER. It's not that there were familiar things. It's that no effort was made to make them -unfamiliar-. They were painfully obvious and it completely jarred me out of the "far away" setting.

Things I didn't like:

Yoda with a lightsaber. It's not that he had a lightsaber. It's not even that he used a lightsaber. It's that the way that whole scene unfolded was comical. The audience at the premiere was laughing. They shouldn't be laughing, it was supposed to be a climactic scene! But it was just so silly looking. Not to mention he goes through all this flipping around and Dooku still gets away. I think it lessened the character a touch. The dialogue between Yoda and Dooku was also really, REALLY bad.

C-3PO. A lot of people bitched about Jar Jar in Episode I. But at least he was consistent. Threepio flopping around and magically developing in an instant the manual dexterity for Jar-Jar esque shenanigans was atrocious, and the puns he carried with him were even worse. "Oh, what a drag!" Ugh. It says something that people bitch about Jar Jar's cartoony humor, but they have threepio do the same thing, and nobody complains, even tho it's out of character, both in terms of dialogue and physical aspects.

Boba Fett. Maybe I just hate little kid actors, but baby Boba going "Ha ha ha! Get'im, da' get'im! Was about one of the cheeziest, most annoying things in the trilogy to me.

The love story. It was contrived, the acting was poor, and the whole thing weakened Padme's character.

Things I loved:

Tattooine. I thought this was the best written and directed sequence out of the whole movie. Apart from the single "It's Obi Wan! He's holding me BACK!" line, this whole bit was great, IMPO.

"We came to rescue you, master" "(looks at chains) Good work." Despite the pervading amounts of cheese in this film, I thought there were some good moments of character interaction, especially surrounding Ewan MacGregor, who continued to nail the Obi-Wan part throughout the trilogy.

Christopher Lee. Tho I think Lucas should stop letting his kid name Star Wars characters, I did think Christopher Lee had great presence as a villian, particularly the scene where he tries to bait Obi-Wan into working with him.

Things I would've done differently:

I would've had Baby Boba keep his mouth shut, for one thing. Whatever sport was being watched in the bar would've been unrecognizable, and it sure as hell wouldn't have been robot football. I would've toned down the recognizable elements in Dex's Diner. I would have removed the scene with Anakin riding the big stupid flea-cow thing, and for god's sake, NOBODY ROLLS AROUND IN GRASSY FIELDS. Not unless they're about to have SEX. I would've handled the Yoda/Dooku fight a lot differently, but I won't go into details, because it'd bore you. Also, I would've kicked Typho to the curb and brought Panaka back. This trilogy is already disjointed by the fact that there are such massive gaps in the passage of time. More recurring characters would help lend unity to it.

Really, there's a LOT of things I'd've done differently. I hated AotC. Not because it didn't have anything good. There were really good bits. But that just made the bad bits more painful.

But anyway, all this brings us to:

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

I've seen this twice now, and the second time, I felt a lot better about it then the first. I don't know exactly why. There were some cheezy lines, but maybe once I was prepared for them, they didn't seem so bad. The plot, overall, wasn't too bad. There was cool stuff and less cool stuff, and really cool stuff. Anakin was much more sympathetic as a character, and I felt the actor did a much better job this time around. Padme continued to be weakened in this film, but her role was much smaller. William's score was fantastic, and did some very different, interesting things from what we're accustomed to in a Star Wars film. Thematically, it seemed to borrow a -lot- from Empire, which is good. All in all, I think this is actually my favorite of the prequel trilogy.

Things I didn't like:

Hold me, like you did by the lake on naboo! Pretty much any time Natalie Portman opened her mouth in the first half of this film, a cliche'd, melodramatic line came out. That one in particular was annoying, because if she'd just said "Hold me", it would've been a nice parallel to the line Leia delivered in ROTJ. But no, Lucas had to -add- to it.

General Grievous. Yes, I know for some inexplicable reason some people like
, but I think 4 lightsabers was a stupid, cheezy, unnecessary idea. It was like some kind of twisted, warped -joke-. I mean, hell, if nothing else it's kindof embarrassing when a Lego webcomic calls it long before you do it. As for his role in the film, while there were moments in which he was somewhat cool (mainly during the chase scene when he was driving around in Mr Garrison's "IT".) But honestly, the duel with obi-wan was more then a little weak, and his ridiculously over the top villainy and romanian accent had me wondering the whole time why Lucas didn't just give him an evil curly moustache to preen with, and get it over with.

Things I loved:

You were the chosen one! The scene between anakin and Obi Wan at the end was everything I imagined and more. The music was tense and climactic, the effects were great, the fighting was great, the drama was -great-. I seriously do not think this could have been done better. At all.

Oooh, the Jedis are going to feel this one...The Jedi massacres were very well done. Dramatic, impressive, and no punches were pulled.

Anakin's fall. Anakin was a much, MUCH more sympathetic character to me this time around. In Clones he was whiney and petulant. In Sith I felt he was genuinely trapped between his feelings for his wife and his responsibility to the Jedi and the republic. Also, the way in which his emotions and the force jerk him around in this film made me feel a bit more forgiving of the way he was led around in the rest of the prequel trilogy. I felt it gave me a little better idea of what Lucas was trying to do with the lot.

Chewbacca. I realize a lot of people will probably think of Chewbacca's appearance as gratuitous. But pause a moment to consider the events in A New Hope. Who does Obi-Wan immediately go to when he gets to Mos Eisely? Who hooks up the old Jedi with a ship and a pilot? If Chewbacca is an old friend of the surviving Jedi masters, suddenly there's a new level of reunion to that scene. I really like the idea of that.

Things I would have done differently:

Really, there's only one thing. I think killing Dooku off at the beginning of the film was a mistake. Christopher Lee is a great actor and villain, and would've had much more screen presence throughout the film then Grievous did. On top of that, they spent the whole last movie building him up. If you haven't watched the Clone Wars cartoon, you won't even know who Grievous -is- at the beginning of the film. It would've been better, IMPO, to kill off Grievous at the beginning. It would have made more sense (Anakin and Obi-Wan double teaming this Jedi-killer would probably have been a more fitting end to him then Obi shooting him in the chest with a blaster) And Dooku had more connections to Obi-Wan. Obi would have had to face a bit more conflict in having to kill his old friend's mentor. So I would've swapped Grievous and Dooku's parts in the film. I also would have edited a few of Padme's lines. I would've had Panaka make an appearance, at Padme's funeral, if nothing else, and I would've had Qui Gon's ghost appear at the end, after Obi-Wan gives Luke to the Lars family.

Qui Gon's ghost -REALLY- should've made an appearance somewhere in the film. Seriously, it would've helped give a little more depth to the "training I have for you" scene, and it would have helped to frame the prequel trilogy, by ending the last film with the same two characters that began it.

Overall: I thought this was two good movies, framing a lesser one. If Sith hadn't pleased me, I probably would have sworn off Star Wars for good. But now I'm looking forward to see if the new TV series coming up are worth anything. So Lucas must've done something right.

May the Force be with you. Always.


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