Thursday, May 19, 2005

Confession: I did it. Slogged along and went to see Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith last night. A stupid thing to do, go to a movie at midnight, no matter how good what's playing. But, the girlfirend had no interest in seeing it at all, so I may as well go with my geeky friends and be tired the next day.

I'm not a movie critic so I won't attempt a thorough analysis (Will Collier's done one at Vodkapundit that includes spoilers if you're interested, and there's some counterpoint to him in the comments section of his post that are worhtwhile) but I'll give a quick two cents.

This is far and away a better movie than the last two, and while that's not saying much, it's probably enough for those (like me) who lowered their expectations so much over the past six years that anything better than a three hour Jar Jar Binks soliloquy would have been acceptable. While the dialogue in Episode III has its moments of putresence ("Hold me like you did on Naboo"), they are fewer and mostly shorter. More importantly, those scenes have much more relevance to the story and are useful in explaining Anakin's seduction to the Dark Side. The acting performances are forgettable, which is a major step up from the wooden performances in Episodes I and II. Nobody who uses acting quality as reason to trash these past three installments can rightly be a fan of the first three (and if you were never a fan of the series, then why you even care is beyond me. You must get tired of flogging the same dead horse). Oh, and there's nary a peep out of the dreaded Binks.

Most of all, though, it is an action packed, sinister, at times disturbing movie that comes closer to evoking real emotion than, I think, any of the last three (I include Jedi as part of the Trilogy of Shite that Lucas made for the toy industry). Yes, much of that emotion is simply relief at having all this behind you. But Ian McDiarmid does a great job of making Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine believably evil and Obi Wan Kenobi, who was the most pathetic excuse for a Jedi in Attack of the Clones, finally shows he's got some guts at the end.

Lucas brought back some old gags, as well, mostly with the droids R2-D2 and C3PO. Early into the movie I found myself smiling and chuckling at R2 bouncing around a careening, out of control space ship and fiddling with computer systems to make elevators work for his human masters. Good stuff that reminded me comic relief, or lack thereof, was part of what made Star Wars work and was severely lacking in recent installments. For instance, in Jedi R2-D2 stopped being funny and turned into some kind of robot butt buddy for Ewoks. Awful. Still no character equal to Han Solo for wit, though.

Important scenes are allowed to play out in full this time, instead of being cut short by Lucas' heavy handed direction (though I'm really tired of the "screen wash" technique that is his staple - it stopped being dramatic or cool a long time ago). There are plenty of good lightsaber/force duels, a must to make a Star Wars movie, and even though you know ahead of time the win, lose, or draw of each, they are still fun. And finally, just about every geek trivia question you could possibly want answered gets addressed. So, hopefully, we can all move on from these very flawed movies that made for a very entertaining series.

I have little interest in discussing the politics of Lucas or how his movies are meant as metaphors for Vietnam/Iraq/Bush. Other than a few rather heavy handed attempts to scold Bush, there's little of what conservatives have been fetting about. I think Lucas is wrong and self-contradictory, but who cares. That's another dead horse not worth whipping.

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