Animadversions.

The weblog of Joshua Drescher

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Finally.

May 24th, 2005 · 1 Comment · Art, Movies, Rants

The Long March is over.

Star Wars fans the world-round have trudged into theatres one last time to see what George Lucas can throw at them. Like battered wives whose drunken husbands are finally dragged off to the clink, they can - at long last - rest (assuming they steer clear of the endless parade of games, books, comics and collectibles). And thank God or the Force or whatever else might be responsible for that.

All in all, Episode III was the best of the new films. No big surprise, though, as Lucas would literally have needed to go door-to-door, stabbing his fans in their necks to disappoint us more than he did with the first two installments.

Spoilers, of course, follow.

What was good?

I liked General Grievous, despite his “robot with asthma” schtick (yes, I know he wasn’t a robot, but it was still weird that he was like a wheezing ninja scorpion). Cool look, cool back story (even though you needed to watch the Clone Wars cartoons to get it), cool death. The nod to Indiana Jones when Obi Wan kills him made me laugh.

Essentially non-stop action. I don’t think we went more than ten minutes at any point without somebody pulling out a light saber.

Palpatine was great. I was expecting him to be written as a vague caricature of villainy with no real psychological heft, but was pleasantly surprised by the rather nuanced presentation of the attraction of the Dark Side. Ian McDiarmid’s performance was - bar none - the best in the new trilogy.

An acceptable overall storyline. Anakin’s motivations made sense, even if the pacing was extremely off.

Order 66 was BADASS. It was the one element of the storyline that played out exactly as I’d hoped it would. Kudos to Lucas on that bit of perfect, dark hotness.

What wasn’t good?

The twenty minute slapstick routine at the beginning of the film. Nothing ruins a dramatic moment like turning it into a buddy comedy for no good reason. Yes, I realize the original trilogy had its light moments during fire fights and inside of trash compactors, but those moments featured Han Solo, loveable rogue and all-around fun guy, not two powerful Jedi Masters with a strained relationship on a pivotal rescue mission.

Anakin going from “concerned defender of the Republic” to “remorseless youngling-filleting ├╝ber-baddy” in the span of an evening - all at the mere suggestion that Padme might be in trouble.

The acting was, by and large, godawful. Natalie Portman seemed WAY less interested this time around - and who can blame her? They took her proud, strong warrior-chick and turned her into a moping mom-to-be who never leaves her living room and spends all of her time pining after her mewling significant other. Ick.

Obi-Wan’s massive pimple. Lucas can spend millions digitally raping our beloved childhood memories but he can’t shell out a few bucks to get a zit the size of the Death Star Photoshopped out of his masterwork?

The pacing was all wrong. Dooku is dispatched in mere moments without so much as a hint as to what the hell his role was supposed to be (was he Sifo-Dyas? Did he kill Sifo-Dyas? WHO THE FUCK WAS SIFO-DYAS?). Are Sith Lords just incredibly gullible? I already mentioned Anakin’s rather abrupt switch from hero to villain. It takes him years to become marginally attracted to the Dark Side and five minutes to flip completely? How long was Padme pregnant? Fifteen minutes? And how bad is the OB/GYN service on Coruscant?

Finally, one word:

“NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!”

I almost lost it when I saw the newly-minted Darth Vader throw his head back and belt out that gem. We’ve waited years and years to see this - the first appearance of Darth Vader in the armor. Does he say something cool and menacing? Nope. He checks on his lady-friend, then lets loose with a line that’s been lampooned countless times by just about anyone trying to mock bad acting in dramatic films.

*sigh*

Star Wars fans are tough on Lucas because we loved the originals so much. The bar is really high - perhaps unfairly so - and we often wind up judging the films based on our personal expectations, rather than on their own merits. Lucas has done what very few creators could - he’s created a complete, fully-realized universe that is entirely his to control and - despite its faults, I enjoy it.

Even the parts that suck.

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 mike fictitious // May 25, 2005 at 2:58 am

    Someone needs to do a side-by-side comparison with the “NOOOO” scene and Frankenstein. I swear it’s identical.

    In case you haven’t seen it, I think the letterer of the graphic novel captured the moment quite well:
    http://gallery.sixam.net/album01/ROTS_graphic_novel_Page_86

    Nothing says “Bad Ass Ruler of the Galaxy” quite like yellow cartoon text. I almost expected to see an Acme anvil smashing his toe at the bottom of the panel.

    I’m mostly pissed off by the off-screen happenings. Sifo-Dyas dies 10 years before Episode 2. This is conveniently when Episode 1 takes place, but he is never mentioned or seen. General Grievous fights in the battle on Geonosis, shown during Episode 2, but is never mentioned or seen. It really shows that Lucas did not in fact plan more than 1 episode at a time. When you’re planning a trilogy, THE Trilogy, there’s really no excuse.

    Also, I heard it got editted heavily, but that Qui-Gon bit at the end was so rushed. It felt like he was running out of film in the camera. He couldn’t take more than 20 seconds to clearly explain the fate of the star of Episode 1, and the reason for all the super-blue-jedi-ghosts in later films?

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