Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Revenge of the Stiffed

Last night Tegan and I joined Lulu, Spec, Flip, Dr. Actually, Shirtless, Jack Thunder, Raisinette, and Brie in the long-organized viewing of Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Perk was going to come, but was felled at the last minute by sever sore throat--I think? I didn't take a notebook to scrawl impressions as I let Lucas' latest attempt at film-making wash over me last night. (Sorry, but I probably would have written impenetrable scrawl in the darkness of the theater. You should have seen the notes that I make when I am taking notes for the political debates . . . and that was in a fully lighted room.)

But I jotted down some thoughts as they occurred to me during the day and I am presenting them to you now. It's not so much a review as a screed of frustration. For a more coherent, but no less disappointed review, see Lulu's post on WWYG?! Omnimedia.

  • The opening battle sequence? It felt overly long and pointless, other than allowing the Jedi to rescue Palpatine, which, as we know orchestrated the entire thing anyway. So maybe that helped promote the feeling of being pointless.
  • But this did introduce us to General Grievous--an alien cyborg trained in the Jedi arts. If you have seen any of the animated Clone Wars cartoons you were familiar with the look of Grievous, but you didn't know a whole lot about him because he didn't talk too much. (As a general aside, maybe that is why the Clone Wars cartoons feel so superior to the movies . . . a marked lack of dialogue and they are confined to only a few minutes each. So, no "Hold me like you did by the lake on Naboo" or "Wesa gonna die." and more lightsaber fights.) BUT, back to grievous . . . you might have though he was gonna be cool, right? A four-armed lightsaber wielding machine with no remorse or human feeling, right? A nightmarish precursor to Vader, right? WRONG!! He came off as a bad Russian comedian with a severe case of pneumonia. Seriously, the cough? I don't understand it for the life of me. sigh
  • Tegan HATED the dialogue, and I mean hated it. We've already hinted at that one horrible line of Padme's "Hold me like you did . . ." Forget the awfulness of that sappy sentiment, but think that she is asking Darth Freakin' Vader to do that and it just makes it worse, I think. Now, I am not going to try and say that the dialogue is exponentially worse in eps. I-III as compared to SW: Original (eps. IV-VI). There were plenty of clunker lines in those movies too. Luke whining about going to Tashi Station to get the power converters for one, many of the Han and Leia exchanges, any dialogue aimed at an Ewok. So, why do we hate these movies more? I don't really know that. We live in an age now where movies are even MORE spectacle driven and even less focused on character. So, we are very used to bad dialogue (I mean Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwartzenegger, Jean Claude Van Damme, and Vin Diesel have all made millions SINCE Lucas became famous for Star Wars.) So, why do we attack Lucas so much? Is it because we have fond childhood memories that are being destroyed? Maybe . . .
  • More on dialogue. When Natalie Portman dies, she will be featured on one of those Oscar night montage moments. IF she remains a Hollywood fixture and is beloved even enough by the people, she might get some clips from her famous movies shown with some dialogue spoken. Do you think she has it in her will right now that she refuses to allow any Star Wars footage to be used in the death clip? But won't Harrison Ford hve a Han Solo moment in his (along with Indiana Jones shooting the sword guy and something from American Graffiti. Mark Hamill will have precious little besides Luke Skywalker (probably the shot of him taking off the stormtrooper helmet when she comes to rescue Leia and the swing across the gap in the Death Star). These are fun games I am playing to amuse myself right now.
  • But back to the movie . . . Continuing a much-welcomed trend, Jar Jar Binks was virtually invisible in Revenge of the Sith, and good riddance too. That character's entire existence was a sign of all things wrong with how Lucas made these films--technology triumphs over story and character. Jar Jar was pointless, grating, not even as funny as Threepio (and he isn't funny). Jar Jar is really the anti-Boba Fett. Boba Fett was the bounty hunter with ten words of dialogue that was strangely embraced by the fans and turned into a cult figure. Jar Jar has vilified by the fans for having far more dialogue than was ever necessary or asked for.
  • R2D2 drove me NUTS in RotS. As many others have mentioned, there are continuity issues from episode III to episode IV. We all know this relates to movie technology advancing from 1977 to 2005, but given that, why must they show R2 doing all sorts of neat, nimble things that he never had any cause to perform when serving Master Luke 30 years later? He never found it necessary to fly using his jets? He could leap/catapult out of Anakin's fighter but had to be hoisted from Luke's X-Wing. Was the Rebellion so strapped for cash that they couldn't keep the droids in fighting shape?

    And while I know that the first movies were the Jedi in their full flower of power and grace, Obi Wan was struck with a horrible case of arthritis. The fight between Kenobi and Vader in ep. IV is so slow and stiff it is awful. I guess not using the Force for twenty years and talking to the dead Qui-Gon Jinn really takes a lot out of a guy. Either that or the heat of Tattoine did a real number on ole Ben.
  • Does anyone know what is the point of the lava planet Mustafar? What valuable commodity is available there? Brimstone? Yes, it looked cool but why in the world would anyone settle there or build structures there? And if you are going to build structures, shouldn't they be squat and thick rather than spindly? That goes back to something else that I mentioned earlier. Digital technology allows you to do all sorts of wonderful things, but the movie-making technology should be used in service of the story, not the other way around. That is what Peter Jackson did so well in LotR. He never, (I think) allowed his options become more important than the story he was visualizing.
  • Speaking of story, how is it that Lucas can make an 11th hour introduction of midichlorians in episode I as a farcical explanation of the Force, constantly tell us that Anakin has more midichlorians (and therefore more power) than any other Jedi, and THEN make him unable to jump higher than Obi Wan's lightsaber on Mustafar. Is "high ground" that critical? Didn't Luke, Anakin's pitiful son--who wasn't even trained long enough or properly--able to leap higher in Cloud City? When Obi Wan was warning Anakin about "high ground" all I could think about was Day 2 at Gettysburg and the Battle of Little Round Top. Not exactly what Lucas was going for there, I don't think.
  • Yoda's syntax is constantly mixed up. Did he ALWAYS talk this way? Didn't he get it right even one time in any of the five movies he is featured in? I just don't think it was constant.
  • The wookies . . . what was the point exactly? Another example of the opportunity to do something taking the place of actually needing to do it or doing anything of any real value. The wookies didn't do much, couldn't say much, and existed only to sell Lego toys. Seriously, judging by the Star Wars Lego catalog I received in the mail months ago, you'd think thirty minutes was spent on the Wookie planet and the battle there was critical in some fashion. But, not so much, really.
  • Obi Wan Kenobi. Would you trust him? He comes across in most of the first three movies as overbearing, a poor teacher, unreliable, a poor judge of character. He loses his lightsaber while chasing Grievous and is constantly riding ridiculous animal creatures when everyone else is cruising around on machines with throbbing engines and whirling blades. Is he a envirofreak or something? But then he tells Anakin that he saw him as a "brother?" Really? I never got that . . . must have been me.

I could go on and on, but the first episode of Lost is on right now and I should watch it for more evidence of Lostzilla wreaking havoc before we "knew" what it was. Hmmm.

[NOTE: this post was edited on 6/2/05 by me to fix some typos that slipped in while I was letting the venom flow.]

1 comment:

Sven Golly said...

Great review/screed. Clearly, you don't have the obligation to praise the product whose success your corporate overlords have a vested interest in. Right on, Burb! More power to independent media voices.