Blah-r Blah-rs 3
(Contains Spoilers of sorts, but you already know how it goes)
We saw Star Wars three last night and it was a revolting mess. I haven't seen Episode two yet, but I've seen the others. Having not seen the middle of the original trilogy, a few things were kind of confusing at first, but nothing too big, things like Anakin's mom dying and where all those clones came from. Besides, the script is telling us what is going on and reminding us what has gone on constantly so there's no way for us to get lost. They relate this in the way that a Star Wars fan would relate it to someone who hasn't seen the film. At one point, Obi Wan says to Anakin 'I owe you. You've saved my life eight times, I won't count that other time on (exotic planet name)' And you can picture the guys in the audience with the t-shirt that says 'Luke, I am your biggest fan' counting it up on their fingers, yep, eight.
It looks and sounds awful. The graphics have gone nowhere good, the shooting and the robots look cold and robotic, as you would expect, but its the backgrounds that truly offend. There's a scene in which Anakin goes to visit Palpatine at something like an Opera house, and the performance they are watching is supposed to be like a Cirque de Soleil wonderment kind of thing, but just looks like a really shitty screensaver, its an orb with some flowy red ribbons. If you saw it on someone's computer screen you would change it to a scrolling Marquee that says "Hey! Idiot! Get some sunlight!" The senate backdrop is one of the worst looking things ever, its an awkwardly endless room full of the exact same wild water rafts.
You get the feeling that George Lucas, original sci-fi auteur as he is (well, second only to Ed Wood whom he channels tons in this unintentionally), wanted to do EVERYTHING himself. The end result is like a toddler vomitting on a half-colored in fun napkin at a family restaraunt, the movie means so much to so many people that they'll probably fold it up and put it in their treasure chest. What could have been a halfway decent thing he has to muck up with money and computers. Natalie Portman, for example, who I find attractive usually, looks in this movie like she's modeling for an outer space Land's End catalogue. When Anakin stammers 'you... look... great...' it is a truly ungenuine moment.
You picture George Lucas at four am in his souvenir-dotted den drawing up Anakin's little Jedi room, 'oh, there's going to be a nice spherical fountain in the middle of the room and a nice view of the city. Oh! And a desk with a tablelight against the window! In case he needs to write his Jedi memoirs and wants to look at the city! Man, I need some more Red Bull!' He finishes and goes to sleep. The next morning he wakes up in his Jar Jar Binks pajamas and takes his coloring pad to the studio and shows everyone and then the executives have a secret meeting: 'George is off his rocker! We need to hire ANYBODY ELSE to draw up these blueprints' 'But you gotta admit, Lucas brings in the bling!' I like the halls though. Lucas has good halls, like the opening spaceship hallway from episode four which they keep returning to in the latter half of this episode.
John Williams' score is nice enough, aping previous moments so we know when something important is happening, and to remember how much we liked it before, but it doesn't really add anything new. The robots sound terrible, they do these little Jawa-like squeaks that were obviously overdubbed to add some sort of comic effect that might only work comedically on five year olds or sixteen year olds watching with their grandparents. A droid will walk by and say something like 'hey, watch it', or they'll say 'ouch' if they've been shot. There's this terrible evil droid that's sick the entire time?! What? He's so annoying, its so painful to watch him move. And when they start fighting, you get pissed off, because apparently he was good at moving all along. Lucas, you fink. There's a lizard that Obi Wan rides around for a while during a pursuit and it is the most irritating sounding and looking thing ever.
The acting is atrocious. You see all these good actors, Samuel L. Jackson and Ewan MacGregor and heck, even Jimmy Smits, up there just looking as blank as chalkboards. You get the idea that Lucas was relying on their star power or natural charm to get himself through this mess. But the things he was so successful with, like Han Solo's goofy guile, he spreads out across EVERY MALE CHARACTER, diluting the original effect. The movie coasts along on the fact that we know where its going to go. This prequel trilogy is brilliant marketing in that it doesn't need to be good to do what it has to do, we know that Obi Wan is going to be in the desert, the movie just has to get him there. We know that Anakin is going to become Vader, the movie just has to show his arms getting chopped off.
It doesn't help that Lucas' dialogue is either clusters of monosyllabic ejaculations "Look Out!" "You Look Good!" "You made me blind with love" or quasi-political wankery "I thought we had a democracy!" The movie stutters along with all the grace of one of those battle walker things tipping over. Or it creaks along mid-cardiac arrest like Jabba the Hutt. Or it sinks impotently like those first few missiles that didn't destroy the death star. You see what I'm doing here, not only am I saying that this movie SUCKS, but I'm pointing out moments from the original trilogy that are infinitely more memorable than this trilogy's shiners (remember again I've only seen one and three): the pod race, Yoda doing some flips, Mace Windu flying out a window, umm... the underwater frog city... Natalie Portman's wardrobe... can't really think of any more...
The only way I could enjoy the movie was by watching it as you would watch a group of kids playing at an action movie on the playground. Nothing made sense coherently but everything made sense in the moment. Like in the introductory scenes where Anakin and Obi Wan are flying down to the surface of a planet, they are in the middle of a large-scale battle. They maneuver deftly through action after action and then suddenly a missile full of a lot of rowdy destructive droids hits one of their jets. Conveniently, every other ship stops shooting at them so the two jets can sort this problem out. Like kids on the playground you can't take everything into consideration. What is this, middle school?
There are many scenes in which we'll find ourselves watching a jedi knight or two being surrounded by robots and its like the robots are only programmed to watch what's going on. Rather than the room erupting into blasts centered on the Jedi Knights, the robots prefer to take them on one at a time. Again, here we go with kids playing with action figures. Once you've chosen your main action figure, there's no way that he's going to lose. You're a kid sitting there with one hand for holding your superhero and making it do insane fighting moves and the other hand for throwing the other action figures up in the air - there's no danger of them actually hurting the main character- they always die before they hit the floor. Lucas creates nothing likable, just uneven displays of jedi/sith power and piles of robots.
The movie starts picking up when Anakin goes evil. The transition between Galactic Republic and Galactic Empire is abrupt, but watching the Jedi all get turned on by their fellow fighters in the midst of battle is both kind of cool and sad. I felt nothing when Anakin attacked the young jedi, but the earlier scene with Mace Windu, though visually awkward, was kind of effective emotionally. At this point in the movie, so many things are happening that you are just kind of pissed off when fights aren't happening and kind of passively excited when fights are happening. Its a good, numbing effect.
The end was a let down. I mean, Anakin + lava bath = kind of a cool idea, but in execution, like the rest of the movie it was bad looking and un-involving. It was bold at least. But the real end, with Luke's "aunt and uncle" on Tatooine is boring, plain looking, and a bland bland way to end it. 3/10