Monday, May 30, 2005

The Revenge of the Sat-through

Well, I went to see Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. Hoo boy.

I’m not going to go into a long review of it. Those of you who have seen it know what happens, and those of you who haven’t seen it and don’t know — or want to know — what happens, well, I’ll warn you if there’s a potential spoiler in my points. Actually, unless you haven’t seen the first Star Wars from 1977, you know what happens. I just have have some points that struck me while I was watching it.

  • I feel sorry for Hayden Christensen. I think he’s a pretty decent actor; I caught him in a snippet of Shattered Glass on HBO and what I saw wasn’t half bad, and he is certainly not hard on the eyes, but good grief, he phoned this one in.
  • Based on the dialogue he was handed, however, I’m not surprised. George Lucas is a good director and producer, and he’s given us some great movies in the past like American Graffiti and Raiders of the Lost Ark. But he sure should staff out the dialogue to someone who knows how to write it — or at least when he’s directing it, have someone punch it up. He’s shown he can do it; the first Star Wars lines were snappy, funny, and moved like lightning. This one’s script is wooden, overbearing, and melodramatic with a punch like a popcorn fart. In an action/adventure film the dialogue needs to move as fast as the battles, and every time they went to a scene between less than three people, I could have sent out for pizza between the the meaningful looks and lidded eyes.
  • Jimmy Smits is the only Latino in the cast. Is it just a coincidence that his sky speeder looks like a low-rider?
  • Maybe the biggest problem with this film is that there are so many special effects — over 2,200 — that it’s hard for human actors to act and react to a green screen or a computer simulation. They said Fred Astaire could dance with a hat rack and make it look like the hat rack was alive. The problem with this film is that no one in it can dance like Fred Astaire.
  • Spoiler: I can’t imagine what possessed Anakin Skywalker to go over to the Dark Side for the sake of Padme’s life. Natalie Portman is given the thankless role of playing a whiney helpless wife who spends most of the film saying, “Oh, I was so worried about you!” In many respects she’s stuck in a part that rivals some of the helpless females of the old serials like Flash Gordon or Juliet in Romeo and Juliet; helpless and exceedingly annoying. You know from the very beginning of the film that she’s doomed because that’s what Anakin is determined not to let happen — how else could he become Darth Vader without sacrificing himself for her? It’s a crappy role being the love interest in an action/adventure flick, but Padme could have done it with the flash and grit that her daughter has nineteen years later.
  • Mystery Science Theatre 3000 moments:

    When the screen showed “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” I said, “Oh, we’ve seen this one.”

    When Anakin came to Padme early in the film, she had her hair done up in the bun-rolls. Anakin said, “I have good news,” and Bob said, “Your hairdresser is dead.” (Only later did I think of “I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance by switching to Geico.”)

    At the end, when the credits rolled, after I said, “Finally!” I turned to Bob and said, “What happens next?”

  • My biggest problem is that it just wasn’t fun. This whole thing has become Wagnerian in both length, heaviness, and melodrama. The first one (1977) was fun, frivolous, and didn’t mind poking fun at itself. The second one was darker, but it still moved along. The third one was okay (but I’m still pissed about the Ewoks), and if they had left it there I think we could have said, hey, that was fun. But no — they had to go back and strip out the udder.

    Go see it if you want — it’s not as bad as the worst reviews, and it’s not as good as the glowing ones. It’s a decent way to kill a couple of hours if there isn’t a West Wing marathon on Bravo.

    Oh, they had a trailer for the upcoming The Chronicles of Narnia. All I can say is they’d better handle that one with kid gloves. You don’t mess with C.S. Lewis.