The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Star Wars, Nothing But Star Wars

I can most easily sum up my reactions to Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith by saying that it was pretty bad, but I loved it anyway. Don't get me wrong: the things Lucas does well, he does very, very well. The visuals are unparalleled in my experience. The pacing is good, much better than Episodes I and II, and I didn't start to zone out during the extended action sequences as I did during every single viewing of The Two Towers and The Return of the King. There are a lot of very funny moments consisting of little things going on in the background - a droid in an unexpected place, a minor character wearing an unexpected expression - that enliven the film, and the actors do as good a job with the dialogue they're given as could possibly be expected. As for the dialogue itself...well, since I've only seen the film once, I don't remember most of the lines that made me want to gag, so I can afford to be generous and not talk about it. *g* Let's just say that "bad" is probably generous; I'm thinking Kingdom of Heaven would sound like a masterpiece by comparison.

I couldn't get into this film emotionally, even during what should have been really emotional moments like the realization that Anakin was about to slaughter a roomful of children, and seeing the aftermath; neither Hayden nor Ewan seemed completely to believe in the things their characters were saying and doing, and I really thought Obi-Wan needed a moment of pure unguarded anguish; "You were my brother! I loved you!" doesn't cover the sense of betrayal he had to be feeling, even if a Jedi feels not anger. I think it's a problem for the filmmaker that we're supposed to like and identify with the characters who aren't overtly expressing their emotions, and we're supposed to root against the ones who are. It's so easy to get just as pissed off at Windu as Anakin does, and even though I kept wanting to smack Padme and say, "You're a Senator -- you were a Queen -- stop sitting at home sniveling and get out there and DO something," it's even easier to relate to her concerns and her misguided passions than to the super-calm Jedi. I mean, how in-denial does Obi-Wan have to be not to have realized that Anakin and Padme were involved? Given that the Jedi can feel one another's frustrations with a mere glance and announce that their anger betrays them, and given that Obi-Wan told Anakin that his feelings for Padme betrayed him in Attack of the Clones, he surely must have gotten some clue. In general he seems quite ineffectual in this storyline, not warning Windu and the others strongly enough when he should and not sticking up for Anakin when he could still be exerting influence over him, and without a script in front of me I'm not sure how much of that is bad writing versus how much is my perception from Ewan's flat, resigned expressions.

Visually there are a hundred details I love: the dinosaur-dragon creature Obi-Wan flies on, the ship-eating bug droids, the evolving stormtrooper uniforms, the four-armed battle with General Grievous (though his voice was total cliche), the little scurrying droids on the Emperor's ship, all the shots of Anakin and Padme that are direct reflections of shots of Luke and Leia, the entire Building Darth Vader sequence, the guy who looks exactly like General Tarkin at the end...I am forgetting most of them now but I had lots of little happy moments just from images and from the use of themes in the score from Episodes IV-VI. And I loved the Wookies, though I felt like their role in the story could have been played by some other species -- not sure why it was them specifically. In fact I feel like maybe I missed something somewhere, because I am sure Obi-Wan calls Chewbacca by name, but there was no indication whatsoever in the "later" films that they had met before, was there? Is that discussed in the books? And I have bigger issues if I think too hard, like the fact that I sort of nod in agreement with Sidious when he says the Jedi have too much unchecked power -- I am very unclear who they answer to on the Senate, though obviously Bail Organa is friendly with a number of them (if "friendly" is the word, since attachments a Jedi must form not or whatever). Can someone explain that to me? Oh, side note: if I cannot have Jimmy Smits as my president I will settle for having him as my king or prince or whatever his title is on Alderaan.

My favorite moment in the entire film is a scene that isn't there (because Liam Neeson, as I understand it, said he would never act for Lucas again under any circumstances): Yoda tells Obi-Wan that he won't be alone while he's watching over young Luke because an old friend has learned to communicate from the other side of death. To quote gblvr, who along with perkypaduan was my viewing companion (and I got to talk to wyoming_knott on her cell phone, squee), now all those blueghost!Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan fics have been made canon! What's funny is that I was not particularly a Q/O fan when I first saw TPM, which I just thought was too terrible a movie for me to believe in the characters; I elbowed my husband during the slashy moments and otherwise didn't think much about them except when someone I knew wrote a particularly fine piece of fic. But this week I made the mistake of watching a couple of TPM songvids, and I was really feeling the Q/O love. (Note: someone needs to make a SW vid to Marina Belica's "Always a Place" but it probably should not be until ROTS is out on DVD, since there are a couple of moments in this one where Anakin looks so much like Luke and Padme looks so much like Leia that there need to be dissolves from this footage). I am kicking around bunnies about Jedi and attachments and trying to kick them away since I am so late to the party.

This is all babble, I just wanted to get it down while I had a moment...I still get chills when the opening theme music comes up and the background story starts scrolling across the screen, and there are so many little visual clues that hearken back to my childhood that I think makes my affection for this franchise un-killable no matter what sort of nonsense goes on within it. I thought Return of the Jedi was a pretty mediocre movie, though I forgave it because it did all the things I wanted it to do (had Vader turn good, got Han and Leia together, etc.), and I feel that way about this one. It's no masterpiece, but it bridges all the Star Wars with which I'm familiar and has enough fun things to make it worth watching more than once. Which is good, since I'm seeing it again with the kids on Sunday. *g*

My fun article for TrekToday this afternoon was on Star Wars vs. Star Trek, and there are some amusing quotes there, like Wil Wheaton declaring that both franchises pretty much suck these days. Oh, and my other article was UPN's fall schedule -- I am no longer sorry that The West Wing is moving to Sundays, because Veronica Mars is moving to Wednesdays at 9, meaning that pretty much every network show I watched this season has been bounced around. Probably they'll all be cancelled by next season, too, so I had better get into some new shows if I want to keep watching network TV. Do we think Lucas' planned Star Wars live action series will be any good?

ETA, from apaulled: First, "Final 'Star Wars' film leaked to the Internet, followed immediately by "Wonder if this is where they're stealing it ;)"
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