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Epth is a state of mind, not a place. Reading this will give you a virtual drivers license in that state, but you'll still need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. And you can't get any there anyway, so stop asking.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

It's No Accident Anakin Rhymes with Manequin

Just kidding, I always wanted to write that. He's a little wooden, but after watching Keanu Reeves try to single-handedly strangle any drama from The Matrix Revolutions, Heyden Christiansen looked like fricking Kenneth Branaugh.

Against my better judgement I am going to review Revenge of the Sith now. It is againt my better judgement because everyone has now seen this movie at least once* since it came out 2 weeks ago, and they all have their own opinions on it. Many of these people also happen to have blogs or other blog-like outlets in which to publish their opinions, and virtually all of them have done so. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I claim that this is the 1,000,000th review if the film. I also don't think I could possibly write anything that hasn't already been written with more skill and care than I could ever hope to have, so I'm going to be more terse than verbose. I hate being unoriginal more than just about anything. It's this belief I have about myself, that I am uniquely gifted and talented, and I'm just waiting for someone to discover that. I suppose everyone believes that about themselves.

First let me make clear that Revenge of the Sith is a good movie, not a bad one like Episode 1 or a so-so one like Episode II. In fact, it's so good and thoughtful that it actually improves the first two movies by shedding new light on all the tedius coversations in them. Not that I want to go back and watch them again (shudder), but it does seem that the oft-sidetracked narrative was actually leading somewhere after all. That's good. The narrative in ROTS is tight and moving constantly forward even through all the numerous potentially sidetracking battle scenes. This movie is tight in a way that the first two just weren't, and that goes a long way towards explaining why people like it so much. George Lucas rediscovered how to make a Star Wars movie.

ROTS looks fantastic and realistic, with fully-realized CGI worlds glowing in the background of every shot. It also has great action scenes that aren't so over-cut you don't know what's going on. The characters still speak the trademark horrible dialogue, but would it really be a Star Wars movie if that changed? It's almost part of the charm at this point. The costumes are great, the story is well-paced, and everything moves toward a conclusion we already know in a way that we fully expect (and is kind of cool as we realize all that happens later. This movie actually manages to make the first Trilogy better too, or at least gives it a new subtext not fully felt in 1977-1984), which is kind of tedius but still makes one think.

Having given that disclaimer, I will explain the big problem I had with this movie, and why it ultimately fails. Put it this way: the movie (and this Trilogy, if you want to get right down to it) is all about the transformation of brash young Jedi Anakin Skywalker into Dark Lord Darth Vader. It is critical that the transformation make sense and be believable, because that's where the emotional energy in the film is being spent. Virtually every scene and every conversation in ROTS relates to Anakin's thoughts and feelings in some way. The Chancellor wants him to join the Dark Side, the Jedi worry about him and want him to stay good. His transformation is the movie.

Unfortunately, the transformation was not believable or even understandable, at least to me. Without getting into too much detail, Anakin has the choice between: Good, where his wife might die as seen in his vision, but where there are no lies, where he will someday be the greatest Jedi of all time, and where his friends and mentors will support him; or Evil, where a deceptive bastard tells him he might be able to get power to save his wife's life if he pledges to hunt down and kill everything he holds dear. Hmm...what to choose, what to choose. That Anakin chose wrong tells you he was either a whiny jackass to begin with or dumb as a stone. Neither option fits with the rest of the Trilogy, so we're forced to believe in a transformation that would never happen. Suspending disbelief is something we all do in movies, but we shouldn't be expected to do it with the main part of the story.

And don't give me this crap about the transformation being gradual and over three movies -- 15 movie minutes after pulling a light saber on the Chancellor and telling the Jedi that he's the Sith Lord they've been looking for, he's invading that same Jedi temple and massacring fricking little innocent kids that look up to him, and this just because the Chancellor says so. What happens to get the film from the Chancellor's arrest to the massacre is supposed to be Anakin making his Final Choice, and he does so very suddenly and without warning. One minute he's pleading with Samuel Jackson to spare Pure Evil's life (so he can possibly save his wife), the next minute he's letting the Pure Evil tell him to kill all his friends. Do you see my point? If there was some sort of mind control or One Ring-like hold on Anakin, it would make sense. But here it just seems like he's taking an instant backflip into a murderous psychopath's life for no reason other than bad judgment. Were those Bad Idea Jeans underneath his Jedi robe? Because that would explain it.

In the end, it was a good movie that failed. Now I'm going to post this before the thunderstorm outside my apartment wipes it out. I'll finish with a little game of "Did You Notice?"
Did You Notice:
The Tarzan Cry heard from a Wookie as he's swinging?
The callbacks to both the "Star Wars" theme and the "March of the Stormtroopers" theme from the original Star Wars during pertinent conversations?
Hell as conceived by George Lucas?
All the new creatures with stupid names whose action figures will be on the shelf long after the Anakins and Obi-Wans and Emperors and R2D2s have sold out?
To my high school friends, the "Beastriding"?

* except my wife, but then again she's never seen Star Wars. Or any of the other films. Or Caddyshack. Yes, she speaks English.

2 Comments:

  • At 12:23 AM, Blogger a_drew said…

    Yes, i did notice the tarzan wookie. And my head was shookie to the wookie. I also did notice George Lucas' portrayal of hell. Very VERY unoriginal. You crack me up Mike. I am proud to call you my ankle.

    Sorry, my left pointer finger doesn't work, and tell ant Jill to watch Caddyshack. Russ and Doug's laughter regarded towards the edited version was enough to make me want to keep watching it.

     
  • At 8:52 PM, Blogger Mike Pape said…

    It's so nice to have you comment on my blog, Andrew. But stop calling me your ankle, people might get confused.

    Jill asks (about your finger), "Did a girl bite it?" I'm sorry she remembered that.

     

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