Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Surely, you can't be sidious!

I AM sidious, and don't call me Shirley!

Okay, now that that's out of the way, I can proceed with my review of "Star Wars III: Revenge of the Shit." Oh. Did I give away my feelings already?

Actually, I agree with most of the critiques I've read. This one is the best of the prequels (which of course is not saying a whole helluva lot). The marriage of CGI and live action is practically seamless. That said, does anyone else think that CGI just isn't good enough yet? I still think that "Blade Runner" (to which Lucas does a nice "fire plumes over the city" homage in SWIII) and the dragon in "Dragonslayer" beat any CGI creations hands down. Models for some reason just seem to have more depth. But that may just be me -- "Back in my day, they didn't have any fancy digital sampling ProTools whatsits! There was just a guitar, a bass, some drums and a microphone, with Pete Townsend, John Entwistle, Keith Moon and Roger Daltrey. Beat THAT you button-poking tweak-monkeys!"

But I digress. The film is the best looking of the lot and moves briskly (thank Christ). For some reason, technology now seems to have allowed Lucas to stage light saber duels at close range (with just the top half of the actors filling the screen, rather than the less effective full body shots of the past) which, when combined with Lucas' always astounding sound design, creates a far more inclusive experience for the viewer. However, Lucas still has a shocking disregard for little things like dialogue and getting good performances from actors. I haven't seen Hayden Christensen or Natalie Portman in anything else (Christensen was supposed to be pretty good in "Shattered Glass," and Portman decent in "Closer") but from what I've seen in the SW prequels, neither actor will make anyone forget Olivier or Streep anytime soon. Not that they've much to work with; the dialogue they're given to symbolize their love amounts to "I love you." "I love you more." "No, I love YOU more." If you haven't seen the movie yet, take that opportunity for a pee break...the film is over 2.5 hours long, and you don't want to miss the last third, which is a pip. The rest of the cast fares better. Mostly. Ewan McGregor manages not to embarrass himself, even though the fact that his hair was always perfect even after plunging off cliffs and engaging in hand-to-hand combat over molten lava flows bothered the SHIT out of me -- what, is perfect hair some kind of side benefit of the Force? Ian McDiarmid also has some great moments as Darth Sidious. However, he degenerates into such gleeful cackling towards the end that, if he'd had a mustache, he'd have been twirling the sucker. Again, George, are you actually WATCHING what your actors are doing, or are you only paying attention to whether or not they've hit their marks so that the CGI compositions look right?

In short, I can recommend the flick (it MUST be seen on a big screen with big sound) but wait 'til the matinee. If you're lucky, you can do what I did and show up on Free Popcorn Day, which was Tuesday. I guess the Force was with me!

PS -- If you want your villain to have serious dramatic heft, DON'T have him star in Burger King commercials.

PPS -- Does anyone else think that -- in the commercial where Darth Vader comes face-to-face with the new life-size plastic Burger King spokes-golem -- the BK guy is WAAAAAAAY more scary than Darth Vader?


Anonymous said...

Are you IN-sidious? Are you IN-genuis?....
I haven't seen the movie yet (it'll be out on DVD before it comes to Podunk USA), but that Burger King dude is WAY scarier than the Dark side! Or maybe he's just more deeply versed in the Dark Arts of cholesterol and sodium (Darth Sodium). --Tavia

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything in your review.My brother,(noted Star Wars aficionado),thinks they should just skipped the first movie altogether,(I don't think I disagree with him either).
Question:If Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, & Carrie Fisher,(none of whom are known for great acting chops)can make George Lucas's dialogue work in the "original" three,why can't Natlie Portman,(who is supposed to be a "better" actor) ? Or has George Lucas just gotten worse at writing ?
ALSO:as the summer movie season continues:will there be more gardening tie-ins ? You could have a Batmam theme,or maybe even a Spielberg/War Of The Worlds. Think it over...

Old Guy from Illinois

Andrew said...

One must recall that Lucas did not write the screenplays for "The Empire Strikes Back" or "Return of the Jedi" himself. Lawrence Kasdan is the co-writer on both those films, and Kasdan's attention to minor aspects such as memorable dialogue (meaning memorable for the RIGHT reasons) attention to character and just plain good humor show through. That makes the actors look a lot better.

I agree with your bro..."Phantom Menace" and "Attack of the Clones" probably could have been condensed into one film. But would it have been better? Only if another writer handled the love story stuff. Plus then there's no trilogy. Folks seem to be obsessed with trilogies. I'm probably in the minority that the Lord of the Rings films (as good as they are) might have been better as two movies. But it's not Peter Jackson's fault that Tolkien repeated himself a lot (Helm's Deep AND Minas Tirith?) At least with the LOTR flicks, you don't feel as if you've wasted your time watching them.

Anonymous said...

Ah,yes. I had overlooked that there was some actual help on the scripts for "Empire" & "Jedi",(which could mean we can't completely blame Lucas for the Ewoks either--cuddley & cute my ass !).
And to paraphrase Jerry Seinfield, "What's the deal with trilogies ? " It does seem like most fantasy/sci fi "epics" feel it has to be a trilogy,probably due to Tolkien,(even though,in a way the Hobbit is part of the story as well.Not to mention the unsung classic,"Bored of the Rings"). Why not just tell the story & see where it goes ? Maybe the Matrix would have been better if it wasn't a trilogy,(well,maybe not).
To be honest,I always thought "Jedi" should have been (2) films.

The Old Guy Strikes Back or
Return of the Geek