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?