Trust the Gene Genie

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Well, I saw it. Here's what I thought.

I guess a little like Luke redeems his father at the end of "Return of the Jedi," George Lucas' last "Star Wars" lovechild "Revenge of the Sith" redeems him from the past two mistakes he made, "Phantom Menace" and "Attack of the Clones."

The film is far from perfect. Dialogue is still woody, plot holes (believe it or not) abound and Jar Jar still shows up (although, this time he has no lines -- Lucas must be learning something). But the action is satisfying, the effects are breathtaking and the movie leaves you feeling like maybe Lucas does care about "Star Wars" afterall.

The final showdown between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker was wonderful -- all except for the very end, but more on that later. For the first time, Lucas makes you feel like Obi-Wan really may be the powerful Jedi we see in the original trilogy. Anakin shows how anger, rage and jealously can truly eat you away from the inside out.

Yoda was wonderfully realized, 'though I always felt like I was watching a CGI character -- I think Gollum is still the gold-standard. But I enjoyed little CGI Yoda on screen so much that I didn't care. When he spoke of going to lead clone armies to battle on the Wookie home planet because he had a special relationship with the wookies, I believed it. The scene with his final battle with the Emperor were some of my favorite from the film. However, those two items also led to some of the films -- and I think overall -- some the of series biggest flaws.

As I see it, the lingering problem with Lucas's prequals is the characters and their development. The final scene between Padme and Anakin for example has Padme proclaiming that she doesn't know Anakin anymore, that's he's completely changed. Unfortunately for us, he still seems like the same old Anakin, only this time he's wearing a black cloak, not a brown one. And that leads to what I thought was the biggest problem of all: Anakin's embrace of the dark side. I thought the motivation was there, doing it to try and remove what he percieved as a threat to Padme's life. But to make it believable, at least for me, spend some time on it. One minute he's chopping off Mace Windu's hand, the next he's swearing his undying aligience to the Emperor. I think you can connect those dots, but take the time to do it to make it believable.

Then there's all the gaps in the story's narrative logic. Obi-Wan telling Anakin the fights over because he, Obi-Wan, has the high ground. What was that all about and why didn't Darth Sidious use that argument on Yoda when they were having their final showdown in the Senate chamber (I still loved that fight scene). And Yoda threw in the towel pretty quickly, too, didn't he? And why put Chewbacca in the movie. Are we really supposed to believe that after becoming a revered warrior on his home world he spends his twilight years playing second fiddle to Han? I think it also would have made more sense to have the Jedi actually hunted down and destroyed -- maybe over the course of a couple decades -- than to have them all offed when some Clone trooper gets Code 66. I mean, they're Jedis. I would argue it's not good movie making to throw events into a film to keep it moving when they have no internal logic with the storyline.

And I know all this sounds like fanboy nitpicking, but even a casual veiwing of the six films will readily reveal the flaws. So I'll bore you only with one last harp: the time element. In the Star Wars universe, 20 years transpire from the end of "Sith" to the beginning of "Hope." Ewan McGreggor, who plays Obi-Wan in "Sith" looks more than 20 years younger than "A New Hope's" Alec Guiness. Alec Guiness, in speaking to Luke in "Hope" makes it sounds as though the Empire has ruled the universe for at least a couple of generations, not for a couple of decades. Not to mention Obi-Wan's line, "Obi-Wan, now that's a name I've heard since before you were born." Not anymore. All of this kind of took away from the movie.

So, greatfully, we'll always have "Star Wars: Clone Wars." We'll always have the original trilogy. And when all that is exhausted, I'll pop in "Revenge of the Sith" and dig on all the action.

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