Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Order #66

Perhaps it’s my failing as a writer or perhaps it’s my personal, unconscious homage to George Lucas’s storytelling ability, but I find it difficult to write an organized and coherent review of Revenge of The Sith or the Star Wars prequels as a whole. What follows, rather, is simply a list of thoughts now that the (cough) saga is over.

It should be obvious, but SPOILERS do follow:

- I will preface the following statement by pointing out that - compared to Jedi, Sith, superheroes, ninja, or even the Thundercats - I live a pretty mundane life. I have few overt antagonists and rarely feel the need for vengeance. Revenge is a concept I understand, but have never felt the need to adopt. Regardless, should I ever feel the need for revenge and take steps towards that end; and the result is that I end up legless, armless, and on fire; I do not think the author of the movie of my life will feel I succeeded enough to warrant the title Revenge of The Mick. Apparently, George Lucas feels differently. Order #66...HOOOOO!!!!!!!

- Of the three prequels, I think Attack of The Clones was the best, simply because it was the most fun. It was still crap, but there are some fun parts. Of all the various well-choreographed lightsaber battles - and there are more in Sith than any of the Star Wars films - my favorite one-on-one battle scene remains the fight between Obi-Wan and Jango Fett in Clones, and for similar reasons my favorite lightsaber duel remains Vader Vs. Luke in Empire. Both battles were desperate and furious: far from the smooth dance-move duels of Phantom Menace and Sith.

- As ridiculous as Yoda’s Dragonball-Z battle with Dooku was, at least it was funny. And unlike many of the scenes in Sith that were met with thunderous audience laughter (in the theater I was in at least - Windu vs. Palpatine, Vader’s final stupid “NOOOO!!!!!”), there was at least a small chance that Lucas might have actually MEANT for the Yoda/Dooku battle to be a little funny.

- I understand that Dooku’s Sith name was supposed to be “Darth Tyrannus.” Maybe I’m a silly bastard, but I think it would’ve been a good idea to make this name more well-known than “Dooku.” It’s difficult to take a villain seriously when his name sounds like something toddlers would call what dogs leave behind.

- Who was the main character of the Episode I-III? I mean, sure, there were lots of prominent heroes in Episode IV-VI, but Luke is obviously the main character.

The Prequels seem to suffer from a type of Identity Crisis, particularly The Phantom Menace. Despite the fact that the drama of the prequels revolves around the fall of Annakin Skywalker, Qui-Gonn is the closest thing to a leading character in the first film, and of course he gets skewered. Regrettably, I feel his character was the most interesting of all the leading roles in the prequels, and Niesen was one of the few actors who managed to give a wonderful performance despite the dreck he was given to work with.

- Along with the fall of the Republic, the fall of the Jedi, the fall of Annakin Skywalker, the first and only battle between Yoda and Darth Sidious, Revenge of The Sith gives Star Wars fans one more landmark event of the saga. In the beginning of the film, Annakin and Obi-Wan pilot a damaged droid ship back into Coruscant’s atmosphere. Of ALL the Star Wars films, this was the first time a ship entering the atmosphere of a planet actually experienced what a ship WOULD experience when entering the atmosphere of a planet. Order #66...HOOO!!!!!

- Sith also marks the first time George Lucas apparently realized that if a ship is blown up and a person is in the blowed-up ship, that after the blow-up, the person might actually end up OUTSIDE the ship.

- Chewebacca and the Wookies in Sith. Yeah. That really added a lot, George. All two minutes of it. You spent more time with the fucking Ewoks.

- One of the saddest things about Star Wars is the narrow scope, considering the content. I mean, this is supposed to be this vast galaxy with countless worlds, cultures, etc. In spite of this, no one seems to be able to get the fuck away from fucking Tattooine. Of all the films, Empire is the ONLY one where Tattooine doesn’t eventually show up.

- I’m not a real stickler for scientific accuracy, but there is one thing that continues to bother me. People like Qui-Gonn, Annakin, Obi-Wan, etc. seem to manage to sneak in and out of high-tech bases and such all the time. Now I understand they’re all ninja-esque, but considering the people in this fantasy galaxy manage to create robots so advanced that they can act completely independent of their creators and/or owners, they have laser swords, laser pistols, laser rifles, star ships, etc., don’t you think SOMEONE might have come up with a fucking motion sensor? Half the sinks in the rest stops on the New York State Thruway are apparently more technologically advanced than the fucking Empire.

- Much has already been said about the CGI of the prequels, both good and bad. I think my feelings can be summed up in comparing two different shots from the first Revenge of The Sith teaser.

The first Sith teaser trailer featured shots from most, if not all, of the previous films. One shot from A New Hope had Luke Skywalker staring out at the twin suns of Tattooine. Another was from Attack of The Clones: Annakin sped through the Tattooine desert with the twin suns setting behind him.

The difference between these two shots? You look at the first shot, from A New Hope and think “there’s a guy looking at two suns.” You look at the second shot and think, “there’s an asshole in front of blue screen.”

- Did anyone else notice, in the shots of Annakin trying to claw away from the river of lava, how much it looked like shots from another recent conclusion to a trilogy?

-Apparently, Sith lightning makes you look very old. It didn't work on Annakin, Luke, or Yoda, but apparently Sith lightning makes you look very old, kind of like how borrowing magneto powers to kill New York City gives you skunk hair. Lucas's knowledge of science dwarfs my own.

- Droids can learn the ways of the Force, huh? This thing ain’t as exclusive as we were lead to believe, is it?

And how does the ability to use a lightsaber equate being able to wield The Force?

If you’ll allow me to make a painful confession...I have NO knowledge of how to tap into or control The Force. I know, I know. Not enough Church.

Regardless of this, or the fact that I’ve never meditated and I have, in fact, had sex, I bet if you gave me a weapon capable of severing limbs and instantly cauterizing the resulting stumps, I could kick some serious ass without ever taking any Force 101 classes.

- According to the terrible ramifications of the implementation of Order #66, the secret to defeating the psychic, nigh-unstoppable Jedi is to shoot at them when they don’t know you’re going to shoot at them. Considering the complexity of this strategy, it’s easy to see how these supermen kept peace in the galaxy for so long.

- While I don't agree that Sith was the best of the prequels, I think there was something that threatened to make it worth the price of a tub of popcorn, and it's something that Lucas apparently forgot in the other films.

Despite the fact that the prequels are supposed to chronicle, first and foremost, the descent of Annakin Skywalker and his transformation into Darth Vader, Sith is the first time Annakin experiences ANY kind of moral conflict. In Clones, the conflict revolves around his responsibility vs. his desires, but it rarely focuses on morality. He wants to get nasty with Padme, but he's not supposed to. He wants to leave Naboo to save his mother but he's not supposed to. Yes, he regrets his slaughter of the Sand People, but he never confesses to anyone other than Padme (and apparently Palpatine), and there are never any consequences (at least in regards to his standing with the Jedi). He certainly doesn't seem to be suffering from the act after the brief scene when Padme comforts him in Clones.

Sith is the first time Annakin questions the morality of what he does, and for this conflict to carry significant weight, it should've started much sooner. I'd say it should've started with Phantom Menace. Sure, he was only a kid and to have him experiencing any kind of moral dilemmas would mean a radical changing of the story for the first film, but is there ANYONE who doesn't think such a radical change could've made Menace worse than it already was?

- “You don’t want to sell me death sticks.”

“I don’t want to sell you death sticks.”

“You want to go home and rethink your life.”

“I want to go home and rethink my life.”

These lines were both the beginning and the end of anything good in the Star Wars prequels.

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