The Jade Monkey

I didn't have a superiority complex until inferior people gave me one.

Name:
Location: San Antonio, Texas, United States

5.21.2005

I've seen it!

It being Star Wars Episode III, of course.

***Minor Spoiler Alert***

My verdict? Not bad. I think I liked Episode II slightly better as a movie though. I suppose RotS really was carried by a story I already cared for more than any virtue of its own (although these were not absent, in my opinion). So, the fact that I did like it having been noted up front, let's examine some of the weaknesses.

The dialogue was almost unanimously awful, but as others have said, there was little enough of it that the action sequences, special effects, and the already-known story pull the dead weight ably enough. Yes, George Lucas' flaming anti-war idiocy was quite apparent (the weak dialogue is probably a symptom of this and may serve instructive as to why Professor Tolkien abhorred allegory), but I was able to ignore it for the most part and just enjoy the ride. I don't really have much desire to speak of it politically, but since that is already the prism so many have latched onto, largely the fault of Lucas' own ignorant words at Cannes, I'll go ahead and make some mention in that vein.

Apart from the script, there were certainly other weaknesses. Everyone (Obi Wan, Anankin, Padme) being annoying, whiny little babies, for one (while we're on the subject of characters, what was with the wheezy, hunchbacked droid General Grievous?). I did get a chuckle out of Obi Wan declaring "Palpatine is EVIL!" only to follow that moments later with "Only the Sith deal in absolutes!" Moral confusion abounds in Lucas' attempt to pound a square reality into a round allegory (right from the opening scroll, with "There are heroes on both sides. Evil is everywhere..."), in what should be (and otherwise is) a simple morality play, and perhaps this is why half of me was rooting for the Sith (see Jonathan V. Last's "The case for the Empire" - I had a supporting argument, not that I necessarily agree with the case as a whole, but I've already forgotten it), just because Lucas wanted me to see them as Evil Bushco (and Padme being a singularly unattractive and unpersuasive model of the opposition). But oddly enough, a fairly strong pro-life message may be inadvertantly gleaned (the troublesome pregnancy of Padme not only is not terminated, but in the end, of course, becomes Darth Vader's salvation in the person of Luke; the end of the Jedi is accomplished in part becasue of eugenics - the clone army; Palpatine's intentionally troublesome assertions that one could in effect be a god, controlling life and death, through the Dark Side). See The Anchoress for another example of "The Force" working in mysterious ways.

Another jarring element, although necessary for time's sake, was the compression of events. Liberty may have died with thunderous applause (one of Natalie Portman's numerous horrible lines), but the Jedi died with barely a whimper. This in part gave the last third of the movie a somewhat disjointed feeling. In another instance, it seemed almost as if Master Windu and friends were already headed to arrest Palpatine when Anakin brought them the revelation that he was the Sith Lord. Anakin's own descent into the Dark Side was not shabbily done, but in parts seemed a bit contrived. The first scene, the rescue of Palpatine and the showdown with Count Dooku, and the last, confronting Padme and Obi Wan, along with some scenes from Episode II really do a good job of chronicling it, but everything excepting the beginnng and end in Episode III is rather unconvincing in this regards.

Overall though, it was a worthy enough completion of the saga, wrapping up the story nicely. Three stars (out of four) for episode three.

Oh, and I can't WAIT for Narnia to come out this Christmas! I may be more excited for it, having seen the preview, than I was even for RotS (which for some reason, didn't have the personal build up as Episodes I and II).

ETA one more minor complaint: Anakin's "burnout" left a bit to be desired, and Obi Wan doesn't even finish him off? Not as revenge against the evil one that betrayed him? Not as a mercy to the one he loved as a brother? Odd.

but for all the quibbles, I forgot to add that BY FAR the most annoying part of the movie was the hyena guy sitting about 10 rows behind us laughing loudly and inappropriately throughout. The appropriate reaction for those moments of (attempted) levity is a quiet chuckle. Or, more likely, a groan.

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