Sunday, May 22, 2005

Star Wars ... with some small spoilers

Steve and I went to see Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith at the opening night midnight showing. We've seen all of the new Star Wars movies at midnight, along with the Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and X-Men movies. If you've never gone to a midnight showing of a big fan-based movie like one of these, you are missing out. People dress up in costume. The theatre is full of people who have probably been waiting for the movie for years. Cell phones never ring. No screaming babies. People cheer when the picture flips on and when the opening title is shown. It's a lot of fun.

But anyway -- about the movie.

I was disappointed.

Anybody who has seen all five other Star Wars movies knows going in what this one will be about, so it wasn't that. I loved Titanic and The Perfect Storm knowing exactly what was going to happen. I knew that Anakin would betray everyone, that he would go to the Dark Side. In fact, I was looking forward to the making of Darth Vader.

But man, it was so cheesy and melodramatic. All of the Star Wars movies have been cheesy in small ways, but this one was all the way through. And it's weird to see this cheesiness and melodrama juxtaposed against such serious, adult subject matter. On one hand, everyone is dying, children are being murdered, the issue of a peaceful government being turned into a dictatorship is being played out on screen, yet everyone is being completely flip about the whole thing.

Anakin waffles back and forth so much that I felt like he was a bouncing ball Obi-Wan and Palpatine were throwing back and forth. If he was talking to Obi-Wan, then he was with him. But the minute Palpatine talks to him, then he's with him and Obi-Wan and Mace Windu are just "the man" trying to keep him down. And yeah, he's lustful for power, but any sane person could see that the things he wanted were unreasonable under the circumstances. Palpatine puts him on the Jedi Council, demanding that they break the tradition of voting for their own members, and then when they won't make him a master Jedi, he gets mad a them for changing tradition. Hello -- they didn't start it, why should they bend to it?

And why, when Anakin is so lustful for power that he turns on his lifelong friend and the woman he loves, would he so completely, knowingly subjugate himself to Palpatine. He's just hired muscle in the end. I wish it had been explained better.

Continuity errors bug me too. General Grievous is a cyborg general for the droid army. I know he has a human heart, but he doesn't have human lungs, so why is he coughing through the whole movie? And why, when a Jedi is hanging from a wall over a cliff, does he suddenly forget that he has telekinetic powers? And why, when Jedi can sense danger, don't ANY of them sense the attack, a galactic plan, coming and protect themselves?

And worse, everything is a path to the Dark Side according to this movie. "Fear of loss is a path to the Dark Side." "Attachment is a path to the Dark Side." Anakin goes down because he falls in love and he's afraid to lose her. Love leads to murder and dictatorship, how encouraging.

And it's painful to see these actors deliver such awful lines. Padme actually says to Anakin, "You're breaking my heart." Who says stuff like that? I know they're young, but they're not in junior high anymore. And Obi-Wan, when they get caught in a droid ship, "How does this keep happening? We're smarter than this." And Anakin later on, "What have I done?!" Which lasts about five seconds before he's killing again.

I love the ships they create for the movies. I loved Mace Windu's parts. I love the costumes and the settings they create. I still love Star Wars because it's such a huge epic story, because it's nostalgia, because it's one of the more interesting things that's come out of Hollywood in the last few years. But why oh why couldn't Lucas have somebody help him write the damn thing? I know he wants to maintain control, but he royally sucks as a writer. He's great with ideas, and really, really bad with words. It just ruined the whole thing for me.

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