Monday, May 23, 2005

Revenge of the Sith

I saw Revenge of the Sith at the Odeon in Leicester the other day. Best Star Wars Prequel Movie ever! At least that's my opinion so far, I will need to see how it sustains repeat viewings. I thought the Phantom Menace was cool the first time I saw it, before I exposed myself to too much Jar Jar in repeat viewings. I suggest you only view on if you don't mind spoilers or have seen it yourself!

It was a great film but the goodies get their asses handed to them, and it is very sad in places. I was amazed they managed to get through it all as George had left a lot of story to tell in Episode 3.

The Pros:

- Obi-Wan vs Vader/Skywalker - worth the price of admission alone.
- Jedi at war - it was actually cool to see the 3D map table and command centres the Jedi had constructed to fight the Clone Wars.
- The space battle at the start is amazing and somehow the whole rescue Palpatine sequence reminded me of the rescue of Han Solo in Return of the Jedi. Except Palpatine's evil and they'd all be better off if they'd all crashed Grevious's ship and died.
- Lots of lightsabre battles.
- Minimal Jar Jar content. In fact I doubt he got any real lines.
- Yoda put through the wringer in a suspiciously Empire Strikes Back fashion. All he needed to do was lose his little green right hand and it would be very similar.
- Jedi killed off in a really cool Lethal Weapon 2esque montage (remember the bit where the evil South Africans kill all of Rigg's team in various bizarre and bloody ways).
- Much darkness. And cute kids being killed to show this a no-holds barred, dark story. Why on Earth they didn't maintain this tone throughout the trilogy I don't know. It seems crazy to start a trilogy you know is going to end in almost total darkness with a Universal certificate toy commercial, but hey-ho!
- New Planets - Sith doesn't dwell on any of the old locales of the original trilogy, like Tatooine (which we could never seem to leave in Eps 1-2). Coruscant is where all the action happens. Naboo and Tatooine on the other hand are only visited briefly. We visit two new planets, a water world and a lava world (wonder what happens there!). And we see Alderaan for about 5 seconds. Simon Pegg once said in Empire magazine that the problem with the new trilogy was it shrank the universe rather than expanded it. Thankfully Sith expands it a lot, whilst feeling the most like an original trilogy movie.
- Death Star - they avoided the chance for silliness by having this only crop up at the end of the film, and Moff Tarkin was only a small cameo, 0 line part. The guy even looked like a young Peter Cushing.
- Lightsabre fights. Lots of them!
- Christopher Lee - he's a Sith Lord you know? Thanks Palps - he's also a vampire, wizard, ex-musketeer, mad-scientist. I ain't messing with him!
- R2D2 kicks some ass. He even gets a body count, or droid count.
- No politics (except extremist politics), and finally someone used the Republic Senate chamber for something that didn't send me to sleep.


- Bail Organa - A lame characterisation of a potentially interesting character. This represents a crucial misstep in the trilogy. Bail Organa, Leia's adoptive father, is totally underdeveloped in the trilogy. In the 2nd film his appearance was basically a cameo with the understanding that in Episode 3 he would have a larger part. One of my chums stated that his role in RotS is "getaway driver" and that is true. There is no references to the beginning of the Rebellion, which he is supposed to be a crucial member of and now that I think of it there is no real appearance by Mon Mothma (despite her getting an action figure and all, oh well).
- Qui Gon Jinn - Apparently we're meant to be believe Qui Gon gained the ability to cheat death and speak to Yoda. We learn this about 5 minutes before the end of the film because Yoda tells us so. Huh? Again, a misstep. I smell deleted or special edition scenes on the cutting room floor, as the book gives mention of Qui-Gon speaking to Yoda. If Liam Neeson has flown the coop they could've got the fella who did his voice in the Clone Wars since, according to the book Qui Gon can only speak, he can't appear as his body didn't disappear at the end of the Phantom Menace. Qui-Gon was about the only cool thing about the Phantom Menace in my opinion.

- Christopher Lee - not enough of him. He turns up, says a few cool lines and is unceremonially killed off. Grevious on the other hand was a much weaker (and CG) character.
- Grevious - I wasn't that taken with him. He could wield 4 lightsabers at a time but Obi-Wan made short work of him. In the Clone Wars cartoon he took down 3 Jedi at once on 2 occasions. Also his wheezing and coughing didn't exactly make him seem threatening. I also wondered all the way through Clone Wars why, given he was a droid or cyborg that the Jedi didn't force push him around or force grab his lightsabres out of his hands. Obviously they couldn't have Obi-Wan kill Dooku as that'd get in the way of mirroring the Vader-Luke fight in Return of the Jedi with Anakin and Dooku and needed an extra villain.
- Chewbacca - didn't do anything. Extended cameo really, though thankfully the scene with young Han Solo (being raised by Chewie) hit the cutting room floor.
- Padme - her role in this film seemed to be to get pregnant, give birth and die. And give Anakin an excuse to turn to the dark side. Now I'm not fond of overtly strong women (I'm reading the Authority ATM and I don't like Jenny Sparks much) but she had no action in this film at all. Mind you if Lucas had done his job she'd have been preggers by the end of Episode 2 in my book!
- The Exile - To me at least it didn't make much sense that Yoda and Obi-Wan would go into exile for 20 years. They didn't do too badly in fighting the Emperor (at least compared to Luke's effort in Empire Strikes Back) that a repeat try a few months or years later would be worth trying.
Basically it goes Obi-Wan vs Anakin and Yoda vs Emperor. Yoda loses, but isn't killed, while Obi-Wan wins but doesn't kill Anakin. Not bad - if they struck while the iron was hot and Vader was still being built they could gang up on Darth Sidious... after all nowhere is it said that the kids are absolutely crucial.
There should've been a better reason given (other than the fact it needs to segue with A New Hope).
- A few unwrapped up plot-lines - Who ordered the Clones? Well apparently it was Dooku, but you only find this out in one of the books in the Expanded Universe. A little line during the Order 66 sequence with, "I am the one who ordered my apprentice to have you cloned. Now I activate your secret programming" or something would be pretty cool. Also - why do the Sith want revenge on the Jedi? Because they're evvvuulll I guess.. And Jar Jar is still out there, mocking us with his possible appearance on Naboo in Revenge of the Sith.
- Probably the most cheesy bit of the film was when Vader learns of Padme's death. James Earl Jones doesn't do a convincing, "Nooooooooo..."

I'd heard rumours that Anakin's fall was really dumb. Some of it did smack of, "I must become Darth Vader in spite of all your good advice because the script requires me to", but not on the same level as the Padme-Anakin romance in Clones.

On the other hand it does smack a lot of, "Betray my life long family? Turn on everything I believe. Sure why not!" but it made the events regarding Anakin's mother in Attack of the Clones make sense - Anakin's desire to keep Padme safe drove him over the edge and into Palpatine's camp.

Mind you Annie was a little dense to note that Chancellor Palps, the chap who cares about the plight of his missus, was all too eager to leave Obi-Wan Kenobi behind on the Separatist ship at the start, and that if he thought about it the Sith were behind the whole attack on Padme in Episode 1. By the end of the film Vader is in the presence of Palpatine when he orders the Trade Federation droid armies disbanded as they are no longer needed. He even effectively admits to Skywalker that he killed his master, Darth Palegius. Is this the kind of guy you'd trust to keep your chick alive? Really gents?

The montage of Anakin waiting in the Jedi Council while Windu deals with Palpatine is pretty cool. However I got the impression he wasn't totally irredeemable until after he killed Padme. Despite killing the Yonglings. Mind you after the cutesy bit in Ep2 who can blame him?

To be honest part of the tragedy in this film is that the whole turning of Anakin to the dark side could've been avoided if certain characters had said the right things at the right time. If the Jedi had respected Anakin a little more and let him in on their plans and suspicions in full instead of acting as they did. Or if Obi-Wan had made it a little clear he had duped Padme into helping him at the end of the film.

Anakin had Obi-Wan as his buddy, while Luke had Han, who was not some distant and unemotional cripple. Don't get me wrong - Obi-Wan is the most badass Jedi in all 6 movies, but despite his name "The Negotiator" (and where did that come from?) he can't teach the Jedi for shit. Same with Yoda. At one point in the film a conversation is as follows:-

Anakin: Master Yoda - I'm worried about er... someone. I've been having dreams they will die.
Yoda: Are you close to this someone?
Anakin: Er... maybe.
Yoda: Fear of losing someone close to you leads to the darkside... let go of that fear.
Anakin: Gee thanks.

So basically Yoda is saying if you are worried your spouse/brother/best-friend/barber is going to be chainsawed to death don't worry about it. At least that's how it sounded - perhaps Yoda could've instructed Anakin a little more constructively, "Don't let the future spoil the present" or summik. I dunno - he's the wise one.

There's also a few missteps in the story. For instance Obi-Wan and Yoda are sneaking (I use the word generously) into the Jedi Temple in Coruscant and in the meantime Palpatine declares himself Emperor (despite the fact the war against the Separatists is over). Next we flip back to the Jedi Temple where Obi-Wan is referring to Palpatine as Emperor. How on Coruscant did they learn that he was being crowned? Were they chatting to Bail the Get-Away-Driver?

I note they've left it open for the TV show to follow the adventures of more Jedi post-Sith as it is made deliberately ambigious if any more Jedi escaped the massacres of the Clone Wars. Rumours say Bail Organa could feature, possibly even with some characterisation. I personally hope it doesn't turn into a huge epic where tons of Jedi escaped. I doubt we'll see Ewan McGregor cameoing (I expect he's probably glad all 3 films are over now), but Yoda could conceivably feature in a bridge-gap series as he's a CG character and the film didn't show him going to Dagobah (that scene was also cut). Obviously Vader'll be really easy to use as a character given every fan-film can feature someone who sounds like him. We can only hope Jar Jar figures prominently! As a dismembered corpse. Or we watch him disintegrated...

So the Jedi get wiped out because they're asses. It's true. When I was a kid I thought the Jedi must've been truly great, but if you play Knights of the Old Republic 2: Sith Lords you encounter the ultimate Jedi-wanker, Master Vrook (also in KOTOR1 but not as annoying).

Stu's PC (cue dramatic music): "I have fought against the Sith, they have begun to reveal themselves to me. I have healed my connection to the force and chosen the path of the light side. I am now a Jedi Master. I have united all of you surviving Jedi Master. Now is the time we must stand against the Sith and strike back."
Jedi Master Vrook: "No. We must wait and watch as we always have done."
Stu: "Gee thanks."
Vrook: "You are a danger - we must strip you of your force powers."
Stu: "Er... I think not!"

Sometimes they have it coming you know...


Doctor Sordid said...

"...if you play Knights of the Old Republic 2: Sith Lords you encounter the ultimate Jedi-wanker, Master Vrook..."

Jedi-wanker? Sounds like Master Vrook should have sought better career advice.

Sorry, sorry, sorry...

Anonymous said...

Film ok.
Lightsabre fights not bad.
Could have had more snogging.
Didn't like ole Anni being chopped up by Wanky-nobbi near end.
Midwife robot seeeeerrrrrrriosly annoyed me.

Looked quite pretty though.

Stuart said...

I quite liked Annie getting chopped to pieces. He was supposed to be more machine than man by the end of that film remember!

The midwife robot was yet another unncessary piece of CGI to be honest. The scene could've been done without it - and what language was it speaking? You'd think Alderaan's midwife droids would speak, er... English.

As to the snogging - that would've only gone hand in hand with more crap sand dialogue.