Monday, May 23, 2005

The Dark Side And You

  • animation powers: fueled by the Force

I, like many a fan, went to see Episode 3 opening night. I had gotten caught up in the hype and was really jazzed about seeing this final installment in the saga. From what I had seen in the trailers I thought for sure that this would be the film that challenged Empire as the best of the Star Wars films. I was prepared for it to rock my world.

After seeing it my world remains to be rocked. Don't get me wrong, I actually enjoyed the film. It was by far the best of the prequels. I wanted to love it. But once it was over I decided I couldn't give it my love and that it would best if we were just friends. I might hang out with the film again and we might do things together but I just didn't feel I could give it the unconditional love it so deeply wanted.

Right now I will say that there are spoilers ahead. So proceed at your own risk.

I think Lucas shoved too damn much into this film. Sequences felt too rushed while others just seemed tossed in for no real reason. Why were the Wookies in this film? I'll tell you why, because Lucas thought the fans would like it; same reason that Fett was in the last one. The events with the Wookies were throw away. It was cool to see them, but they never really did much. Tear apart some battle droids. Play a pivotal roll in the ending of the war. Something.

Then there is General Grievous. A character first introduced in the Clone Wars animated series. In the animated series he is a badass Jedi killer. In the film, he's a chicken shit who runs away constantly and needs a cough suppressant. (apparently in the animated show Mace does a Force crunch on the General's chest which is the reason for the cough, however one shouldn't need to do research before seeing a movie). Grievous is introduced, hunted down and promptly killed. The events with Wookies and the tracking down of General Grievous only serve as a means of getting Yoda and Obi away from the Jedi temple before Anakin goes all crazy up in there. Frankly it could have been handled better. While neither the Wookies or Grievous ruined the film, it makes for weak storytelling.

It would have also been nice to see Anakin going ape shit in the Jedi temple. Like with the slaughter of the Tuskain Raiders in AOTC, Lucas doesn't feel we need to see this happen. I would have loved to see Anakin, approach the Jedi he once called friends, and slice them in two. "Hey here comes Ani. Ani we ordered some pizza you want some....hey dude what's your problem....we got you some bread sticks.....snap-hiss....Hey man calm down man.....vvrooomslice slice slice slice. It would have rocked. And for the recorded I fuckin hate it whenever anyone calls Anakin "Ani".

One of the things that really jarred me was how quickly Anakin pledges his allegiance to the Emperor. Unlike in ROTJ, where we see Luke really conflicted as he walks the line between good and evil, Anakin shows no conflict. Yes he has had those moments leading up to this point but now it was do or die time and he didn't even bat an eye. Anakin watches Mace die ...says "What have I done?" then turns to Sidious...."ok I will be your apprentice who should I kill first" Wow just like that....

The ending was another point of contention with me. From the moment I heard that Lucas was planning prequels I thought "If he is smart he will craft them in a way that keeps the surprises in Ep 5 and 6. Because its one GODDAMN story with 6 parts". Lucas, it would seem, is not smart. By the end of Ep 3 we know Anakin is Vader and we know Luke and Leia are the twins. Lucas owed it to his legacy as a film maker to keep some of the suspense in his saga. Yes the whole world knows the secrets. But what of future generations. What of that kid, twenty or thirty years from now, who sits down to watch the saga starting with Episode 1. For future viewers the impact of "Luke I am your father" is forever gone. Instead it seems Lucas again was eager to please the fans and touch on the nostalga of the original trilogy. We see Vader in all his glory looking pretty much the same as he will 20 or so years from now. Come on George. If you feel you must show Vader at least make him look a little different. More frankensteinish and thrown together...allowing for the suit to evolve over time. Hell the clone troopers look different in every damn film, but Vader more or less never changes.

I was also a little bothered by the real quick scene at the end when Yoda tells Obi something about being able to communicate with Qui-Gon. Obi says something to the extent of "wow.... really" then nothing. I was befuddled. What the hell just happened? Wait..what...he's not gonna show Qui-Gon? O-K.

The film had much that I liked. Palpatine vs. Yoda. Yoda wacking the Emperor's Guards with a flick of the wrist. Yoda wacking his assassins. Anakin vs. Obi. Grievous doing the crazy propeller thing with the lightsabers. There was cool stuff....and then there was everything else.

Next time: my suggestions on how Lucas could have improved the prequels


tygriffin said...

hmm. you brought up some interesting points that I hadn't considered. particularly the bit about "...If he is smart he will craft them in a way that keeps the surprises in Ep 5 and 6." it made for a rather lively discussion at work today. thanks!


Animator-Boy said...

Sweet. I hope by lively you mean that people were throwing chairs and such. :)