So today was a long, but interesting day. I spent a good part of it with my friend Sam. Our morning of hanging out was a bit unfortunate though… And if you could please pray for her I would really appreciate it. Wednesday Sam was involved in a car accident, in which she was involved in a head-on collision with another car. Luckily she was not seriously hurt, and neither was her baby (who is almost 7 months along). But that doesn’t mean there were some concerns and that Sam’s still in a lot of pain. Her car got totaled as well. She called me last night and asked me if I could take her to a follow-up visit with her doctor this morning, in which I was happy to do. I spent the morning with her over at the doctor’s office. Luckily everything’s still looking good, but Sam is still in a lot of pain and she really can’t take anything for it due to her being pregnant and all. She’s being a trooper right now.
But that didn’t stop her from going with me to go see the Star Wars opening with me today. I really was trying to look out for her and tried to make sure she wasn’t over-taxing herself, but she wanted to go. Geez, after sitting through it I was also in a lot of pain!
In all seriousness the movie wasn’t horrible, and was pretty good. Good, but not great, and it definitely did not live up to the level of hype. Of course with the massive publicity and media campaign going on with that movie – it was a pretty tall order. Before I go into giving my analysis I want to make a few disclaimers:
Disclaimer #1: I’m not the world’s biggest Star Wars fan. In fact, being a “closet Trekie” (see earlier post) I typically poke fun at Star Wars (Come on, no one kisses their sister on the Enterprise). That being said, I’ve seen all the movies and as a general sci-fi fan, I have more than a “trendy” interest in the Star Wars franchise (although I am extremely skeptical). I’m not a Star Wars junkie by any means, and the perspective I have to offer is someone who has a little more than a passing interest.
Disclaimer #2: I’m not a movie critic, I just play one on TV. I don’t have white hair, have dark-rimmed glasses or respond to Ebert – so take my opinion for what it’s worth.
Disclaimer #3: I have a personal beef with George Lucas, mainly due to his sheer arrogance. At the end of the day dude wrote a decent story that turned into (relatively) low-budget movie that became a media sensation. But dude’s walking around like he wrote one of the books in the Bible or something. I’ve seen quite a few interviews with Lucas over the years and his demeanor during the interviews is appalling. He makes it sound like he’s doing us a favor by writing and directing those movies.
My contempt towards Lucas goes beyond the reaches of “A Galaxy Far, Far Away”. An example of his arrogance is conveyed in a LucasFilms business dealing towards the end of the 90’s. Back at the turn of the century when DVD’s were just beginning to make their mark George Lucas made a heavy investment in the DIVX format. (And no I’m not talking about the current DIVX format, which is a compressed codec that people use today). DIVX was a competitive technology with DVD’s where you could go buy DIVX discs (provided you had a DVD player that also support DIVX) for like $5. You’d take it home and play it and 48 hours later the disc would self-destruct. This was supposed to mark the end of the movie-rental industry. The problem is it never caught on. Back in 1999 DVD players were expensive enough without shelling out $50+ for DIVX capability, and let’s face it: part of the fun of renting movies is taking them back to the video store and looking around for the next video you would like to rent. So DIVX tanked, and right with it: the significant investment George Lucas coughed up to invest in this. DVD became the clear winner and we all know the rest of the story. The trouble is Lucas was so furious and and arrogant that he held of releasing the Star Wars movies onto DVD – UNTIL LATE 2004 when he finally caved to pressure. But here we were in 99-01 watching all of these classic movies coming to DVD and Lucas didn’t do a thing. In my mind he was too bitter and conceited to believe that his own private protest would make a difference.
So yes, I have a great deal of dismay when it comes to George Lucas. But now about the movie…
Things I enjoyed:
· The way that the loose ends were tied up at the end of the movie. For people who really seek closure in plot lines I believe will walk away satisfied.
· The special effects and battle scenes were pretty good. The CGI looked pretty decent and LucasFilms definitely didn’t disappoint (although there’s always that nagging question “if these are prequels why is the technology more advanced in the past?”)
· Yoda kicks ass and you definitely get your Yoda fix
· Jimmy Smits was in the film. He is so cool – especially since he is also on the West Wing now!
Things that bugged me:
All the continuity and logic problems that plagued this movie. Now of course when you shine a light at any major franchise it’s easy to nitpick, but there were just things that didn’t make sense… For example:
· The inability to demonstrate the passage of time. Padme has an amazingly fast pregnancy. Maybe her race doesn’t have the nine month’s we come to expect, but at the beginning of the movie she lets it out that she’s expecting and the next thing you know she’s giving birth in what seems to be a week later. Now I don’t expect the movie to flash a calendar every 10 minutes, but if events are unfolding it might help to do something to demonstrate the passage of time. Everything just seemed to blend together and next thing you know she was giving birth.
· The inability to express time passage also made it hard to believe the whole “Anakin turning to the Dark Side” thing. Now this character has always been a whiney little prick from the very beginning, but it was really hard for me to see any kind of digression from being this Jedi superstar to going to the dark side… It was almost like at random moments he decided to be bad… This could have been fixed if they showed this happening over the course of weeks or months, but again it looks like it all lasted a week again.
· If they were so concerned about Anakin chillin’ out with that Palpatine guy, then why did they keep giving him all of these blatant assignments? I understand they want to trust the whole Jedi thing, but for having such keen instincts they really screwed this up. “We want you to spy for us..” “Opps! We didn’t think you would go right out and tell him!” Make it somewhat believable
· When they discovered Palpatine was the Sith guy (sidenote: “Boy, I never saw that coming!” – but what was funny was there was a little kid that was maybe 6 or 7 sitting in front of us who really was shocked. It was both cute and funny) why did Samuel L. (Badass) Jackson simply say “Um, stay here, we’re going to go kick his ass”. Memo to Jackson: when you find out that the leader of your government is in fact a huge turncoat, you might want to tell someone so that it doesn’t look like a random assassination. During the movie the Jedi had these awesome teleconference abilities, where Yoda was literally on the battle front but still able to attend council meetings – would it have been that hard to fire off a few messages or call a meeting of the council. After Samuel dies there wasn’t anyone else who knew about Palpatine. Ooops!
· So we’re led to believe Padme is dying and doesn’t have much time left. She’s losing strength & the will to live, but all of the sudden she has the strength to give a natural birth (to twins no less). I understand they didn’t want to turn this into an ER episode and have to get Carter to operate, but it’s just random for her to just die the way she did.
The other thing that bugs me is that George Lucas can not write his way out of a paper bag when it comes to romantic drama. CHEESEY! These sentimental scenes were just lackluster and ultimately painful to watch.
The attempts to tie this movie into the other five movies were far too outstretched. At the end of the movie Vader and the Emperor were standing on a Star Destroyer surrounded by guys in imperial uniforms (and when did that happen! We didn’t see these guys at all during the first three movies) watching a Death Star get built! So what exactly happens in the 18-20 years that Luke and Leia are growing up? Are we to believe that it took 20 years to build the 1st Death Star, then 2-3 years to build the second one? Again it boils down to the “passage of time issue”.
Also what was the deal with the ending scene where Yoda tells Obi Wan, “Smoke pot you can, and Qui-Gon Jinn appears, he will”. Wait?!? Where has that guy been for the last two movies? Why bring him up in the last 5 minutes? There was absolutely no point to that besides saying “Go watch the 1st movie again”.
Also throughout the movie we had all of these yahoos cheering away, which reminded me of my biggest movie pet peeve: Why do people cheer in a movie theater? I get cheering at an actual theatre – of course you do! I get cheering at a concert, but incase you don’t realize THE PEOPLE IN THE MOVIE CAN’T HEAR YOU CHEER. At that point I’m led to believe that movie theater cheering is based on pure self-gratification and the desire to try to identify other people in the theater. But really, just shut-up. I’m trying to watch the movie!
So is Star Wars worth seeing? Definitely! It’s one of those popular culture events that you just have to do take part of. Is it a good movie? Sure. But that doesn’t mean that it’s more than a bit rough around the edges.