Friday, 20 May 2005

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith

So, I should have expected it. Well, I did sort of expect it. Those bastards whose job it is to hype films did their job admirably well, and I was excited. And now... a sort of hollow deadening.

Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and pretty much everyone else have been fighting a war. It's been the robots - led by a really big crawly robot and Christopher Lee - against the clones, who look a bit like robots - led by Ian McDiarmid and the Jedi. Oooh! Aaargh! There are "heroes on both sides"! Which is right? Which is right? Who knows?

The answer is, of course, neither of them are right, as Ian McDiarmid is actually Darth Sidious, a Sith Lord; a fact that George Lucas, the king of dramatic irony, has not even tried to hide for the past two films. First Sidious ensnares Anakin Skywalker to the Dark Side, then gets his clone armies to attack the Jedis. Wait a minute... an attack of the clones? What film is this again?

Ah yes, "Revenge of the Sith". The revenge of the Sith is, apparently, to get the clones to attack. This is not the first confusing and - let's be fair - toy-manufacturer-led element to this film. Not by a long chalk.

The upshot of all this tomfoolery is that Anakin Skywalker is chopped into little pieces, burnt alive, and turned into Darth Vader. Darth Vader is the big one, the iconic figurehead of the franchise, the one we've all come to see, despite the fact that we all know that he looks pretty ridiculous when he walks.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but were you given an estimated $115m to make a film, you'd make pretty damned sure the script didn't provoke unwelcome laughter, wouldn't you? And you'd make it so that the actors who had to read the script didn't sort of take the piss when speaking the script, wouldn't you? And if you had really cool lightsaber fights, you'd want your audience to see them, wouldn't you? And you might contemplate making just a few scenes of amazingly epic battle scenes not edited at the pace of a rampant bonobo so your audience might actually understand what's going on, mightn't you?

Don't get me wrong, I really really wanted to like this movie. I wanted it to like it not because I'm a huge fan of Star Wars or anything, but because I liked Star Wars when I was a kid. And if I ever have kids, I think it would be cool to show them Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi and say "This was really cool when I was a kid".

The trouble is that now, they'll say "What about those other three films?" and I'll say "you really don't need to bother with them, they suck ass".

Or, alternatively, a much worse scenario would be that people who have no experience of Star Wars will start at Episode 1, and work their way through chronologically. These people are fucked. Every major dramatic point in the original trilogy has been pre-empted by the prequel trilogy.

Darth Vader: "Luke... I am your father."
Audience: "Yeah, we knew that four hours ago."

Luke: "Leia, you're my sister."
Audience: (snore)

Obi-Wan: "I have something here for you. Your father wanted you to have this when you were old enough, but your uncle wouldn't allow it."
Audience: "So, like... can Obi-Wan see Qui-Gonn Jinn at this moment, or did the practice in exile not work?"

Audience: "Hey, how come the ships don't have those cool displays any more?"

Grr. The transition from "Revenge of the Sith" to "A New Hope" will be a horrible, horrible lurch. I guess that was always predictable, but there is scant effort to even make the two sets of three films feel similar in tone or mood.

Geek business aside, Ewan Macgregor is pretty good in it, and goes a little way to filling the charm void in the first two prequels. Hayden Christensen is largely awful, Natalie Portman is awful, even Samuel L Jackson looks bad. Ian McDiarmid is oddly camp, and appears to believe he is in pantomime. He looks like he knows he's too classy for this.

Ultimately, this hollow, deadening feeling is exactly what I felt after watching the previous two prequels. A dreadful sense of pointlessness hangs over these films; created not to make a good cinematic experience, but to further wring dry the wallets of the devoted. Bleurgh.

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London, United Kingdom
Writer, Screenwriter. Born in the late Seventies. Likes marzipan.