Thursday, 14 January 2016

I used to work at a book store and I read a sentence from every single one of those books

Watching Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, and I have scattered and unfocused opinions and impressions taken from it, so bear with me for a blog post that probably reads like a Twitter feed more than it does a coherent overview of a - FACK ME - 10 year-old film.
During the great opening half hour action sequence, I love how General Grievous announces "Fire ze emergency poofter engines!" - I'm not sure what Poofter Engines are, but they sound fabulous - and then uses something called "Race Shields" to trap the Caucasian characters.  There is some odd stuff going on in these movies.
I do like that it's just a bunch of mad fights, but they also highlight that the weakest part of the film is Anakin's Face/Heel turn in the slower moments - Hayden Christiansen gets a lot of flak for this, but that's unfair, as the dialogue is pretty weak and doesn't tie the disparate strands of his character arc  together.  There's some nice touches like Anakin's humility and magnanimity possibly being his reflecting those emotions from those around him, suggesting a functioning sociopath who's simply faking it and using the Jedi's teachings to help him do so, but I suppose if Anakin is a sociopath, it makes his eventual redemption in Return of the Jedi impossible, and the whole point of Return of the Jedi is arguably that Anakin the Jedi... erm... "Returns" when given a similar moral choice to the one he makes here.
Another nice touch is that his fall comes not from the Sith but from the Jedi - through Mace Windu (shortly before before Mace goes through a windu) - failing to live up to the standards of the Jedi order and the justice system of the Republic, implying that Vader was never inevitable, simply a long game of Sidious' that the Jedi could have thwarted if they'd stayed the distance and held true to their code.  There's probably a great What If? story waiting to be told, stemming from Mace Windu not losing faith in the way of the Jedi and thus never prompting Anakin's impulsive decision that leads to his turn to the Dark Side, but I suspect it would still be told against a background of an empire in decay, as one thing Lucas does well is use colour and scale to show that we're seeing the large-scale widescreen final days of a once-proud and great power in decline - an honest-to-God culture, corrupted from within and seized by an antagonist who's an opportunist as much as a schemer, and I don't help but notice it's a capitalist system that's going tits-up, and that the igniting incident of the war was corporate greed.  Usually in these space operas - Star Wars imitators, admittedly - they center on dynastic skulduggery usually involving a Bad Old Dude making a power grab from his poorly-lit  throne room set, and what we see of "the galaxy" is some corridors and maybe an outdoor shoot near an old fort or something, but here we see an actual sprawling civilisation at stake.
The Prequels are about the fall of an empire, not the rise of one, and in retrospect, Lucas made the right decision to tell this story rather than the more obvious and lucrative one, because when people bitch and whine about how the Prequels don't feel like Star Wars, what those people actually mean is that they aren't 8 years old anymore, and they're likely more angry that they will never be young again than they are angry that some guy didn't make the movie they wanted.
"It's just a toy advertisement" - I never really understood this argument, as so was the original Star Wars, because obviously toy companies - having just bought the toy rights - made toys out of anything they could.  It seems to me that what people are complaining about in the context of the Prequels is not potential toys but the act of world-building Lucas undertakes.

What a prick C3P0 is - he walks in on padme watching the Jedi temple in flames and announces that Anakin just went there "but I'm sure he'll be alright" and then he fucks off and Padme breaks down in tears.  Dick move.

I like when Palpatine says the Empire will make the galaxy "safe and secure" and everyone believes him and claps like the morons they are.  HAHA GEORGE LUCAS' DIALOGUE IS SO UNREALISTIC.
"Into exile I must go.  Failed I have."  Erm... what?
Padme dies of a broken heart.  I unironically love the romanticism of this notion.

I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would.  I think its main flaw is that it's too ambitious and set out to do too much, to the point that no matter how neatly it ties up the threads it weaves, the best case scenario was always to be that it leaves the story just as it's getting started.  Unlike, say, The Force Awakens, Revenge of the Sith at least tries, and if I had to identify its single biggest problem, it wouldn't be the acting - not even that Jedi kid that approaches Anakin in the temple - it would be that for a movie so full of inventive fight scenes and madcap chases, it's a real bummer to watch because of where it all goes in the end, so you can't take as much joy from it as you otherwise would.  Also the pacing is really odd, with multiple scenes playing out alongside each other and slowing things down in those scenes - although I really liked that Padme dies just as Anakin becomes Vader, even if it doesn't actually make that much sense because he's already Vader, and doesn't actually become the proper for-real evil Vader until after the Frankenstein's Monster riff near the end - but still, full marks for soppiness, with the callback to the charm Anakin carved for Padme in The Phantom Menace being an especially good example of same, and as much as Jar-Jar was a terrible idea, seeing him sad at Padme's funeral is heartbreaking.

I liked the little callbacks to the original trilogy, like Anakin's choice between helping Mace Windu or Chancellor Palpitine being the exact same choice he would be presented with in Return of the Jedi (with the Emperor and Luke), Obi Wan picking up Anakin's lightsaber before leaving him to die, and the way Owen (Luke's uncle) is standing looking out at the suns of Tatooine in exactly the same way Luke would.

No comments:

Post a Comment