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June 6, 2005

Episode II: Attack of the Sap

Filed under: Rants,Reviews — phil @ 8:29 am

So, last night I watched Episode II again. It has been probably about a year since I’ve seen it. I watched Episode I before going to see Episode III, but my old roommate had my DVD of Episode II so I wasn’t able to watch it ahead of time.

That’s terribly unfortunate. For the sake of Episode III, I mean. For instance, if I had watched Episode II previous to seeing Episode III, my Episode III review would have read thusly:

“Thank fucking god it was better than Episode II.”

Although, Episode II does contain the best scene in the entire prequel trilogy, in my opinion. It’s the only time that Anakin even appears to be turning to the dark side. When he rescues his mother on Tatooine. Say what you will about “scowling Hayden”, but that’s the only time in any of the movies where I thought, “Wow, he’s going to be evil. Very, very evil.”

And I still can’t get over the fact that good actors were reduced to reciting lines in that. George, you’re a horrible director and writer. Great ideas, poorly executed.

May 20, 2005

Episode III: Revenge of the Lucas (**spoiler**)

Filed under: Rants,Reviews — phil @ 10:36 am

Fair warning, this contains spoilers. Stop reading right now. After this paragraph, this essay is rife with specific points about the movie. If you keep reading, don’t complain to me that I spoiled the movie for you. Seriously, spoilers now.

Where to begin? I suppose, at the beginning. The opening space battle was visually stunning, but far too chaotic when compared to the space battles of previous (and latter) episodes. The beginning of the scene on the space cruiser to rescue Palpatine was entertaining. Some people don’t like that R2 can fly. I say screw them. R2 is a badass. That whole scene was quite good, right up until Dooku showed up. Fortunately, he died like the bitch that he is. Unfortunately, it was wholly unsatisfying. Palpatine was way over the top.

The short “love” scene between Anakin and Padme was, much to my surprise, actually believable. It was, much to my chagrin, the only believable part of their relationship. Too bad it revolved solely around, “omfg!!1! I’m preggers!!1!!1”

The “intrigue” of the Jedi Council/Chancellor political manuevering was tired. Anakin’s “angst” over the situation was too overplayed, and his “descent” to the dark side was almost completely arbitrary. Palpatine’s “mentorship” of Anakin was, once again, way over the top.

Enough with chronological, I’m just going to skip around now. Let’s move on to lightsabers. Nothing in this movie touched the raw strength and speed of the duel in Episode I between Obi Wan and Darth Maul. And nothing touched the finesse and grace of the duels in the original trilogy. A few of the duels were alright, but all of them suffered from, in my opinion, very poor editing.

A duel breakdown:

Dooku vs Obi Wan & Anakin: Too short
Mace vs Palpatine: (gets it’s own section)
Obi Wan vs Greivious: too many sabers
Jedi vs Stormtroopers: (own section)
Obi Wan vs Anakin: good, poorly edited
Palpatine vs Yoda: good

Let us now look at what I’m am going to refer to as “The Insult to Mace Windu.” Mace shows up, with a contigent of Jedi, to arrest the Chancellor. The Chancellor sumarily beats down all of the other Jedi. They didn’t even put up a fight. Slice, slice, slice, and then there was one. Ok, I guess we’re supposed to believe that Palpatine is some sort of lightsaber badass. You wouldn’t be able to tell by the way the scene is editted, though. So, Palpatine and Mace square off and a duel is to be had. It looks like it’s going to be close, but then Mace busts with the mad moves and now Palpatine is sans lightsaber. Cue whiny Anakin entrance.

So, now we have to witness the entirely unbelievable and wholly trite “downfall” of Anakin Skywalker. While Mace stands poised above Palpatine, ready to deliver the killing blow, we are left to listen to Palpatine (once again being played way over the top) launch in on his now trademarked “the bad guy has to have a speech before he dies” scene. You can guess what happens. Wait, no you can’t. See, one would assume that Mace would try to kill Palpatine, and in a nod to Return of the Jedi, Anakin ignites his lightsaber and blocks the killing blow, sparking another duel. One would be wrong. One would be horribly wrong. In a mish-mash of editting wonder, Mace’s hands get lopped off and the Chancellor fires off the lightning. Mace falls out the window to his death. I was honestly waiting for Ashton Kutcher to jump out at this point and yell, “Dude, you got punked!”

It was that bad.

Now, let’s move on to the other travesty of this series. The scourging of the Jedi. With one notable exception (which I will get to in a moment), all of the Jedi were slaughtered like bitches. Not a single one of them fought back to any great extent. There they were, leading their battallion of clone troops against whatever droid faction they happened to be facing, when all of a sudden, they realize that all of the clone troop’s guns are now pointed at them instead. Bang, bang, dead. There was no fighting back, there was nothing. Hell, even a few of them were shot in the back. WHAT THE FUCK, GEORGE??? These are JEDI. They are BADASSES. At the very least, a dozen clone troops needed to die due to the end of a saber before a jedi was allowed to be shot. Even Yoda almost got jumped. But apparently, he’s the only one with any Force reflexes.

The clearing of the Jedi Temple was, at one point, very poignant. When Anakin enters the council’s chambers, and a youngling steps up to him and says, “Master Skywalker, there’s too many of them, what do we do?”

You can feel the tension, the despair of these children.

The notable exception I mentioned above comes when Bail Organa attempts to enter the Temple, and is told that it’s dangerous by a squad of stormtroopers. As he’s walking back to his ship, a youngling comes out of nowhere and goes. to. town. on that squad. He is killed, yes. But he went out valiantly. He is my new hero. I need to find out his name.

On to the end. Knowing that a whiny Anakin Skywalker is underneath that suit totally changes the view of Darth Vader. Especially since George gave us the real what-for and made him whine *while* he was in the suit. I mean, come on man, that’s just not fair.

So, I guess what I’m saying is that I knew that the movie would suck. That’s a given. The parts that I had hoped would be good, sucked too. That’s what really burns me.

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