Sunday, May 29, 2005

Siths and Jedis and droids, oh my!

Well, things finally calmed down enough for me to start some semi-regular posting again. A political and a Disney thing or two will hit in the next day or two, but I figured I better touch on Star Wars first, since that's the topic of the moment.

I'm one of those old guys that saw all three original films first-run in the theatres. I was seven when the first one dropped. To make me feel really old... Since I arrived a little early for the film and was killing time waiting for the rest of my party to arrive, I ventured across the street from our downtown Franklin theatre to enjoy a cool, frosty Guinness on the porch at the downtown Irish pub. Upon ordering, I got into a discussion with the waitress who informed me that she had seen the movie a few days prior and really enjoyed it. As I placed my order, I asked her for a recommendation for one of the items on tap and she informed me that she didn't know, as she had just turned 21 and hadn't drinked prior, so she really had no information. After she left, the realization hit me... she hadn't been alive for any of the original trilogy. And she's now old enough to drink. Egads...

Anyway... I'm not a professional reviewer and don't claim to be, but on to the film. First, I really enjoyed it. Sure, the dialog and acting was still kind of wooden and thus the characters were hard to relate to and hard to feel sympathetic for. Really... how sympathetic can you be for dry, stiff, robotic super-powered Jedi getting killed? The love story also seemed forced for the same reasons. I miss the personality and characterization of the characters playing in the original movies, especially by Harrison Ford.

The action and special effects were very strong. The lightsaber duels were solid, although somewhat disjointed, and the various space-shots were well done. There was much less of the cartoony effects that plagued Episode One and Two. And Jar-Jar had only a very minimal, non-speaking role (Hooray!).

The storyline was pretty good, although it was pretty much written based on the other five movies. We pretty much knew where everything was headed... Anakin to Darth, twins born, Yoda and Ben surviving but heading to exile, Emperor takes over, yada-yada... They did a pretty good job filling in the details, with reasonable justifications for the actions that occurred (although Anakin's fall from good guy to child slaughterer seemed rather sudden).

There were many storyline plot holes so large that you can drive a Mack truck through, though:
  • Leia's memories of Mama: Leia says she "died when I was very young," yet remembers "images, feelings. She was very beautiful, kind, but very sad." But in the new movie, Padme dies delivering the babies. There was something like 10 minutes of crossover times in their life.
  • More Muddled Memories: In the original trilogy, Ben does not seem to recognize R2-D2 and C-3PO. Even more troubling, why wouldn't Anakin recognize the droid he built as a child? I can accept that C-3PO didn't remember these people (as well as his home planet) because of the comment that was made at the end of "Sith" relating to a mind-wipe, but why wouldn't these people remember him? Maybe people consider the droids to be appliances (like a coffee maker to us) and thus don't remember them like they would a person, but since they have made such a point to build relationships between the droids and the humans, that seems unlikely. Owen and Beru also don’t recognize C-3PO and R2D2 as the two droids who belonged to Anakin Skywalker. After Anakin created C-3PO, he left him with his mother on Tatooine when he left with the Jedi. When Shmi was sold out of slavery to Lar's family, she took C-3PO with her. Therefore, Lars knew C-3PO in "Clones." Years later, C-3PO returned to Tatooine and is reunited with Lars and Beru, they don't recognize him. He did have a shiny new paint job, but still had the same name. Even if they didn't distinctly remember the droid, I would think that he may pop back into their memory and that they would be troubled if he showed up on their farm looking for Obi-Wan Kenobi.
  • In Training: In "Empire," Kenobi tells Luke that he should go to Dagobah and seek Yoda, the Jedi Master who instructed him. Also, When talking with Yoda, Ben refers to "when you taught me". But, when did Yoda train Obi-Wan? The new trilogy establishes that Qui-Gon was his master.
  • Sponsored by Oil-of-Olay: In "Phantom Menace," Anakin starts out as a little kid, while Padme is at youngest a teenager. Let's say that there is 10 years or so between them. Then, through the magic of the Force, they appear to be close to the same age in the following movies. Obi Wan's timeline also seems askew, but definitely not as extreme... He looks in his early 30's in this movie (maybe in his 20's in "Menace"), and then looks 60+ in "New Hope," which by Luke's aging appears to be about 18 years. I understand that they were trying to make a young actor look older in "Sith," but he's either aging too fast before or after this movie...
  • The Empire needs better contractors: At the end of "Sith," we get the parting shot of Vader and the Emperor watching the construction of the first Death Star. A neat shot indeed... This is presumably the Death Star from "New Hope," as the Rebels acted as if they had never seen a Death Star at the during the course of that movie. Thus, it took around 18-20 years to build that space station, as we are led to believe that this scene takes place at roughly the same time as Padme's funeral. Hey... this was a big project. With union requirements and the like, it may well take that long. Who am I to say? Yet, between "Empire Strikes Back" and "Jedi" (which pretty much butt up to each other timeline-wise), they are able to almost complete construction on a second Death Star. Guess they got better help that time...
  • Padme, aren't you putting on some weight?: "When your father left, he didn't know your mother was pregnant. Your mother and I knew he would find out eventually, but we wanted to keep you both as safe as possible, for as long as possible." Well, either Ben is lying to Luke, or this is yet another inconsistent statement from the original trilogy. We know in "Sith" that Anakin at least knew that she was pregnant.
  • Twins?: One would have to assume that medical technology in the "Star Wars" world would include ultrasounds or something similar and that Padme knew that she was having twins. She knew but didn't tell Anakin? Also, did she come up with the names out of the blue, or had she discussed with her husband? I know my wife is constantly giving me grief about helping with a name for our upcoming... I can only imagine that this was one of the unspoken contributing factors for Anakin's rush to the Dark Side. If he was privy to the baby-naming nightmare, wouldn't Darth have suspected Leia during their run-ins in the original trilogy, since that was the name they had selected for one of his children?
  • Yet another thing on Leia: This is really an inconsistency of the original trilogy, but why couldn't Darth sense Leia like he could Luke? They're both his children and both strong in the force. Hmmm....
  • Lightsaber quandry: In "A New Hope," Kenobi tells Luke that his father wanted him to have his lightsaber when he was older. How would Anakin know about Luke being alive? And when would he have conferred with Ben about the lightsaber?
  • Our Only Hope: In Ben's discussion with Yoda after Luke flies from Dagobah, he states "that boy is our last hope," to which Yoda replies, "No there is another." Shouldn't Ben have known that as well, since he was around for the birth and knew that Senator Organa was taking Leia? He should have been able to sense the Force in her, shoudn't he?
  • Hair-doos: OK, this one is a reach, but... Anakin does not recognize Leia's funky cinna-bun hairstyle as a retro look his own wife sported in "Sith." Maybe it was all the rage and all of the cool kids were wearing it...

I mean, would it have been to much to expect for them to hire someone and pay them a few bucks to read all of the new scripts and compare them to the old scripts (and maybe even the novelizations, comics, tv shows, etc.) and make sure everything ties up in a bow? I was available and would have been glad to take George's money!!! ;)

Even considering the things listed above, I found the movie to be enjoyable and it wrapped the life and death of Anakin up in a pretty satisfying fashion. Kudos to Lucas and the crew for salvaging the new trilogy in a much better fashion than I had expected after watching the past two messes...

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