5.7.05

Star Wars, Episode III

This weekend I saw "Star Wars, Episode III." Didn't really want to. Would've rather watched "Batman Begins"--no, not because I want to stare at Christian Bale. I happen to think the story sounds very... Hey, look, there's no shame in wanting to stare at Christian Bale. In addition, Roger Ebert wrote, "This is at last the Batman movie I've been waiting for... Bale is just right for this emerging version of Batman. It's strange to see him muscular and toned,...but he suggests an inward quality that suits the character." I trust Roger's judgment. Roger and I are always in perfect accord--though admittedly "strange" is not the first adjective that comes to mind in conjunction with a "muscular and toned" Christian Bale.

My husband, however, is a huge fan of "Star Wars"--due in part to the portion of his childhood in Portugal when the only thing he could watch and understand on TV were the family's "Star Wars" videos--and so the decision was made.

I admit that I really liked the old "Star Wars" trilogy, with Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher. They were plain good, adventuresome fun. Unfortunately, the most recent two episodes left me disappointed for the reasons everyone has already complained about (took itself too seriously, too much reliance on computer graphics, shallow characterization, etc.). But what aggravated me the most was the sulky, mumbling West Coast teenager, who we were expected to believe, in a single episode, was suddenly going to start articulating like James Earl Jones. I know Anakin was supposed to be young, but why did they have to cast someone who looked like any minute he was going to stomp his foot in a hissy fit before taking off on his skateboard?

I figure that anyone who really cares about this movie must surely have seen it by now, but just in case: spoilers coming up.

To be fair, "Episode III" was definitely the best of the new trilogy. Though I wonder if my judgment was slightly softened by a sense of sentimentalism (it doesn't take much; I'm a sentimental sap) that the movie stirred, especially at the end, when you see the two babies in their new adoptive homes. I also thought Ewan McGregor did a good job as the gentle Obi-Wan, and his confrontation with Anakin at the end of the movie was rather moving (no, no, not the cutting off of limbs part, but the "You were like a brother to me. I loved you." part.).

This time round, I was most exasperated by Natalie Portman's character: a dithering, tearful girl, perpetually distraught in uncomfortable-looking nighties. I have no idea what the point was of making her a senator. Well, "A young, powerful Jedi knight and a wimpy crybaby" doesn't have quite the same impact as "wimpy crybaby senator." Since her only purpose seemed to be that of mothering Anakin's kids, I guess she had to be a good little broodmare with strong lineage.

Anakin was no slouch in the annoying department, but, on top of it all (quite literally), he was also sporting a maddening hairdo. I know this may seem like a ridiculous thing to zero in on, but in a movie that paid so much attention to detail, what was the deal with Anakin's long hair being all limp and plastered to the back of his head? I kept hoping a good, stiff intergalactic breeze would come along and fluff it up a bit. But no go. Needless to say, it was a distraction.

All those petty details aside, what baffled me the most about Episode III was Anakin's abrupt leap from "Must save my darling Padme!" to "I want to rule the universe!" It was a total huh moment for me, and made his transformation into Darth Vader that much more unnatural. What the heck was he so angry about anyway? I wish the character was given more reason for having all this supposed darkness inside, or at least given more chance to exhibit said darkness, rather than what appeared to be nothing more than teen angst.

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6 Comments:

I have not seen Star Wars III but I'm going to. Basically George Lucas confirmed that the 3 next episodes (4, 5, and 6) have the best storylines and that's why he started with them. I'll know more once I see the film, but I always thought that Anakin, both as a child and as a young adult a very likeable character, even with a bad do. So no matter what, I'm not sure I'll gobble his descent into Darth Vader (besides, I really like Christensen, the actor).

Now I've seen Batman Begins and I loved it. I'm not too keen on Christian Bale but it is still a wonderful film. Liam Neeson is showing his age, the poor bloke (I can still remember him from Schindler's List) and he is quite good as the evil character. 

from Ana

7/06/2005 01:52:00 AM  

Hah! Sounds like we do agree this is the best of the poorer trilogy. I actually started blogging again in the last month, and did a little post on ROTS too. http://danandhsin.blogspot.com/2005/06/rots.html. Agree that (a) Natalie Portman was really annoying. A pity, really; (b) it's all kinda lame, Anakin's turn to the dark side. That said, I'm still a huge fan of the series. Can't help it. And you know, I actually do like that Obiwan cut off all his limbs. He really deserved that. 

from Hsin

7/06/2005 10:10:00 AM  

Oh, and I forgot to say. Diehard fan that I am, I found a ROTS script on the web (and yeah, bothered to read through it too). It appears that Natalie Portman's senator scenes were actually all deleted (assuming this script is real). The scenes that wouldn't have made her looks so pathetic. And they also deleted a whole bunch of lines and scenes that suggest that Anakin is a real jealous bastard (he apparently suspects Obiwan and Padme are carrying on behind his back, and Palpatine apparently fans this suspicion).

7/06/2005 10:33:00 AM  

Hi Ana, oops, I hope I didn't ruin the movie for you at all. Let me know what you think when you see it.

Although, as you say--or, rather, George Lucas said--episodes 4, 5, and 6 had the best storylines, I felt they were better because they were simply more joyfully made, more fun. I mean, the movie is about space and alien worlds. I think it should have some fun. Nothing wrong with a touch of silliness either.

As for you not being too keen on Christian Bale--choke, gasp, splutter. I'm sorry to hear about Liam Neeson. I think it's his skinnyness. Skinny people don't age well.

Hsin-Li, welcome back to blogging! I won't grumble at all about the fact that it took you so long to mention that you had in fact resumed blogging. I won't.

I'm not surprised to hear Padme's scenes got deleted. I don't think George Lucas gives much importance to his female characters. After all, we watched Star Wars in a science fiction & feminism class in college, and I'm pretty sure it was served to us as fodder. (And how come the force wasn't strong in Princess Leia, damn it?)

The new Palpatine looked uncannily like the original, don't you think?  

from Rachel

7/08/2005 02:12:00 AM  

Erh, that's because it IS the same Palpatine? It's just that the actor (Ian McDiarmid) played the evil and old Emperor at 40, and now, in his 60s, plays a younger Emperor. A unique claim to fame, I'm sure.

7/08/2005 01:38:00 PM  

Holy cow, are you serious? Wow, that must be so cool--to be able to claim that you were in all six (?) episodes. He's really good at exuding a weaselly kind of creepiness, isn't he. Poor guy doesn't get much recognition, I feel.  

from Rachel

7/10/2005 02:23:00 PM  

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