Tuesday, May 31, 2005

In the Sith...

(with apologies for the title of this entry - I can only hope that George Lucas spotted the potential anagram and left it as a gift to reviewers everywhere, a little like having a novel in which a character says 'This writing is terrible')

Brief Summary: Better than the first two in the series, although the whole film is really just a sad join-the-dots exercise, designed to get every character in the right place for 'Star Wars: A New Hope' (the film formerly known as 'Star Wars')

There are some great bits in RotS, but they tend to be moments when cool effects are of paramount importance and dialogue is kept to a minimum. So, the first ten minutes or so, in which our heroes rescue Palpatine from the Bionicle-inspired General Grievous, are excellent. Space ships fight and explode, little robots cut the head off an R4 unit in the middle of a space battle, Anakin saves Obi-Wan from the same fate, lightsabers twirl, robots get minced, and so on. If I were still nine, I'd be talking about the cool space battle at playtime today.

Other good bits include the almost elegiac murder of the Jedis (no talking at all); Anakin turning his lightsaber on in a room full of children expecting him to protect them (minimal dialogue); the pre-teen Jedi killing half a dozen stormtroopers before being killed himself whilst saving Senator Organa (not even a 'fly, you fool' in terms of dialogue); and the lava world itself (no dialogue, obviously).

Unfortunately, these are about the only moments when no-one is attempting to give gravitas to Lucas' terrible, terrible words. As a result, the actors are left foundering every time they opens their mouths. Ewan McGregor, Ian McDiarmid and Samuel L Jackson can at least act and thus are left simply looking embarrassed, but Haydn Christianson and Natalie Portman are awful. In their (partial) defence every single bit of dialogue involving Portman's Amidala is trite beyond description, but then again so is every other spoken word in the whole movie, so it's not a complete 'get-out-of-jail-free' card.

At a more basic level, Lucas' plotting is abysmal. He spends 90 minutes arsing about with Anakin in full-on spotty teenager mode, sulking because he's not given sufficient credit for how grown up he is now, and with Amidala spouting declarations of love in some form of archaic English known only to the romantically insane, before cramming Anakin's switch to the Dark Side into approximately 30 seconds of standing about beside a handily broken window. The disappearance into exile of Obi-Wan and Yoda; the adoption of Luke by his Uncle Owen and of Leia by Senator (shouldn't that be King) Organa; and the election of Palpatine as Emperor of the Universe are similarly rushed through as quickly as possible, presumably in the hope that no-one will spot how unlikely it all is.

Finally, extra crassness points must go to Yoda for telling Obi-Wan that he can now talk to the long-dead Qui-Gon, just in case anyone watching Episode 4 is a bit confused as to why Kenobi can talk to Luke after Vader kills him.

Oh, and before I forget - 'younglings'? Why has the centuries old word for 'child' changed when nothing else in the language seems to? Could it be that George Lucas truly is just full of sith?
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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Things to do instead of reading...

Play these Doctor Who related games, courtesy of links from the rather wonderful remakes.org website...

Doctor Who and the Daleks

or wait for Dalek Chess to be finished and released.
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So many books, so little time

The other day I spent a few hours bargain book hunting, and picked up a pile of books I'd been after for a while on eBay and in Edinburgh's various secondhand bookshops. Highlights included Ken MacLeod's first novel, Star Fraction for 50 pence, 13 Buffy/Angel novels for £2, David Hughes But for Bunter for a similar amount and a brand new copy of Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K LeGuin to replace my completely battered and torn schoolboy copy.

The problem, though, is that whilst the MacLeod is being read almost as we speak and will then be put beside the rest of his novels on a bookshelf, the rest have been pushed onto the 'to be read' pile. And, frankly, that pile has metamorphosed into a collection of stacks, rows, heaps and mounds which is in grave danger of taking over every free space in the house and causing J - who has the patience of a saint generally - to kill me and bury my dismembered corpse in the back garden in KFC buckets.

Just by looking round I can see the following books waiting to be read:

Lost in a Good Book - Jasper Fforde
But for Bunter - David Hughes
The Monsters Inside - Steven Cole
Perdido Street Station - China Mieville
All Under Heaven - A Complete History Of China - Rayne Kruger
The Clockwork Woman - Claire Bott
Seven Deadly Sins - David Bailey (ed)
Millenium - Felipe Fernandez-Arnesto (actually I'm about half way through that)
Something More - Paul Cornell
Varjak Paw - SF Said (which I promised my daughter I'd read)
The House of Doctor Dee - Peter Ackroyd
A pile of Dr Who books which I haven't put away yet

- and that's only those books I can see from here. I'll have to start reading faster...
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Friday, May 20, 2005

Death to All Sanity

Stumbled across this article on Geoff's Live Journal. In short, it concerns a student in the US who bought a second hand copy of the Koran via Amazon Marketplace, in which someone had scrawled 'Death to All Muslims' on the flyleaf. She was outraged, Amazon, the Muslim Public Affairs Council called on Amazon to publically apologise, which they did.

What I'm unsure about is this - which of the following points in the article is most depressing?

(a) Someone writing something so stupid in a copy of the Koran?
(b) The student in question - who dropped the book in disgust when she first read the grafitto - posing for photographers, carrying the book in question, with a big smile on her face?
(c) The MPAC saying it wanted Amazon to issue a public apology for something over which they had no possible control?
(d) Amazon apologising for something over which they had no possible control?
or (e) The related fact that a Newsweek report which claimed that some US soldier had flushed a Koran down the toilet triggered protests across the Muslim world in which 16 people died?

Or (e) - all of the above...
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