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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