Thursday, July 31, 2014
And Finally, There was Revenge of the Sith
I survived. I made it through all three movies and I survived. The good news is that I never thought this movie was nearly as terrible as the others, so I wasn't dreading it as much. Maybe someday I'll bust out the prequel special features discs, but let's not get too crazy.
For whatever reason I feel as though it has been the longest since I sat through this one start to finish. I remember renting it or something (did people still rent stuff at the video store in 2005? I can't remember anymore) and watching it with some people, but I don't think I tend to catch this one even accidentally on TV when it's on. What I had remembered most was that there were actually some good moments in this one. Of course interspersed with some crappiness. (My computer doesn't seem to agree that crappiness is a word, but we're just going to have to agree to disagree there.)
So things finally slowed down enough for me to sit down and watch this one. It started with yet another lengthy intro that made me feel like I was watching the beginning of a video game rather than a movie. I feel as though you can't really open a movie in the middle of a huge battle, even with the opening crawl I haven't been given a chance to really care what's going on. We care even less when everything we're seeing is so obviously computer generated. Picture the ships flying around in space during the big battle at the end of Return of the Jedi. Those were tangible, filmed things. They may have only been models, but they looked real. This is all just so blatantly fake. Even Artoo is computer generated. It's like they got too lazy to shoot any real things, ever.
Let's see, then Anakin and Obi Wan infiltrate this big ship, and Artoo does his thing, in CGI form, as well as suddenly being able to like fly and set stuff on fire, proving that really and truly nothing in any of these movies could've worked without him. They rescue Palpatine and Anakin has a good final fight with Count Dooku that ends when he has a choice whether or not to kill him, and Palpatine tells him to, he thinks he shouldn't, but he cuts off his head anyway. Honestly, the rules seem kind of fuzzy to me on when it is or isn't ok to kill someone for a Jedi. I suppose at that point Dooku was unarmed (literally, Anakin had moments prior cut off both his hands) so maybe that makes it not ok to kill him. But if he'd killed him first rather than cutting his hands off first maybe it'd be ok? I mean, later the Jedi kill all kinds of guys, and that seems to be ok. Even Yoda kills people. So really, I'm just not super clear on how the rules work with that.
Then Anakin goes home and finds Padme, and they're apparently still hiding the fact that they are married. It seems like it'd be hard to hide something like that from Jedi, especially when you are living in the same apartment and only hiding behind a pillar when you meet up. So she tells Anakin that she's pregnant, and I remembered that I always hated the acting in that scene. It also made me mad that we'd never get to see a similar scene for Han and Leia, one that was much happier. But whatever.
General Grievous happens somewhere in here, too. He seems to me an excuse for a cool action figure with four lightsabers. Does anyone know why this droid-like guy has a heart and apparently asthma? It makes for an interesting lightsaber fight, but that's about it. Which is silly, because there is a freaking ton of lightsaber fighting in this movie, so there's not a lot of reason for sticking this kind of pointless one in there. Also, Obi Wan shoots him in the heart and kills him. And for whatever reason, that's totally cool. Again, what are the rules for when it is and isn't ok for a Jedi to kill?
Anakin starts having bad dreams, basically knowing that Padme will die in child birth. This I thought was actually a decent catalyst for making him turn eventually. But can we talk about Padme for a minute here? All right, in AOTC, sure, that movie was terrible and mostly pointless. But Padme does at least here and there get to kick a little ass. She unlocks herself from her chains and climbs up a big stone pillar to evade these giant monsters, she shoots her way out of stuff and basically doesn't need the boys to help her. Now, maybe we can just blame it on the fact that she's pregnant, but she basically spends this entire movie staring off her balcony and looking worried or upset. She barely even talks. She also wears the most elaborate nightgowns I've ever seen. That can't be comfortable. Oh, and I almost laughed to myself at the scene when she is brushing her hair on the balcony. Not just because the dialog is horrendous ("You're so beautiful." "It's because I'm so in love." "No, it's because I'm so in love with you!" Are you kidding me?) but because I was thinking, sure, I always go out to the balcony when it's time to brush my hair. Doesn't everyone? Also, she just looks weird in that scene, I'm not sure what it is.
So, let's see, Yoda goes to Kashyyyk as an excuse to get Chewie in the movie. And Palpatine starts manipulating Anakin. To be honest, this whole thing sends chills down my spine, and in a good way. Well, not good so much, but the creepiness you feel as he talks and pulls him in deeper is a big part of why this one movie isn't that bad. It really is pretty well done. The scene at the opera where he tells the whole story of the Sith and how he can teach him to save people from dying is actually really well done. And it's sort of nice to see that they do some regular recreational stuff, just to see a different side of the universe we've seen to this point. That guy did a tremendous job and I really don't see him as an actor playing Palpatine, but as the Emperor. It's pretty cool that they got the same guy and he did such a great job falling back into the role, which must've been difficult without all the crazy makeup and the hood.
But, if you remember correctly, everything gets really bad, really fast. I recall having the sudden realization before heading into this movie that knowing what we all knew about the OT, inevitably the bad guys were basically going to win. That thought was both cool and unsettling. It becomes more unsettling the more bad stuff starts to happen. And it all seems to begin with killing Mace Windu. If Sam Jackson isn't around to keep things in order, you're in trouble! Well, actually first they realize that Palpatine is a Sith and go to arrest him, and then he fights Windu and two other Jedi who are apparently really, really terrible with lightsabers because Palpatine kills them really, really easily before it turns into a one-on-one fight. This is of course when the dark side lightning comes out and makes Palpatine's face the grossness that we all remember from the OT. By the end of this showdown Windu is dead, Anakin has chosen to stand with Palpatine who has promised to show him how to let Padme live, and dubs him Darth Vader.
Oh, so much more badness. Anakin goes back to Padme and tells her a shady version of what's going on, and she's suddenly dumb enough in this movie to believe him. She is also the skinniest pregnant women you've ever seen. I mean, supposedly nearly full term with twins? Based on what I see, she has maybe a single, 3-pound baby in there. That's it. You're really stretching the lengths of my willing suspension of disbelief, here. She runs around like it's no big deal.
Time for Order 66. I have no idea what the heck the point is of having a stupid, numbered name for it is, but it means it's time for all of those clone troopers to start killing the Jedi. You see a lot of Jedi get slaughtered. You probably also remember that this is the part when Anakin slaughters the younglings himself. Yeah, this movie is not really for kids. Fortunately at least Yoda is safe on Kashyyyk, and it is kind of cute when he crawls up on Chewbacca's shoulders.
The final battle between Anakin and Obi Wan is pretty cool, and ends in kind of an excessively gruesome way. Oh, wait, but before that Padme confronts Anakin. She is like 2 hours from giving birth to full sized babies and has a baby bump the size of a grapefruit, but whatever. All Anakin wanted to do was save her, but now he force chokes her. I think he's gone off the deep end just a tad. But whatever, because by the end of this scene, Obi Wan chops off his legs, his other hand, and leaves him to die just after what's left of his body catches on fire. Did I mention excessively gruesome? Although I suppose it was necessary to have a reason for that elaborate suit he winds up in. And I do remember hearing vague stories as a kid long before we even knew there were going to be prequels about Vader getting scalded by hot lava in a lightsaber battle with Obi Wan. I have no idea how we knew that, but we did. And this brought it to life.
Oh, hey, excitement, as it's time for Luke and Leia to be born! This is kind of cool! Except... what is this about losing the will to live? Are you serious? That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard! Please don't ruin this moment with that ridiculousness! Ugh. You ruined it. Well, the babies are born, and Luke comes out first and she gets to name them. It also seemed unclear to me whether she actually birthed them or if they were removed through some sort of operation. They had this weird thing covering her legs. Anyway, she has what is supposed to be a poignant moment when she tells Obi Wan that there is still good in Anakin, but it's all ruined by that whole losing the will to live nonsense. Talk about turning a strong character into a weak one. How about staying alive for the sake of your children? You don't need that psycho man! Having her die in childbirth could've been a perfectly fine plot point if you'd just had her have some actual medical complication. Would that have been so hard? Seriously, Anakin still could've had the bad dreams and all that stuff and nothing would've changed except I wouldn't have to cringe every time I even think of that moment when the droid says she's lost the will to live.
But, wait, interspersed with that we have basically the creation of Darth Vader. This is another moment that is both kind of cool, and kind of cringe-worthy. Anakin is in rough shape and they get him all suited up and we have that really sort of awesome moment when the mask is put on him for the first time and we hear him take his first breath, that sound we all know so well. Ok, that gave me chills. But, of course then they had to ruin it after he asks about Padme and Palpatine tells him that he killed her when he choked her. Ok, well, I can see him telling him that just to make him more mad. But then he has this whole Frankenstein's monster thing where he walks off the table and then.... and I still remember watching this and thinking, no, please don't do it... don't do it... don't.... damn it, he did it. Yes, he dramatically leans back and holds his arms out and yells over dramatically, "Noooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Ugh. I felt like doing the same thing when I heard him do that. But, hey, Darth Vader is born.
In the end we have Padme's funeral, which is quite sad. Then we have something I'd totally forgotten, when Yoda tells Obi Wan that he can converse with Qui Gon. I seriously didn't remember that and I have no idea if there is any reason that that was put in there. They show Vader and Palpatine looking off the bridge of their ship at what appears to be the framework of the Death Star. Ok, that doesn't make sense to me. Are you telling me that it takes them 18 years to build the first Death Star and for anyone to know it exists (it seems to be a major surprise to Luke, Obi Wan and Han when they find it after it blows up Alderaan, so it seems relatively new) and then it took like two or three to build the second one? I mean, I know it wasn't totally finished in ROTJ, but it was pretty darn close. I think they thought audiences would think it would be a cool thing to see, but honestly, given the timeline, that just doesn't make any sense to me.
Yoda goes off into exile, and the babies are split up. I admit I do in fact get a little choked up when Leia and Luke are given to their respective caregivers. It just brings the whole thing full circle and I thought these were very nice moments when Leia is there with the Organas on Alderaan, and Luke is with Owen and Beru starting at the sunset on Tatooine. Yes, I'm a little sappy like that. And that's where it ends.
So, there you have it. I survived the prequels. Maybe I'll even sit through them again in 16 months when it's time to prepare myself for Episode VII but I'm not going to watch them by myself again, I don't think. This one is exceedingly dark, I think, which in tone for a Star Wars movie is pretty rough. But I guess it's good to know that they fix it in the OT.