Sunday, July 20, 2014
And on the Second Day, She Survived Watching Episode II
Yes, not only did I make it through Episode I, but on the very next day I sat through Episode II. My biggest gripe with this one in more recent years was that I couldn't really remember what it was actually about aside from a few "turning point" moments when Anakin shows his first dark side tendencies and somehow, through absolutely no help from the script but merely by necessity of plot, Anakin and Padme "fall in love" and get married. I didn't even remember Anakin had lost his hand in this one.
Ugh, where to begin? Well, I guess the beginning. Anakin and Obi Wan are older. This is apparent by Anakin being played by an entirely different actor and Obi Wan having a beard and no longer having that stupid Padawan haircut that poor Anakin now has to sport. Am I the only one who thinks it's lame to have a specific haircut they have to have during that? The dialog, right from the beginning, is dreadful. Anakin is already speaking in ridiculous monologues about how he's been thinking about Padme every day for ten years (and by thinking, I mean obsessing in a stalker-like manner) and you already feel a little violated on behalf of Padme.
Even Padme seems more than a little put off by Anakin's creepy stalker vibe. Seriously, the way he looks at her and talks to her for the most part is downright creepy. It makes you wonder if George Lucas has any idea how relationships work or how people fall in love (he's been married more than once so you'd think he'd have some idea, although when you have like, billions of dollars the rules probably change a little bit) because any sane woman would not fall in love with someone who acted like that. More likely, they'd be asking for a new body guard to be assigned to them. Also not attractive at all is his whining about Obi Wan holding him back.
Seriously, all of their interactions in this movie are terrible. I thought I remembered it being bad, but after so long I wondered if maybe I was being unfair, because you just can't compare to Han and Leia. But honestly, upon this most recent viewing, it's like it's even worse than I remembered. Even Padme herself early on asks him to not look at her like that because, "It makes me feel uncomfortable." And then when he apologizes he watches her walk away with a serial killer-ish look on his face, which of course is much better. But hey, eventually they giggle and laugh in a field for some reason, and somehow she lets him kiss her after more ridiculous, over the top dialog, but then she says she can't because of the whole Jedi thing. Right, the Jedi thing. And not because he's actually given you zero good reasons to actually fall in love with him apart from maybe being considered marginally attractive, but no level of good looking supersedes that much creepiness.
Oh, wait, what else was going on? Um, Obi Wan goes to where they are making all of those clones and we learn that Boba Fett was basically just another clone, and all of those clone troops are just like him. This came after an assassination attempt and an almost-cool sequence where we get to see lots of Coruscant and people walking around and a fun chase through the city. This whole thing on Kamino with the clones and Jango Fett (who, thanks to that new movie, I kept thinking in my head was Django Fett) just seems like a way to reel in all of those Fett fans. But then he goes somewhere else for some reason and gets all captured and stuff. I kept waiting for General Grievous to show up but hadn't remembered that he wasn't actually in this movie.
I still don't like the idea that Owen Lars married Shmi Skywalker. Especially when early nerds such as myself remembered that in some material prior to the prequels, it came out that Owen was actually related to Obi Wan, not Luke, but whatever. The whole thing where Anakin goes and finds his mother near death and quite obviously having been pretty tortured was fairly disturbing, even before he turns and kills all of the Sand People. I guess they did do a decent job there of giving him a valid reason to start turning to the dark side. She seemed a little too tortured and bloody for a Star Wars movie. I mean, for all of the deaths in these movies, there is remarkably little blood. I mean, it took me until I was in my 20s after watching these movies dozens of times before I even noticed the tiny bit of blood on Han's fingers after he helps Leia when she's singed by the blaster in ROTJ.
However, his outburst of telling Padme all about it... I don't know, that didn't really seem to work for me, either. It seemed more like he was saying it all out about murdering the women and the children was more for the benefit of the audience so that we knew how serious it was rather than something he'd actually say to Padme. For some reason she still doesn't go running from this raging psycho.
So then they have to go find Obi Wan. That doesn't go well, but at least by having gone back to Tatooine now they have Threepio with them, which means when they all get thrown into this droid making factory there is opportunity for comic relief in the form of excessive puns from Threepio. Ok, even in the OT he cracked some groaners, but they were sparsely sprinkled throughout, so it wasn't so bad. Four awful puns in like ninety seconds of screen time might be just a little much. Oh, also, suddenly Artoo can fly. I remember discussing this with my brother when these movies came out, like, when did Artoo suddenly get all of these new cool powers that he never had 20 years later?
One other thing I noticed in this movie was of course, once again, excessive CGI. I mean, scenes where they really just as easily could've just had, you know, actual people walking around in the background they turned them into cartoons. Once again, at times I felt like I was watching a video game. There was one part during this droid factory scene where they show Padme when she is stuck in this container thing. This is probably the one shot in the movie that is quite apparently actually not altered in any sort of way with any sort of effect. It's actually visually jarring to see it, it feels so out of place.
So, then we get to this whole scene where Obi Wan and Anakin and Padme are captured and about to be put to death in an overly complicated spectacle of an execution. Usually these scenarios are just to give the good guys a chance to escape. But wait, first Padme has to tell Anakin that she loves him. Why? I don't know. At least partly because they are about to die. But she doesn't just love him... "I truly, deeply, love you." Ugh, really? This whole thing is so absurdly forced and the characters have zero chemistry, but anyway...
So, good guys escape and eventually a whole bunch of Jedi show up and admittedly it is pretty awesome to see dozens of lightsabers throughout the crowd. Although man, can we get a few different options for lightsaber colors beyond green and blue? Mace Windu gets purple and nobody else does, and apparently red is reserved for bad guys. But there are other colors, you know. Somewhere in this spectacle we get the one moment I remembered because it was so ridiculous and overt, when Padme's shirt is ripped exactly perfectly across the bottom to expose her midriff. Although honestly, if my midriff had ever looked anything like that I would probably want it exposed most of the time, too.
Um, escaping stuff, and eventually they come across Count Duku, or Sarouman the wizard from Lord of the Rings. He's a bad guy doing bad guy stuff (we know he's bad because his lightsaber is red and has a curvy handle for no reason) and he speaks all evil-like. So Obi Wan and Anakin are fighting him and not doing so well, getting singed pretty badly or, in Anakin's case, losing your hand. But then Yoda shows up. And this isn't the same Yoda we usually know, this is badass, crazy spider monkey Yoda. I had actually forgotten this until it started, then I distinctly remember laughing during this part when Yoda suddenly starts flipping all over the place and going insane with his lightsaber. And when I say I laughed, I actually don't mean because I thought it was ridiculous and dumb, I thought it was pretty cool.
Anyway, good guys win, bad guys lose, but Clone Wars have begun or whatever. Oh, and then at the end Anakin and Padme get married. I guess we're supposed to be happy about that but since this is the worst love story of all time, it probably would've made just as much sense if either of them had married Artoo. And my final gripe with that is Anakin's prosthetic hand. I get that this is like 20 years or so before the OT, but given how every other bit of technology in these movies seems just as advanced (or even better) than what we had seen before, it just seems hard to believe that at this point in time he had that ridiculous fake hand when not too long after his son had a hand that was basically human.
I don't really remember what I thought of this when I first saw it. I'm sure I hated the love story and thought that was terrible, but I'm not sure just how much I disliked it. I don't think I tried to make myself like it or held onto the same level of denial as I did after the first one. At this point I think I'd maybe come to terms with the fact that these movies were generally going to be pretty bad. And once again I was left wondering what the heck it was all about anyway. And wondering what else they could've done to make it better. Just so much worse than the OT.
So, that's it, I finally watched this crappy movie again. The love story is as bad or worse than you remember. The plot is as convoluted as ever. The acting is just as bad, except for Obi Wan. The CGI makes you feel like you're watching a cartoon. But there are a few ok moments, at least. Not enough to make it a good movie, but whatever. Maybe now I'll have an easier time answering the prequel questions on my Star Wars DVD Trivial Pursuit if anyone would ever play it with me.
As mentioned, I'll be watching Revenge of the Sith soon, but not for another week or so because I'll be quite busy, but I'll get to it. Especially since I know that one has a fair amount of good moments in it. Like, 5% good moments, 95% bad as opposed to the even more skewed ratios in the first two, but I'm not as annoyed at the prospect of watching that one as the other two.