Saturday, July 19, 2014
I Finally Watched My Episode I Blu Ray
It's been 15 years now since your hopes and dreams were smashed and replaced with the huge disappointment that was Star Wars: Episode I. That makes this particular rant more than a little bit outdated, but it's been nearly that long since I seriously sat down and watched the entire thing and since we are fairly well hurting for content on here lately, I'm going to go ahead and write at least a few of my thoughts.
First, it's kind of amazing that it has been nearly two years since I got my box set of these and am just now getting around to sitting down and re-watching the prequels. I told myself that I would at some point sit down and watch them all again, and for some strange reason yesterday I finally decided to go ahead and pop this one in. Aside from glimpsing a few scenes here and there during those almost monthly Star Wars weekends where they show all of the movies on Spike, I haven't watched this one since my VHS copy that I'm sure I tried to force myself to like just because it was Star Wars before finally having to admit to myself that it is complete crap.
So, what did my recent viewing remind me? That yes, it's still pretty darn bad. Half of it plays off like a cartoon or a video game. I mean, I literally felt like I was watching the intro scenes on my nephew's Lego Star Wars game a few times. It's really hard to feel anything for characters when you don't feel like anything you're watching is real. And it still astounds me that space battles created with visual effects in 1977 can look more realistic than the cartoon CGI creations in this. I've said it before and I'll say it again here: the special effects in the OT were used as a service to tell the story and were quite well done and never felt like showing off or overdoing it. This whole movie seems like a commercial for ILM to show how far technology has come and how much more they can do now. The only problem is that none of it looks real. I think in the back of our minds we know when we're watching ANH that we're not actually seeing an X-wing flying through the trench of the Death Star, but it just looks so much more tangible. In this movie there is not a moment where we mistake what we're looking at for anything but computer generated.
Jar Jar might be worse than I remember him. Not just the cutesy comic relief, but the fact that for absolutely no reason at all he is given the rank of general and left to help lead a pretty important battle. Really? Um, yeah. But hey, he goes on to wipe out lots and lots of battle droids totally by accident. Seriously, he does absolutely nothing due to any bit of competence and only takes them out because he gets his foot tangled in some wires or something. Look, it was kind of funny when Han Solo "killed" (debatable, I guess we'll find out soon if he did or not) Boba Fett by accidentally hitting him while he was blinded, sending him into the Sarlacc pit. But I think we would've lost a lot of respect for Han if everything he did was accidental.
Oh, Jake Lloyd. Look, I feel bad for the kid because I'm sure he did the best that he could and was just following George Lucas's terrible direction. He never should've been cast in the first place. I really find it difficult to believe that there wasn't a better choice out there. Or even a hundred better choices. In the history of movies with important child leads there are plenty of examples of kids who you almost wouldn't even guess were "acting." So it seems impossible to me that there were literally no other kids out there who could've done a better job.
And the plot and the trade routes and senate and no confidence votes and... what the heck was going on there? Maybe it's just because it all bores me so much I don't pay enough attention, but all of that crap is just plain confusing. I'm not even entirely sure what the final battle was all about beyond the fact that the people of Naboo/Gungans are the good guys and the... uh, other guys (the ones with the vaguely Asian accents) were the bad guys and the Emperor, or at this point, Darth Sidious, had something to do with them. I don't want to watch it again to see if I can make this all more clear, but it's possible that before Episode VII comes out I'll try and have a marathon viewing and watch all six movies again. We'll see.
If you didn't recall, Episode I originally had a puppet Yoda before they moved to CGI starting with Episode II, but for the blu ray they made him CGI again. Somehow even 1999 puppet Yoda looked less good than 1980 puppet Yoda, so this change doesn't really bother me aside from knowing that Frank Oz must be kind of annoyed that he had to do all that work for nothing when ultimately all you get of his performance is his voice which surely doesn't require awkward positions and cramming himself into small, hidden spaces for.
I'd swear George Lucas forced Natalie Portman to have the most monotone voice in the history of the universe. All of her dialog is stilted and awkward, and I'm sure none of that is her fault but all due to direction and the fact that the dialog is terrible. That said, Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor actually somehow manage to do a decent job and not look like they can't believe they have to be in this ridiculous movie.
Darth Maul is still kind of cool and it's actually kind of too bad that he had to die in this movie and couldn't be used later. The lightsaber fight is also pretty impressive. It also makes me laugh a few times throughout as even though we only saw this movie a few times, there are a few lines my brother and cousins and I quote to each other here and there, when applicable. I mean, seriously dumb, mundane lines but when said in the correct tone of voice and accent they cause laughter because we all know exactly where it's coming from. (Example: "You catch on pretty quick." See? Why would that make anyone laugh? But for us it does.)
The same stuff still makes me roll my eyes though. Midichlorians, Anakin is Jesus because he has no father (are you kidding me?) Anakin built C-3PO, Obi Wan wasn't trained by Yoda, Samuel L. Jackson is awesome but spends the entire movie just kind of sitting there.... ugh, it's impossible to list all of the reasons, and you've all been there and it's been covered endlessly, but I just figured I'd write out a few of my thoughts on seeing it for the first time in a while.
I do believe it would be impossible to make a movie this disappointing again. So, we can hold out hope that Episode VII won't be anything like this. Hopefully we will be given some characters to care about, we will for sure get to see some of our old favorites, and preferably we will be happy with what has become of them at this point. We can probably also be sure that we will not get another Jar Jar-esque character. Admittedly the other day out of nowhere I started thinking that we might get to see Han Solo and Chewbacca flying the Falcon together again, and whatever else may happen, that's pretty awesome.
So that's it, I finally got around to watching The Phantom Menace. Remember when they revealed that title and we were all like, huh. I mean, it doesn't even make sense. Shouldn't it be something about the Chosen One or something? The title of the movie just indicates that even they don't know what it was really supposed to be about. Anyway, I may watch Attack of the Clones tonight if I'm feeling up for it, although I'll need a nap first or else it will surely put me to sleep. This will be good, because I really and truly don't remember what the heck this movie was about, either. I'll be sure to let you know when I find out.