Sunday, February 10, 2008

Only a Sith thinks in absolutes

A week or so ago, in my living room, I rewatched Revenge of the Sith. Watching it made me realize something: I love this movie. The thing is, when it comes to Star Wars, I'll readily admit that I have certain blinders on, and I can't seem to critique them on the same level as I would any other film. For the most part, I like The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones in spite of their shortcomings; however, I really won't try to defend them too much. Watching Sith again though, I did not feel that the blinders were necessary.

I will wholeheartedly admit that after walking out of The Phantom Menace for the first time, I was totally stoked. Between the podrace and the lightsaber duel, I was totally pumped, and the way I described it was that it felt like I was eight years old again. That's what it did to me, but with that came a lack of discerning its shortcomings like the wooden dialogue. I didn't care for Jar Jar Binks, but I didn't (and still don't) think that he's anywhere near as bad as most of my fellow twentysomethings (I was in my twenties at the time, ya know!) seemed to think he was. Don't get me wrong, I'd cut about 75% of his "humorous" bits if it was up to me, but the whining and creating of "anti-Jar Jar" websites was far more annoying as far as I was concerned.

So, with subsequent viewings, I was able to see the problems with Menace. I still like it though. Now, coming out of Attack of the Clones, I didn't have quite the same reaction. The dialogue bothered me much more, and upon repeat viewings, I have to fast-forward through all of the love talk between Padme and Anakin. It's far, far, more objectionable than anything Jar Jar did in the previous film. What's even worse, there's absolutely no good reason for her to fall in love with him. Anakin falling for Padme makes perfect sense - but why would she love him? The only thing that really redeems this movie is 1) seeing Jango Fett do all the cool stuff that I knew Boba Fett could do, and 2) the big Jedi battle at the end, which fulfilled my imagination's desire from when I was a little kid (kinda like the Fett thing).

Oddly enough, I didn't feel too impressed with Sith upon my first viewing. Unlike the other two, which got worse upon subsequent viewings, this one has only grown on me. By no means is it a perfect film, but dammit all to heck if the time doesn't fly by when I'm watching it. The first time I saw it, I felt that Anakin's turn seemed too sudden, and while I think that an argument for that can still be made, that really doesn't bother me too much. I mean, it is hinted at throughout the other two, and even the beginning sequences of this one. It's clearly established that he has the fatal flaw of being unwilling to let his loved ones die, so I completely buy that he'd screw over his life, especially once he killed Mace Windu (because after that moment of passion, he was already screwed.) I'm not saying it's Shakespeare, but it works in a B-movie kind of way.

And that's what it boils down to for me. It's an awesome B movie. The original movies were all glorified B movies, with their roots in pulps and old-time cliffhangers. Arguably, A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back may have transcended that a bit. While Sith doesn't, it works damn well on that level.

Here's what I love about it:

The dialogue. What the hell? Dialogue is the worst thing about the Star Wars movies! True, there are some clunky lines in this film. Thankfully, the love dialogue is over right at the moment when I'm ready to fast-forward though. But there are some gems in there, mainly delivered by The Emperor and General Grievous. As The Emperor/Darth Sidious/Chancellor Palpatine, Ian McDiarmid is probably the actor who is best able to deliver Lucas' prose. He's as slippery as the serpent who tempted Eve in this picture, and I love the fact that finally somebody acknowledges the fact that Yoda is little and green! As for Grevious, everything he says is WAY over the top, and I absolutely love it. He's a comic book villain come to life, and it's plain classic when he says thinks like, "Army or not, you must realize, you are DOOOOOMED." Again, Shakespeare it ain't, but dammit if it doesn't make me grin.

R2-D2. Jar Jar wasn't funny. C-3P0 wasn't funny (in Clones, anyway) but I absolutely loved watching R2 kick some butt. It's been well established that he's a fiesty little guy, and his scenes at the beginning make me smile.

CGI Yoda. A lot of people praised the Yoda/Dooku fight in Clones, but I was underwhelmed. The Yoda/Sidious fight though? Bitchin'. I'd go so far as to say that Yoda looks the best in this movie. Yoda's appearance, in descending order of quality, goes like this: Sith, Empire, Jedi, Clones, Menace.

"Only a Sith thinks in absolutes." Brilliant. No wonder so many conservatives thought Lucas was pointing a satirical finger at them. Finally there's a phrase that sums up the folly of their world view.

The space battle at the beginning. Again, this is the sort of thing that I dreamed about seeing as a little kid. Great stuff, and even better than the space battle in Jedi.

Obi Wan Kenobi. He's a badass in this movie, and McGregor finally seems to be able to handle Lucas' dialogue. It's still clunky, B-movie dialogue, but he gives it with conviction, and genuine pathos when he apologizes to Padme, as it's clear that he knows that he'll have to kill his best friend.

Oh, there's lots more. Please, no emailing me about lame parts. I know that there are lame parts, but the cool parts more than make up for it. And before you think I'm totally off my rocker, 80% of the critics at Rotten Tomatoes agree with me. So there. (Look up the other two prequels - you'll find that they're not quite as hated as you'd expect.)

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