Sunday, May 29, 2005

Episode III

I may lose some geek cred on this one, but I have to be honest, I wasn't that overly impressed with Episode III.

That's not to say that I didn't like it, because I did. I liked it in much the same way that I liked Episodes I and II. I enjoyed the spectacle of it all, but it came across as a bit shallow. I enjoyed the movie for what it was, but I wish that it could have been more. Lucas had 20 years to work on the story and the characters for this film, but it doesn't seem like he used the time wisely.

It needs to be said, and has already been said that George Lucas can't write dialogue for anything. He also, apparently can't see the proper emotional points to push in the story that he has (more on that later). I also get the impression that he's not much of an actor's director, though that could just be due to the hip-hop producer style way that he put these films together, with some actors such as Christopher Lee (who is horribly underused in this film and the series as a whole) not even being present with other actors in his scenes.

Kevin Smith wrote in Rolling Stone and on his site that this was a homerun and better than Empire, but I disagree. I think this film was exactly the final piece in a thoroughly adequate trilogy of films.

But this is an ever so pretty film, and the dueling sequences are well done, especially the last one.

This film is supposed to be about Anakin, but, I think that Obi-Wan steals the show, much like Han Solo did in the originals. The fight between the two of them at the end was the only truly emotionally spot on part of the film.

In the end, that is why the film doesn't totally work for me, it kept seeming that the characters just weren't doing the things that they would do.

Continue reading the full post. Warning, there be spoilers.

What didn't work and why:
  • For one, I don't see Yoda running after the fight with Palpatine. I did not get the feeling from the sequence that he was injured that badly (though that might just be that I don't think the digital Yoda is that emotive; I think the puppet worked much better in that respect), and I immediately thought of Die-Hard as he crawled through the tunnel.


  • Amidala becomes Morpheus from the third Matrix film in this movie, she doesn't have anything to do. She's a Senator, but from the way the movie presents it, or doesn't, that seems to just consists of going sitting in the Senate chambers and not actually doing anything governmental, and sitting in her lofty tower the rest of the time. Also, I find it hard to believe that nobody noticed that she was very pregnant and didn't infer who the father was, or even wonder. I would have to think that this would be a huge scandal for an unmarried senator to suddenly be pregnant. Also, if she was that far along, how is it that she never visited a doctor or medical droid that could tell her she was carrying twins? You'd think that would come up.

    She dies of a broken heart? Would it have been so horrible for Anakin's force squeezing to have done the job, even going so far as to put her in a coma? The bit where the droid was showing her the babies and she was naming them seemed like a hurry up before she dies moment, and has no real emotional resonance for me since it seemed like she was just pulling names out of the air. It would have worked better to just let Bail and Owen/Beru name the kids.

    [Roxanne brought up something interesting. She said that she heard that originally Owen was going to be Obi-Wan's brother. That would have made much more sense from a storytelling standpoint as to why Vader didn't ever find out about Luke living with his relatives, and it would also have given insight into Obi-Wan's background. There would be the possibility to show how his joining the order could have strained relations with his family, and over all given Ewan even more to work with for the character]

  • Palpatine dispatches of the remaining members of the Jedi council (except for Mace) waaaaaaaaaaaaay to easily. I don't see them being the super-badass lords of the galaxy if they don't even get to throw up one block. Clone Wars spent a lot of time building up the badassedness of Kit Fisto, and he doesn't even last five seconds. It would have been better to just have started the movie with two or three of the members already dead and their chairs in the council empty. That would have been a subtle hint at the precariousness of the situation. Instead they got to fill the roll of jobbers to put Palpatine over as a badass. His fight with Mace should have done that.

  • There are times where the CGI in this film doesn't work for me. It was mostly minor things that brought me out of the movie, like Dooku's entrance and flip down to the lower level at the beginning. Is it impossible that an old man could just be a badass with the saber and not need the flippy-flippy? I would still have preferred Yoda's fighting style to have been all force throws and using the force to wield his lightsaber out in front of him.

  • This is a big one. Anakin's eyes should have gone red/gold after killing the jedi younglings, not after killing Nute Gunray and his ilk. He killed a roomful of children in cold blood. Children. If there was a point where he was damned that was it. That was the point he truly embraced the darkside, that was the point of no return. I think that the scene played well, but it was undercut by his seemingly needing to kill the trade federation to truly turn.

  • This movie should have been split into three parts to tell the tale. Instead we have a film that is crammed full of plot so much that they can't spend time on the characters who get lost in the shuffle. Lucas says in Rolling Stone:
    ...when I said that I was going to do the prequals, everybody said,"That's great, we get to see Darth Vader kill everybody." And I said, "That's not the story." When I announced that the first story was going to be about a nine-year-old boy, everybody here said,"That's insane, you're going to destroy the whole franchise, it's More American Graffitti all over again." And I said,"Yeah, but this is the story.

    "I don't have the energy to just make hit movies. I'm not going to make James Bond Pt. 21--I'm just not interested. Everybody said to drop the stuff about the midichlorians, it makes it too confusing. But it's a metaphor for a symbiotic relationship that allows life to exist. Everybody said it was going to be a giant turkey: "This isn't going to help Lucasfilm at all." I said,"This is about the movie and the company is just going to have to deal with whatever happens." That's one of the reasons why there was so much hype of the first prequel: Everybody was terrified.


    No, the reason there was so much hype is that the original trilogy are beloved films, and there were millions spent in the marketing of the prequels. But that's neither here nor there. What the above tells me is that George doesn't actually understand what people are saying when they criticize his decisions. The midichlorians aren't confusing, the problem with them is that they remove the confusion/mysticism. I understand his thought process on this, but he's just plain damn wrong. There is no need to explain why people are able to interact with the force on a scientific basis, because it is magic.


    But back to the original point here this last film should have been the story. Broken up it would have had enough room to breathe. We didn't need to know the inner workings of the Jedi council, or every little bit about the war. Lord knows Lucas likes the exposition, he could have just fucking told us the salient points in the text crawl before the movies--that's what they're there for!

    The first film should have started with the WAR headline over the text crawl.

    Too much time was wasted in these movies with things that advance the plot, but do nothing to further the action. That's why this movie seems so crammed full while at the same time feeling so hollow, there are too many things trying to be established in too little time. Lucas wasted a whole lot of time in the earlier films with pod-races and bad dialogue, when he should have been setting some of these things up a little earlier.

    It's like Tommy has said about superhero movies, he wishes that they would just tell their stories, rather than feeling the need to explain everything. If you are watching a kung-fu movie, you know that the people will be flipping around and maybe flying. Super-hero films should be the same way.

    I wish that Lucas could have learned from the Buckaroo Banzai approach the best way to homage the old movie serials is to just go and not worry about explanations. If he'd taken that approach to these films, then my earlier bullet points would be pointless, but he didn't. Instead we are treated to three films full of exposition and explanation, and I think that I am justified in applying a bit higher standards.

    Lucas should have brought in Robert Rodriguez to direct these films, he understands all this. I don't care that his films don't always hold up to scrutiny or even make much sense, but Lucas has built an empire on making people want to care about those things. For shitssake each and every little minor character in these films has a name and some form of background that is explained in some book or comic or game.


Enough of the griping.

In the end I was left with the same feeling that I had after Episode's I and II; they were cool, but I don't ever really need to see them again. I still haven't watched any of II since my only viewing in the theater. I'm more likely to watch the Clone Wars cartoon again than I am any of these films. I'd like to see the Anakin/Obi-Wan fight again, but that's pretty much it.

Mark my words, this is not the last Star Wars film that we will see. It might not happen for another 20 years, and probably not with Lucas at the helm, but there will be more. In fact I don't think it will take 20 years my money is on 5.

Valis

Selections from PKD's Valis:

I've always told people that for each person there is a sentence--a series of words--which has the power to destroy him. When Fat told me about Leon Stone I realized (this came years after the first realization) that another sentence exists, another series of words, which will heal the person. If you're lucky you will get the second; but you can be certain of getting the first; that is the way it works. On their own, without training, individuals know how to deal out the second.
....

In his study of the form that masochism takes in modern man, Theodor Reik puts forth an interesting view. Masochism is more widespread than we realize because it takes an attenuated form. the basic dynamism is as follows: a human being sees something bad which is coming as inevitable. There is no way he can halt the process; he is helpless. This sense of helplessness generates a need to gain some control over the impending pain--any kind of control will do. This makes sense; the subjective feeling of helplessness is more painful than the impending misery; he hastens it. This activity on his part promotes the false impression that he enjoys pain. Not so. It is simply that he cannot any longer endure the helplessness or the supposed helplessness. But in the process of gaining control over the inevitable misery he becomes, automatically, anhedonic (which means being unable or unwilling to enjoy pleasure). Anhedonia sets in stealthily. Over the years it takes control of him. For example, he lears to defer gratification; this is a step in the dismal process of anhedonia. In learning to defer gratification he experiences a sense of self-mastery; he has become stoic, disciplined; he does not give way to impulse. He has control. Control over himself in terms of his impulses and control over the external situation. He is a controlled and controlling person. Pretty soon he has branched out and is controlling other people, as part of the situation. He becomes a manipulator. Of course he is not consciously aware of this; all he intends to do is lessen his own sense of impotence. But in his task of lessening this sense, he insidiously overpowers the freedom of others. Yet, he derives no pleasure from this, ho positive psychological gaim; all his gains are essentially negative.

Friday, May 06, 2005

For Your Calendar

Warren says:

I believe that on June 6, 2006, the web should proclaim its love for Satan.

Personally I think it should be on June 6, 2007 which would be my 30th birthday, rather than 2006 which is my 29th.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Scattershot Revisited

"Mmmm, it tastes like bubble-bath smells."

--My Sister



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Via bOINGbOING:

Awesome!! W remixed so that he sings Lennon's Imagine and Walk on the Wild Side. It comes across strangely like a Shatner Song.

From thepartyparty.com"

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"Take my love, take my land
Take me where I cannot stand
I don't care, I'm still free
You can't take the sky from me
Take me out to the black
Tell them I ain't comin' back
Burn the land and boil the sea
You can't take the sky from me
There's no place I can be
Since I found Serenity
But you can't take the sky from me..."


Serenity movie trailer. I'm assuming we'll finally find out the secret of Blue Sun.

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Dr. Seuss goes to war.

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Marshall McLuhan .Mp3's, including a sound collage album.

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From the makers of Silence, the Silence of the Lambs musical, comes "RoboCop, the musical"

Stolen From Tommy

Saturday Movie Meme thing


1. The last movie you went to see in a theater:
"Sin City"

2. The last movie you watched at home:
My sister was watching "House of 1000 Corpses" and I was in the room.

3. How many movies do you own?
400+, mostly on DVD.

4. Got Netflix (or a similar service)?
Oh yeah.

5. List five movies you adore (or mean a lot to you.)
"Amelie," "The Big Lebowski," "Blind Fury," "The Empire Strikes Back," "The Wizard of Oz"

6. What’s in the Netflix queue?
"24 Season 3"
"Homicide, Season 1 and 2"
"WWE: Rob Van Damme One of a Kind"
"The Warriors"
"Mean Girls"
"Walking Tall"
"Saved"
Then about 180 more different things.

Spoke Too Soon

Last week when I said that my phone was up and running, it was. Then, not so much after that.

It seems that Hillbilly Phone Company find it to be acceptable to merely run the phone line across the ground from the pole to my house, rather than, say, suspending it in the air, or burying it like the old line.

They also don't seem to think it necessary to leave a note or anything that this was their decision.

They fixed it, then the line was cut by the lawnmower by accident.

Then it took them almost a week to come and fix it again, and, lo and behold, they again left it running across the ground and left no note, but this time they took the extra step of marking the gas line with little orange flags before they went away.

It has now been four days since they did that.

I'm wondering if they are going to come and bury it or not.

But, the moral of the story is that the phone works again, for now.
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