May 9, 2005

"Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith"

"Star Wars: Episode 3 -- Revenge of the Sith:" It debuts on May 19th, but I saw it last Thursday. This shows that Lucas thinks he has a winner on his hands compared to "Episode 2 -- Attack of the Clones," which I, as a critic, wasn't allowed to see until a few hours before it was released to the public.

How is it? As Abraham Lincoln would have said, people who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like.

It's hard to think of anything new to say about the Star Wars, but one thing that stands out is that while the original 1977 movie may have been one of the best-paced films ever (aided by George Lucas's ex-wife's editing), Lucas's sense of pacing has deserted him. The first "Star Wars" didn't have a big enough budget for a lot of space ships, aliens, or gadgets, so the camera lingered lovingly over what they could afford -- the cantina scene's aliens, the two suns setting over Luke's desert planet, the enormous battle cruiser in the famous opening shot. Today, Lucas, because he owns his own special-effects shop, can afford to create an enormous number of different contraptions to stuff his movie with, so each one gets about 2.5 seconds on camera before it disappears and is replaced by some other prodigy of the imagination.

I presume he expects fans to buy the DVD and freeze frame each new space ship or space monster and study it in detail, but it's annoying for the theatre-goer as you feel like you are missing all the most interesting parts of the movie, since the clanking dialogue and Mystery Science Theatre 3000 quality-acting, even from the normally-expert Ewan McGregor, aren't worth the price of admission.

Still, "Sith" carries a certain nostalgic emotional charge: the visit to old friend Chewbacca on the Planet of the Wookies was greeted by the audience with particular warmth. Moreover, because the plot of Episode 3 directly sets up the plot of the beloved original Episode 4, "Sith," while lacking in tension due to its predetermined outcome, offers the satisfaction of seeing all the pieces fall into place. So, Episdoe 3 seems less pointless than the two previous films.

I still think, though, that it was a mistake for Lucas to follow up Episodes 4-6 with Episodes 1-3 instead of Episodes 7-9.

Still, the quality of "Sith" seems irrelevant. I sense that a lot of people who haven't seen the movie yet have made up their minds that, because it is presumably the last Star Wars movie ever, they are going to like it, so it should be a big hit.


Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me Dept. -- The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports:

"[Hayden] Christensen [who plays the young Darth Vader] also confirmed recently that Lucas got a helping hand with the script for Revenge of the Sith. In an interview with Playboy, he said the rumours about playwright Tom Stoppard working on the dialogue for the film are true.

"Stoppard, known for stage works like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, gave the Lucas-penned screenplay a more "human" dimension, Christensen said. "

Stoppard is my favorite playwright, but Lucas's original script must have been really lacking in the human dimension if Stoppard, whose strong suit is inhuman brilliance, could add humanity to it!

Perhaps Stoppard wrote some of Chancellor Palpitation's lines, which do seem to be better than the rest.

By the way, if you saw "The Interpreter," did you notice how Catherine Keener, who played Sean Penn's tough cookie Secret Service partner, sounded like she had hired her own private (and superior) screenwriter? Every time she came on screen, she seemed like she was in a different, and better, movie than Penn and Nicole Kidman.

Keener blew away Sean Penn and she held her own with the titanic Daniel Day-Lewis a few weeks ago in "The Ballad of Jack and Rose." That's impressive.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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