Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Movie Review: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

I haven't reviewed anything on here for ages. So better start catching up. Of course I've already seen Revenge of the Sith, I saw it at the first showing in the Penzance Pit last Thursday on Premier Day so it's high time I reviewed it.

Actually, I'm not sure if review is a good word to describe this entry because when I re-read it, it comes over as a major rant/nit pick, not a review.

You'll have to forgive me. I was into Star Wars in a big way throughout a major part of my life and there's no way that I can review this film objectively. I was winning online Star Wars trivia contests when the internet was still a geek's hobby - so trust me - I know what I'm talking about.


There's something really charming about going to see a Star Wars movie. It's become an experience in itself. I know of no other movie genre where it is acceptable for an adult to go to the cinema wearing a costume from a character in a movie or even walk in carrying fake weaponry. There were several children waving glowing sabres in the theatre and a couple of adults too, one child was even dressed in a Luke (or Anakin) costume. Usually this behaviour is only to be observed at Sci Fi conventions, take the Jedi Chefs (see previous blog entry) for example.

Anyway on to the film itself. It's a landmark in the history of the cinema, and probably an end of an era by any means. I've been reading quite a few archaetypal reviews in the high-brow British Press which look back at how the original Star Wars changed the outlook of a generation. I don't think it did personally, George Lucas was just out to make a good movie, but he accidentally saw to it that a generation of adults all now know how to fake-sword fight, including it seems Ewen McGregor. (A little bit of extra trivia: During the filming of The Phantom Menace, Liam Neeson apparently walked off the set in disgust because Ewen wouldn't stop making fake lightsabre noises while they duelled. ;-)

The film opens with yet another epic space battle - yawn... the first couple of battles in the first few films and even the one in The Phantom Menace were spectacular but this just doesn't really set it off the start of the film properly, you are still settling in your seat and adjusting your night vision at this point. Next we cut to Anakin and Obi-Wan "rescuing" Chancellor Palpatine from General Grevious. Now this Grevious dude is an interesting character. A robot with light-sabres? Scarey - but a little alarm bell went off in my head, supposedly only a Jedi should be able to manipulate The Force to control the light sabre - but the truth is revealed later on in the movie. There's still an organic heart beating inside Grevious!!

Defeated, Grevious makes a quick exit by blowing out a window. This is the first time in the Star Wars Universe that I've seen the real vacuum of space being used properly. Remember in ESB when Han, Chewie and Leia go outside the Falcon on the asteroid to investigate the mynock on the ship? OK, they wear face masks, but why didn't the the rest of their skin suffer from decompression? Maybe someone has been giving Lucas some real life hints about what space is really like.

In the first really cool sequence (ok the falling down the lift shaft bit was OK too) Obi-Wan, Anakin and the Chancellor pilot the remains of the ship down through the atmosphere. I thought it was quite cool that the fire engines on Coruscant are arial - of course they would need to stop crashing ships, there's no safe landing spots on a planet-wide city-scape if you can't make the starport. Another point that occurred to me is that Anakin and Ben could have used some of their telekinetic jedi powers to keep the ship aloft. If little Yoda can lift an X-Wing out of a swamp maybe two powerful jedi's can use their powers to kill some of the kinetic energy in the falling ship. But then again, Anakin is supposed to be the "best pilot in the galaxy". Maybe it's easier to believe this than The Force Meets Physics explanation.

So Padme is pregnant. About seven and a half months pregnant all told, how has she managed to hide that bump from the Senate for the last 4 months? How long has Anakin been gone? If this was any other saga, you would have to question whether the child was even Anakin's after all that time? But this is Star Wars - it's got to stay cute and furry and before any sex can happen the characters have to get married - even if they do it in secret. I can't believe however, that Padme couldn't get word to him via Hologram or something, even if he is on the other side of the Galaxy fighting the Clone Wars.

So Palpatine lures Anakin even deeper into the darker side of the force, promising him that he can help save Padme's life. In doing so he reveals that he learned all he knew from his own master Darth Plagueis and then slew him in his sleep. Palpatine also mentions that Plagueis had the power to manipulate the Mitochlorians to create life? Is that how Anakin was conceived? Does that make Darth Plagueis his father? Did he just wave a hand or did a whole alien probing thing go on? No wonder Shmi Skywalker didn't want to talk about it.

I think the coolest thing in the film has to be Mace Windu and his Lovely Lilac Lightsabre. Yes Mr Samuel L Jackson does truly shine here, it's such a shame that he failed in his attempt on the Emperor's life.

Why oh Why didn't Windu take Yoda along for backup? Mace Windu looked as if he was managing the Emperor OK on his own and if it hadn't been for Anakin's intervention Palpatine would most likely have been toast by now, but the two of them together would have guaranteed taking the Emperor out and the future of the galaxy would have been changed for the good forever. But Yoda is on the other side of the galaxy commanding a Clone War on Kaysshak and having piggyback rides with Chewbacca. (It was great to see Chewie again - it's a shame we never got to see Yoda and Chewie have a reunion in the first trilogy of films).

So when Windu goes to arrest Palpatine himself, he makes the mistake of taking the Jedi equivalent of the star-trek red shirts as his back up. How can Jedi fall so easily? The remaining senior jedi council members are polished off like the henchman's muppet fighters in Kill Bill in less than 10 seconds. Ok, this is the future Emperor we're dealing with here, but they are Jedi FOR GODSAKES!!

That really bothered me about the deaths of all the other Jedi too. If even Han Solo can get a "Bad Feeling", why didn't they realise that something was up? I can't believe they all fell so easily, or didn't suffer from premonition that it was going to happen. From reading the books on the future of Luke and Co up to about 20 years after ROTJ I know what the Jedi are truly capable of, and Luke wasn't even that well trained, whilst the Jedi Academy starts their training while they are still in diapers. Basically a cornered rat with a machine gun would have nothing on them. I guess this was a Lucas cop-out to save time and push Anakins story on through the movie.

And so we come to the final showdowns. Anakin Vs Ben and Yoda Vs Palpatine. The Anakin Vs Ben battle starts with the final scene between Padme and Anakin. Padme has got the right to be disturbed, the thought of Anakin despatching the Jedi Child Trainees - even though thankfully you don't see it happening - has got to be the most disturbing thing in the movie, even Anakin's injuries and amputations don't come close to this. It's something that I wouldn't have considered even Darth Vader capable of, but here it is - on the movie screen large as day. In some ways I understood exactly how Padme felt at that point. It was the way I felt about Sean - how you once loved someone who turned out to be capable of despicable acts or lies - my heart went out to her at that point. And then Anakin turns on her too.

The final battles begin. Actually, the only disappointing thing about Episode Three was the final battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin and the way in which it ended, which was not nice. The battle was long and well fought... but it just lacked the sort of excitement that was there in the Qui Gon/Obi Wan duel with Darth Maul which I watched again the other day when it was repeated on tv, so I know what I'm talking about. I was actually annoyed when the battle scene kept switching back to Obi Wan and Anakin as I was far more interested in what was going on between Yoda and the Emperor as they hurled the senate floating debating disks at each other and Yoda flipped around doing his "Flubber" impression around Darth Siddious's head. In the end Yoda realises that Palpatine is to powerful for him to handle alone and makes his escape down a ventilation shaft like a rat in a maze to Bail Organa's waiting speeder.

The end of the film did tie up many loose ends, the separation of the twins, their naming, Bail Organa adopting Leia and Obi Wan taking Luke to Tatooine to the arms of Aunt Beru and Uncle Lars in the setting suns of that distant world where it all began back in 1977.....

But... coming from the die-hard fan here.... some more loose ends

  • Leia remembering her mother - This has been debated quite a bit already on various groups. I've always believed that after giving birth Padme went into hiding with Leia. The sad look that Leia remembers on her mother's face is Padme longing for her lost son, Luke. Padme eventually wasting away in grief until she dies and Leia gets adopted by Bail Organa and follows his career path in the senate.

  • Artoo's memory - Threepio's memory get's wiped. Yes that solves a lot of plot problems, BUT! Bail Organa didn't say anything about wiping R2-D2's memory too. R2's just an unregarded astromech droid - so why bother. But you know how R2-D2 and Threepio talk. Wipe Threepio - who cares? R2's just going to fill him in on the details again after the procedure.

  • Ben's Memory - And Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi says in Star Wars, "I can't ever remember owning an Astromech Droid, most interesting." He's just spent the last 10 years shooting around the Galaxy with R2!!!.

  • The Clone Army - Whatever happened to the Boba Fett Clones? They all died? They got destroyed by a Senate Anti-Cloning Order? Because by Luke and Han's time, real live flesh and blood pilots go to the Academy and then are concripted into Imperial Service as Stormtroopers.

  • Boba Fett's Scarred Mandalorian Armour - I once read a story - or an encyclopedic entry that said that Boba Fett destroys Mace Windu. That makes sense, the 10 year old Boba Fett wants revenge on Windu for killing his "father". The Mandalorian Armour that Fett wears in the ESB and ROTJ is supposed to be inpervious to light sabres. But Fett's armour is scarred - presumably by Windu's Lovely Lilac Lightsabre (and the scar does not match the wound that decapitated Fett in Attack of the Clones), as Windu tried to kill Fett in their final battle before Fett finishes him off.

    But now the Emperor killed Windu himself with Anakin's aid, and the only Jedi currently left (excepting the ones who pop up from time to time in the future Novels) are The Emperor, Vader, Ben and Yoda. So who fought with Boba Fett and scarred the armour? The Emperor and Vader do a deal with Fett for Han's Bounty in ESB which they are hardly going to do if they've had a fight with the guy in the past. Yoda's on Dagobah in exile, so the only likely suspect is Ben/Obi Wan. Did Obi-Wan attack Fett? Well how did he get that sabre scar on his armour?????

Ok, I've had a rant, I've nicked and picked and I hold the option open to add to this nit list when I've had more time to absorb the movie - maybe on the second viewing I'll add to it. But as this is a review I honestly can't mark this less than 10 out of 10.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Found this website.... worth browsing for a laugh.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Movie Review: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

I liked the movie. It was great seeing "new" Douglas Adams bits again. Like the point of view gun, how cool was that? I'd have loved to have been able to shoot that at my X - several times!

I quite liked what they did with the characters. Even the black Ford didn't put me off - I used to like the TV series Ford, I thought he was "cute". I liked the new Trillian. I personally found Sandra Dickenson quite annoying so having a normal looking and sounding Trillian was quite an improvement. I spotted the original Marvin in the Queue too. Liked what they did with the Vogons. The puppets/animatronics were certainly an improvement over those green rubber suits from the TV show, and Zaphod certainly seemed so much cooler than the one in the TV show too, but then I guess the CGI head helped there. Who can act like the coolest dude in the universe sporting an extra head and hand? And is this just my opinion or did they make Arthur more of a hero than he was in the original show? Don't know, just the way it seemed to come across for me.

In fact the only thing I didn't like was Marvin. I dig the whole Alan Rickman doing the voice thing, but I just couldn't tie up the voice with Warwick Davis wandering around in a robot suit with a huge beachball on his head. Kind of spoiled it for me.

Overall the movie was quite a ride and I enjoyed it a lot. I was quite disappointed at the end not to see what the film-makers had done with The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Are they going to make a sequel? Has anyone heard any news?

Overall I'd give it 9 out of 10