This review contains major SPOILERS, so be warned. Actually, there are so many spoilers here that you don’t even have to go see the movie. Aren’t you grateful? you should really send half of the ten bucks you saved to me, to thank me…you’re welcome.
Firstly, let me say that this movie violates one of Otter’s most important Principles of Movie Stupidity. No, not “The least obvious guy is the one who committed the murder(s)”. Not even “If something scary is killing people, don’t go off alone looking for it”. Or “Don’t wear a red shirt in any Star Trek episode”. No, the important principle that makes me scream every time a moviemaker violates it is: NEVER LEAVE AN ENEMY ALIVE BEHIND YOU. Never. Never. Never.
You’d think a Jedi Master would know that one…but of course, that would cause some major plot problems…so let’s come back to that later, and we’ll just get started with shredding this dog.
Now, just to be fair, there were a couple of good things about this movie: best of all, the much hated and reviled Jar Jar Binks was NOWHERE IN EVIDENCE, an omission for which I, at least, was profoundly grateful…even better than seeing him killed horribly was NOT TO SEE HIM AT ALL*.
Ewan MacGregor and Natalie Portman were two more good things about this (although her lines, not to mention her whole part, were among the worst ever, and there was a scathing article in the San Jose Mercury News about that, thanks to La Cuerva for sending it to me…). They were both in there trying to make their lame dialog and unfunny jokes sound as good as possible, and don’t think I didn’t appreciate whatever they could do to help out. I did notice that Samuel L. Jackson, usually a wonderful actor, was just mugging along in this one, but he didn’t really have much of a part…
And of course, the special effects were good. But you know, no matter how many times people try to convince me that a movie is good (or at least worth seeing and enjoying) if the special effects are spectacular, my answer is the same: I would rather see good actors doing Shakespeare on a bare stage in street clothes than bad actors doing it with all the stage, scenery and costuming that money can buy. Same for explodos: if the script isn’t good, and the actors at least decent (hint: don’t hire Keanu Reeves) then no matter how good the special effects are on their own, it’s NOT A GOOD MOVIE. And I don’t care what the box office grosses are.
But I digress.
The Reality Police are ALL OVER this one, but I didn’t want my review to look like it had blue measles, so this is my token symbol for all the stupidity that follows. And there’s a lot of stupidity, so brace yourself.
From the opening scene, where Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen are zooming in with their little scooters, avoiding certain death and destruction, and rescuing Chancellor Palpatine (and is there ONE PERSON on the PLANET who didn’t know he was Darth Sidious? come on, we all figured that out the first time he showed up in Phantom Menace!) it was obvious that nobody had made Hayden Christensen go back to remedial acting school. Damn, McGregor is good looking, and can act, and was doing EVERYTHING HE COULD to make up for his partner’s shortcomings…but no. Hayden Christensen is about the most wooden actor on this planet, and isn’t even as good looking as Keanu Reeves…just a sulky bad boy with no talent. And that carefully curled and styled hair, oh my god. I guess he’s a *STAR* now, huh?
Then the huge ship that they’re on is attacked, because the evil tubercular droid General Greivous (I’m not making this up, he sounded like a pack-a-day man) got away and starts bombing the ship he escaped from, that they are trapped on, to destroy them.
Now, here is one of the problems with making prequels, and it happened OVER and OVER and OVER in this movie, as it did in Attack of the Clones: not much point in trying to destroy the ship that Obi Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader-to-be and the Evil Emperor who is not yet an emperor are in…because EVERYONE IN THE AUDIENCE KNOWS THEY DON’T DIE YET. So where’s the suspense? sure, the special effects were cool, but so what? And of course they had to bring in the Star Trek Fallacy: huge window in the room is broken, outer space on the other side…but no! The people in the room have time to get away! sorry, folks, it’s called explosive decompression for a reason, and even if you do manage to escape in the short time you can actually exist in those conditions, five or eleven seconds, you’ll have serious heart and lung problems, and probably won’t be up for piloting the remaining piece of the huge space ship in to port.
And what was going on there? why on earth would an orbiting deep space vessel have LANDING FLAPS? The ship was obviously never meant to land anywhere…on the other hand, George Lucas is the one who made space ships make noise in outer space, so I guess he can do what he wants.
So fine, all is well, mission accomplished.
Christensen is put on the Jedi Council at the express request of his buddy Chancellor Palpatine. And he’s STILL a whinyboy, he’s STILL sulky and childish and awful. Why didn’t they ship him off to that swamp planet with Yoda like they did Luke Skywalker? Yoda would have knocked that attitude out of him pronto…
Oh, and Natalie Portman shows up, so we also have the love scenes. The article referenced above summed that up nicely, I only have a couple of other comments to make:
- If they’re not supposed to be married, and it’s so bad that Padme’s queen will dismiss her from being a senator if it’s found out, why doesn’t anyone bat an eye at the fact that she’s WAY PREGNANT? Getting knocked up by an unknown person is ok, but marrying a putative Jedi Knight isn’t? give me a break. As in the last movie, Portman’s clothing is chosen for looking totally pretty rather than useful…although less revealing, since she’s supposed to be pregnant. Demure, yet sexy. So at one point, she’s wearing a dress with a halter strap, cut low across the top, with three little strands of pearls hanging down across her upper arms on each side. Okay. Not so bad. Then cut to late at night, Christensen gets up out of bed…and she has gone to bed in this confection? No woman would use this for anything but seductionwear, either the pearls would break, or they’d dig into her arms. And she’s pregnant, why on earth would she wear that outfit instead of her comfy old sweats? WHAT were the costumers thinking? were they all men? What a crock.
- Portman’s portliness increases and decreases throughout the movie as well, depending on what she has to do at the time…certainly no woman in the eighth month CARRYING TWINS would be sprinting sveltely across the landing pad to confront her husband…she’d be leaning in the doorway of the spaceship, one hand on her lower back, screaming imprecations at him, and hoping she didn’t have to go down that ramp, because she’d never get back up it…and she certainly was nothing like large enough for those two HUGE BABIES to come out of her. Maybe a Jedi womb warp…
But back to what passes for a plot…everything goes wrong, the Emperor sucks out Christensen’s soul (but not his acting ability, since there was none of that there to start with) and Darth Vader is born. And still shows absolutely no emotion. Oh, but his eyes glow wierdly when he’s evil, that’s how you know. But his jedi sword is still blue, I thought the bad guys all had red swords, that’s how you KNOW they’re bad guys, right, like the robots in I, Robot? No, his sword stays blue. Very odd.
Of course there had to be a cute animal sidekick, McGregor got it, a wonderful riding lizard, the only touch of humor in the movie…sigh. And it was a long damn movie, take it from me. But there was one other part I really liked: General Grievous’ little gyroscopic roadster, made me think of the line from Batman, where the Joker stares after Batman, shakes his head, and says, “Where DOES he get his toys?”…it was COOL. Sad when the computer animations are WAY more interesting than the actors…
And that was about the end of cool, for the rest of the movie. Four jedi masters go to confront the evil Chancellor Palpatine, none of them is in the next movie (the REAL Star Wars) so we know they’re toast. Senator Organa shows up, we know he’ll be ok. All the other Jedi Masters are killed, but of course Yoda and Obi Wan survive. And then…the big duel scene!
Yoda (who THOROUGHLY kicks butt in this one, yessirree!) fights the evil Chancellor (now Emperor, I think) Palpatine. Obi Wan fights the newly christened Darth Vader. (who is almost instantly also called Lord Vader, even without official recognition of his rank. Huh?) But the fights. Ho hum. Nobody’s gonna die. Nobody but Darth is gonna be seriously hurt. At this point, we all know EXACTLY what’s going to happen, and the only thing we’re sticking around to see is how Darth Vader gets so thrashed that it’s body suit time for him.
And after a long fight over the lava where they seem to be evenly matched…Darth Vader jumps over Obi Wan at the EXACTLY PERFECT angle to let him cut off one hand (the one he had already lost, luckily) and BOTH LEGS. And then he falls in the ash/lava mix at the edge of the boiling lava lake and yells and writhes a lot. And Obi Wan…turns and walks away? without pushing him in? without shooting him through the head? No light saber to the heart? No, of course not, because HE CAN’T. He has to be UNBELIEVEABLY STUPID (and it was unbelieveable, this is a guy that Obi Wan KNEW killed a bunch of CHILDREN back in the Jedi Temple) because Darth Vader has to live, and everyone IN THE WHOLE WORLD knows it.
And what is this thing Lucas has for cutting off everyone’s hands? It was a great plot point and a huge shock when Luke loses his hand…it was less shocking when it happened to Hayden Christensen in Attack of the Clones, but everyone said, okay, he’s riffing on that movie. Now, in this one, there were at least SEVEN INCIDENTS of people or droids having hands/limbs cut off in battle. Are the choreographers just getting bored? are they tired of finding other things for people to do with light sabers? or do the special effects guys just like doing stumps? By the time it happens to THREE of Christensen’s limbs at the end, it’s kind of like, been there, done that…wierd.
And then…he puts on the suit. And of course his last line in the movie is dubbed by James Earl Jones, the Voice of Darth Vader (jeez, I hope he is getting MEGABUCKS for that, that voice has always been so perfectly scary). And I don’t know how much they modified that big, threatening black costume, and how much of it was just knowing that it was awful Hayden Christensen inside…but he was really not impressive. AS DARTH FRIGGIN’ VADER HIMSELF. Not impressive. And that was the saddest thing of all. Thanks so much, George Lucas, for turning the scariest villain in all of movie history into a SULKING WHINYBOY in our heads. May you burn in hell forever for that one.
Well. Anyway. Of course the twins are born and named and farmed out, and everything is in place for the next/first/best Star Wars movie.
Thank God that’s over. Supposedly Lucas has done the Star Wars thing and will not be making episodes 7, 8, and 9, to which a grateful public can only say Huzzah! and hope that he means it.
*I am informed by my friend and colleague La Cuerva that <retch> Jar Jar Binks</retch> is indeed in the movie, in the last scene, walking behind Padme’s coffin…but at least he NEVER SAYS ANYTHING.
Now my Dragon-In-Law has pointed out that he was actually in THREE SCENES and in one says ‘Excuse me’ when someone pushes by him. Lucas probably had a contract with the poor schmuck who signed on to do Jar Jar that he’d get a speaking role in each movie so he could be paid…but I have to say, I totally blanked him out, there was a Jar Jar Binks sized hole in the screen all three times he showed up, and I am eternally grateful for it.