OK, I’ll admit it. I’m a total geek and a moderately big sci-fi fan. Used to be a mega-big sci-fi fan late in high school days.
My “first” Star Wars movie was Empire Stikes back. I was certainly old enough to see Star Wars when it came out, but couldn’t imagine anyone lining up to see a movie. Sure, it got some good reviews, but “space opera” didn’t do it for me, nor did the folks wearing “May the force be with you” buttons at school.
Now, this from someone who also went to sci-fi conventions is a bit odd, alhough that was after this summer of Star Wars initation.
Anyway, loved Empire. For some reason, nothing much else came out that summer, so I went to see it nearly every week. My buddy and I figured out after a few times exactly what time to get there Saturday night, so that when you bought a ticket, they just let you in, rather than making you go “to the back of the waiting line”, so we avoided the entire 30–60 minute pre-prep. Go down, park, walk in, watch the movie, dinner. Quite the summer :-). Memorize the script, all that good stuff. Even hated the book, because as I remember the wrong number of Tie-fighters were chasing the Millenium Falcon, and that made the book a piece of crap :-).
Anyway, then came all the mediocre follow-on’s, and I was disappointed. Episode one had me longing for Howard the Duck, or Willow or something more entertaining. Good two-on-one lightsaber duel though. Episode two was a little better. Too much cardboard acting, and Anakin was just a whiny annoyance. Still, I figured the last episode would take Episode 2, throw a bunch of “Episode 6, we’re going out in style” crap in it, and it’d suck a lot.
Secretly, I hoped it would be better than that, but still.
So, I liked it. Spoilers everywhere in my rambling, but by now, if your a fan, you’ve probably seen it, given that nearly every critic liked it, and nearly every fan I see blogging away liked it. This actually was just written as an email to some other geek buds, but figured I’d enshrine it here too.
OK, first, what sucked.
The initial space battle. OK, loved the vastness of it, especially when they first come around and there are just hundreds of Star Destroyers, and big ships, and thousands of small fighters. Everything Lucas had tried to do to show a big space battle finally brought to the screen. And the effects are breathtaking. But, it’s altogether kinda boring. Two Jedi, flying back and forth and back and forth, then drilling droids. Sillyness. Can’t Jedi use the force to toss off droids on their ship? Shit, they can use it to hurl all kinds of other stuff around. Do you need air to use that force power? Even if it means hurling to your death? Oh wait, that one Droid R2D2 whacked “in the eye” flew off as if there was air and resistance, so I guess there is really no excuse.
Padme. What a wuss. Guess being pregnant saps all the strong female power from you. This was the frigging QUEEN 10 years ago, now she lurks in shadows, worried who might find out about her baby, taking over for Anakin in Episode 2. Speaking of which, Jedi can’t count life forces? How could it being twins have been a surprise until birth? Didn’t get that one. Critics liked her “tragic performance”, but I thought she was way too fragile. Leah would have kicked Anakin’s ass (or tried to).
Video game elements. Riding platforms and droids over lava, swordfighting. Humm, wonder if that’s in the video game? Way too much of a videogame tie-in. Same as the space battle, and a bit the same with the 4 lightsabered droid/hybrid. Why wasn’t anyone drinking Pepsi, or eating a Whopper? That’d be a good gratuitous tie-in too.
What was cool:
Dialog. All in all, a distinct improvement, a lot was still silly, but at least some of it was well thought out. Cool political intrigue. Actually situations with shades of grey, and hard decisions, and people acting like they had strong emotions and were dealing with actually having to choose between multiple actions, none of which would result in a perfect outcome. Hey, just like real life.
Acting. Wow. Real actors. Acting. Like people. When Anakin was getting out of bed after having his first “Padme death” dream, I was thinking, hey, am I watching Star Wars, or some Steven Spielburg drama? When did this guy learn to act?
Lightsabers. Lots of ’em. With some real swordplay, and then people loosing parts of their bodies. Sometimes several parts. Hey, that’s what “it’ll cut through anything it touches” means. Now I get it.
Tragedy. Wow. Mutilated Vader, on the edge of a lava field, twisted and evil, spewing curses, while his mentor, his brother, turns away leaving him in agony. Dead mother, killed by lack of hope and loss. Jedi, even “younglings”, murdered left and right, the most noble and powerful Jedi unable to overcome evil. OK, is this Shakespeare, or Lucas?
Tie ins. In Episode 1, the C3PO thing just seemed like something that came out of someone’s butt, but now, it all kinda works. Connections between the major characters in a “my, this is a small universe” way, didn’t seem quite as silly, but maybe it’s just me. Great shot with Vader and Sideous looking at the Death Star’s beginning. Loved having Leahs ship from Episode 4 be the ship Organa, Obi-Wan and Yoda meet on, down the same hallway where we first meet Vader in Ep. 4. Down to the cheesy plastic and static glowing displays. Nice bow to the past, um, future. Very glad they paid James Earl Jones to come back. And with some emotion left in his voice, before that too is lost to him. The ending, with Luke in his caretakers arms, with the same view of the setting suns and rising music brought goosebumps. I’m a softy again.
Wookies. They kick butt again. Cool.
Non-wookies. Aliens as a whole kicked butt. Jar Jar had no lines, the aliens that did weren’t silly.
Alien effects. Wow. OK, so finally, a computer generated Yoda blows away rubber puppet Yoda. And the others were mostly amazing. And, when appropriate, real bodies in prosthetics instead of computer standins “just because we can”. And nothing that seemed totally gratuitous, like a bunch of the crappy aliens added in Mos Eisley in Episode 4.
Ships. Clunky, non-aerodynamic (cause they’re in space, after all), dirty, working vessels, ala Episode 4. Far more fun to gawk at detail than the mirrored Blackbird-look-alikes’s in 1&2.
Boba Fett. Didn’t need him to be in our face, we had all the clones, and he wasn’t in our face. They didn’t have to bring in *everyone* in for a family reunion (although I’m betting he’ll be in the director’s cut :-).