Tuesday, May 24, 2005
A D[e]arth of taste, subtlety, and artistry
I saw Episode III last night. I wonder what it would've been like if it had been made by an actual filmmaker instead of George Lucas, who is (let's face it) an animator. The movie was thrilling at times because of the narrative payoff. The dude's got a good story on his hands. But the execution is kind of ridiculous. Seventy-five percent of the movie is CGI, and most of the medium and long shots of characters are fake too. It's distracting to watch CGI Ewan MacGregor suddenly become real Ewan MacGregor when he gets within 10 feet of the camera.
And Lucas pulled a Peter Jackson: the movie ended six different times. There is one gorgeous shot after the Vader helmet is placed on Anakin's charred head -- it is a profile of him laying down, with smoke curling around him, everything black except the white gleam on the helmet. And then the famous breathing starts. It would've been perfect to cut to black right then and roll credits, with just the breathing over them. Can you imagine the impact? It would've created suspense even though we all know how the story progresses. Instead, Lucas has five or six more optimistic scenes telling us what we already know. Padmé has twins, and ceremoniously names them "Luke" and "Leia" as soon as they escape her womb. We know this already, George. Why beat us over the head with it?
Then the movie ends with a sunset. Are you kidding? Happy endings are for later, George, you jackass. And I'm not even remotely a fan. I can't imagine what real fans feel.
1. Yoda appears arthritic -- he walks hunched over with a cane -- yet he's able to flip around in a lightsaber duel with the dexterity of an acrobat.
2. Natalie Portman is woefully miscast. All she does is blubber and fret.
3. Hayden Christensen has the same drawly, stunted speech pattern in every movie. In Shattered Glass, it was great. Here, it doesn't fit. He's lucky he plays a character that is already weighty.
4. Why does Count Grievous have emphysema? Isn't he a robot?
5. Ian McDiarmid is pretty badass. He brings much-needed gravity to the film as the devilish Palpatine.
6. The Bush jabs were amusing, though unappreciated. "If you're not with me, you're my enemy!" thunders Anakin as he lifts his lightsaber over Obi-Wan. The Senate grants Palpatine extreme wartime powers. "The Siths deal in absolutes!" And so on.
7. Ewan MacGregor looks absurd with that beard.
8. Anakin and Obi-Wan have a fierce fight over a pit of magma. Yet Obi-Wan is not sweaty afterward.
9. The movie is clever in pitting the dark side and Jedi side against each other, and you can see how Anakin is frustrated with the politics of the galaxy. Who's good and who's bad when two sides are really just fighting with each other without anything at stake? What is at stake, anyway? The Force? Should the Force be capitalized? Does this have anything to do with Scientology?
10. Why are eating and sleeping so satisfying?