Thursday, May 19, 2005

Star Wars III - Revenge of the Sith: Tight this Film is, Yo-da

Ever gone to see a flick and the previews/ teasers / commercials drag on for so long that you momentarily forget what movie you're actually waiting to see in the first place? Happens to me...but not today. I just got back from watching Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, at a matinee, and let me tell you -- It's all that and a bag of Funyons, son...I'm sure, if you're at all interested in how the whole saga pans out, then you've already read shite that starts off like that...but I'm gonna "space out" anyway...

I went to see Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope back in 1977 when it first came out when I was 7 years old [ironically, at the Empire theater in Richmond, VA which has long since been razed]; I didn't know what all the hubub was all about but I was blown away by the special effects, larger than life morality themes and whatnot. The best thing we had up until that point, in the relm of sci-fi, was nothing...I mean nathan. Suffice to say, it rocked my world: the scale, the attention to detail, the technologies...the lasers which only increased in scale with each film...remember that wide pan across the silent Hoth tundra and those mechanical scrunching sounds far off in the distance, just before those four-legged Imperial "Snow Walkers" handed the rebels their asses in Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back?...if you saw it in theaters when it came out in 80,' you recognized that you were witnessing a bonafied great moment in cinema, kid. [Pressing the fast forward button]

George Lucas' final movement (or is it the bridge?) to his six-part cinematic epic is finally in the can and in theaters and I thought it was high time to get a little closure before I reached my forties -- when I went into auditorium I didn't know what to expect because of how long it has taken to bring the whole Skywalker Opera together...twenty years and some change. You got to have nuts the size of punch bowls to start a story of this scope in mid-stream like Lucas chose to do. After catching hell for the last two, it seems like "grey beard" might have the last laugh because the latter bought enough time to allow technology to catch up with his vision...imagine if Phantom Menace came out in 1977...there wouldn't have been another - too dark and I'd imagine the clone battles would've been on par with a claymation episode of "Mr. Bill - Oooh nooo...

If you've been following everything from adolescence into adulthood, as have I, then the story has been one of those things that's just been around - this franchise is as old as hip hop itself, think about it -- if you weren't of movie-going age when the first joint came out all of that "I was there from the jump" stuff might get lost in the sauce but I digress...

When John Williams' theme burst out of the speakers and those big gold letters crept up over the starfield, the audience began cheering and hooting (just like we did when "Empire" came out). It was tight, but there was a modicum of skepticism that seemed to creep through the room -- remember how the critics turned on Matrix: Revolutions because it didn't "deliver?" -- was Lucas going out with a roar or with a whimper? Would Jar Jar Binks have an even more annoying second cousin voiced by the galactically un-funny Jimmy Fallon? I crossed my fingers and waited but the moment never came...the only "new" character was General Grievous and he was harder than a coffin nail...


In short, Revenge of the Sith sutures up all of the loose ends that the installments before it left hanging in the ether by answering some of the burning enigmas, find out:

  • the real reason Anakin Skywalker started dabbling in black magic. (you're not even close).
  • who was the first person he ever choked out from across the room.
  • why Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guiness era) was living all alone in a cave on Tattooine.
  • how the Emperor got that fucked up grill and eyeballs.
  • why a seemingly healthy Padmé Amidala gets dead while birthing Luke and Leia (not a spoiler)
  • why the "all powerful" Darth Vader couldn't have known the whereabouts of his children or that they were twins.

...and last but not least, you'll get the answer to the biggest plot hole in the universe: why in the hell R2-D2 and C3-P0 didn't just spill all the beans in "A New Hope" and render the two that came after it moot?


Obviously I'm sold but I know that there are more than a few haters out there who suffer from what I like to call "the crack high syndrome" - they expect to get wowed like they did the first time around because back then they had nothing to compare it with (again like Matrix 2 & 3) but now they do because they saw the first film which, because of the conceptual edge, took them to a place they weren't expecting and peeled their wigs back which was because they'd never seen anything like it before in their lives -- you get the point. It's like trying to get your virginity back, you can't do it; good or bad, your first time is your first time, period...


In Star Wars III you'll see character arcs that began long before Luke, Leia and Han Solo met in Cell Block H on the Death Star. For fans, George Lucas' attention to the semiotics in character backstories will definitely butter your popcorn. The director leans on a familiar sequences and set -ups from older chapters to tie them to this (at one point Amidala rocks the "donut-do" and peep how Yoda gets scooped up on the low low in the end), hell, he even gets political with dialogue like "this is how liberty dies - to thunderous applause" or "this war represents a failure to listen"...don't worry, it's not preachy and it's all good. I recommend this new installment to everyone but I'd especially do so to fans of the story/ message that Lucas set out to tell way back in the 70's after he had American Graffiti in the can...

During the matinee today I looked around the dark, half-filled theater and everybody in there was in my age bracket, people in suits playing hookey from work, etc (guess that's why I could hear everything) and we were all cheering at how Lucas brought everything together...if you don't feel goose bumps of resolution when the orchestra starts to swell during the wide angle shot framing Owen, Beru, Obi Wan and baby Luke in the desert...it's official: you're not a fan...now, a side note, to all those knobs who wear storm trooper costumes and plastic light sabers while waiting in line for months...move along, the Rubicon has been crossed...Laters...

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