What I want you to know. Which is everything.

Friday, May 20, 2005

"May the Critics be with you...."

I just got back from seeing the newest addition to the Star Wars franchise. It lived up to every expectation that I had for the movie, and then some. When seeing a movie I try to not have any expectations and just try to enjoy it. I find that, without any preconcieved notions about what the movie should be I am much more likely to enjoy it. After all, you can't really predict a movie based on the trailer alone. So often the studios want to market a film one way and it's really something completely different. The Village for instance, by M. Night Shamalamala.... was supposedly a horror flick set in the 1800s or so. This was not the case at all, and I think it got underappreciated for this, by many people.

But, anyway, lately, in my spare time I had been reading up on the whole Star Wars world on the Star Wars Wiki. I knew that there was more out there than just the movies. My friend and college roomate Ryan English helped me realize this in that he's probably read all of the books and material considered part of the expanded universe. He could talk about Senator Palpatine and the Sith and Darth Sidious before these words had ever been uttered in a movie. But, before I really started checking it out for myself, I didn't realize just how extensive the expanded universe of Lucas's Story about Jedis and the Galactic Republic really was.

I kind of got hooked. Don't get me wrong. I was a fan before. One Saturday when I was in high school the SciFi Channel was running a Star Wars marathon and I sat through all three movies. It took from about the time I woke that day (noonish) well into the early evening (7 or 8). At the time this seemed like a big deal since I'd probably never sat through three movies in a row before. Also, account for commercials, which I would never stand for now. At the end of this time I tried to convince myself that I had the force and I began trying to move objects with my mind. If you've never tried this, first you have to convince yourself that it's possible if you could only tap into that part of your mind that allows you to consentrate fully, totally, and pointedly. I believed this. Needless to say, nothing budged. If only I could REALLY consentrate. At this time, I knew nothing of midi-clorians or having to be born with that special "something." I am hurt that I am not strong in the force, but, nevertheless, it explains my inability to sent my cat flying across the room with my mind. I'll have to settle for the good old fashion way.

As for how this movie stands up I think it can really only be compared to the other Star Wars flicks, since they tend to have a life of their own beyond normal movie success patterns. First of all, I never thought that the original three movies were sacred like many do. They pull us into the world and the whole drama to be sure, but the acting, the dialogue, and some of the comic relief elements are really lacking when they stand up to other movies. But, like I said, you can't really compare Star Wars to other movies even in the action or sci-fi genre. The first two prequels, particularly Episode I were in my opinion more in sync with what the original movie was all about. They were pretty hokey, poorly acted and, frankly, made for kids. Return of the Jedi had a lot of this as well, but I think episodes I, II, and IV are the worst. Then there is Empire Strikes Back. For a long time ROTJ was my favorite because I like the whole thing in the woods with the Ewoks. But as a more mature viewer I am much more partial to Empire, with it's darker story and harsh realizations by Luke among other things. Revenge of the Sith struck me in the same way. It is, as reported by everyone I've spoken to, much darker than the first two, as it should be. It deals with heavy issues like good and evil, but it blurs the line quite a bit. Sometimes you even start to think, "the so-called 'dark-side' sound like a reasonable option." I guess it's kind of like communism. Won't work, but it looks good on paper. Anyway, you can really identify with Anakin, who is of course now Darth Vader. When the first movie was seen in 1977 everyone just thought, "Darth Vader, bad guy, end of story." Well it's not. You can really see how someone can be seduced, honestly, even when they really want to search for what is righteous. And the transformation is definitely pretty gruesome. I have already written a lot here, and I'm not close to being finished. I suppose I better stop or this will be way too long. Probably already is...

Long story short, Revenge of the Sith and Empire are currently in a tie for my favorite in the six. Some people, I think, are purest and therefore aren't going to except all this CGI junk, even if the story is on point, as it is here. But this is George Lucas's baby and he wanted it done the way he wanted it done. I can't fault him for wanting it to appear the way it does in his head. I'm sure the newer movies are closer to that realization than the original trilogy was. Besides, the appeal was never about the effects in the first place. That's all fun, but the awe wears off and you must be left with a compelling story. People certainly didn't love the original 1977 movie because of Mark Hammil's acting, or the cheesy dialogue. It's the story, the relationships, and the increadible world that Lucas created, all from scratch.

I'm just glad he got some help from Tom Stoppard on this one. Uncredited, I'm told.


ML said...

Good piece of writing and interesting. I remember seeing the original Star Wars about 3 times. I had never seen anything like it and I just loved it. The quick future space vehicles and the effects, however campy they seem now, were so cool.

I think I might like seeing this latest edition of Star Wars. Thanks for the critique, Kyle.


Sealer04 said...

I'm so glad you have seen the expansive plethora of knowledge that is the EU. Welcome my friend to ultimate nerdom.

Jason said...

I'm glad to read your review. I think many people didn't like Ep. I and II because they were a little different. They had new CGI techniques and the story waqs different (it had to be; it was the beginning of a saga that climaxes a the end of III). BUt they seemed very much in the spirit of IV V and VI. I agree that V is the best of the older films. I've always loved the Vader/Skywalker duel in Cloud City. Very disturbing, yet profound.

BTW, Episode II is on Fox tonight. I'm taping it to watch later so that I can remember where the story is before we go see III soon. Also, Kari's going with me, and she's never seen I or II (and I don't know if she's seen all of IV, V, or VI), so she'll need to know what's going on.

Chad said...

I'm not sure I have a whole lot to add to this discussion. One thing that stood out to me was that how many times has it occurred that the very thing I didn't want to happen and worked so hard to ensure didn't take place did indeed occur simply because I relied on myself rather than seek help outside myself?

Obviously one major theme was the fall of Anikan. Sin is so deceptive. James 1:14-15 puts it like this: "Temptation comes from the lure of our evil desires. The evil desires lead to evil actions, and evil actions lead to death."
We can be so easily deceived when we rely on ourselves rather than the help of God or others around us.

Ok, those are just a couple of very brief reflections while trying to help kids relearn thermodynamic problems.

Kyle said...

Chad, you started by saying that you didn't have anything to say, and then you went on to give me something profound to think about.

It seems that the way of the Sith is to serve one's self, and only act on one's passions and desires. This makes me think about the verse in James you mention.


Chad said...

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” – Martin Luther King, Jr

That's what led Anikan down the path. From his selfish reaction to not being made a Jedi master, to wanting to save his wife's life. His greatest inner desire was to serve himself.

Only when we learn to love and serve others (and find joy in doing it) do we truly learn to live.

Dan Carlson said...

The Empire Strikes Back was also better because Lucas handed off writing and directing duties to more talented people. Lucas's stories are good but his dialogue is awful. Any standout lines in American Graffiti? Nope.