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.