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Star Wars review--with spoilers

2005-05-20 - 3:23 p.m.

Obligatory yenta-esque health report: Saw the doctor today. "You have asthma," she said. "Why aren't you taking your Advair?" she said. So I'm now armed with a new Advair prescription, and fresh off a handy nebulizer treatment. I feel kind of like I just drank 5 cups of very strong black coffee. Except really tired.

Prince R. was with me for the doctor's appointment, having kindly driven me into work so I wouldn't have to walk in the rain. He laughed and laughed and laughed at me during the nebulizer treatment, as I had a huge thing in my mouth and could not respond to anything he said. He told me I sounded like Darth Vader.

Speaking of segues, we saw "Revenge of the Sith" last night. The review below contains spoilers, so consider yourself warned. Spoiler-free version: I enjoyed it quite a lot. It sure wasn't a waste of $18.50, which is how much it costs two adults to see a movie out here. Plus it was a completely spontaneous outing, which I adore.

Preview Reviews: Batman Begins, or whatever it's called, looks so craptacular it blows my mind. However, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, looks so unbelievably cool that I almost wept when Aslan roared. Oh Aslan, I love you! Please teach me more about Jesus and how Muslims inadvertently worship Satan! But seriously, I'm going to see that on opening day. Children's literature doesn't get much better than C.S. Lewis. War of the Worlds, starring Tom Cruise. No, it's not a nightmare. We all just wish it was. Shut up, Tom Cruise. Shut up forever and go away.

MOVIE REVIEW!! I went in prepared to be cynical. I have come to truly hate George Lucas and his bloated massive ego. But the music kicked in, and the crawl came up, and I felt that old black magic once again. There's no denying it: I am a dork at heart and when a Star Wars movie opens I am overcome with sweet sweet nostalgia.

The movie opens with Anakin and Obi Wan going to rescue (evil) Chancellor Palpatine. I love the relationship between these two. Ewan McGregor is a great actor, and once again, is the bright point in the movie. We see Anakin kill a defenseless Count Dooku (George Lucas needs to never do many things, and topping that list is naming a character, because Dooku? Come on. It sounds like a cross between "doo-doo" and "nookie," which can never ever ever be a good thing), leading him on a path to The Dark Side, but saving Obi Wan against Palpatine's urging. It really goes far to making the ending poignant and showing Anakin's inner struggle. It's a great opening scene, with lots of fighting and flying. We even get to see General Grievous, who is part droid and part something really stupid. He too has asthma (I know!). He really should be taking his Advair every day, and not letting his prescription run out. But what can you expect from something with a name as completely lame-ass as "General Grievous?"

Any scene with Anakin and Padme is laughable, as though Lucas had farmed out the writing to a seventh grader. "Hold me, Ani, like you did at the lake on Naboo, when nothing mattered but our love!" Truly pathetic. It hurts to see Natalie Portman phoning it in, but with dialogue like this, who can blame her?

The speical effects aren't as great as I'd been lead to believe, but at one point Obi Wan rides this fabulous wingless dragon-type beastie. It runs really fast, and N, I thought of you the entire time. You'll LOVE it. I wanted one so badly. It was gorgeous, and it dies. DAMN IT, it dies. Doesn't Lucas know the cardinal rule of movie-making--never kill the dog (or doglike creature who is fabulous beyond my capacity to relate to you)?

When Palpatine finally comes out to Anakin as a Sith Lord, R didn't buy Anakin not killing him outright. But I did. I was convinced that Palpatine had been planting enough doubts in Anakin's mind about the nature of the Sith (and specifically, their ability to cheat death--or rather, save other people (read: Padme) from certain death) so that he was conflicted. It's always been established that he didn't completely trust the Jedis, never quite forgiving them for not wanting to train him in the first place. And when Anakin makes his decision to turn, I found it convincing. Samuel Jackson is fighting with Palpatine, and Palpy is electrifying him and pretending (I think) to be too weak to win. Anakin comes in and saves Palpatine, because he thinks Samuel Jackson is going to kill an unarmed prisoner, which he knows is a big Jedi no-no (even though he did it earlier). If he was smart, he'd realize anything Samuel Jackson does is bound to be right, because he is The Man and the shit, all rolled into one. But poor Anakin really is a bit on the dense side, so he chops of Sam's hand and lets Palpatine finish him off with lightning. He then utters an agonized "What have I done!!??" which is the only piece of dialogue Hayden Christiansen delivered convincingly. He pledges fealty to Palpatine--and here's where the nits start getting picked. His attitude says "I've crossed a line and I can't go back, so I might as well go all the way. I don't like you, I don't like what you stand for, and I know this is wrong. But I can't go back, and if I can save my wife and unborn child(ren), this is worth it." But in the next scene, you see him killing kids, or "younglings," as the movie insists on calling children. Or rather, it is implied--you don't actually see him getting all serial killer on their asses. But I can't make this leap. I can't see Anakin going from "I'm know I'm going somewhere really wrong, but I don't see any other option" to killing children. He then goes to an outpost and slaughters a bunch of people and just completely wigs out, turning on Padme and blah blah blah. If Lucas had Anakin slaughtering those people first, then I could see him killing the kids. But in reverse order, it just doesn't work out for me.

The climactic battle between Anakin and Obi Wan is touching, I must admit. After Obi Wan freaking slices off Anakin's legs and remaining arm, he tells Anakin "I loved you! You were my brother!" and his pain seems real, as does his guilt when he earlier tells Anakin "I failed you. I failed you, Anakin." And it's true. Throughout the whole movie you can see Anakin's arrogance and doubt, and Obi Wan doesn't deal with it. Watching his grief for the boy he trained and then destroyed, I understand the truth of his belief that Darth Vader killed Anakin Skywalker.

Sadly, Yoda's fight scenes are kind of lame. I just can't get that into a green puppet flinging himself about.

The end of the movie had one ultra-cool scene, and the rest was CRRRAP! Ultra-cool? Watching the Darth Vader suit going onto Anakin, and hearing that iconic deep breathing. It was worth the whole movie, just for that. CRRRAP? Padme dies because she "lost the will to live." The hell? Not that this can't happen--I'm pretty sure this is why my grandfather died. But it took him a few months. And he wasn't pregnant. With twins. Padme quickly expires, not even bothering to raise her children. What a selfish bint. Also CRRRAP? Vader's dialogue. It gave me a thrill to hear James Earl Jones as Vader again, I'll tell you what. But the dialogue. My god, the dialogue. Upon hearing that he killed Padme (which is only true in the metaporical sense and because Padme is a wimp--Buffy didn't "lose the will to live" after the whole Angel/Angelus debacle, which was probably more traumatic), he offers up an agonized "Noooooooooo!" I laughed. Out loud. A lot. Enough to make R shush me with a bit of embarassment. I couldn't help it--it was that bad. All night I kept uttering "Nooooooooo!" It was, bar none, my favorite line of the movie. Possibly the whole series. "Nooooooo!" Say it, it feels good. Say it right now. Doesn't that feel good?

Actually, I lied. The so-called "Harry Potter" scene, the delivery of Luke to his uncle and aunt on Tatooine, was also pretty ultra-cool. Uncle Owen is standing in that iconic Skywalker pose, staring moodily into the twin sunset. Obi Wan places infant Luke into the arms of Aunt Beru, then pulls the hood of his cloak up over his head, receding into shadow both literally and metaphorically. He settles into the long years of waiting, prepared to keep a silent watch over this last hope of the galaxy. Aunt Beru brings the child to Uncle Owen, and the movie closes on the three of them, while the Skywalker theme plays in the background. Pretty moving for a dork like me.

One question: If Obi Wan is there not only when he, Yoda and Bail Organa divide up the Skywalker twins, but also when the "younglings" are delivered, why does he say in "Empire Strikes Back" "That boy is our last hope" and then look all surprised when Yoda says "No, there is another?" Hmmm, Lucas? HMMMMMM?? Yeah, I thought so. And also: how does Senator Organa have a daughter who turns out to be Princess Leia? Does he suddenly become king? Oh, Lucas, you bloated ass.

But all that aside, I truly enjoyed the movie. My inner dork rejoiced to see it on opening day, and I can heartily and without reservations reccomend it to all of you.



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