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Revenge of the Sith: Not Feelin' It

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I'm a Star Wars fan. Not a fanatic, mind you; you'll never see my ass dressed up as Boba Fett or Jar Jar's second cousin or Unknown Jedi #2394 from the planet Forkoverkash. I'm simply a fan, a guy who likes the series without camping out for weeks ahead of time. You may recall me railing against this in a previous post. If you don't, it means you haven't been reading my blog, and that makes you a sinner. Repent, and read previous entries to catch up. At any rate, I was really excited about seeing the movie, because it represented a few things to me: a celebration of the cinematic genius of George Lucas, the conclusion of an iconic franchise in American pop culture, and a chance to see some kick-ass special effects, while also being the least geekist person in the audience. Score. The one good thing about this last trio of movies is their overall consistency. As in, they're consistently mediocre. Sadly, mediocrity in and of itself is not a bad thing for a movie, necessarily....hell, 3/4 of the drivel that Hollywood pumps out would have to improve in order to be considered mediocre. Mediocre movies have been box office hits, have won Oscars, and have engendered popular culture immortality. However, there is one thing mediocre movies cannot be: they cannot be great movies. Greatness is what the world expected from Lucas when he announced that he'd be bringing these prequels to the world. So much so, in fact, that many people were willing to put aside the blatant mediocrity of "The Phantom Menace" and "Attack of the Clones", banking everything on the huge payoff that was sure to come to fruition in "Revenge of the Sith". Even I was among those sitting in theaters, mentally aroused, waiting for the prettiest girl in the sluttiest clothes to show us what she could do for us. Well, a lot of people left the theater with cinematic blue balls after seeing "Sith". "Sith" isn't a bad movie. Not at all. In fact, it's more than adequate, and I liked it. However, there were a few things about it that just pissed me the hell off, and thus left my mouth wanting something more. A few examples:

  • Anakin's conversion to the Dark Side. This is the most pivotal and important scene in all of the three prequels. The ultimate turning point in the saga: where the padawan, the Chosen One, turns his back on his teachings and his friends to become the Sith Lord Darth Vader. This should have been a decision that was fraught with conflict, confusion, and peril. And Anakin basically went from "I'm gonna cut you open with my bad-ass lightsaber" to "Dark Side? Sounds good" in about 4.6 seconds. I know Lucas didn't have 5 hours to tell the story, and needed to be succinct in certain areas, but c'mon! How is that even remotely believable? They could've cut out about half of the Anakin/Padme ambiguous-bad-acting-we-are-in-love scenes and had plenty of time for peeking into Anakin's tortured psyche. He damn-near kills a Jedi (Palpatine finished the job), and his remorse turns to allegience to the Dark Side in literally one minute of film time, without Palpatine even having to mention the Dark Side's 401(k), health plan, stock options, or their policy on paid time off. You would think he'd be at least more hesitant, more reticent to do the evil things that Palpatine had him do, but rather than show any conflict, he grabs the opportunity to hack and slash with both fists. I know what you're saying - "but Damian, he did the same thing in 'Attack of the Clones', remember?" Yeah, I remember. But at least then he had somewhat of an excuse. He switched sides faster than a bisexual at a Maxim party.
  • The "love" between Padme and Anakin. Was there ever a more awkward coupling than this one? They look like they were forced together by magnets under the floor, like in old Looney Tunes cartoons. It could've been the completely Keanu Reeves-like wooden performance of Hayden Christensen, the overwrought Natalie Portman, or the fact that in "The Phantom Menace", he was a little kid, and she basically looks exactly the same. And that's just plain creepy.
  • The acting, in general. Now, I'm not gonna put it all on the actors- Christensen, Portman, Samuel L. Jackson, Ewan McGregor, Jimmy Smits, Christopher Lee....these are good, good actors. The blame falls on Lucas, who famously wants his Star Wars actors to present themselves almost as though they're performing in either a theatrical show, or perhaps a mural. It's sad when humans are out-acted by a completely computer-animated ass-kicking Yoda.
  • The one plot hole I found. Sure, Senator Organa told his crew to wipe C-3PO's mind when he acquired him and R2D2, but why didn't he get R2's mind wiped, too? Just because humans can't understand his robotic Swahili doesn't mean that he couldn't simply tell the "new" C-3PO everything that transpired after the reprogramming. Am I the only one who caught that?
  • General Grievous was set up to be one of the baddest-assed Star Wars villains ever created. And just like he did to Darth Maul, Lucas had him killed far too easily. Come on, man! He had 4 lightsabers that rotated like helicoptor rotors! I realize that Obi-Wan's lightsaber has "Bad Mo-Fo" written in old English font down one side of it (the other side has "Bitch, Please"), but that fight should've been more one-sided than a Fox News report on Democratic overspending.
Were it not weighted down by consumer expectations and by past performance of its predecessors, "Revenge of the Sith" would've been a perfectly fine entry in the annals of great sci-fi. Sadly, it's judged, necessarily, by its forefathers. It's too bad that "Star Wars" is such a seminal film. Just think - would we hold the original in such high regard if it was released today? Likely not. We'd probably think it was cheesy as hell. What if, say, "The Last Starfighter" was released when SW was? Would that movie then be this institution that generations have come to cherish? SW's enduring popularity rests on the novelty of the movie at the time of its release. There was literally nothing like it before, and it blew people away. Now, there are hundreds of movies like it, and Lucas would've had to completely redefine the genre in order to capture the magic of the originals, a la the first "Matrix" movie. It turns out, though, that even Lucas is human. Decent movie, but simply put, I didn't feel it. Peace.


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