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Lucas Banta Poo-Doo

I saw "Revenge of the Sith" yesterday as a company outing. I paid nothing, and yet I was robbed of 3 hours of my time. Why oh why did I fall for it again? It made me grind my teeth in frustration. I can and have written better dialogue than George Lucas. Fanfic contains better dialogue.

I could write a much lengthier review of why "Sith" made me wince, squirm, and groan, but John Scalzi has done me the kindness of dissecting it at length and in rich detail.

Save yourself. Wait for Serenity.

Revenge of the Sith: ★★

Comments

( 12 sutras — Your wisdom )
kijjohnson
May. 20th, 2005 10:14 pm (UTC)
Let's not forget the direction, which takes even adequate dialogue and makes it sound like either heiratic pronouncement or Night of the Lepus.
the_monkey_king
May. 21st, 2005 06:22 am (UTC)
I've never totally understood the intricacies of film direction, at least insofar as knowing how direction affects the final product. I mean, I understand the auteur theory of film to distinguish Hitchcock's imprint from, say, Ridley Scott's. But where does direction leave off and cinematography and editing begin?

In any case, I agree that shot selection, pacing, and direction to the actors seemed to be lacking. If the obsessive attention to CGI had been lavished on the script instead…
ironymaiden
May. 22nd, 2005 12:43 am (UTC)
since someone violated an NDA to tell me the entire film scene by scene, i had no reason to pay attention to the plotting. i knew the acting would be terrible, so i was focused on the rest of the direction.
what was extremely evident to me was that Lucas was setting up a visual resonance, mirroring compositions in IV-VI, showing us that the silhouette of Vader's helmet is the same as a Jedi's hood. some were blatant enough to draw a response from the crowd, but others came in under the radar. the guy shows his film school chops in a hundred ways, but then he slept through the class about talking to actors (if he had one).
pacing is largely the editor, BTW, although Lucas is in a position to override any choice a seasoned collaborative professional might have made. the guy has a lot of talent, he just needs to play with others.
iamnikchick
May. 20th, 2005 10:33 pm (UTC)
An industry associate of mine took the day off to go see the movie yesterday. We'd talked on Wednesday where he let me know he'd be out of the office and asked if I was going to see it; I told him I wasn't running right out to see it, no. My complaint with all fo the prequels (keeping in mind that I'm definitely not in the 'continuity nerd' camp) is that we know what happens in the end, so merely throwing our princess into harm's way (a vat of molten metal, a hoard of ravenous beasts) is not enough to hold my interest: obviously she doesn't die, so there needs to be more to it. In the first two of this series, there failed to be more to it.

Sadly, my commentary may have affected my associate's enjoyment of the film. He called today and admitted (madly qualifying that he was in the minority, he's sure) that he found himself sitting through Sith thinking to himself "Nicole's right." Heh. I do love it when people realize I'm right, but sorry for his sake that the film didn't live up to his expectations, lowered or not.
the_monkey_king
May. 21st, 2005 06:27 am (UTC)
Allow me to say that you are right. The danger of prequels is always that the ending is known, so suspense is difficult. Exotic settings, character progression, secrets revealed, sheer joy, or humor would fill the void, but the first couple weren't especially joyous.

I dunno, it was flat and forced and just not as good as, say, KOTOR.
godeater_sw
May. 21st, 2005 06:51 am (UTC)
The fact of the matter is (speaking as someone who loved KOTOR, and still managed to enjoy Episode III) that expectations for the Star Wars films have become skewed, in my opinion.

Are the Star Wars movies works of art? Only in the visual sense. Lucas is clearly a first-rate genius when it comes to innovation in the medium of film visuals. Lucas is clearly also a director with a long list of severe weaknesses when it comes to writing dialogue, guiding his (typically quite talented) actors, and so forth.

But heck, at their best (think back to Episode V, aka Empire Strikes Back, the one movie of the franchise that Lucas didn't actually direct) you get a fantastic, innovative visual feast of a movie which also had real humour, suspense, and many other virtues. Since then, we've received space opera without most of these strengths, but Lucas has continued to improve the look of the films.

At the end of the day I'll say that I enjoyed Episode III more than the other two. But I've grown up a lot since I saw the original trilogy, and I'm more aware of its flaws than I used to be. It's too bad George Lucas didn't build his space opera franchise into something even more spectacular with the second trilogy, but when you strip away all the baggage, I was entertained by an amazing spectacle.
mysticalforest
May. 21st, 2005 02:24 pm (UTC)
I'm not buying it, probably because I don't understand it.

If you were disappointed by Sith, then you have only yourself to blame because the previous five movies in the series should have given an indication of what to expect. If you expected more then the joke's on you.

I thoroughly enjoyed Sith because I got precisely what I expected. Like a Big Mac.

And, really, it's unfair to criticize a Big Mac for not being a steak—when the other five Big Macs were the same.

I'm quite surprised that there's that much effort put into a product that is so terribly disposable and never intended to be cinematic greatness, aside from SFX. Lucas himself said that he set out to make a Saturday afternoon serial, that is precisely what was delivered.

Jesus Christ, if people hadn't gotten it into their heads that the sixth movie was going to be the quality it was at...I don't know what to say. What in the world did everyone expect?

Wait a minute...if the movies are so bad—why did anyone watch six of them?

How could anyone possibly have been surprised and, therefore, disappointed? I don't get it. Six of them!

One line stood out in your dissecting link:
The Wookiees are thrown in as an obvious fan sop rather than being an integral part of the story.
OK. So what? Who cares? Oh, the fans. But, the entire series is a fan sop. Only fans would enjoy the Wookies scenes? The film—the series—is made expressly for the fans so who could have possibly expected a fan sop?

Wow. Genius criticism.

There's special sauce on my Big Mac!? But...how did this happen? Where's the steak in my Big Mac? Maybe the seventh Big Mac will be different....

It's just Star Wars! Why, oh, why think about the film more than fifteen minutes after leaving the theater?

Are people supposed to think about their Big Macs long after they've had them too?

And if life deserves to never have a Big Mac in it, to continue the analogy, why did you walk into the McDonald's for the sixth time?

Jeepers!
scalzi
May. 21st, 2005 04:33 pm (UTC)
"And if life deserves to never have a Big Mac in it, to continue the analogy, why did you walk into the McDonald's for the sixth time?"

In my case, because I'm writing a book on science fiction film and it wouldn't a good thing not to include the final installment of Star Wars. In other words, I had a good excuse.

Also, at least two of six films are geniunely good films, which is to say steak rather than MacDonald's; "Empire" is simply one of the best science fiction films ever, and "Star Wars" in arguably the most influential. So, to use your analogy, if a really excellent restaurant switches from steak to hamburger but still continues to label it steak, one should note that the ingredients have switched, and unnecessarily so (i.e., there's no reason for the Prequel Trilogy to have been so bad).

More to the point, I don't see the point in rewarding bad scripting, bad acting and bad plotting by shrugging it off, and going "Well, it's always been that way." One, it's not true, and two, even if it were, it's still no excuse. Yes, it's nice to have a little Wookiee fan service. But it would have been better if the Wookiees had an actual reason for being in the film aside that serviced the plot, rather than simply acting to placate and distract the audience. One is good filmmaking, and the other is cynical.
the_monkey_king
May. 21st, 2005 06:46 pm (UTC)
If I understand you correctly, I should have known that the dialogue would suck, and I'm a fool for wanting it to be better than it was. I pretty much agree. I'm very glad I didn't pay money to see it.

The whole movie is a fan sop? Not even close. Even with the most generous definition of fandom, you don't sell the kinds of merch that Lucas does without reaching a mass audience. And the mass audience I sat with on Thursday was pretty clear in its disdain for what it saw. There were audible groans during each Padme-Anakin scene. Folks walked out, whispering "This stinks."

I've never understood the part of fandom that says "it's a kids' movie, so it's okay if it's bad" or "Who cares about quality?". That's just cynical. There's no reason that a kid's movie can't be clever, funny, and thrilling: for example, the Mummy (PG-13 like Sith) or Spy Kids (PG) or even Lilo & Stich (PG), to name just three from the last few years.

There is a difference between the original trilogy and the new trilogy. If you don't see it, I don't think we can really agree to do more than disagree.
ironymaiden
May. 22nd, 2005 12:28 am (UTC)
i thought The Mummy was so lame i almost walked out of the theater. they couldn't decide to be earnest or tongue-in-cheek, and the balance they found was completely unpalatable to me.
mysticalforest
May. 22nd, 2005 02:04 am (UTC)
Even with the most generous definition of fandom, you don't sell the kinds of merch that Lucas does without reaching a mass audience.
Ah, yes, true enough.
There is a difference between the original trilogy and the new trilogy. If you don't see it, I don't think we can really agree to do more than disagree.
It's true, I don't. Aside from special effects and choreography, they all blend together for me, being roughly of the same quality with some highs (space battles) and lows (ewoks).
(Deleted comment)
( 12 sutras — Your wisdom )

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