Friday, June 03, 2005

"On the Thorn the Snail is Not"

I finally got around to seeing George Lucas’ latest nauseating excretion last night. I went into the movie with high hopes. After all, “The Revenge of the Sith” had scored well on the Tomatometer (a helpful, though far from infallible, measuring gage), and, more importantly, I am a highly optimistic person with decidedly lowbrow taste in movies. While driving to the theater with my wife and two “younglings” I found myself agreeing with the poet Browning:

The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn;
God’s in His heaven –
All’s right with the world!

Ha! I was about to be disabused of such notions.

The movie starts with a long and incoherent battle scene. Despite the whole “A long time ago in a Galaxy far, far away” stuff that preceded the battle I had only vague notions of who was fighting who and why. Big battleships going at it yardarm to yardarm in an intergalactic slug fest, but to what end? Why should I care? It was all just wallpaper for some bogus heroics provided by Obie Wan Kanobi (or however the hell you spell the man's name) and young Skywalker.

In the climactic moments of the battle the two Jedi confront General Grevious, a creature that is about 98% robot and 2% meat, and yet suffers from a chronic hacking cough. Even worse, when the General talks he sounds just like Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. I kept waiting for him to say “I love the Jedi . . . to poop on!” (And he wasn’t the only one who sounded ridiculous every time he opened his yap. Some of the aliens had accents like Japanese people with Down’s syndrome.)

But there are worse things than bad accents. Every time a character speaks in this movie you cringe at how bad the dialogue is. The scenes between Anakin and Padme are particularly painful. And yet the closing credits reveal that the writer of these words is none other than George Lucas himself. I’m not surprised that Lucas wrote the script, but I am surprised that he would take “credit” for it. If I were the Big Cheese I would have shifted the blame onto some Lucas Films underling. The credits would say “Written and Directed by . . . uh, that kid who brings me my coffee.”

And then we have Skywalker’s transition from a good (though somewhat troubled) youth to Darth Vader, the most evil creature in the galaxy. Apparently he joined the dark side because he was worried that his wife would die in childbirth. I didn’t buy it.

The movie ends not with a bang, but a whimper. In the closing twenty minutes of the film we are treated to two separate light saber fights: one between Obie Wan and Anakin, and the other between Yoda and the Emperor. Unfortunately, if you have seen any of the first generation of Star Wars movies you know very well what must happen in both of these duels. You know that neither Yoda nor the Emperor are killed or maimed and that Obie Wan severely wounds Anakin, but does not kill him. Because of this, these fights are completely devoid of any real tension (rivers of molten lava not withstanding).

The best part of the movie is when Anakin is transformed into Darth Vader. He is severely burned in his battle with Obie Wan so robot doctors patch him together and stuff him into the classic Darth Vader suit. When he comes out from under the ether he asks the emperor (in the voice of James Earl Jones) “how’s Padme? Is Padme okay?” These words, coming from Darth Vader, seem so silly and wildly out of character that I laughed out loud. But it gets worse. The Emperor informs Darth that he (Darth) killed his wife in a rage. Upon learning this, Darth breaks free from the operating table, strides dramatically to center stage, balls his hands into fists and then turns his gaze heavenward and shouts “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” I have never, in my 30 year sojourn upon the face of this earth, seen anything half so hackneyed.

As Yoda might say “sucks much ass this movie does.”

(Making fun of Yoda’s syntax? Jeeze, talk about “hackneyed!”)

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