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Thursday, 09 June
Once More, Sith Feeling

Today the wife and I and a friend went to see a matinee of Revenge of the Sith. If you're worried about spoilers, you should stop here. Also, if you're bone-tired of reading pretty much the same thing everyone seems to be saying about the movie, you should also stop here. Because I don't think I have anything new to offer.

I took off from work an hour early to wander over to Cinerama, which might just be the best theater ever, with its Face-Of-God-sized screen and hellaciously great sound system. I unfortunately then had to go and ruin everything by getting hungry--pre-movie, I unwisely bought and ate a hot dog, which by the film's end, was sloshing around uneasily in my stomach. PEOPLE! Don't be dumb like me! For God's sake, eat the fucking popcorn.

My guts are still restive, frankly. Fucking hot dog. Not that George Lucas' famously tin-eared dialogue helped; it might have been more than just rancid squirrel meat twisting my bowels while Natalie Portman said things like, "Hold me like you did by the lake on Naboo."

But I get ahead of myself. First of course were the trailers, which are important for people like me who Prejudge Movies. Impressions? Batman Begins might, against long odds, actually be good. I got a little happy when I saw the Scarecrow, anyway. And as you all know, even if it is terrible, I'll probably enjoy it anyway.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith? It's a tough one. On paper, it looks almost risibly bad, but I confess . . . it might just work. I was not horrified by what I saw, but perhaps that was thanks to the countless leering shots of Angelina Jolie's vertiginous decolletage. But still, I have hopes that it can be saved from itself via a "we're all just having a good time here!" vibe like you got with Ocean's 11 and were so viciously denied in Ocean's 12.

And then there are the spots for The Fantastic Four, which looks so dire, so ghastly, so embarrassing that it might just be the neutron bomb of movies: after this thing goes off, everyone involved with it and their careers will all be dead, while the movie still stands there, placidly and horribly untouched. IT'S SOBBERIN' TIME!

Anyway, so we watched Revenge, and as you've no doubt heard, it's way better than the last two catheterizations--which I recognize is faint praise at best. And, really, that's about as much praise as it deserves. Don't get me wrong, I mostly enjoyed myself, but really, we all know that these movies are barely a step up from Independence Day anyway, and we all know also that George Lucas is if perhaps a technical wizard (or one who handsomely employs them) then also a second-tier talent and the bottom-rung screenwriter who happened to luck into a shockingly popular franchise that he has mercilessly milked for every fucking farthing he possibly could.

At least here, possibly cornered by inevitability--well, it's time we made a Darth outta this boy!--the movie seems to move along at a decent clip, with great action sequences (though it still runs a good 20 minutes over one's goodwill allotment). It does, unfortunately, still have to include horrible, pace-murdering sequences with Anakin and Padme, and as usual, the actors are not remotely up to the task of trying to inject any kind of pathos into Lucas' wrenchingly hilarious dialogue. I've made my opinions on Ms. Portman known before--that she is an utterly hopeless actress--and they emphatically have not changed. And why does she glisten so? Maybe she's allergic to Midichloreans. For whatever reason, I kept wanting someone to show up with a chamois and wipe her down to a clean finish.

And Mr. Christianson fares not much better, settling for one strategy through the entire movie of lowering his head and staring at everything from under a furrowed brow. This has the unfortunate effect of making him look like he just doesn't quite get what's happening most of the time, so he has to think about it really hard. Or that he's smoldering all the time. You know what the problem is with smoldering? Smolders are easily extinguishable with a glass of water. It's hard to take the future Dark Lord very seriously when you figure you can take him out with a bottle of Dasani.

What else? Samuel L. Jackson and Jimmy Smits continue their pitched battle to determine which one of them gets the title of Most Improbable Fit into the Star Wars universe: Jackson, who can be a charming performer, utterly defanged of any of his sense of danger at all? Or Smits, who looks vaguely lost without a Droid Sipowicz to help slap some fucking sense into these intransigent assholes he's surrounded by? They should have given him some Spock ears and let him be Mace Simone or something. And Darth Sidious . . . well. Let's just say that 30 or 40 minutes of "I am so delighted to be evil that I must cackle all the time!" gets really, really, really old. I imagined him taking a foul shit and calling in people to take a look. "Look, my minions! Look at my shit! See how it is cakey and malformed! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" And the Stormtroopers (or clones, or whatever) all kind of look at each other and go, "You know, this guy is just a pud. Why did we back him again?"

Oh, there are all kinds of other questions, of course. Why, for instance, in Episode IV, does Cap'n Vader evince no emotion nor recollection at all about the droids? Why, since he is an android, does Grievous seem to have a debilitating case of asthma? (He wheezes! He coughs! Though never when in hand-to-hand combat, much like Yoda all of a sudden gets spry and ninja-y and caneless.) Why would a medical robot say, when revealing that Padme is dying in childbirth, this: "We don't know what is wrong with her!" And then, immediately after that, "She has lost the will to live." You know what? For a minute there, so did I.

But the biggest question of all is, who in the NAME OF GOD failed to say to Lucas, "Um . . . you know, George . . . that scene where Darth-man finds out that Padme croaked? Maybe you shouldn't, uh . . . show that." But nobody did. And so in the movie you are treated to Darth busting free of his medical restraints to bumble around all Godzilla-like--for some reason, it appears that he cannot move his arms--and then shout (now of course in James Earl Jones' calypso-tinged basso), "NOOOOOOOO!"

Ah well. We all knew it wouldn't end well. We knew that after the nightmarishly bad Episode I, didn't we? This, at least, is nothing like Episode I. For one thing, you can watch it--even with a poisoned hot dog in your body--without wanting to die.

For another? Well, you can pretend that Natalie Portman really died.

Note: Comments are closed on old entries.


I am very impressed that you used "risible" in a sentence. If I did that my husband would have to go look it up. Why didn't I marry you instead?

Comment number: 005834   Posted by: Lala on June 9, 2005 05:51 AM from IP:

The only thing I have a comment on is the Grievous thing. You see, there was an animated series set between episodes 2 and 3, called, originally, Star Wars: Clone Wars. This is where we are introduced to General "Ass Kickin" Grievous, and at the very end, just as he is in the midst of flying away in his shuttle with Palpatine, Mace Windu does some force clutch thing and crushes part of Grievous' chest. And you noticed that little beating heart type thing in his chest as Obi Wan kills him? That is where they show us that Grievous is not, in fact, a droid, but rather some sort of cyborg-y type thing that is only MOSTLY droid.

And now you now!

Comment number: 005835   Posted by: Ryan Waddell on June 9, 2005 07:08 AM from IP:

Every review, every blog, every e-mail I've read about this movie mentions the NOOOOOOOO part.

Comment number: 005836   Posted by: Kate on June 9, 2005 08:50 AM from IP:

It's really just impossible not to mention that part, Kate. It's so hilariously awful and mood-ruining that it defies all reason. Imagine if Don Knotts stopped by for a cameo in The Godfather and made some googly-moogly faces at Al Pacino for a while.

Comment number: 005837   Posted by: Skot on June 9, 2005 08:58 AM from IP:

i'm sure you've read the new yorker review, but do so if you haven't because it is the funniest f-ing thing. my favorite part is when they point out that in the age of flying cars, droids, and complex mechanical body parts, padme can't be arsed to get an ultrasound.

Comment number: 005838   Posted by: kirsten on June 9, 2005 09:43 AM from IP:

What I loved most about the medical droid--apart from the fact that the best diagnosis these advanced computer and laser-aided healers can come up with is "lost the will to live"--is that, when he gives the "we don't know what's wrong with her" line, he accompanies it with this sort of Woody Allen-esque full-armed shrug. The stiff-armed droids who treated Luke's Ice Monster injuries in Empire were much more effective.

Comment number: 005839   Posted by: Joe on June 9, 2005 01:17 PM from IP:

You forgot to mention, or completely blocked out, the intro sequence where Kenobi's starfighter is attacked by a swarm of stupid little droids with claws. Tragically hilarious. And the big battleship that breaks into two but they still magically manage to crashland it. Good thing that landing strip was straigt ahead there.

Comment number: 005840   Posted by: wulffeld on June 10, 2005 03:41 AM from IP:

"Sith and Vinegar" was a movie full of incredibly stupid things, but it amazes me that I've only seen one person point this out (and the person would be me):

You can get 9 months pregnant IN A WEEK, and yet it takes 18 years to build a Death Star.

Comment number: 005841   Posted by: Bill the Splut on June 10, 2005 07:48 PM from IP:

I was also often told that this episode was better than the first two but after watching it me and mine still had horrible headaches. Those people are liars.

Comment number: 005842   Posted by: ian on June 12, 2005 03:31 PM from IP:

Yes, but despite your berating you all watched it, so I'm sure that Lucas is crying all the way to the bank.

Comment number: 005843   Posted by: Lung the Younger on June 13, 2005 07:55 AM from IP:

I would have preferred if George Lucas invented a machine to rip my best childhood memories out of my mind, scrunched them up in a ball, and then peed on them.

He is my new enemy.

Comment number: 005844   Posted by: peggles on June 15, 2005 09:42 PM from IP:

What about the two wookies making Tarzan noises as they flew down on vines or ropes during their fight scene? Lucas can't resist the ewok moments.

Comment number: 005845   Posted by: erika on June 17, 2005 01:03 PM from IP:

"Look, my minions! Look at my shit! See how it is cakey and malformed! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

Toilet humor at its best. :)

Comment number: 005846   Posted by: Noelle on June 23, 2005 01:08 AM from IP:

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