May 17, 2005

Damn the Force, Just Make It Good

Just a few more words about the nearly released Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

There's a general consensus (with which I agree) that the first three Star Wars movies (now known as Episodes 4, 5, and 6 -- 'er, I mean IV, V, and VI) were vastly superior to the more recently released Episodes I and II. I and II are often criticized for among other things, their bad dialogue, terrible acting, a confusing political sub-plot, and the unforgivably annoying Jar-Jar Binks.

But as we anticipate the release of Episode III, keep the following in mind: the first three movies also suffered from some bad acting (although not nearly so bad as Hayden Christensen in II), and weak dialogue. They also featured the highly believable Ewoks, who defeated an armored Imperial force, mostly with spears. Right.

The line between good and bad in the Sci-fi fantasy realm is thinner than the chances of destroying an operational Death Star are small. I fully expect the usual Lucasian deficiencies when I watch Ep. III on Thursday. There's no reason to think the acting will improve or the dialogue will climb out of the dreaded Pit of Banal. But it doesn't have to for the movie to work, and work well. It just needs a good story and tight direction that allows us to enjoy the experience without having to dodge too much dreck. Will we get it? The early review buzz suggests we just might.

Will Collier thinks another hurdle may be that everyone knows the ending: "Which brings us to the second inherent problem, and this week's "Episode III"--a movie in which 99% of the audience already knows the ending". I don't think this is a problem, though. Everyone knew how the third installment of the LOTR saga would end, with the ring destroyed and Sauron's forces routed, but it didn't stop folks from enjoying the ride. Why should knowing that we're going to see Anakin turn to the Dark Side be any different? It will either be well done or not, and will rise and fall on that basis.

But I think Collier gets it right with his last thoughts:
Unless you've been living in a cave since 1983, before you even think about watching this movie, you already know that in it, the Emperor wipes out the Jedi Knights while seizing power, Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader, and Skywalker's two children, Luke and Leia, are hidden from him before they're born. That's it. That's the story.

All we lack are the details… and how well those details are delivered will determine whether or not Episode III--and by extension, all of the "Star Wars" prequels--were worth the trouble.

Personally, it's not an exaggeration to say that I've been wanting to see the climactic Obi-Wan/Anakin duel for most of my life. If they got that right, I'll be willing to forgive a lot that's come before. The tidbits of reviews I've read so far (I'm avoiding spoliers to a near-manic level, despite, er, knowing the ending) suggest that Lucas may have pulled it off this time.

I hope so. I'd hate for this to be another case of a movie that can't live up to its expectations, or even its trailer.
Damn the Force -- I just hope it's good.

[Linked to the Beltway Traffic Jam.]

Posted by Peter at May 17, 2005 06:44 PM

Yeah, but Yoda rules.

Posted by: priorlife at May 18, 2005 05:14 PM