Thursday night we saw Revenge of the Sith. Overall, I really like it. It moved me quite a bit (the movie, not the squirmy pre-teen boy sitting next to me, who also moved me), and that actually came as a surprise since I already knew what was going to happen. I expected it to be dark and sad, but I didn’t expect to feel it as much. I actually felt pretty dismal afterwards, and my dreams were influenced by the movie and (what felt like thousands of) thunderstorms passing over during the night. (Talk about mood setting.)
I don’t like to say much about movies that other people might not have seen, but I’m going to say a little anyway. I think there are several really good aspects of this movie. One, of course, is the look and feel of it. The effects are wonderful and the action is exciting and entertaining. I also think Hayden Christensen does a great job of acting the dark moods. His performance of turning to the dark side really got to me. The best parts of this movie are Ewan McGregor as Obi Wan and Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine/Sidious. I think Ewan McGregor really delves into the Obi Wan character, not only in the big emotional scenes (which are great), but in every scene—when he’s being funny, when he’s talking, standing, fighting, walking, etc. (Of course, I always like Ewan McGregor. He’s been in my movie-going heart ever since Moulin Rouge! and I really enjoyed the few episodes I caught of Long Way Round.)
There are still a few (big) things that detract from the movie. The biggest is the love story, which comes across as superficial and corny. I just don’t feel it. I don’t think the actors are completely (or even mainly) at fault. The writing and the directing probably take much of the blame. George Lucas and the other movie-makers chose the easiest way to express a relationship between Anakin and Padmé (to pile on the sap), forgetting (or not caring) that viewers have to believe in emotion for it to be effective. People don’t have to utter harlequin, sentimental phrases at each other to convince an audience they’re in love. They simply have to act like they love each other and be put in enough real situations together that the audience understands why they feel so close. (I don’t count frolicking through the fields on Naboo with a sweeping soundtrack as enough.) Anakin doesn’t have to be obsessed with Padmé for you to believe he loves her. Of course, if they wanted to make him an obsessive lover, they should have gone the full course and made his love for her even scarier (and perhaps mostly unrequited), which could have played into his turning to the sith. Thursday night, I thought about how I would have written the relationship between Padmé, Anakin, and Obi Wan. I’m sure there are many ways it could have been done differently and better, and I really wish it had been. The movie is good as it is, but imagine how it could be if the love story felt real. (Begin mournful music here.)
Another thing that bothers me is the wookies (or lack of wookies). I expected the wookies to have a larger role in the actual plot of the movie. Instead, a small side conflict was created just so we could see a little of them. I think that’s pretty disappointing. But don’t get me wrong. What they do, they do very well. OK Chewy?
And the Jedi….David and I both wish that Jedi other than Obi Wan, Yoda, and Mace Windu were featured. Why create these neat characters if they’re just going to die clueless and without fighting?
A few of the people with whom I’ve talked about the movie have expressed doubt about the plot of Anakin turning to the dark side. They just can’t believe in the way it happens. I really don’t have any qualms with that part of the movie. I believe everything that happens is plausible, although I’m sure many things could have been done in ways that would have eliminated doubt. The whole movie could have been done better, but I like it anyway. Perhaps I’m blinded by loyalty, but I prefer it that way.
On Friday, a few people asked me if I like the original trilogy or the new trilogy better. I think most people will end up liking the original trilogy better. I have to agree that it was executed better, especially as far as directing actors and expressing relationships goes. (I mean, I’ve never doubted or flinched at one single bond between characters in the original series.) And it is hard to improve on characters like Han, Luke, Leia, and Chewy. Yet the new trilogy, especially in the last two movies, builds up such emotion and tension (between Anakin and the Jedi, not Anakin and Padmé) that I think the end of the new trilogy has turned out to be even more passionate than the original movies. So I don’t know which I like better. I hate picking favorites. In the end, I like them both for different reasons.
I can’t believe I actually said I was just going to say “a little.”