Monday, May 23, 2005

Just for the record

Episode Two still sucks.

The dialogue is still terrible: dreadful clunking lines that suck energy out of the scenes. The Japanese-accent-equals-bad-guys stereotyping is still shocking. The music still stands in for acting and storytelling: “look, Anakin’s turning to the dark side”; “look, Palpatine is the Emperor”. And the digital effects have not aged well: the all-CGI characters stick out like sore thumbs, with their digital shimmer, not-quite-right movements, and slightly-off interactions with real-world objects.

It’s odd that, although Lucas claims to have waited 25 years for technology to mature, his new films are dating much faster than his old ones. The original Star Wars still works well today because so much of it is resolutely low-tech; the new movies are aging fast because they’re so high-tech.

And of course, the original movies have Harrison Ford’s Han Solo character to anchor them: the cynical rogue who counterbalances the Force mysticism. “Hokey religions and ancient weapons”, indeed. It’s a viewpoint entirely missing from the new movies, whose earnestness kills any sense of fun.

As usual, it was “edited to fit the time allotted” in Fox’s premiere showing, although less objectionably than usual. As far as I could tell, most of the cuts were to the cringeworthy Anakin/Padme love scenes. But there were some terrible cuts to advert breaks, including one which flowed almost seamlessly from the movie into the Star Wars tie-in M&Ms ad. Bad, bad, bad TV.

I assume Fox showed it to stoke enthusiasm for Episode Three — which is, of course, distributed by 20th Century Fox, another News Corp company — but for me, this tactic may have backfired a bit…


Interesting, Geoff (of Pete and Geoff) at Virgin Radio was banging on about almost exactly the same stuff as you've said here. He reckoned the special effects in the new movies weren't that great, and said he missed Han Solo's character.

I disagree a little. I watched Episode Two the other day, and quite enjoyed it ... almost understood it too.

Yoda is starting to get on my tits though. Properly speak you will - you stubby green gobshite!

Reactions to the vaunted Yoda versus Count Dooku fight scene are interesting. Hardcore fans cream when it comes on, most other people tend to burst out laughing. Sarah started laughing and screaming "Look at him go!".

Am I the only one that finds all the jumping out of speeders, falling 30 stories, catching another speeder crap embarassing?

Still looking forward to Episode Three though...
Heh. The speeder chase to me played like a dress rehearsal for the next “Star Tours” ride.

I’m glad it’s not just me that doesn’t quite understand Ep 2. Palpatine’s raised the clone army — which presumably will eventually become the Empire’s stormtroopers. Dooku’s built the droid army. But Dooku is Palapatine’s servant, so why are their armies fighting each other?

My take is that it's all misdirection on Palapatine’s part: he needs the threat from Dooku to manoeuvre himself into full control of the Senate, and he can afford to throw away resources on a sham battle — particularly if, as a bonus, the battle kills off a few pesky Jedi…

The one thing I thought made more sense to me this time was the stuff about Anakin being the chosen one — the one who will “bring the force back into balance”. Ultimately this is true: in the end, he’s the only person strong enough to overturn the Emperor.

Um. Well. OK. Maybe I am still looking forward to seeing Ep 3. Just a little. Just to see how it all ties up.

And also for the new, improved, less-bouncing-around-like-a-jumping-bean Yoda fight, too…