Just for the record
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…