May 30, 2005

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

The last Star Wars movie we'll ever see, Episode III almost delivers everything fans had been hoping for. Lucas has a gift for operatic storytelling, but his plotting, motivation, and dialog desperately need some help from a real screenwriter. (NOTE: Lucas was the sole writer for Episodes 1, 3, and 4: He had a co-screenwriter for Episode 2, and only only wrote the stories (not the screenplays) for Episodes 5 and 6.)
SPOILERS AHEAD: The scene where Anakin is flailing on the rocks, sans limbs, and Obi-Wan is despairing the loss of his 'brother', is incredibly moving. It's so near to true Shakespearean tragedy, it reminded me of how easy it would have been to make Episodes 1, 2, 3 follow closer to classic tragedy, instead of a messy mishmash of romance, tragedy, and political thriller.
Too many people judge Episodes 1, 2 and 3 by their standard for Episodes 4, 5, and 6: they want Episodes 1, 2, and 3 to affect them the same way that 4, 5, and 6 did when they were young, and it's just isn't possible. I firmly believe that our generation's opinion of Episodes 4, 5, 6 is artificially inflated by nostalgia. There are lots of movies I saw when I was ten which I love for nostalgia value but are empirically shitty. The Star Wars movies are not shitty, but Episodes 4, 5, and 6 are not as good as we remember.
Having said all that, I think a lot of fans are disappointed because the shadow of Darth Vader, easily the most interesting character in Episodes 4, 5, and 6, hangs over Episodes 1, 2, and 3. And once Vader finally appears in Episode 3, he gets two lines of dialogue and that's it. A Lucasfilm staffer went on record predicting that fans would want to see "Episode 3.5", meaning, the adventures of Darth Vader after he dons the helmet. I agree completely. In fact, my major restructuring of the prequel trilogy would work like this: the adventures of nine-year-old Anakin Skywalker (most of Episode 1) should have been simply recounted in one or two scenes. The adolescence and coming-of-age of Anakin would be told Episodes 1, then Episode 2 would show his seduction and turning to the Dark Side. Episode 3 would be Darth Vader's early years. (May 25, Showcase Cinemas Randolph; May 30, AMC Framingham)

Also On Memorial Day, Through The Years

I have been to the movies on Memorial Day Monday 13 times in 24 years, but it's not a great track record.