06th Jun2009

dijoo love REVENGE OF THE SITH!?

by jerad.formby

star-wars-straight-up-no-star-trek-that-would-be-unfairAbout two weeks before Star Trek came out, I noticed the Suicide Girls on Twitter inviting Star Trek fans to call into a radio show and talk Trek. I decided to dial and hoped the movie wouldn’t be spoiled by my need to talk to ladies with the word Suicide associated with them.

I felt good about the talk and after it was over I was invited to their site to take a look at it. I became a member of the site and quickly found a group of Star Trek fans there. The message boards for Trek were all abuzz about the new movie and of course, I started a Star Wars vs. Star Trek fight.

Which I am prone to do.

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I was quickly shouted down possibly because I’d picked the wrong fight. One of the Suicide Girls said that she liked Star Wars more because it was “art.” Fascinating, but with no real argument presented, I have to assume she meant “eye candy.” Hard to argue with that one.

Art. Star Wars.

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David and Darren have been talking a lot about Star Wars and Star Trek on the podcast lately and since I’m stuck in my car when I get to hear it, it’s going down here. First thing’s first, Darren! That Star Destroyer’s called the Executor! I almost ran a red light when you sited it as the Exodus.

I happily identify myself as one of those “old” Star Wars fans. I credit Star Wars with inspiring me at a young age.

Like everyone else, I couldn’t wait for Episode 1. Like everyone else, I hoped Episode 2 would be the apology entry. Like everyone else, I thought there was no way that Episode 3 could be screwed up.

Unlike everyone else, I’ll go ahead offer up Episode 2 as the best entry in the new set only because it’s the most fixable.

I’ve thought a lot about how bad I think those movies are and I wonder just exactly what my problem is. George Lucas would argue that nothing he could imagine would have satisfied my Star Wars appetite enough. He would say that I had already made the version of Star Wars I wanted to see in my mind and he could never measure up to it so he didn’t even try.

I think he could have tried a little harder is all. His movies inspired so much in me and the let down that happened with this new set is forgivable only because George Lucas is human. Even though he refuses to admit it. That’s just a reference to the infamous plan for “nine” movies that he announced years ago. He retconned that and said it was only six the whole while. It’s hard to argue with the internet, so George Lucas must believe deep down that he’s not human.

Many a fan will say that Episode 1 would play better without Jar Jar Binks. I don’t read that at all. I can’t pin all of my problems on that lanky weirdo. In fact, I’ll go ahead and give him a free pass. At least he was honest. While everyone else in the movie were trying so hard to give us Star Wars, Jar Jar was lagging behind them yelling, “why you be like that? Huh? This is Star Wars now! It no like that other thing!”

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I will not deconstruct the story for Episode 1 so I’ll just throw out a lot of the old song stuff you might already know.

Episode 1 gave us Jedi who relied on technology. The movie brought us an elongated “pod race” sequence in which Annakin Skywalker wins seemingly against tremendous odds –but how he won is really just lost story fodder. Shouldn’t he have used the Force? Just putting it out there. If you were going to introduce us to the mad crazy awesome Jedi who will bring the galaxy to its knees, I would assume he was powerful enough to throw untested Force bombs about his whole life. Just saying.

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Maybe Lucas thought it would be too much for us to buy. Nobody would believe a little kid could use the Force! Annakin should have been that one kid who had Force power for days but had no idea it had a name. No?

The Phantom Menace also introduced us to the “science” of the Force. Your Force potential is actually measured in a blood count. I’ve never wanted the Force to have science, but Lucas obviously disagreed.

Many a nerd and especially the hard core Star Wars fans will love Darth Maul as being this ultimate badass. I will agree that he looks badass, but man oh man, when the final fight hits, it seems that Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi just sort of chase him down because of how he looks.

I saw Episode II at five in the morning the night it opened. If you recall, lots of theaters were running the thing for 24 hours straight for a good long while. I waited with baited breath to see if any of the garbage from the first Episode would play better in the second one.

I will concede to the Suicide Girl that the movie looks gorgeous. Fans rejoice that Jar Jar was in it a lot less. That’s the first thing they’re excited for. Their chief criticism? Annakin’s to whiney.

Hey Star Trek! doesn’t mind whiney Annakin. After all, isn’t it supposed to be his emotions that become his undoing? And besides, it makes Luke into a chip off the block.

I remember the posters that boasted a Jedi should never know love. I guess we’re all safe then, because if Episode II is a love story then The Bicycle Thief is a laugh riot. The love story that feels forced and cheesy is my problem with all of these movies. All too much of this Star Wars forced.

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The elements to make Episode II good are actually there. On paper. Someone’s trying to kill Padme. Obi-Wan is on the case. Annakin must protect Padme. Sounds good. When you’re doing a movie, though, you cannot forget the fact that (unlike television) every minute is precious and is not to be wasted. Every scene has to be important.

And those scenes should feature the best moments of a given character’s life –because they may never be seen again. So why take a movie and make your main character a commonplace order-follower? Oh sure, be logical and challenge the notion. But what if the cat in question is going to be Darth frickin’ Vader!? Annakin takes Padme to Naboo because he’s told to. Naboo is filled with rolling hills, interesting animals, and sweet canals. Picture perfect for falling in love.

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If Star Wars taught us anything, it’s that falling in love happens under duress. Love happens against a backdrop of action and desperation and not cavorting in the wilderness. This is why Episode II is sooooo easy to fix. Here me out.

Just let Annakin have his nightmare while on the way to Naboo. That’s the best way to treat us to a seemingly “untraditional Jedi” who is “following his emotions.” He has his nightmare about his mother and goes to Padme and says, “change of plans.”

“What!?” Padme says.

“We’re going to Tattooine.”

“Why?”

“I felt a disturbance in the Force.”

“Then let Yoda handle it.”

“Look,” Annakin says with his dark, brooding, passionate eyes, “I am going to Tattooine and you’re coming with me.”

The two of them are then treated to a seedy, underground adventure on the planet Tattooine where Annakin’s focus is his mother. Padme falls in love with him over the course of the quest –he doesn’t even notice. When they arrive to the end of the quest, his mother is dead. And it breaks both of their hearts.

She witnesses him slaughter the Sandpeople and, even though she protests it, deep down, she agrees with him. And now they share a dark secret. To mend their sadness, they get together. The biggest secret in the galaxy.

Wanna really rock it out? Obi-Wan senses their crime and doesn’t say anything to Yoda about it. This sets up for Obi-Wan’s “failure” that was explained in Return of the Jedi.

You can keep a lot of the movie the same, just rock out that love story. It feels more like Star Wars, and dare I say, less “forced” and certainly more exciting than what we got.

Episode II is my favorite of the set because I can see the potential in it.

This brings us to everyone else’s favorite. The “hell yeah, finally!” The “oh my god, dude, so good!” “Wow! Thank you Lucas! You finally got it right” movie Revenge of the Sith.

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A lot of them saw the best movie in the series. I saw something completely different. Usually these conversations end with a fan throwing their arms up and telling me that “it’s just a movie.” It can be just a movie then or just a saga, but I know all of us know deep down that these films are wasted opportunities.

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Brothers and Sisters, I humbly submit to you that an endorsement for Revenge of the Sith as the “best of the prequels” is an endorsement for the first ever weak Star Wars heroine. As strange and out of alignment as this new Saga was until this movie’s opening crawler, the characters were still fairly intact. I will take Padme rolling around in a field a thousand times over a Padme who spends the “raddest” movie helpless and strangely out of the action until it ends.

And the ending is of course the worst part. I’m not talking about “Nooooooo!”

Well, that might not be true. The worst part informs the ending for sure.

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  • Methos

    Excellent write up! What Star Wars fans are truly unwilling to admit or reconcile is the fact that the new trilogy of movies were simply not good. They weren’t and we know they weren’t.

    The wait was too long, the story too muddled, the resolution too contrived and the focus too…well..unfocused. So many reasons, so many pointed fingers, so many dimensions of blame.

    As a collective – the history of the Clone Wars and the events that were eluded to in A NEW HOPE were never truly realized.

    Thus – we were left wanting and to fans as passionate as science fiction fans are, especially TRUE Star Wars fans, – this was a monumental disappointment!

    Thanks again for a very fun, yet very honest write-up!

    Methos (of the TrekCast forums).

  • Raul4510

    I don’t know what to say about the Star Wars Prequels. I do not consider them to be true Star Wars films. I realized that Lucas backed himself into a very unhealthy corner when he began working on the prequels. He wanted to showcase his latest advancements in CGI and special effects hoping that the story would tell itself. The prequels were supposed to bring Star Wars to a new generation–the way the original trilogy brought it all home for us old-time fans. Unfortunately the new trilogy lacks almost everything that made the originals great and George Lucas learned a painful lesson. Special Effects are just NOT enough! Sure Episodes I-III look pretty but the scripts are skimpy and painful. The movies would be unwatchable if not for the special effects. Star Trek 2009 did for Star Trek what Lucas was SUPPOSED to have done with the new trilogy. George retcon’ed the hell out of Star Wars and butchered his original trilogy with his 2004 Special Edition DVDS. I now simply ignore that the prequels and Special Editions exist and watch the original theatrical versions of episodes IV-VI!

  • VegasAndorian

    Dr. J-rad, Script Physician. Or maybe Script Witchdoctor? Medicine Scripter? I actually like your fix for Clones, you should write that movie, what’s Lucas gonna do, sue you? But great idea.

    Forgive me a shout out to myself – I still think Lucas should’ve gone with his original plan of Annakin being 16 in Phantom, instead of 10. Don’t even have to change a line of script, and the improvement would’ve been huge.

    Now that I’ve been thinking about it, I have to say I like the script doctor thing. Why don’t you do a weekly column, Fix-A-Script? Every week you take a movie that blew chunks and do a single, concise tight script fix, like you did here, and make the movie wonderful. Serious.

  • Michael Magnes

    i had an idea for E1 a little while ago. It went like this:

    Obi Wan is sent to negotiate a treaty with a few others. They are killed and he escapes to the barren world of Tattooine and tries to find a way off to contact the council to inform them of his situation. On this planet he sees a people being enslaved by the hutts and also meets a teenager who is using his force powers to get by. Of course this teen has no idea what he is doing, but is happy he can do it. Obi Wan then teaches him all he can on this world and agrees to help free the slaves with his new friend. He even teaches Anakin how to makes a lightsaber and teaches him in ho to use it. They have a huge adventure together and free the slaves battle Jango Fett and get Anikan’s mother back home safely.

    Afterwards Anakin goes with Obi Wan to Corasant to be properly accepted in the order and is after a long debate.

    I didn’t really think of any real details for it, because I though it was pointless rewriting it. But it’s nice to tell some folks what I had.

  • http://link Wolf58

    No job and no amount of money is worth allowing someone to treat you poorly. ,

  • http://link Settor80

    Oh but we already had a clue about the power of Africa to sanitize a reputation or a cause. ,

  • Acebojangles

    I agree with all of the plot problems pointed out (and fixed) in this column and the comments, but I had another problem with the new trilogy: it didn’t feel like it took place in the same universe as Episodes IV-VI. That universe was gritty and adult, but the new one is all CGI and kiddy.

    PS Yeah, I’m commenting two years late.

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