By the way -- Star Wars? Just atrociously, terribly fucking bad. Some cool ships, to be fair, and some interesting alien design, but my main motivation during the movie was staying until something horrible happen to that whining, unlikable little snot Anakin. Lord was he a distasteful character. And it's not as if Hayden Christenson can't act -- his performance in Shattered Glass was terrific. So chalk another one up to Lucas's dialogue. And you might think, by the way, that the Jedi's great hope would be able to see through cheap, crude attempts at manipulation. Nope. Palpatine's arguments would alarm a five-year old he was enticing with candy, but Anakin blithely buys his crap.

Beyond Anakin, Padme (Natalie Portman) had fewer dimensions than an 80's arcade game. Her role in life, insofar as a role could be ascertained, was thinking up newer and ever-more uninteresting ways to merge the words "love" and "Anakin" into the same sentences. She had no soul, no self-directed movements, and really did nothing save pine away in her apartment and eventually get pregnant. The movie's great mystery was why these two loved each other and what in god's name they talked about when they weren't thinking up newer, triter ways to say "I love you".

But the overriding problem for the film was the absence of Han Solo. Indeed, the whole thing was crushed under the weight of its own self-importance. If a single one of the film's characters cracks a joke, I must have missed it. If a single one is something less than an automaton bound by honor, duty, fealty to the Republic, love, power, or some similarly crushingly important platonic virtue, they didn't show it. It wasn't just that the acting was painful to watch, it was that the characters were painful to hear. Not one was likable, not one was worth rooting for. Kenobi came closest, but only because of McGregor's aptitude as an actor.

The movie's single redeeming quality was that it made me want to see Episode 4 again. In that one, Luke is surprised at the role he's been born into, Leia has actual spunk to her, Han Solo is a superlative character, Chewbacca offers some comic relief, Kenobi and Yoda are able to be serious without infecting the other players with their own self-regard, and Palpatine is able to be obviously evil in a world where everyone knows it, rather than obviously evil in a world where no one can figure it out. I have a feeling, however, that I'm not the only one seized by this idea, and the movie's going to prove a bit tough to track down. Ah well.

-Ezra

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