Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » May 2005 » I have done my fanboy duty....

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05/21/2005: I have done my fanboy duty....

and it's kind of hard to appreciate yet that it's been 28 years leading up to this moment.

I've seen Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

FWIW, I'll throw in my agreement with the professional critics. It's easily the best of the prequels (and I'm not damning with faint praise here, though the bar was set so low by Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones that it's hard not to sound like I am, without actually seeing the flick and knowing better).

To summarize: well worth the price of a matinee admission, and then some. Possibly worth a full price ticket (and those of my friends who know my religious objections to paying full price for a movie ticket know that that is very, very high praise, coming from me).

Out of an excess of caution, because one man's legitimate discussion might constitute another person's spoilers, a few further observations below the fold....

[begin mandatory spoiler buffer]

[end mandatory spoiler buffer]

First, I must say that I think it is important that traditions be upheld. I'm therefore most pleased to report that an arm gets cut off (actually, at least 4 that I can remember (both of Dooku's, Mace Windu's and Anikin's one remaining good arm (not to mention both of Anikin's legs in a rather nifty move by Obi-Wan)) and we get the hear the line, "I've got a bad feeling about this."

While the initial battle scene is certainly impressive for the ratio of screen acreage devoted to CG special effects to total screen acreage available (which is damn close to 1.00 by my off the cuff calculation), was it just me, or did the initial battle scene seem a bit too crowded? Seems to me that star cruisers massing for a pitched battle aren't gonna get close enough together that opposing crewmembers can throw things at the enemy and expect to hit them more often than not....

Meanwhile, I'm happy to see that I caught a few of the physics errors that Phil Plait noted in his "Bad Astronomy" review of SW E III: TRotS (ok, not all, but I'm not a physicist, nor do I play one on TV). When the cruiser tilted in orbit, and everyone went sliding down the floor I winced. Noticably.

WTF is it with General Grievous's cough (and in a later scene, I swear I heard the character wheeze as if s/he/it was asthmatic)? I am aware that Grievous is supposed to be part organic and part droid (they emphasized the point by doing an extreme close up into his eyes, not to mention in the climactic fight scene when Obi-Wan pulls apart Grievous's "breastplates" to disclose a beating heart (if my eyes weren't playing tricks). Actually, the more I think about it the more I think we were kinda cheated. Given what a marvelous actor Christopher Lee is, I think I'd have liked things better if General Grievous had gotten snuffed in the first 30 minutes or so, leaving the antepenultimate fight to be between Kenobi and Dooku, rather than Kenobi and Grievous.

Speaking of that fight scene, though...at the end Obi-Wan, having lost his lightsaber, kills Grievous by using a blaster. After doing so he throws the blaster aside, with the comment, "Uncivilized." A nice little nod to Obi-Wan's line in A New Hope, as he gives Luke his father's light saber: "This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight. Not as clumsy or random as a blaster; an elegant weapon, from a more.... civilized day." And while I'm on the subject, I am most impressed by how well Ewan McGregor evoked Alec Guinness....

Is it just me, or did anyone else wonder, during the initial space battle scene, if George Lucas was trying to channel Peter Weir and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World? I mean, where the two space cruisers basically pull up broadside to each other and start raking each other with their side-pointing batteries? A style of warfare which I'd have thought had gone out of favor since about the American Civil War or so, if not earlier.

Continuity issues (with the earlier films/later "episodes") still abound. Unless Lucas goes back and remakes Episodes IV, V and VI to show things like, e.g., R2D2 spraying oil on things and igniting it with his jets.... [The thought strikes me that that's what might be in the works for the 30th anniversary re-release of A New Hope. Good Lord, I hope not.] And having Chewbacca play a small role in the battle on Kashyyk (sp?), and having him interact with Yoda when Yoda leaves the Wookie homeworld, sorta makes one wonder why he doesn't seem to recognize Yoda (that I recall) once they rub shoulders (figuratively) later in the original trilogy)....

In addition to Christopher Lee, I think that Jimmy Smits (as Senator Bail Organa) was criminally underused. I liked just about all the scenes he was in. Surely they could have come up with some machination or plot in the Senate that he could have been in on.....

I also agree with those who note that, for being such masters of martial artistry and wielders of the power of The Force, the Jedi sure seem to fold like a wet paper towel once Palpatine/Darth Sidious issues his "General Order 66" (I think that was the number).

I have to admit, Lucas writes a romantic scene almost as well as I do. And, as you might guess, that is not a compliment.

And now, having seen the movie, I have to say that the Bush supporters who think the film is a "thinly veiled" swipe at their president need to ask themselves why their consciences seem to be bothering them....

Len on 05.21.05 @ 02:40 PM CST

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