Thursday, May 19, 2005

Revenge of the Sith observations - spoiler free

A word on the title - this is only spoiler free if you have seen the first 5 films. If you haven't, then there are some spoilers below, particularly ones that might affect your enjoyment of the end of Empire Strikes Back. If you want to avoid them, stop reading at the paragraph that starts with "The movie itself was a fitting end."

I had the extreme pleasure of catching the 12:01 show of Revenge of the Sith with some friends Wednesday night/Thursday morning. It was something to be a part of. The last of the Star Wars films. Ever. One of the guys I was with also had the pleasure of seeing the sneak preview at 7:30 downtown, and then headed out to see it again with us. Yup, we're kind of geeks.

But how could I not be? My first memories of a movie were of being so scared by Star Wars when Darth Vader makes his entrance to that now-famous music that I hid my face so I didn't have to watch. (I scared easily as a child, and I was 5 and-a-half when I saw it.) Then, when it was over, I wanted to stay and watch it again.

I have no specific memory of the circumstances surrounding my first viewing of Empire, but I remember leaving school early, and being driven by a friend's mother to see Jedi at the Runnymede theatre (now a Chapters) when I was 12 and it was opening day. I also have fond memories of watching a double feature of Star Wars and Empire not long before that with some friends, to refresh the movies in our minds - like we needed it.

I loved those movies. I loved the characters. When Han Solo got frozen in carbonite, I went home, and took my Boba Fett action figure, put him in a cup of water, and put that in the freezer. (My mom loves that story.) Boba Fett has since become one of my favourite characters in the whole sextet of movies.

I camped out (in shifts with some others, including my wife who was as anxious as I to see it - if not more so) to buy tickets to Episode I. I will admit to being disappointed, compared to what I remembered, compared to the ideals these movies had become to me. But it didn't matter. I bought the DVD, and I have seen that movie a number of times as well.

When Episode II came out, I didn't camp out, but there I was, loyally, at the midnight show on opening day. Again it fell short of my (possibly unfair) expectations. A good movie, lots of cool effects, and some amazing battles, but not a stellar link in the Star Wars chain. We saw this at a theatre on the North side of town, and the press were there, and there were people dressed up. It was something. A great experience made even more so by the people who were there with me.

So now, Episode III has hit the theatres, and again, I lined up at 6:30 pm or so for the 12:01 am show. (For the record, we were not first in line, there were two guys ahead of us) There were a few people in costume, really hard-core fans who had been down to Indiana for Star Wars Celebration III who tried to get some of the audience involved in a little pre-movie fun. Unfortunately, they were not the most charismatic of figures, and it didn't go over well, and they were heckled. And this is the point I wanted to make: One of the hecklers, when it was described which group (Halton FanForce, I think it was) these people were from yelled, "That is the nerdiest thing ever!" To much laughter. Now, the spokesperson for the group was a woman, in her mid-to-late 20's who was there with her son, who she said was 9. So not only are people mocking her in front of her son, but here we are, sitting in a midnight show for a movie, which would lose nothing by being seen 19 hours later, when most people who aren't nerds would see it, and we (as a group) are heckling someone for being more nerdy? Where is the line? Apparently doing without sleep to be the first to see the movie is cool, but being into it enough to dress up and let the excitement take you is too far. Many of the people who were there were probably mocked at some point in their lives for being nerds or geeks. Yet, the feel the need to draw some bullshit line as far as how geeky is okay, and throw that same abuse downward. I was embarrassed for the girl, and for her son. Fortunately, I really needn't have been. They didn't let it bother them. And it was forgotten when the movie started.

The movie itself was a fitting end (or is that mid-point?) to the saga of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. The dialogue was trademark Lucas. That is to say, not great. The acting was better from the main players than in any either of the previous films, and was certainly enough to keep you involved. All the loose ends required to move from the first trilogy to the second are tied up.

One of the really interesting things about this film is the theme that the wrong choices can be made for the right reasons. It happens throughout this trilogy. Jar-Jar Binks (the much-maligned Gungan whose presence in this one is almost nil) is responsible in Attack of the Clones for helping the Chancellor create a clone army to fight on the Senate's war. The imagery here is clear - these guys are destined to become the Storm Troopers one day. Jar-Jar wasn't sitting there thinking "I know, I'll help to create an army that will enslave and kill the whole galaxy one day." He was thinking "we need to be protected. I will hand a little power to the government to do so." This is not unlike modern politics in the USA. The Patriot Act is a little power handed to the Government at the cost of some freedoms. Now, I'm not trying to compare the Emperor to Bush (though I wouldn't swear that Lucas wouldn't draw that comparison at this point) but it is interesting the way the movies parallel some modern themes.

This is Anakin's story as well, in many ways - he makes the wrong choices, but for the right reasons. This is why his fall is all the more telling. Saying anything more would definitely take me into the realm of spoilers though. So just allow me to say that this movie has a mature and interesting, if somewhat dark theme, and tone to it.

Overall, this was an excellent watch, and while it still didn't hit the heights of Empire Strikes Back, it was certainly the best of Episodes I through III in my opinion, and may be the third best of the series, behind Episodes V and IV. I highly recommend it to any fan of Star Wars, or anyone who used to be a fan, but was left feeling cold by the last two.

May the Force be with you. Always.


  • Nice, Rat-man.

    I'm looking forward to seeing this tomorrow.

    Indeed, it's one of those moments where you hope that this movie, at least, brings back the swashbuckling times...

    By Anonymous Jorge, at 12:28 PM  

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