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shouting lava lava lava (RotS spoilers)

Star Wars seems to be a series of films which provokes either fanatic devotion or fanatical hatred. Reviewers line up to award Revenge of the Sith one star and cry "thank god that's over!" or fans refuse to hear a bad word said about The Phantom Menace despite it being quitely clearly an imperfect film.

I love Star Wars but I at least know that to bring balance to the Force you need both the Light and the Dark. So, having seen it yesterday at Odeon Leicester Square here are some spoilery but detailed things that struck me about it...

The Light Side

  • I love Obi-Wan's new "show me your gung fu" fighting stance. It's clearly there so we see he's developed new fighting skills since AotC, but it just made me smile every time. I must stop watching wire-fu films.
  • General Grevious. I admit when I read the scroll-by a few months back, I assumed this was just taking the piss. And it is in some ways - he's such a delightfully pantomime villain.
  • Padme's final line.
  • "It's a volcanic planet." Yes! Bring on the lava! I've been waiting years for that fight.
  • Real use of filmic language. I do not think Lucas is a great director. I think he makes very enjoyable spectacles with lots of whizz-bang lights and stirring Williams music to carry the emotion. But RotS actually uses cinematography to create meaning for once. The twilight scenes on Corusant are literally the sun setting on the Republic. Gradually the colours drain until we're hit with stark monochromes inside Organa's ship. The lava fight uses the same colour palette as the end of The Empire Strikes Back. Visually, we're slammed into the less civilised age of the Empire.
  • Despite Hayden Christianson and the script failing to sell me Obi-Wan and Anakin's friendship, Ewan McGregor does manage to sell Obi-Wan's sense of both betrayal and of knowing his duty is to betray someone.

The Dark Side
  • Child actors. There should be laws.
  • There should also be laws against using a crap word when better ones exist. "They killed the Younglings."? How the hell did Ewan say that straight-faced?
  • Just because you can do a grand sweeping starship battle with every damn thing in focus and in minute detail doesn't mean you should. I admit the big space battles aren't a key bit for me, but the beginning was just too "look what we can do!". Especially when a series like Firefly is doing smudgy, handheld CGI work and letting the edges fall out of focus.
  • Emperor battles are boring. Yoda arriving was very cool, but Windu's scenes really fell flat. You've got Samuel bloody Jackson and a fight scene falls flat? What?
  • OK, so I have to concede that my "Luke and Leia are secretly Obi-Wan's" theory is well and truly shot down now.
  • Only now does it occur to the Jedi that prophesies can be misread?
  • Technology and hairstyles appear not to change for the next seventeen years.

The Balance
The bits which will very in effect depending on if you imagine watching all six in story order instead of release order. e.g.
  • the shot of Tattooine.
  • Obi-Wan's shocked "babies?!?" after the first two hours of the film have only ever said "baby".
  • Leia's theme music.
  • Wookies.

Overall, I enjoyed it immensely but then I'm a fan and would say that.

At the BBC's Test your knowledge of the Force, I got 14/14.
Excellent. A true Jedi master. You're probably already camping outside a cinema.

Posted @ 11:56 pm on Friday, May 20, 2005
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