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Selling sithshells by the sithshore

We managed to see Episode III a few days ago, and I’m not quite sure what to make of it. Although it had plenty of scenes that should have been exciting, many of them were, well, sort of boring. Not so bad as the video-game-preview action scenes of Episode II, but still, a little empty, especially in the beginning. Just how braindead can a robot army really be, anyway?

But aside from that, there were a few things I really liked. Well, perhaps “like” isn’t right; I appreciated a few things that I thought tied up the whole story: While Anakin’s conversion to Vader wasn’t all that convincing, it at least was dark enough to carry some emotional heft with it. The whole set of clone betrayal scenes likewise finally had some drama. I really liked how much Ewan McGregor seemed to be channeling a younger Alec Guinness, at least in appearance. In fact, one of the things they did well in the film was introduce the general aesthetic of Episode IV—this may be a good or bad thing, depending on what you think of bowl cuts and mini-skirts. Like it or hate it, the maternity-legging thing that makes its appearance in the final scenes would be right at home in Episode IVs 1970s sci-fi imagination.

There are a few bits that I can’t get over. First, we have all the dismemberings. Sure, there’s a gritty reality to the depiction of what a laser sword ought to do to one’s various parts, but man, did they ever show a lot of severed bones. “Oh, look, another forearm-bit.” Second is pacing: Was that not the fastest pregnancy ever depicted on film? Padme is nice and svelte at the movie’s opening, and with every scene she just gets bigger—but I never actually got a sense of time passing, a feeling that was strengthened by the apparent speed at which little spacecraft manage to travel unimaginable distances. Apparently the outer rim of the galaxy is about as far away as the Circle-K. It never becomes clear which of the several creative dissolves represent time passing. Was it the crosshatch one? Third, did nobody see the Emperor coming? Nobody said to themselves, “Hmm, this Sith guy looks a lot like the Senator?”

And of course, most importantly, and I won’t linger long on this because everybody else has something to say about it, but holy cow, the dialogue is miserable, and lines that should have been delivered with a little reflection just get spat out flatly.

So was it worth it? Sure, especially for those of us who needed some closure. Parts of it are lots of fun, other parts have some real drama to them, and every once in a while the film reflects the kind of epic myth that could have been. Worth a matinee, probably especially with a good crowd that will hoot and clap appropriately each time Yoda gets all kick-ass.