That would be what the man said as he introduced the movie last night. Disturbingly accurate, actually. I love premieres. People in costume, sitting in line, walking around in public dressed as Jedi (Speaking of which, we totally forgot to take pictures. I will force everyone back into costume soon and *take* pictures, though, because damned if I stayed up three days making costumes with no visual record of the event. And the hair. I did the hair. And it looked awesome, I must say. dragonfly13's was so securely braided and tied - no pins! - that she could have easily battled the Dark Side and her hair would have stayed. The costume might have fallen apart, but her hair would have stayed PUT.) and scaring the normals, those things are always fun. I went with mik100, dragonfly13 and my littlestsis lilymc. All those crazy geeks gathered in one space. Although I'd have to say that the two hours after they let us into the theatre, nerding it up with the other nerds, fending off the three beach balls someone brought, which were being batted around the theatre, and lounging about in costume, and watching light saber duels some helpful fans staged for us at the front of the theatre, may have been a more rewarding experience than the actual movie.
I should say that I am not a big huge, die-hard, I KEEL YOU FOR TRASH-TALKING HAN SOLO Star Wars fan. I am a casual geeky fan, which distinguishes me from casual non-geeky fans in that I am already a geek, and already part of fandom, and so I recognize the significance of the Star Wars fandom, the influence of the movies, and the deeply terrifying love serious fans have for this fandom. In sci-fi Star Wars is a Big Name Fandom, like LoTR and Trek, though in my opinion ever-so-slightly (okay, a whole lot) less subtle, intricate, self-faithful, well-designed, etc. But it is Star Wars, and although I was raised Trekkie, a different sect often at odds with the Church of Star Wars Nerd, I nevertheless respect the privilege of psychotic fans to be psychotically fanatic in the manner which they choose. I can no more judge their lifestyle choices than they can judge mine.
Anyway, if you've read reviews, you've probably read something like these:
"In the Star Wars Saga, there are pockets of brilliance, surrounded by the yawning emptiness of space --Jami Bernard, New York Daily News
Drink the kool-aid. Wear blinders. Cover your ears. Because that's the only way you can completely enjoy The Revenge of the Sith." -- Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
"The general opinion of Revenge of the Sith seems to be that it marks a distinct improvement on the last two episodes, the Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. True, but only in the same way that dying from natural causes is preferable to crucifixion." -- Anthony Lane, The New Yorker
...tragically I must more or less agree. I mean. Just. Well. I'll give you my thoughts.
I have some loves, and I have some hates. It helped that I went into this movie pretty much expecting it to suck, so I wasn't let down *too* badly. However, it should be noted that I have one of the most delusionally effective talents for suspension of disbelief in the known universe, and that if I picked up on the utterly apathetic suckage, it pretty much had to suck beyond the telling of it. Well. Not exactly. Because now I'm going to tell you. Not in excruciating detail, but some likes and dislikes.
DISLIKES (I'm sure I've forgotten things):
First off, let me just say: Oh gods, the dialogue. Just... wow. Horrendous doesn't seem strong enough a word. Mediocre, either. mik100 describes it effectively as "phoned in", which applies, I think, to most of the movie. Badly-written conversations that make no sense. A plethora of anachronistic colloquialisms that neither appeared in previous movies nor belonged in this universe. Dialogue-wise it was like one big, badly-written, OOC fic. Like netspeak in Middle Earth. Just... ugh. Can we bring up the conversation between Anakin and Sidious where Anakin "turns" to the Dark Side? What the hell was that? What kind of reactions were we supposed to be seeing? Because it sort of came out like: "You're on the Dark Side? ....huh." And then some fighting. Also as dragonfly13 pointed out, during that particular battle, I was having trouble working out which side I was supposed to be rooting for. I've been so annoyed with Mace Windu since "this party's over" in Attack of the Clones and it was sort of a potentially win-win situation. Especially since the supposedly dramatic mini-climax where they're facing off next to a big ledge and Anakin appears to do something terminally stupid failed utterly to invoke any kind of emotional response on my part.
The part where Obi-Wan watches the security recording, after being warned not to do so by Yoda, and then switches it off with a pained face saying "I can't watch this anymore." What the hell was that? I blame the script-writers. Poor Obi-Wan. It's not your fault.
And the banter. Oh, gods, the banter. I'm sorry: "banter". It was like Tim Minear had a stroke, got hopped up on pixie sticks, kidnapped by Lucasfilm, and was dropped into a small dark room with only FF.net for company. Put the script-writers out of their misery, George. You should be better than this. We're ALL better than this. The best dialogue in this movie all came out of Yoda, which may have been due to the fact that his speeches were only marginally in English. When your best dialogue comes out of a grammatically-challenged Muppet, you know your script's got problems. (While we're here, what was up with Padme? All she did was simper, cling, and then die. "Anakin, you're breaking my heart!" What? *gag* I wanted to reach into the screen and slap her. Though the girl married a Jedi, so we can't say much for her judgement skills to begin with.)
The entire first twenty minutes or so until R2 starts being amusing and clever. This movie started so. Very. Slow. And actually dull. They managed, somehow, to make the Republic-era equivalent of an X-Wing skirmish... DULL. That just shouldn't be possible. But they did. So, like, nap or something, is my advice.
I have slowly ceased to be surprised, but remain impressed, by the abject stupidity of those close to Anakin. I blame Qui-Gon, who looked at the creepy little
And the lightning effect? The super-Sith power that we were probably supposed to find shocking and impressive? I have used. In the Leaving Normal trailer. To give myself electricity powers. As it comes free with every copy of Adobe Premiere. And mine was more tasteful. They couldn't come up with something a little more subtle, and a little less first-year film student? Sigh, I say. Sigh. Subtlety in general was something this film just didn't have.
Finally, Anakin crawling non-legged and de-skinned up the volcanic slope. The HELL? He looked like a sausage with eyes. A sausage that wasn't too excited about things. o.O
Yoda kicking some ass, which is always fun. I love Yoda. I want Yoda as my Jedi Master. They must have used up all their animation on Yoda, because his battle scene this time was KICK ASS, and I know what I'm talking about
The massacre of the Jedi. That was... well done. At least effective. I was just staring in horror for fifteen straight minutes. The burning of the Temple. The piles of bodies, all struck down fighting. The Younglings. Okay, obviously that was upsetting, but it was more upsetting because these weren't helpless little children, they were Jedi. They were immeasurably more rare and precious than normal children, and that made their deaths that much mroe tragic. Also, I predict that the small child with the one line ("Master Skywalker, there are too many of them! What do we do?") will be famous. And tragic. And on talkshows. Admittedly in this particular sequence it might have helped that there was almost no dialogue, or maybe the writers couldn't bring themselves to fuck up that bit. But that part, if nothing else did, got me. They could have cut it better, and the music, amazingly enough, could have been better, more subtle and more choir-like, but it was good. Probably the best part of the movie, which I guess is good because it's probably among the most important bits. Now we get why the Empire is so depressing. Because it started with that. Oh, my. Now I have to watch the original trilogy over again and be sad.
Also, I enjoyed the part with the babies. Though the birth scene was thoroughly mediocre, and maybe I didn't catch it but they really should have more clearly showed us that the visions Anakin was having would come true because he made them come true. Some repeated dialogue. Something. Like acting it out. Admittedly my "Yay! Babies!" sentiment was here tempered with an element of "this horrific prequel is over now," But the close-ups and the "I know you" camera angles were kind of... I don't know... sweet. Respectful. And you can't help but love that scene at the end, of the Owen and Bru, cradling baby Luke, watching the sunset on Tattooine. Whee! Continuity. Of a sort. Although I'm still not entirely clear on why they felt leaving Luke with Anakin's relatives qualified as "secret". (And a voice in my head just provided "Keep it secret. Keep it safe." *baps inner Ring-Geek* You don't need to see this.)
Generally speaking this movie just felt... weak. Not even actively, odorously bad, just... lame. "Phoned in" is actually a good description. It felt half-assed, and unimpressive, and failed utterly to pull the sort of gutterally-wrenching sadness that it should have, that I wanted. Bits of it did that, but again, that was largely due to my virtually unsurmounted ability to delude myself into believing things I want to be good are good. I didn't manage to convince myself this was actually good, but a)I'm not a totally rabid Star Wars fan; I was raised on Trek, and b)I didn't walk out ranting, so I count it as a win.
But, y'know, don't go in expecting a masterpiece. Because that, this isn't. Shiny, loud, action-packed (I came out with scorched retinas thanks to the incomprehensible choice of the cinematographer to film all of Obi-Wan and Anakin's battles in close-frame - all those flashing light sabers!), bits of horrific and sad and funny and, obviously, pretty, and extremely painful irony, but really, really, extremely, minisculely small bits. So, I mean, see it, of course, because it's Star Wars. But go in expecting it to suck. It will make the disappointment much easier to take.