Friday, May 20, 2005

Episode III - Revenge of The Sith

The Sith movie Cast There is a neat little dialog that goes between Senator Palpatine and Anakin Skywalker, overlooking a blue spherical baloon with things flowing inside. As Palpatine is talking - I am thinking " whats this spherical thing? Is it some sort of entertaintment? Why was it conceived and put there? What was Palpatine doing before Annekin walked in? Just staring at some blue round thing?". Anyway back to the all important conversation - This conversation is the "connector". It connects all aspects of the prequel and binds it to the original episodes. It bares the motivation for Anakin Skywalker to become Darth Vader. You know that by the hush in the audience and huge murmers and whistles coming out from the people. It is a moment where everybody goes " So this is how it happens". And you could feel it around you. There was no need for the Seinfeld like sushing. Everybody is tuned in. Palpatine talks about things that Anakin has not been told by the Jedi council. He speaks highly of a Dark Lord who could prevent death. " He could create life as he desired" and " he taught everything he knew to his apprentice but he was killed in his sleep by his own apprentice" . I was connecting something here. Is he saying that THAT Dark Lord is Anakin Skywalker's father ( given that Skywalker was conceived without a father - which is why he was considered as THE ONE by the Jedi council --Does it ring a bell now :-) ? ) and that Senator Palpatine was the apperentice who killed Skywalker's father? If this is true and If I, sitting in Sathyam Theater, without the help of any force, but with only the incessant sound of ring tones of cell phones (so much for not gadgets talk even if people dont want to), brought into the theater by mannerless idiots can deduce it - Then why not Anakin Skywalker who, according to Obi-Wan, has already become a Jedi that even Obi-Wan cannot become in all his life.

The dialog for this movie is slightly better than the Attack of the Clones. This doesn't sound encouraging does it? Movies dubbed from China have better dialogs than Attack of the Clones. There is a scene where Anakin senses that Obi-Wan has been in Amidala's house ( Apartment?) and he asks her why Obi-Wan was there. She says, "Obi-Wan asked me to watch out for you. You have been under a lot of stress lately". I was almost half-expecting Padme to say " take two asprins and go to bed honey!". Inspid, un-imaginative, near-death-boredom-inducing is what I would call most of the dialogs. Add Anakin's out-of-place (southern ?) accent to the mix and you are already choking in mediocrity. This is the movie where Anakin has to be persuaded by the Darth Sidious to join the dark side, by exploiting the weakness in Annekin that Yoda constantly warns about. Dialogs are crucial in such a movie. George Lucas can summon all the special effects in the world, and he does so with amazing detail, but people don't notice details. Sci-fi channel watchers and geeks do ( I should know.. I attend all their meetings). People love drama and drama is aided by dialogs not by special effects.

Yoda the greatest Philosopher in the Modern Movie World The conversations between Senator Palpatine( Darth Sidious - if u didn't know this by now its really not a spoiler) and Anakin sometimes rise upto the expected levels. Some of what Yoda says is good but by and large dialogs are the biggest let down in this movie. A serious drawback considering that the actors would be mouthing them in their green suits inside studios with nobody around. It challenging to say lifeless dialogs in a real theater setting but to say them in green suits - 'alone' - knowing that your scene would later be attached, using computer imagery, to a large scene with alien beings present - is not awe-inspiring to give a moving acting performance. I couldn't spot a single scene where the actors would not have to be digitally stuck into the picture like the other droids and aliens. Take this scene for instance - Obi-Wan and Yoda come back to the Jedi temple and to their horror find even the younglings dead. Obi-Wan before he leaves the temple sees the archival-hologram (or video-recordings)of the Jedi temple to find out what happened. I imagined how he must have really enacted it. He must have been in his green suit in an empty room looking down at empty space and he must imagine that he is seeing Anakin Destorying the young Jedi's - and then ACT. Later the hologram of the video-recording is attached digitally, Yoda is attached digitallly and the whole Jedi Temple is created virtually - by the ILM folks. Obi-Wan learns for the first time that his "brother", his padwan has slipped into the dark side. In a scene that is ripe for a good performance, a crucial high-moment -- his face shows as much emotion as a bag of fertilizer.

George Lucas It may appear that I am critisizing too much - but I am really not. It is just that it is very difficult not to notice these things. I actually liked the movie. This is the best of the prequels by a long way. Thats mainly because its got really good story material. Its good to see a completed jig-saw puzzle , even if the last few pieces were easy to fit in. I liked the full arc of "The Star Wars" story. Of how youngsters ( Qui-Gon) disobey elders ( Yoda). And in spite of the good intentions of the people around him, the path of Anakin Skywalker eventually followed his destiny. This 6 part series has shown the possibility of 'good' to truimph over 'evil' under the most dire of circumstances ( Which is what 4, 5 , 6 shows). It also shows the inevitabvility of cock-sure people to bring evil upon themselves ( which is what 1, 2 and 3 have shown us).

It is true that strong attachment to anything brings about jelousy and all the pithy words about hate, fear anger are quite true. Anakin Skywalker fell to the exact same emotion that Yoda predicted would be his doom. His sin of secretly marrying Padme came with a set of "protective emotions" that incongruently mixed with his Jedi powers to see the future finally becoame the core of the reason why Annekin fell to the dark side. Obi-Wan who intially was not in agreement with Qui-Gon to train Annekin *had* to follow his masters dying wish. And Yoda much like Bheeshma Pithama can do nothing about it because "it is destiny".

George Lucas Ofcourse comparing the prequels and the sequels are easy. The sequels win hands down. No! it is not because old timers always want to say they had the best of things. It is true that growing up has its own disadvantages. Yestarday, at the wonderful newly-renovated Sathyam Theaters ( and I might add that of the three places - EpisodeI-AMC-Ohio, EpisodeII-Cinemark-Dallas and EpsodeIII-Sathyam-Madras the last was the best by a big margin), I saw young children completly swept of their foot on seeing this movie. George Lucas has created this mythical Star Wars world which has endless possibilities for children like it had for me many years before. Wooden Johnny Socko watches, match boxes that become Star Trek communicators gave me a sense of power or transported me to a fantasy world. Today - Giant Robot looks funny and I am tired of watching Star Trek 500 times. The whirring rattle-snake kind of sound of the light-saber in the sequels used to thrill me then. Alec Guiness was too old to hold a Tea Tray let alone the light saber. But his grace and his on-screen stature was stunning. At the risk of re-repeating myself the effort that goes into creating minute details in special effects is too much. A lot of time and effort is spent on it because technology allows you to go into those details. But such details were not required when the original sequels were done, instead the effort and focus was alternatively spent on writing good dialogs and creating powerful characters. Here too many characters and events are cluttered and there is less depth in each character. Alec Guiness impressed me in one movie what Ian McGregor (whose beard and moustache have been altered to make him look similar to Alec Guiness' face cut) has been trying to do in three movies. When the Jedi fight using the light sabers in the prequels they seem too close to each other for a sword fight and there is really no athletic ability or speed. I guess, since they are holding nothing in their hands when they are acting it, they have no sense of how to clash swords.

In spite of a slightly negative commentary this movie is like no other movie. It scores a 85/100 and I felt it could have got a 95 instead. But that does not mean it can be spoken in the same breath with other pedestrian movies. This is like the MIT of the movie world. Star Wars is certainly one of the most influential movies I have seen in my lifetime. My childhood is certainly thankful to George Lucas for the sense of imagination Star Wars has provided me.

Edit1: It was heartening to note the cheering and whistles going on during the movie. The way certain scenes evoked similar reactions from almost everyone tell you how much Star Wars has influenced our generation. As my Dad, who had accompanied me, pointed out - 90% of the people were between 15-30 years old. There was collective sadness, quite palpable that too, when Anakin finally turns to the dark side. It is clear that Yoda is the most popular character in town today. There was a huge cheer when Yoda did ...actually just about anything. Yoda's fight with Count Dooku send the audience into raptures of joy some 3 years before, I was not quite expecting the same reception here but was pleasantly surprised with a huge roar when Yoda in Rajini-Jackie-Chan-ishtyle knocks of the people who try and assasinate it. The final Light Saber duel with Sidious got thundering roars of approval whenever Yoda whacked Sidious. The other most popular character was certainly Chewbacca. The Ewok got one big roar from the crowd and ear shattering whistles in the few seconds it made an appearance. With appearances in SNL and many other TV shows, Chebacca is the only character that even today can give Yoda a run for its money. The irony is Chewbacca doesn't say anything at all in the movies. Vader got some applause. Luke, Leia and both the moons of Tatooine were cheered. It was a "I have seen this before" moment.

Edit 2 Anniyan Trailor: Saw Anniyan Trailor for the first time during the Star Wars interval. Must tell you it is really impressive. I think we are about to see India's first genuine superhero movie. From what I figured Vikram falls into some water container like thing ( no.. he doesn't become Obelix) and he is bitten by some animals. A frog was shown and he seems to fly around and catch goons in dark alleys and beat em' up. I saw a replica of the Matrix scene( where Neo beats up 100s of agent clones) - here Anniyan beats up 100s of Karate person clones. Quite impressive I tell you. There is Nedumudi Venu, Prakash Raj and Vivek ( I suspect the last two are police officers searching for the murderer - which is Anniyan). My intuition says it gonna be similar to but better than Gentleman/Indian


Anonymous said...

i pretty much agree with you.
but seriuosly....u went into a star wars movie expecting good dialog!!! come on!!

George Lucas's dialogs are worse than those on these daily soaps!!

Its just that...u cant put a few romanitc scenes amidst the chaotic action to evoke a bit of emotion from the audience. It doesnt work that way!!

I had aboslutely no connection to the anakin-padme romance nor the anikin-obi-wan comradrie 'cos lucas didn't show enuff of it.
Lucas is not a great writer,nor a great director(he directed only the first of the three originals)....but he is the most innovative and imaginative person by far in the film industry.
That man has pionneered so many of the great sound and digital fx in movies today.

That said,it was an awesome awesome movie. I will throw caution to the wind and say that it is my favorite star wars movie(yes...better than the empire strikes back!!!you heard me!!!).
Th saga has come full circle and we can go on with our lives now:):)!

Hawkeye said...

/* That man has pionneered so many of the great sound and digital fx in movies today. */

yes! the important thing is he didn't do it all forthe money. he did it for the common good

/* That said,it was an awesome awesome movie. I will throw caution to the wind and say that it is my favorite star wars movie(yes...better than the empire strikes back!!!you heard me!!!). */

watch it dude! I have sent out the Deadly Viper Assasination Squad to eliminate you. I'd be careful, if I were you, before stepping out in the dark :-)

Anonymous said...

I agree with you bharath, and with the anony too...Lucas has hardly written good dialogues. He has become more greedy, i think....he shd have hired good dialogue writers and shd have trained anikin for some more dialogue deliveries, that kid cant act for nuts....he was not bad in 'Life as a House' though.
I liked the way he ended how good n evil were equal in force, and how Yoda can bring back someone from death, not exactly but u know to get their guidance (refering to Obi's future training with Qui gon) and not the dark sidious. The Transition of Ani was shown quite well and looked like Lucas really learned Mahabarath extensively :-D

ps: Is black Mumba in that squad of deadly vipers too Bharath! ;-)

Hawkeye said...


/* The Transition of Ani was shown quite well and looked like Lucas really learned Mahabarath */

the references to mahabharath are too much to be left out as coincidence. The references to vaisnavism literature is also amazing ( "the force etc). this is exactly what me and my dad were talkin during the interval.

the conversation between palpatine and annekin that i referred to being the case in point.

Murali said...

i've not YET seen it yaar...but my frnds r sort of discouragin me telln tat its mere HYPE...

Anupadmaja said...

Hey two notable funnies in this blog:

1. The optimist talking all discouraged :( C'mon, go see the movie - maybe your friends think differently!

2. Every anonymous reveals his name in the end. No they are not stupid ... they are lazy. Cant take time to click the "other" button while posting a comment :) I feel proud ... laziness is the most pleasurable emotion that we have discovered :)

Anonymous said...

i hate chewbacca!!!
worst character ever!!


there....u have everything that chewbacca has said in star wars...
lucas shud make another movie in which he kills off jar jar and chewbacca...i'd pay good money to watch that!!!

visithra said...

Hey I like Jar jar, Chewbacca, Ewoks and Yoda.

I liked this movie coz I got to see Yoda in action. Though no matter what the 3 sequels will always be the best!

Ramanan said...

Chewbacca is a wookie, not an ewok. Tatooine has two suns, not moons. In any case, i liked the movie. It was almost as good as episode 5.

If you want good dialogs, read the book. The book was really, really good.

Anonymous said...